Hetalia: Prussia x Reader fic
WARNING: IT'S REALLY LONG AND YOU MIGHT CRY.
You hurried to the bus stop as you began to hear the squealing brakes of that metal deathtrap. You had gotten up late today and had just barely made it. It would have been bad if you had gone in late. Especially on your first day. The attending doctors at St. Frederick's Hospital were very strict when it came to interns.
You panted heavily as you boarded the bus. It was full, as it usually was in the morning... except all the way in the back. You squeezed your way past the people who were already seated. There sat a pale guy with white, shaggy hair. He was dressed in jeans and a hoodie, a backpack in his lap and a pair of headphones around his neck.
"Is this seat taken?" you asked. He glanced up at you, piercing you with deep, red eyes.
"Oh... no, not at all," he answered, taking hold of his belongings and scooting over to give you more room. You were surprised by his voice, for it had the faintest hint of a German accent. You took the seat next to him, still trying to focus on catching your breath.
"Are you running late?" he asked, amused at your disheveled appearance. You smirked.
"Not today!" you answered, feeling victorious that you had managed to catch the bus. He spared you a smile before turning his attention back to his window. You both sat in respectable silence before he turned back to you.
"So... what were you almost late for?" he asked. You turned to him, surprised he was even interested.
"Oh, I work at the hospital as an intern," you replied. He cocked his eyebrow and nodded.
"That's pretty awesome. I'm still going to university," he replied. That's right... the new semester started today as well.
"What for?" you asked, for you were out of school and this guy looked a couple years older than you. He laughed at your question.
"Honestly... I don't know," he smiled. "I have several degrees, but I keep changing my mind. I still have no idea what I want to do." You understood all too well. You lost count of how many times you changed your major before you landed on nursing. And you still weren't sure that you enjoyed it.
"Nothing wrong with that... I'm sure you'll find something to stick with soon," you replied. He nodded and the silence returned again, only being filled by the rattling of the old bus and idle chit-chat among the passengers. When you're stop came up, your friend with the white hair stood up as well. The bus screeched to a halt, jolting all of the riders. You practically hopped off the bus, feeling much safer when your feet hit the sidewalk. When you turned around to say goodbye to the fellow you had sat with, he was already making his way down the street.
"I never thought this shift would end," groaned your fellow intern Elizabeth. "It's time to go home and cuddle with ice cream and a movie."
"Sounds nice, Liz," you laughed, as you stuffed the last of your things into your locker. You grabbed your bag and you both made a beeline for the exit.
"Why don't you join me? You spend too much time alone!"
"I need some time alone after being here and having doctor after doctor breath down my neck. That and I need to feed my cat," you replied. Elizabeth only rolled her eyes at you and you walked out into the cool night air.
"Okay... well, see you tomorrow?"
"Of course," you answered, and began making your way to the bus stop. You took a seat and looked at your watch. Bus should be here any minute now...
"Is this seat taken?"
You looked up from your wrist and saw the man from this morning. "No, not at all," you replied with a smirk. He playfully bowed his head in thanks and sat next to you on the bench. You stayed like that for a while, not saying a word to each other. When out of nowhere, you were struck by a strange burst of confidence.
"________," you said, and he turned towards you, cocking his eyebrow.
"I'm sorry?" he asked, not understanding.
"Um... my name. It's ________. I figure if this is going to become a regular thing, we should at least know each other's names," you replied quickly, feeling your cheeks darken as you turned your face away from him.
"Its only been one day!" he laughed, and your stomach knotted as you felt your embarrassment begin to sink in.
"I-I know, but I"
"It's Gilbert though. Nice to meet you," he said, and you finally turned towards him again to see him offering his hand to you. You shook his hand, suddenly conscious of how small your hand seemed in his.
"Likewise," you smiled as you began to hear those screeching brakes in the distance. You both boarded the bus and Gilbert sat next to you, despite being surrounded by plenty of open seats.
"So, how?" you had both started talking at the same time, then laughed at each other.
"Okay, you first," Gilbert smiled.
"So, how was your first day of classes?" you asked. He shrugged.
"You know... the same old shit. How about you, little miss intern?" he asked.
"Little miss intern?" you laughed. "It was okay. It's stressful working at a hospital though..." you replied. He nodded in understanding. And then the silence. But it was never awkward silence. You both would just let the silence be. But you were never silent for long.
"Okay, I have to ask because it's driving me crazy. Are you from Germany or somewhere?" you asked.
"Yeah, my family is from there. Though, if you want to get technical, my grandparents were from Prussia," he replied.
"You know... Prussia was a country"
"I KNOW what Prussia is!" you replied quickly. "That's just really cool. It's not like you meet Prussians anymore," you mused.
"Well then, you're pretty lucky... getting to meet a Prussian as awesome as I am," he smirked. You scoffed.
"And what makes you so awesome?"
"You tell me," he replied slyly before you let the silence fall again as the bus approached your stop.
"See you tomorrow?" you asked, as you stood. He turned towards you and smiled, his ruby red eyes glinting.
"See you tomorrow."
Weeks passed and you and Gilbert continued to meet each other. You filled what would normally be a boring bus ride with amusing small talk, joking and sometimes making fun of each other. On this day, however, Gilbert hadn't been on the bus that morning. It was a bit unsettling... he was usually always there.
Your day seemed to drag in the hospital. It didn't help that today you lost your first patient. Mrs. Holden, an elderly woman who had been fighting lung cancer, passed away. You had the responsibility of changing her IV, bringing her food, and pretty much just making sure that she was comfortable. She had always been so headstrong and opinionated that most of the interns stayed away. You were the lucky nurse assigned to her though. She had often scolded you for not having a boyfriend.
"You're wasting time! That body you have now... you won't have it forever. Find a rich man and pull him in!" she would say. Honestly, all of her taunting had gotten on your nerves. But she had still been friendly and full of energy, despite her approaching expiration date. You had known that she would die soon, but you couldn't believe she was gone when just the other day she had laughed at you when you told her you had met a boy on the bus.
"The bus?! Honey, that's no place to meet a man! You have to go to classier places than that... you work at a hospital, for christ's sake, snag a surgeon while you have the chance!"
Though it was the last time you had spoken with her that really made you think...
"I know you probably think I'm a crazy old woman, dear... but if there's anything I learned from this life, it's that you can't live asking yourself 'what if?' Kids today, they're scared of everything! The ridiculous thing is that they're scared of people. Scared of loving people and scared of not being loved by people... but you can't have one without the other. You have to love in life. And you can't sit around waiting for it! If you like this boy on the bus, you need to tell him! The worst thing that can happen is that he won't be interested, but you put your heart out there and that's all that matters."
Her words ran through your head, over and over. Had she known that her time was coming? She was all alone. Her husband passed away some time ago, and she never had children. Was her last dying wish for you to ask Gilbert out?
Gilbert was a nice guy. You had even come to love his abnormal looks. His pale skin and scarlet eyes... you loved his stupid eyes. And he knew it too. You would often have unofficial staring contests before you would begin to feel uncomfortable and turn away. He was funny and chill, sometimes a little full of himself. You had come to call it his "awesome" complex.
"Hey ________, are you alright?" Liz asked, pulling you out of your thoughts.
"What? Oh, yeah... I'm fine," you answered.
"Don't be like that... I know you're thinking about Mrs. Holden. We all are... that crazy woman. She was a character, but I mean... it's not like we weren't expecting it."
"I know! I'm just... I'll be okay, really. I was just thinking about something she said," you replied.
"Well, okay... if you wanna talk about it though, I'm around."
"I know. Thanks Liz," and with that, you both parted ways. You made your way to the bus stop, ready to put this day behind you. A small part of you was almost happy that Gilbert hadn't been on the bus today. You were too caught up in your thoughts; too nervous. Taking a seat at the bench, you sighed and closed your eyes.
You had to stop thinking like this. You wouldn't have a long career ahead of you if you kept being so sentimental. Your only job had been to keep Mrs. Holden comfortable and taken care of during her last days. You knew that when you met her. You would probably say some pretty enlightening things too if you were on your deathbed. And Gilbert is just a friend. An acquaintance even. You hardly knew him outside of the bus. But if that was the case... then why do you care for him so much?
"Earth to ________. You in there?"
Your eyes flew open in surprise to see Gilbert hovering over you. "Gil?!"
"Who else? Were you expecting another awesome Prussian?"
"No, I just... where were you this morning?" you couldn't help but ask. It was none of your business, but it was all you had thought about all day.
"Oh... that," he said, reaching his hand up to scratch the back of his neck.
"Do you wanna walk?" you suddenly asked out of nowhere. Gilbert looked back at you with a puzzling look.
"Where? Home? That's like, twelve blocks!"
"What? Can't handle it?" you teased. That worked.
"Oh, I can handle it."
"Good. I could use some fresh air. And it'll give us more time to talk, you know?" you said, slinging your bag over your shoulder, getting up from the bench and making your way to the crosswalk. Gilbert stood next to you as you waited for the signal to cross.
"You know..." he said, peering down at you. "If I didn't know better, I'd say that you were worried about me," he mused.
You felt your blood rise to your cheeks as you watched the 'stop' hand turn to a 'walk' signal across the street. You started walking immediately out of embarrassment.
"Wait, no!" he yelled. And before you could even realize what he was yelling about, you felt his arms wrap around your waist, pulling you back and falling backwards on the sidewalk. Not a second later did a sports car speed by where you had stood a moment before. Your heart was pounding in your chest.
"That was a red light, asshole!" Gilbert yelled from behind you, his arms still around you as you sat between his legs on the sidewalk. "Hey, are you alright?"
"Y-Yeah..." you replied as Gilbert let go of you and you both scrambled to your feet.
"Good... then I can yell at you. Mein gott, did anyone ever teach you to look both ways before crossing the street?!"
Your stomach did a flip. You had never heard him speak German before. And you kind of loved the way it sounded coming from him. You also realized these thoughts should have been the furthest from your mind after he just saved you from getting flattened.
"If I didn't know better... I'd say you were worried about me," you replied with a smirk.
You silently walked next to each other for about five minutes. Your mind was reeling. What on earth was he thinking? He probably hated you right now and was wishing he had taken the bus. At that thought, there was a crushing feeling in your gut.
"I guess you wanna know why I wasn't there this morning, right?" he asked.
"You don't have to tell me... if you don't want to, that is," you replied. Why were you suddenly so conscious around him?
"No, I don't mind telling... my younger brother and I got into a pretty big fight," he answered.
"Oh..." you replied softly. Was this too personal? Should you even dig any further? Your brain said to mind your own business, but your heart was too curious. "What about?"
"It's so stupid..." Gilbert sighed. "We room together and since then it's like he's become more like my dad than my brother, you know?"
You didn't say anything for a moment, looking at Gilbert. "I don't know, actually... sorry."
"My brother is like my family's poster child... when I turned out like I did, I guess my dad didn't want Luddy to turn out the same way. He put him straight on the path to be a scientist. And now, he has such a holier-than-thou complex and looks down on me for still not knowing what I want to do," Gilbert explained. You stayed quiet, not really knowing what to say. And Gilbert understood that, so he just kept talking.
"But Luddy oh, his name is Ludwig, by the way he never used to be like that. I remember the way he used to look at me when he was small. I was big brother Gil... we used to do all kinds of things together! Dad wasn't around much so I'd take him out for ice cream or to the park... he was such a cute kid and I practically raised him until dad came back and completely remade him.
"Since then, Ludwig has never looked at me the same again. He got all preachy on me this morning... saying that I was wasting my time and that I needed to buckle down on a career. I mean, I know he's right, but he's so pompous about it and sounds just like our dad. I'm just not ready for that commitment, you know? I tried that once, but I got so bored! He told me that if I didn't have a job by the end of this semester, that he would move out. He makes enough to afford his own place, but he knows I can't keep my apartment if I don't have his help... and I just wish I had my little brother back. I know that he would never abandon me."
Your feet continued to guide you along as you took in all that Gilbert had to say. A small part of you started to panic. This surely hadn't been what you were expecting... what were you supposed to say to that? You had never been good at giving advice...
"Um... did you tell your brother that? You know, how you feel about him and your future?"
"What? That I wish he was little again and that I'm scared of getting stuck with a dead-end job?" he asked. You nodded at Gilbert, watching him wince. "No... we both just ended up getting angry and yelling at each other until I stormed out of the house," he mumbled. The silence fell again as you continued walking. That was your cue.
"I lost my first patient today," you blurted out. Before Gilbert could reply, you continued. "She was an elderly woman by the name of Mrs. Holden. She had already been told that she was gonna die, we were just keeping her comfortable. I was her main nurse. She was really something... she wouldn't hold anything back and she would always tell me that I was wasting time. You see... I think that at some point in her life, she did something that she regretted. I'm gonna share with you one of her last dying pieces of wisdom. She believed in being truthful to yourself and everyone around you," you said, suddenly feeling like a hypocrite, seeing as you weren't even following your own advice.
"If it's true, what you said about your brother and how he used to look up to you, I find it hard to believe that he would do that to you. I mean... you're his big brother. He might dislike you more, but he'll never love you less," you said. Was that from a movie? You were pretty sure you had just quoted a movie.
"God, listen to me," you laughed, embarrassingly. "I guess all that I'm trying to say is that you should tell your brother how you're feeling. Tell him how confused and scared you are"
"Hey, I'm not scared."
"He would probably be willing to help you work something out. Surely, you could compromise. And even if he doesn't understand, well... at least you tried and that's better than nothing!" you said, encouragingly. Without even realizing it, you had both stopped walking, for you had reached your apartment building. When you turned your head, your eyes met with Gilbert's and you embarrassingly became so interested in your shoes.
"Mrs. Holden... she must've been pretty awesome," he said. You jerked your head up in surprise. Your eyes suddenly felt much wetter than they had been.
"Y-Yeah. Yeah, she was," you croaked, wiping your eyes with your sleeves.
"I really hate talking feelings with my brother, but... I think I can do it now," Gilbert mused, smiling. Facing each other, you both slowly began to inch together. Gilbert's hair shined silver in the moonlight. When it hit his eyes, they looked like rubies. Could this be it? Was he about to kiss you? When was the last time you had kissed someone? Did you even know how to kiss? You tried to calm your frantic heart, as the space between you and Gilbert seemed to grow smaller and smaller. He placed his hands on your cheeks. When you closed your eyes, the warmth that you expected to take over your lips was instead placed on your forehead.
Your eyes bolted opened. Your forehead?! You quickly sucked in your lips. Had you been misjudging his feelings this whole time? Guys kissed their sisters or their moms on the forehead... what had you honestly expected? You were just the girl from the bus...
When he pulled away, you avoided his gaze like the plague. You couldn't look at him, you were too humiliated. "Thanks. I mean it. You're really awesome at giving advice," he said.
"Yeah, no problem," you replied softly, finding what small bit of humility you had left in you to look up at him and smile.
"And look, I'm sorry about your patient. But, that's life, you know? You're gonna lose people that you care about, but the important thing to remember is that they never leave you as long as you keep them in your heart. And from what I can tell, Mrs. Holden has a special place in yours."
You only nodded solemnly, not trusting what your voice would sound like if you spoke. This guy... was amazing.
"I'll see you tomorrow, okay?" he said, his hand rubbing up and down your arm, leaving a trail of goose bumps in its wake.
"See you, Gil..." you murmured. And with a nod and a smile, he walked past you and continued down your street. And you hated yourself for not stopping him.
You woke up that morning feeling listless and gloomy. Something didn't feel right... you figured you were still hung up over your "almost" kiss with Gilbert. But you wouldn't let it bother you. Gilbert wouldn't wanna kiss someone who felt sorry for themselves... you quickly washed up for work.
Your heart raced as you waited for the bus. It was a new day. You wouldn't let that forehead kiss get you down... besides that, everything from yesterday evening went perfectly. When the bus arrived, you hurried on and released a sigh of relief when you saw Gilbert sitting in the usual spot. You hurried back to him, taking a seat.
"Good morning," you smiled, looking at him. That's when your smile slowly began to disappear. Gilbert looked at you with wide, sad eyes. His skin seemed even paler than normal, if that was even possible.
"________?" he asked, his voice was so soft as he looked at you, looking back at him.
"Yeah... Gil, are you okay? Is something wrong?"
You had never seen him like this, and you were beginning to get strange looks from the passengers. Gilbert kept blinking his eyes, you guessed trying to rid himself of his stupor.
"What? Um... yeah. Everything's awesome!" he said quickly, suddenly looking panicked.
"Uh... really? Cause you don't sound awesome," you replied. You realized you were getting more stares. What was with these people? You sunk in your seat, beginning to feel uncomfortable.
"I'm sorry, I'm just trying to understand this."
"Is this about your brother?" you asked. Gilbert gave a half-hearted laugh.
"No, not really," he replied. You decided to stop prying, cause it seemed like whatever it was that was bothering him was really stressing him out. Seeing him like this made you feel sick as your stomach began knotting up. You didn't know what to do. You didn't know what to say. But something was wrong. And you hoped that whatever it was, Gilbert would trust you with it and not take it on himself. His disposition never changed the entire bus ride. As the bus was coming up on the final block, Gilbert finally spoke.
"I can't tell you... I can't. But you're gonna find out, and when you do, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry..."
His words pierced you. You were so concerned. What could have happened to him in the past twelve hours to make him act this way? The brakes began their screeching and you knew you were running out of time with him. You didn't want to leave him this way, but the only words you could manage... the only thing you wanted to know:
"I'll see you later though... right?"
He turned to you and for a moment he looked like his usual self as he smiled his cheeky smile. "I promise."
"Liz? You leaving?" you asked as you walked into the locker room to see Liz packing her things.
"Yes, and finally! Doctor Roderick made me take the night shift... ________, it was awful."
"You didn't hear? It wasn't far from where you live... two people got shot by a mugger. They died on the scene," she said sadly. You listened closely as you seriously began to rethink your career choice.
"Were they very young?" you willed yourself to ask.
"The lady wasn't... but the guy was. It was wild though, the guy was albino. I'm almost sure I've seen him around here too..."
Your breath came out as a gasp and a strained laugh. Your stomach seemed to drop straight through you. "Um, you okay?" Liz asked.
"Uh, yeah... I just no. That's impossible," you breathed. Gilbert was on the bus this morning. You sat next to him. Talked to him.
"D-Did you know him? Gilbert Beilschmidt?"
"No, no, no, no, no you don't understand. That is literally impossible. You see, I talked to Gilbert this morning, I saw him," you explained. That was real, right? You couldn't have dreamt it. He had been right there, right next to you and you had a conversation. But in the pit of your stomach, you knew the odds of another albino with the name Gilbert getting shot in your neighborhood wasn't very likely.
I can't tell you... I can't. But you're gonna find out, and when you do, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry...
His words echoed through you. You had to be dreaming. There was no way that this was happening.
"Oh, sweetheart..." Liz murmured, wrapping you in her arms. "I didn't know he was a friend of yours... I'm sorry, but he's gone."
You felt numb in her arms. How could this be? None of this made sense. She let you go and you swayed on your feet. "________?"
"I... I'm fine, I just need to..." you didn't finish before you burst out of the locker room. And while your brain didn't know where you were going, your feet guided you to the truth. The mortuary.
You stood at the door, your chest clenching. You wouldn't believe it until you saw it. It took all the strength you could muster before you pushed open the door and were immediately assaulted by the smell of formaldehyde... the smell of death.
You hated this place. You preferred it above, with the living patients. But not even your illogical fear of zombies or the goose bumps on your arms which refused to go away were enough to make you turn back.
The wall before you looked much like someone had built large filing cabinets into the wall... the cabinets just weren't made for files. You took slow steps towards the wall, examining the name plates until you came across the one you dreaded.
With the shakiest hand, you grabbed the handle to the truth, but you froze. How could you do this? If the truth meant that Gilbert was dead, you didn't want to know it because... you loved him. The cheeky, awesome, Prussian bastard had made you love him without even trying. You felt warm tears beginning to slip down your cheeks.
"Don't freak out."
You had never screamed with such true, utterly despairing fear. You turned quickly, your back ramming against the dead people cabinets as your eyes met with Gilbert's.
"No, I said don't freak out..." he sighed. How your heart didn't stop beating then and there, you would never understand.
"Don't freak out? Don't freak out?! Don't sneak up on emotionally stressed interns in the morgue!" you yelled, looking back between him and his labeled cabinet. "What the... what the fuck is going on, Gilbert? You're not... you can't be"
"Dead?" he finished for you. "I am. I'll save you the trauma of opening that..." he said, patting his chest. "The wound is pretty ugly. If I had survived, it probably would've made an awesome scar," he mused. You scoffed as you slid down the wall, bringing your knees up to your chest.
"________! I heard you scream and..." Liz had burst through the doors with doctor Kirkland, your supervisor. You looked between them and Gilbert but as far as you could tell, they couldn't see him. Doctor Kirkland was the first to you as he offered you his hand.
"Come now... this is no place for you," he said in his English tongue, his voice much gentler than you had ever heard it. You had never been so frustrated. You wanted to cry out. You wanted to scream at them for not seeing the deadman behind them.
"Take the man's hand, ________... this place is really not awesome," Gilbert cringed.
You slowly reached out to Dr. Kirkland, who grasped your hand and helped you to your shaky legs. "You have my deepest sympathies. Was he your friend?" he asked. You looked at Gilbert, who you could see perfectly just past Arthur's shoulder. Arthur turned his head and looked Gilbert right in the eyes. But he only shrugged and turned back to you.
"Y-Yeah. Yeah, we were friends. We rode the same bus," you said as if your brain was on autopilot.
"Right, well... I'm sure you could use some time to yourself. Why don't you go home for the day," he said as a statement as opposed to a question. Both he and Liz lead you out the door.
"Yes. Thank you, Dr. Kirkland," you replied, as your legs kept making steps that your brain desperately tried to catch up to.
"Come on, ________... lighten up!" you heard Gilbert muse from behind you.
"Don't tell me to lighten up!" you hissed back at Gilbert. Both Liz and Dr. Kirkland stopped in their tracks and looked at you like you had lost your mind. Gilbert, who had been walking close behind Dr. Kirkland, didn't stop himself in time before he disappeared and a jolt went through Dr. Kirkland's body. The look on his face went from concerned to confused as he held his hands up in front of his face, almost seeming drunk.
"Well... that's awesome," he said, his English accent hardly there, replaced by something more German. Your eyes widened in shock. Did that just happen?
"Uh, Dr. Kirkland? Are you okay?" Liz asked.
"Yes, I'm jolly good!" Gilbert said too quickly, in a very exaggerated English accent. Had you been standing next to the wall, this would have been the moment where you slammed your head against it.
"Okay... well, I'm gonna to take ________ to get her things," Liz said wearily.
"Right-o! Don't leave immediately ________, I need to have a word with you. Don't dally!" Gilbert said, as Liz took your arm and pulled you along.
"What in the hell has gotten into him?" Liz asked, as you were taken into the locker room and then pulled into Liz's arms. "I'm so sorry! If I had known that he was your friend, I would've called you!"
You felt like that was your cue to say something but no matter how many words came to mind, you couldn't make your mouth say them. "He was the guy you told me about, wasn't he? The guy from the bus? I'm sorry, ________," she said. You had to open and close your mouth a couple times to get it used to moving again.
"I-It's okay, Liz... I'm gonna be fine, I just... wow, I think I might be losing my mind. I just need to go home, okay?" you said, exasperated.
"I'll walk you," she replied quickly, getting her things.
"No! No, that's okay. I just kind of want to be alone right now. You understand, right?"
Liz gave you a long, hard look before she slowly nodded her head. "Fine, but... you know you can come to me, right? You don't have to carry all of this by yourself."
"I know, Liz..." you answered quietly. Slipping out of the door and into the hallway, you made a beeline for the exit. And you were almost there until
"Psst! Hey, ________!"
You froze, turning slowly to see Dr. Kirkland with his head peeking out of his office. "This is so awesome! I totally took over your boss' body!"
You just stared at him, wide eyed. THIS. WASN'T. HAPPENING. "Just... stop," you seethed. This day was awful and it was only getting worse.
"Hey, I don't see why you're being such a stick in the mud... you're not the one who's dead. Need any blackmail on your boss? We can take some nudes of"
"Just get out of him!" you yelled, blushing as you stormed off in the direction of the exit.
"What the bloody oh. My sympathies, ________," you heard from behind you. It seemed like Gilbert had left Dr. Kirkland. You kept walking until you were outside. The day was downcast as you went and sat down at the bus stop. He sat next to you.
"Hey, I didn't mean to make you mad back there... I was just having some fun," he said.
"Are you in my head?" you asked. He chuckled.
"I don't know... maybe. You're the only person to see me today, as far as I know. That's why I was so surprised this morning when you saw me. I thought I was alone... just stuck here."
"So, last night... you never made it home?" you choked.
"Nope. Sorry you wasted your inspirational speech on me. I was gonna talk to my brother, really! I just didn't make it..."
"If you're dead, then why are you here? I've never seen a dead person before..." you replied. Gilbert just shrugged.
"Hey, you wanna go for a walk?" he asked. You let out a half-hearted laugh and just looked at him. How could this be happening? You wanted to cry but you found that you couldn't, not while he was still beside you. "Come on!" he said eagerly, reaching for your hand. But his hand passed right through yours. "Oh... right. Man, this dead thing takes some getting used to," he mused, as if he was completely unphased. It left a longing in your heart though. Without another word, you both stood.
"Where to?" you asked.
"Hmm... wanna swing by my university? It's not far from here," he said. You nodded and you both walked along, not really knowing what to say. So, you said the first thing that came to your mind.
"I'm sorry I got upset with you last night," you mumbled.
"What?! You were mad? What did I do?!" he asked like he was insulted.
"Not mad, just when you didn't kiss me last night, I was sad. Figured I might as well tell you, since you're dead and all."
"Wait, wait, wait. I totally kissed you."
"Yeah, on the forehead..."
"Well, I didn't know where else to do it!"
"I puckered up! Ugh, I'm sorry! I shouldn't even be upset about it..."
"You wanted me to kiss you on the lips?" he asked, and the way he said it made you blush.
"Yeah..." you replied, embarrassed beyond belief. Why did you do this to yourself?
"Sorry... and honestly, if you were anyone else, I probably would have but... I don't know, I was nervous with you. I was trying to go slow. I didn't wanna make you run away from me, so I chickened out and went for the forehead," he said, as you both continued walking. This was unreal. It wasn't long before you arrived at his university.
"You wanna go inside?" you asked.
"Nah... the last thing I wanna walk in on is any kind of memorial service. Let's just walk around for a bit, okay?"
You both walked around, chatting about nothing important, until
"Oh man, is that? It's Francy and Toni!" Gilbert exclaimed. You looked and saw two guys sitting on a bench together. One had longer blonde hair and stubble; he was smoking a cigarette. The other one was just sitting; he was tan with dark brown hair.
"Are they friends of yours?" you asked.
"Only the best..." Gilbert replied sadly. "We kind of had a bit of a reputation," he laughed. "Go talk to them for me."
"Will you talk to them for me?! Please!"
"But I've never even met them and they're obviously upset. What am I supposed to say? 'Hi, you don't know me but I'm Gilbert's friend from the bus'?"
"That's perfect! Now please? Look at Francy... he's must be sad cause we kind of got into this stupid argument a couple days ago and weren't on the best of terms," he explained.
"You just have to put it like that, don't you?" you seethed, as you began walking towards them. Once you were next to them, the blonde one just kept smoking his cigarette. The tanned one looked up at you.
"Hello," he said shortly, with a Spanish accent. This was so awkward. You looked at Gilbert, who just urged you on.
"Hi... you don't know me, but I was friends with Gilbert. We met on the bus..." you replied timidly. At that, they both perked up.
"Excuse moi, but you're ________? _________ ________?" the blonde boy spoke up, looking at you for the first time.
"Oh, crap... I totally forgot," Gilbert moaned next to you. You ignored him, for the sake of seeming sane.
"Uh... yeah. Yeah, that's me. How did you?"
"Our amigo Gil always talked about his querida from the bus! It's great to meet you! Soy Antonio," he said, getting up from his seat and shaking your hand.
"Oui, mademoiselle. And I am Francis. Did he tell you of us?" he asked.
"No. I never did. Trying to keep a good impression and all that... you have my permission to lie," Gilbert said.
"Yeah, he did. He talked about you guys often. From what he told me, you three had quite a reputation," you smiled.
"But nothing bad, I hope?" Antonio said, suddenly looking nervous. You had to laugh.
"No, nothing like that!" you smiled.
"Hey... if you don't mind, there's actually something I'd like to give you," Francis said, standing from the bench.
"Something for me?" you asked, taken aback.
"Oh, he better not mean what I think he means..." Gilbert said, suddenly seeming nervous.
"Yes. Don't worry, I think it will be a pleasant, if not bittersweet, surprise," Francis replied as he tossed his cigarette to the ground and stomped on it with his foot. He motioned for you to follow him and Antonio did the same.
"Did you know that Gil was taking an art course this semester?" Antonio asked. You shook your head 'no'.
"Mein gott, it does mean what I think it means. Okay, ________... that's enough time with my friends, they're really not all that awesome anyway!"
"No, he never we never talked about that," you replied softly, ignoring Gilbert behind you.
"Well, he wasn't a bad artist..." Antonio said with a smirk as you followed him into the school. You smiled at Gilbert who was behind you, pouting. "And lo siento about Francis..." Antonio whispered. "He's usually much more friendly, but when he got the news... well, we're all devastated but he took it the hardest," Antonio explained. You only nodded in response to him, looking ahead at Francis. Gilbert was walking next to him now... how painful it must be to walk next to someone without being able to reach out to them. They stopped at a door that was dark inside. Francis opened it and switched on the light.
"I believe it's around here somewhere..." he said, as he made his way to a stack of papers. You stepped into the room. For the most part, it was plain. It just had a table in the middle surrounded by chairs.
"This is the art room?" you asked.
"No, the student council room. We're all members... Gil was our president," Antonio answered. Your eyes widened. Gilbert was president?
"Oh... he never told me that either," you said, as you were becoming painfully aware that you hardly knew Gilbert at all. He was sulking over by a window.
"I'm sure he had his reasons... believe it or not, Gilbert always knew what he was doing," Francis said as he pulled out a large piece of paper from the stack. "I think that you should have this," he said, handing you the paper upside down. You took it, slowly turning it over and gasped.
It was a pencil drawing. Of you. Down to the shading and the little details of your face; at a distance, you would have sworn it was a black and white photograph.
"Y-You drew this?" you asked, barely above a whisper, looking at Gilbert who looked back with sad eyes.
"Pretty good, non?" Francis asked.
"It's... it's great, I've never" you found yourself speechless and overcome with sadness as you gazed at Gilbert. "T-Thank you."
"I was gonna give it to you myself... sorry I couldn't," Gilbert replied.
"We didn't know what else to do with it... we had no way of finding you. Perhaps fate brought you here today," said Francis. "If you don't mind me asking, when did you last see him?"
You had to stop yourself from saying that Gilbert was standing right across from you. "Oh... he walked me home last night," you replied.
"I see. Nice to have such a lovely last memory. Well, we should really get going. Perhaps we will see each other at the memorial service, no?" Francis said, walking towards the exit and turning off the light.
"Follow him," Gilbert said from beside you.
"Just follow him! Tell him to wait and say exactly what I say," Gilbert said as he tried to grab your arm to pull you along, but had no such luck.
"Are you coming, seniorita?" asked Antonio as he stood at the door, waiting for you. Francis was already walking down the hall.
"Um... Francis, wait!" you called, running out of the room. You stopped in the hallway as he stopped and turned towards you.
"Tell him that I never had an affair with Mattie," Gilbert said.
"Just say it."
"Uh... Gilbert told me that he never had an affair with Mattie," you said, and Francis' eyes widened at you.
"Mattie was intimidated by him and Mattie came to me for advice."
"He said... that you intimidated Mattie, so he went to Gilbert for advice," you said.
"How do you know all this?" Francis asked.
"He loves you, Francis..." Gilbert said softly, and you continued to repeat him word for word. "And if you stopped flirting with all the other girls and playing coy, you would see that... because Mattie's not the type who's gonna say it, but he will show it if you let him."
You watched as a tear fell down Francis' face, a tear that he quickly tried to rub away. He didn't say anything so you continued Gilbert's words.
"Gil, he never blamed you for getting upset at him, but you can't push away someone that you love. I know you think that you're waiting on Mattie, but you've got it backwards. Mattie's been waiting on you."
"Last time I saw Gilbert, I told him that I hated him... that I wanted nothing to do with him ever again."
"You didn't mean it... and he knew that. And he would never want you to beat yourself up over it like this," you replied.
"You two... you must've been very close for him to tell you so much," Francis replied, sounding skeptical. "But merci, mon ami. If you'll excuse me, I have to go find Mathew," he said, turning around with a smile and a wave of his hand.
"Um... lo siento, pero... did Gilbert say anything about me?" Antonio asked, placing a hand on your shoulder.
"Toni, you were always a very loyal friend," Gilbert said beside you.
"He cared about you very much, and said you were always very loyal. And he knows that Romano has been giving you a hard time and all, but you shouldn't give up on him. Romano likes you very much, he just doesn't know how to show it," you said, listening to Gilbert.
"Hah! I would never give up on my little tomate! Gracias... if I didn't know better, I'd say Gilbert was whispering in your ear. And if he is... adios, me amigo. You will be sorely missed. Through your death, may we learn what it means to live," Antonio said with a smile.
"I miss you already, buddy," said Gilbert.
"May I walk you out?" Antonio offered. You did your best to muster a smile.
"Yes. Thank you."
"Well, I'll admit that that was a bit more emotional than I had planned," Gilbert said as you two began walking away from the university.
"I'm glad we did it though," you replied as you continued to gaze at his drawing. "Gilbert, this... it's amazing," you breathed.
"You really like it?"
"Of course! Why didn't you ever tell me that you were an artist?! You could've drawn me like one of your French girls," you teased. He laughed.
"I don't know... I never put much stock in my drawings, I guess," he answered.
"I hate this... I hardly scratched the surface. I mean, in all actuality, I hardly know you at all. I didn't know you could draw, didn't know you were president of your student council"
"Listen ________, those things really don't matter."
"Sure they matter. It's you, it's a part of your life. I feel like I should blame you for not telling me, but then again, I never asked," you said sadly.
"You know plenty about me."
"You tell me..."
"Well... I know that your grandparents were from Prussia. I know that you have a strained relationship with your brother. I know that you're a lot smarter than you let other people think. You care a lot about them too. You have two different smiles: your friendly one and your sincere one. And if you get really excited over something, sometimes your laugh is kind of obnoxious. You don't like being shown up by others and you enjoy attention" you stopped, realizing what you were saying and how embarrassing it was. But he only smiled in response... his sincere smile.
"See? You already know all the things that matter. I'd rather you know me for who I am, not what I am." You could feel the blush creeping onto your cheeks.
"You're troublesome too... flirting with unsuspecting hopefuls on the bus," you teased. He chuckled.
"Listen, what happened back there... I think I think I know what I need to do. You know... why you can see me and all that."
The lump in your throat returned. The one you felt whenever you were reminded of the harsh reality that Gilbert was dead. But he wasn't gone... not yet, anyway. "Is that so," you replied. You were worried. Say he did know what he needed to do... what would happen after he had completed it?
"Do you have any idea where we're going?" he laughed. You looked around at your surroundings.
"Uh... not really. I was following you. Maybe a couple blocks east of my place?" you guessed.
"You're close," he replied. He stopped walking and you stood next to him. He was staring across the street at a couple of fancy townhouses. You could never afford one so nice.
"Does a friend of yours live here?" you asked.
"My brother, actually," he answered. Your eyes widened at the home.
"Oh..." you replied shortly. It immediately registered in your head... this was what he needed to do.
"He's not home yet... wanna take a look inside?"
"Oh yeah, a random stranger breaking into a townhouse, I'm sure no one will call the cops on me."
"The spare key is right under the rock, and you're not a stranger! I'm giving you permission."
"Yeah, well I'd really rather not take my chances."
"He won't be home for hours! He's probably stuck at the morgue. Just... please? There's something I need to do and I need you to do it," he pleaded. You looked in-between him and his townhouse with apprehension... but who were you to deny a dead man what may be his final wish?
You trudged across the street with Gilbert on your heels. Picking up the rock on the right side of the steps to his door, the key laid underneath. You picked it up quickly and hurried to the front door.
"If you don't relax, you really are gonna look like you're breaking and entering," he mused.
"Shush," you replied as the lock clicked and you let yourself in. Gilbert followed in behind you as you shut the door.
"Right... so this might sound strange, but will you let me inside of you?" Gilbert asked.
"Like I did with that doctor guy at the hospital. I wanted to write a letter to my brother the thing is," he said, as he tried to pick up a pencil only for his hand to go through a counter. "I need a living body to do it," he finished.
"Um... sure. My body is your body!" you joked.
"Thanks. I'll only be a moment."
When you came back to, you were standing at the counter with Gilbert in front of you. On the counter, a letter addressed to Luddy sat.
"I hope that wasn't too bad for you," Gilbert said, embarrassed.
"No... I just sort of blacked out for a few minutes. So, what do you think is gonna happen? You know, after he reads the letter..." you replied.
"I don't know, it's just... right now, this is the biggest thing on my shoulders. Like it's weighing me down, you know?"
You nodded slowly, looking at the letter. "Thank you for doing this for me... I already planned it out that we'll go wait outside for him to come home and"
But Gilbert stopped talking as you both heard the lock to the front door click open, and Ludwig let himself in. He froze in his own doorway as he laid eyes on you and your mind began to panic. Despite being Gilbert's younger brother, he was quite taller with a bigger build than Gilbert. His blonde hair was slicked back and he looked down at you with cold, blue eyes.
"Who are you and how did you get in here? Are you a thief?!" Ludwig asked, raising his voice at you as he entered his home.
"Oh shit, he came home earlier than I expected. Just relax and tell him that you were friends with me!" Gilbert instructed.
"No! I'm sorry, I'm not a thief! It's just that I was friends with Gilbert and"
"A friend from his university then? Well, I regret to inform you that Gilbert was"
"I know. And no, I didn't know him from the university. We sat next to each other on the city bus. I'm an intern at St. Frederick's... that's where I heard the news..."
"Well, that's nice... but that still doesn't explain why you're here or why you broke into my home."
"I found this!" you said, grabbing Gilbert's letter from the counter and holding it out to his brother. "You see... Gilbert came over to my house the other night and he told me about the argument you guys had. He wrote this for you, but he accidentally left it at my house," you said, coming up with the lie on the spot.
"Not bad," Gilbert commented.
Ludwig's eyes seemed to soften as he sighed, shutting the door behind him and taking the letter from your hand. "He told you then? Of our fight?" he asked.
"Yes," you answered shortly and quietly. Ludwig walked over to a table and pulled out a chair. Sitting down, he opened the letter and Gilbert read.
"To my Little Luddy,
Things haven't been the same. They haven't been the same for a long time. And I'm sorry to say that I'm never going to achieve what you want me to achieve. I've never been that kind of guy. Whereas you're a person who has always looked forward, I find myself stuck looking in the direction the past... for I'm afraid of what the future may hold for me. And I'm afraid to fail.
At some point, you grew into such a strong man that I realized I could never catch up. Someone told me that it's important to put all other feelings aside and to just tell the truth. The truth is that no matter how the distance grows between us, I am your big brother and I have always loved you no matter what. And I'm so proud of you for doing what I have always feared. I may have grown into a man that looks to be going nowhere to you, but to me you're still that smiling little boy who had endless possibilities. I know that however you live your life, you will succeed. And that's was enough for me to keep living my unmoving existence.
But I think I know how to get un-stuck now. I met someone. And now that I know you'll be okay, I can move on. I can already tell in my heart that this will be for the best. Just promise me that you won't forget who you are or lose sight of your path, for I know that success awaits you in either direction you take.
Watching over you always,
Big brother Gil."
You wiped the tears from your eyes as Ludwig brought his hand to his face, still gripping the letter. "Thinking of the last words I left with my brother... it's cruel to know that I can't give him the words I would like to tell him now. He'll never know how I really looked up to him..." Ludwig said solemnly.
"I always knew, Luddy..." Gilbert murmured.
"He knew. I think he always knew," you said. "He adored you as much as you must've adored him... you were brothers. And nothing you two fought or argued over changed that," you said, trying to comfort Ludwig and fight back the tears in your eyes.
"Thank you for bringing this to me... stranger," said Ludwig, looking up at you.
"Oh, uh... my name is ________ ________. And I'm sorry to breaking in like this... I'll be on my way," you said, walking towards the door.
"And I'm sorry if I may have frightened you... it's been a long day. Perhaps we'll see each other at the memorial service."
"Perhaps... I'm sorry for your loss, Ludwig," you said as you stepped outside.
"Ja... me too," he said, shutting the door behind you. You walked down the steps in a daze. You could do nothing to stop your glassy eyes... nothing to stop the lump in your throat or your increased sense of dread. Suddenly, the real-ness of all of this was hitting you.
"Gilbert!" you gasped, spinning on your heels as you came face to face with your ghostly looking friend.
"I think that was it. I feel so much lighter now... like a shadow," he replied softly, gazing at his hands. "But I... I don't want to go." He clenched his fists, looking up at you.
"Please don't leave me, Gilbert." You couldn't stop the tears anymore. "Tell me you'll still be here tomorrow!" you cried.
"I don't think it works that way," he replied as he closed the space between you. "I'm really wishing I had gone through with that kiss now," he said, trying to give you his signature cheeky smile but it fell short. He reached up, hoping to brush the tears from your cheek... and you were both surprised when you felt his touch, and not a whisper of wind. You both gasped, but Gilbert took no time in grabbing you and crashing his lips to yours. You felt his desperation, his passion as he clinged to perhaps his final seconds of life.
Breathing heavily, you two pulled apart. With his hand, he cupped your cheek, wiping away your tears. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry, please don't cry. ________, I love you. Thank you for believing in me, for all that you've done. The hardest part about all of this is leaving you behind... but I know you'll be okay."
"I don't want you to go, Gilbert... I love you!" you cried.
"I'll always be here," he murmured, placing his hand over your heart. "I'll watch over you always. So you have to promise me that you're gonna do great things. We had some fun times... thank you for listening and wanting to understand. There are so many people out there looking for someone to do just that."
"I would have done that for you..." you whimpered, wrapping your arms around him tight, burying your face into his chest.
"I know you would have."
You never would have let go. But soon the arms around you faded... the body you clung to so desperately slipped through your fingers. And when you opened your eyes, you were alone.
2 months later...
You had stopped riding the bus. Seeing his empty seat proved to be too much to handle just yet. You started jogging in the mornings to get your mind off of things, your headphones often blaring into your ears. With your internship over, you were now a full-fledged nurse at St. Frederick's Hospital. That morning you talked to Liz while you put on your scrubs. On your way to check on your first patient, you stopped upon seeing a familiar head of blonde hair standing across from you, speaking with Dr. Kirkland.
"Ludwig?" you asked. Both he and Dr. Kirkland looked at you. "Uh... I'm sorry, I don't know if you remember me, but"
"No. No, I remember you fondly, Miss. ________," he replied, giving you a light smile.
"Right, well it seems that you have already met our new doctor, ________. Do make him feel welcome. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions, Dr. Beilschmidt," Dr. Kirkland said, walking away.
"Um, how have you been?" you asked.
"Honestly? Things just haven't been the same without him," Ludwig sighed, his sadness hitting his eyes, but not his lips.
"You don't have to tell me," you replied quietly. You both stood in silence for a moment, neither of you knowing what to do or say. You figured that he must be busy though... "Well, I didn't mean to bother you. I better go check on my patients," you said, as you began to step away.
"Wait," you heard him say and you turned to him. "Would you like to perhaps... meet me for coffee later?" he asked.
"Yeah. I mean, yes. I'd like that," you replied.
"Wunderbar," he smiled.
For the short while that Gilbert had been in your life, he made such a lasting impression. And if anyone could understand how you were feeling, you imagined Ludwig would be the one. He wouldn't replace Gilbert... in fact, you doubted that anyone could stand in his place. But you couldn't do this alone... so you went to the café that day. And while you and Ludwig shared your memories and funny stories, you could've sworn that among the chatter, you could hear Gilbert laughing along with you.