snow-speckles.

hetalia (c) hidekaz himaruya


December 18th. There is a late-night crispness in the air. There are tiny lights that look like colour-spat stars dangling from a black wire and draped around the bar - a twinkling winter scarf for the establishment. If the light-string is a scarf, then the layer of snow is definitely a coat. Untouched and white, it crowns the roof top, an icy halo marking the coming of Christmas. People who pass point up at the inky-black sky and point out that it'll probably be a white Christmas this year. They laugh. They catch the joy on their tongue and the numbness it causes makes that cheer stay there until they get home. Things inside the bar, however, aren't nearly as festive. It's almost Christmas. Our story begins.

"And so, you can most definitely see that I won't actually be alone on Christmas, right?" Gilbert directed the question towards nobody in particular "I mean, I'll have - I'll have beer! How awesome of me to remember that small detail - I'll have beer with me! What else? Oh - you! Hey - you! You'll celebrate Christmas with me won't you?"

The waitress sighed, mopping furiously at the bar as if she were trying to mop away all the lonely idiots who seemed to gather round her in their pre-Christmas drunken stupor.

"Sorry," she laughed (although she wasn't sorry at all), "I have plans. Maybe next year, okay?"

"Well. Aren't you just a ray of sunshine? You don't know what you're missing you - you stupid - what's the word? Beer - beer cup lady - no - You - you beer mug woman! I shall tell you what you are missing! The most incredible day of your life - that's right. As any day would be, with me, of course. Actually, just by talking to me now - at this very instant, your life is being - what's that word again? En-enriched? Well, whatever! Screw you! I'm too cool for Christmas anyway! It's just another god damn awesome day in the life of me. Yes, that's right- !"

"The bar's closing now."

"So?"

"So. Leave."

He tipped his head up to the falling snow and laughed. The door was locked behind him and he could still hear the not-so-cheery drone of the jukebox from inside. Old Christmas songs. That's all those stupid places played this time of year. He scoffed, his laugh turning to chalk-dust in the midnight swallow-song of a breeze. He stretched, pulled his collar up so it brushed the skin under his ear, put trembling fists in snow-speckled blue pockets and began to walk home. He laughed as he walked and he hiccuped as he laughed and he sung festive songs (wrongly, of course) as he hiccuped. Then he tumbled back-first through a layer of hazy-eyed, sour-liquor-smelling atmosphere and right into his bed.

---

December 19th. The effect of a phone call on a man with a hangover is not indifferent to being the unfortunate object trapped between a hot hammer and an anvil. Gilbert winces at the alcohol-induced sore-spots and reaches through a murky sunrise in an attempt to pick up the phone. He fails three times before he manages to answer. Our story continues.

"Who the hell is this? Quit pounding on my head or I'll pound my fist into your face!" he yelled. (Half-into-his-mattress, half-into-the-phone.)

"What on earth are you mumbling about?" came the unimpressed reply.

"What do you want?" he groaned forlornly, knowing such phone calls usually meant he was in for telling-off, a beating, a whole lot of not-listening, or, as was usually the case, all of the above.

Elizaveta sucked a splash of air through her teeth.

"I need your help," she began, "And before you start gloating or refusing or going on and on about how awesome you are and how, of course, I'd need your help, I want you to shut up and not do those things, okay?"

"Can I do them later?" he asked, perching an elbow upon his pillow and massaging his temple.

"If you absolutely must and if you do a good job." she answered.

"Alright! What is it you need the awesome- what is it you need me to do?" Gilbert asked, suddenly alert.

"I need you to help me put up the Christmas tree and decorations." she explained matter-of-factly.

"What?" he whined, "Why can't you just get that Austrian idiot to help you?"

"Well -he's out of the country today and I want it to be a surprise for when he gets back!"

"Then why can't you get someone else? Why me?"

"It's nearly Christmas, Gilbert! Everyone else is busy!"

"Eh? What makes you think I'm not busy?"

"Because you're you?"

"Hey! I'll have you know I have plenty of really cool plans for today!"

"Like what? Lie on your mattress and tell yourself how awesome hangovers are?"

"That among other things!"

"Hey! I rarely ask you for anything, Gilbert! So I'm asking you nicely-"

"But I can't be bothered to come all the way over there! It's snowing and I've got a hangover and-"

"Will you please come over and-"

"And besides! I'm way too awesome to take part in Christmas - yours or otherwise-"

"JUST GET THE HELL OVER HERE!"

---

December 19th. Take one.

"This is your tree?"

"Yes."

"This is your tree?"

"Yes.

"That's so fucking stupi- OW!"

---

December 19th. Take two.

"So, this is your tree."

Gilbert leant back on his ankles and wondered if it were possible to even estimate the exact size of the Christmas tree before him.

Elizaveta narrowed her eyes at Gilbert for his sarcasm.

"It's very big." He smiled at her. "Are you two over-compensating for something or wha- OW"

---

December 19th. Take three.

"Right. The tree is big because Christmas is special. We have to get it standing upright because it topples. I got it." Gilbert silently cursed himself allowing himself to be hit over the head - twice - while he had a hangover.

"So, any ideas?" Elizaveta asked.

"Get a new tree?" Gilbert suggested.

"I'm serious!"

"So am I! Look - the tree topples because it's too heavy - or too flimsy - or - I don't know! Alright?"

"You don't know or you don't care?"

"Either! Both! I mean- OW!"

---

December 19th. Take four.

Elizaveta ran her hands under the cold-water tap and exhaled all hope that this Christmas would turn out special. See, in her dream-vision that never actually paralleled what happened in reality, she and Roderich would dine underneath the glow of the towering-over-the-dining-table Christmas tree and they would exchange gifts and then he would play the piano as she dreamily half-slept, half-listened as the night came to an end. However, she hadn't even began planning for the meal and she had a severely-bruised Prussian in the dining room trying to prop the weary tree against the wall, so it didn't so much tower, but lean.

"Why can't things just turn out the way they're supposed to?" she yelled.

"Are you yelling to yourself?"

"Gilbert? What do you think you're you doing? I thought you were taking care of the tree - not sneaking up on me."

"I have taken care of it, moron!" he snapped, folding his arms across his chest.

Elizaveta paused in doubt and dried her hands, peeking through the door so she could see that, yes, indeed, her tree was standing defiantly upright.

"O-oh?" Elizaveta made her way to the dining room, apron in hand and laughed. "I guess we'll need to stack ladders-upon-ladders in order to decorate it, right?"

"It kind of touches the ceiling a little, but it stands. Awesome, right?" Gilbert grinned, trying hard not too come across as too smug with his bold accomplishment.

"Right." Elizaveta agreed lightly, her voice dizzy with happiness, "So how can I repay you for this?"

"You can kiss my boots." Gilbert exclaimed excitedly, "You can just bend right down and kiss my boots."

"What?" she asked, a grimace trying to crack and break through her sudden bout-of-happiness.

"You can just kiss one boot, if you'd like," Gilbert continued, red-violet eyes fierce with achievement, "Go on, kiss a boot. Any boot. You can even pick the boot!"

"How about I just boot you directly in the face?" she smiled. (A smile not set on breaking.)

And then he said: "I'll settle for a kiss on the cheek?"

To which she replied: "How is that an improvement on the boot?"

To which he suggested: "On the forehead?"

To which she gave: a firm "No."

To which he eventually admitted defeat, slinging his hands in snow-speckled pockets, an escape ripe on his snow-speckled boots.

"I'll be getting those Christmas decorations, then." he leant back on his heels, mentally reminding himself to wreck havoc in their basement for the denial of a reward.

And then: "How about a kiss on the lips?"

"Wh- What the hell?" A blush-speckled cheek.

"A kiss on the lips." she repeated plainly.

"I- I mean, I would've suggested it myself if I knew that was on the table." he ran a hand through his hair. (A sign of rare embarrassment.)

"It's Christmas," she explained, he eyes playful and downcast, "Christmas means mistletoe, right?"

"Mistletoe?" Gilbert stared up at the ceiling, "But there isn't any mistletoe-"

"Gilbert." she interrupted him, "Shut up."

Gilbert paused.

Gilbert swallowed his heart from beating in his shoulders.

Gilbert shut up.

---

December 19th. The snow-fall is thick and relentless and the logs on the fire have all been devoured until there's nothing left but the grey-white of the embers. Gilbert resigns himself to the coldness for he barely feels it. It is too late and too brutal outside for him to return home. He hangs up a snow-blue jacket by the door. Elizaveta teaches him how to loop paper chains and he does so, clumsily, as she flicks through the worn-out pages of cookery books, asking his opinions on the Christmas recipes she finds. The pans remain on the wall. For now. It is almost Christmas. Our story ends.

---

EXTRA.

"So how did you get the tree to stand up properly?"

"I glued the whole thing to the floor and walls! It was super glue too! Really strong! Totally awesome, right?"

"You super glued the tree to the floor?"

"That's right! I just thought - Man, you're never going to get this thing to stand on it's own so I took the glue and- OW! Why do you keep doing that?"