Notes Of A Love Song: The First Step

*Angel, you have successfully and evilly converted me with your evilness. Thy name be false, girl. So this one's for you and Lucky both. (though I think Lucky will scowl at my lack of USUK anywhere . . . Lol.)*

Arthur never remembered the dreams when he woke up. It was like a memory he'd lost, faded and distant, quick to vanish from his mind the moment consciousness was regained. He'd reached for it, over the years barely grasping the edges of the dream, pulling away small shards of it every time it flitted through his mind's eye in the night. But even so, it continued to evade him when he woke, save for the scattered pieces he'd forced himself to catch.

There was a river, wide, deep, and dark, though it's surface glistened with sunlight. But more than the depth, it was the distance to the other side that worried him. He could see the opposite shore, and he knew he had to reach it. But the water was in the way. And somewhere deep down, he knew he'd drown if he tried to cross it. So he never tried. Arthur wasn't the kind to take unnecessary risks, and he wasn't about to start taking them, even in dreams.

But maybe that was because it never truly seemed like a dream. The sound of the river and the warmth of the sunlight, they were almost too real. Like the river was a part of his actual life, something he had to overcome in reality before he could in his subconscious. Or he'd drown.

And Arthur was afraid. He was afraid of the water in reality, and of the river in his dreams. He couldn't cross it. It was too wide, too deep, too dark. And there was never anyone in his dreams to save him from drowning if he tried.

The blond wiped the sweat from his forehead, brushing his bangs aside as he kept his other hand on his guitar. He picked at the strings lazily for a moment, closing his eyes and listening to the notes as he played them. Biting his lip slightly, he played the pattern louder, blinking in satisfaction and turning his gaze to the person sitting at the keyboard off to his right. "Roderich, can you play it like that?" he repeated the tune, watching the Austrian carefully.

Roderich nodded, copying the music on the electric piano exactly without missing a beat. He tilted his head to the side, pushing his glasses up from the edge of his nose, "Should I write that in on measure ninety-three?"

Arthur smiled slightly, "Yeah, it flows better if we add that in." He glanced over his shoulder towards the drums, "Will that still work with the lyrics, Feli?"

A man with light auburn hair jumped up, dashing across the small stage to hover over Roderich's shoulder and peer down at the sheet music. He muttered the words under his breath, clicking his tongue and counting the beats in the new addition to the song. "I don't know, can I make a few changes tonight and get back to you tomorrow?" Feliciano asked, smiling brightly.

"That's such a pain, Feli," muttered another man, who looked remarkably similar to the first Italian. He tapped his fingers against his bass guitar in irritation, "Let's just get it down now."

"But . . ." Feliciano said, brown eyes starting to tear up, "But I'm hungry Lovi!" He balled his hands into fists, waving them about in a miniature fit, "I want pasta! We've been practicing all day and I'm starving!"

Lovino put his hands over his ears, trying to ignore the noise of his brother's obnoxiously loud sobs with an exasperated sigh. He cast a sharp, desperate look at the other guitarist next to Arthur.

The final band member merely grinned, wiping some sweat off of his tanned face. When Lovino continued to shoot him demanding, and rather nasty glares as Feliciano wailed, he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, flicking it open and dialing.

Arthur had ignored a good portion of this whole event, sitting down on the edge of the small wooden stage and plucking tiredly at his guitar again. He only looked up when he heard the other guitarist, Antonio, exclaim, "Heya Ludwig!" louder than necessary into his cell phone.

In less than a millisecond, Feliciano had stopped crying and had launched himself across the stage to snatch the phone from his cousin. "Ludwig!" he squealed in delight into the receiver, "Let's go get dinner, okay?" He started jumping up and down as he talked; ignoring the exasperated way Lovino rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath. "Yes, all of us," he laughed, "The rest of the band's hungry too." Smiling, he turned towards Arthur, "Is that okay?"

The blond returned the smile, "Is that wurst-guy treating?"

Feliciano thought a moment, counting on his fingers silently, "Err . . . Sure?"

Arthur waved a hand with a light laugh, "I'm joking, Feli. I'll pay for myself, and I'm sure everyone else will too," he turned a glare towards the rest of the band. Roderich stared back at him with a look that clearly said that it was demeaning to be treated to a meal, and Lovino simply shrugged.

Antonio however smirked and pointed at himself, "What? You can still buy me dinner, Feliciano."

Lovino whacked him over the head with the bottom of his base guitar, looking at his brother out of the corner of his eye, "I'll pay for this miserable broke drunkard. Are we going to the usual place then?"

"Can we?" the younger Italian asked, eyes shining. He didn't wait for an answer, turning back to the phone, "The usual place in five minutes, okay Ludwig?"
There was a startled, "But that's impossib-" from the other side of the line, before Feliciano hung up, pretending he hadn't heard.

It was more like ten minutes later when the five of them came bustling into the restaurant, having to forcibly pull the door closed behind them to shut out the icy November wind. Arthur shivered, pulling his scarf tighter around his neck as he shifted the guitar slung over his back. "Bloody London winter," he mumbled under his breath.

Lovino shook some snow from his coat sleeves, scowling as Antonio brushed flakes from his dark brown hair, "Oh can it, Arthur. You were born here, whereas I grew up in the Mediterranean, where it's considerably fucking warmer. None of this rain and shit year round." He twisted away from Antonio, catching the older man's hands in his own before his hair could be ruffled again, "Will you stop that?"

Antonio grinned, looping his arms around the other's neck and leaning heavily against his back, making Lovino almost fall over. The younger man started to burst into a string of profanity as Feliciano skipped past him towards a table where a tall man with slicked blond hair was waiting.

"Late," Ludwig stated as Feliciano and Roderich slid into the booth beside him, Arthur and Lovino, Antonio still leeched on to the later, taking the other side, "You said five minutes, so I was here in five minutes."

"We had to pack up," Feliciano stated simply, grinning from ear to ear. He turned his gaze down towards the blonde's lap, continuing to smile broadly as he caught sight of the small child sitting there. The baby, barely a year old, was slapping his hands on the table, dark bangs falling over his brown eyes as he reached for the salt shaker, only to have it have it taken out of his reach by Ludwig. Feliciano laughed quietly when the child began to sniffle, scooping the baby up into his arms instead. "Daddy's so mean, isn't he Kiku," he cooed.

Ludwig frowned, "He would have just made a mess if I let him have the thing. Besides," he muttered, pointing at the baby, "Why am I the one that's always left at home to take care of him. You're the one that brought him home without asking me, as I recall. And now that I think about it, when did I say you could move in with me? Don't you live with Lovino? Go home already!"

Lovino didn't comment, choosing to remain out of this discussion since he rather liked having the apartment all to himself. It had been months since Feliciano had slept there at all. It made the place a whole lot quieter. At least until Antonio decided he'd take up the free space for no damn reason. Which was annoying, but less so than his brother.

Feliciano bounced the baby on his knee, smiling as Kiku laughed, "What's wrong with me living at your place Ludwig?" He turned false teary eyes towards the blond, not that the German man could tell the difference between that and real tears. "Am I really that much of a bother?" Feliciano sobbed, still completely fake, "Do you hate me?"

"Err . . ." Ludwig blinked, beginning to look flustered, "I, uh . . . No, I-I don't hate you."

"Yay!" Feliciano exclaimed loudly, causing half the restaurant to stare in their direction, "So it's okay if I live with you, right?"

"Fine," Ludwig muttered.

The Italian grinned, "Good. Now, say that you love me."

Ludwig blushed furiously, "Wha- hell no! Leave me alone!"

"Say it," Feliciano said, sticking out his lower lip and beginning to cast puppy eyes at the blond. But the look quickly faded as a heavy tray smacked lightly against his head.

The waitress holding said tray had an annoyed look on her face as she leaned against it, the item still on top of Feliciano's head. With a hand, she swept back some of her long brown hair behind her ear, glaring at the people seated in the booth. "How many times have I told all of you not to bug me at work?" she demanded, green eyes resting on Roderich in particular.

"But you have good pasta here," Feliciano piped up from beneath the tray, his reply causing the woman to press the tray down onto his head even harder.

"And you," she said, narrowing her eyes at Ludwig and the Italian in turn, "Save that sort of talk for the bedroom. You're freaking out the other customers. You especially, Feli. You're too loud." Her scathing gaze returned demandingly to Roderich, "Take. Them. To. A. Different. Restaurant. You. Twat." Each word was darkly emphasized.

Roderich raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, looking very much like he planned to stay exactly where he was. Arthur, however, put his hands up defensively, "Now, now, Elizaveta, what if I give you an extra big tip?"

She blinked at the blond, a thoughtful look crossing her face, "Thirty percent?"

Arthur frowned slightly, knowing that she meant thirty percent of the entire tab, not just his own meal. And with the way Feliciano ate . . . "Yeah, sure," he agreed in defeat, "Thirty percent."

Elizaveta smiled sweetly at him, turning to skip off at the thought of such a large tip, "I'll bring you your menus then," she called over her shoulder.

The Englishman turned towards Roderich across the table with a scowl, "You're halving it with me," he said threateningly.

Feliciano was rubbing at his head sadly, asking Ludwig if where Elizaveta had hit him would swell, and insisting that the blond take a look, when his phone went off in his pocket. He pulled it out, returning Kiku to Ludwig's lap as he answered it. He was silent a moment as the operator connected the lines, wondering who was calling that didn't know his phone number. Then, he caused the whole table to jump, (and half the restaurant), as he screamed, "Big brother!" excitedly into the receiver.

One of Arthur's characteristic eyebrows twitched as the youngest band member lapsed into speaking very quickly in a different language. He glanced at Antonio, "Is he speaking French?"

Antonio had untangled himself from Lovino and was leaning forward on the table looking excited, "Oh, yeah, he is," he said absently, more absorbed in what his cousin was jabbering into the phone. "It must be Francis, I dropped him a line the other day."

"Who's Francis?" Arthur frowned, already disliking the name.

"My brother," Antonio replied. "He's quite famous, actually. But we haven't heard from him in years. I remembered that he had connections with an American recording company and called him the other day. Thought he might be able to help us out, y'know?" He waved a hand dismissively, as if that was the end of the conversation.

"A recording company?" Arthur said, eyes widening, "Really?" He paused, feeling a bit confused, "Wait, if he's your brother, how can he be Feliciano's brother too? I thought you and Feli were cousins."

"Well . . . I think it's something like my dad had a wife, and had me, then he had another wife, and had Francis, and then that wife had another husband and had Feli and Lovi. Or something like that." He looked a little confused himself, "Though I'm not sure how that really makes us cousins at all . . ." He shrugged, "Anyways, Feliciano, what's Francis saying?"

Feliciano turned his attention back to the people around the table, looking as if he'd forgotten they were there at all. "Oh," he said in surprise, saying one more thing in French to the person on the other line, "Francis says he's got us a job, isn't that great?"

Arthur jumped up, "What, seriously? Is this just another gig, or a bloody real job, like a recording deal?"

"A recording deal," Feliciano grinned, "But there's one condition."

"Spit it out already!" Lovino exclaimed in exasperation, his own excitement starting to become apparent on his face.

"We have to move over there," Feliciano said slowly, glancing at Ludwig.

The German raised an eyebrow, "Where, Feliciano," he said quietly.

"America," the Italian replied, gazing pleadingly around the table, "It's a really great offer, right? I mean . . . Shouldn't we take it?"

"I'll go," Lovino said immediately, Antonio nodding at his side.

Arthur hesitated a moment, "Me too, I guess. But I don't have a whole lot of money-"

"Francis says he can set up places for us to say until we hit it big," Feliciano assured as if he could read his band member's mind

Roderich looked uncertain, and was about to open his mouth with an obvious, "No," when he was interrupted.

"We'll go!" Elizaveta squealed, jumping up beside their booth and making them jump, "Right, Roderich, right? I wanna go to America, they have such unique fashion styles over there! Please, please, please!" When Roderich nodded, she threw the menus up in the air with a whoop.

However, strangely enough, it was Feliciano who had yet to say whether he wanted to go or not. He was looking at Ludwig with determined brown eyes, "I'll stay," he whispered.

"What?" Arthur said, aghast, "Feli, you can't! You write our songs, you're our drummer! We need you!"

"No," the Italian smiled sadly, shaking his head, "I'm going to stay, I can't-"

"We're going," Ludwig interrupted, reaching over to ruffle the other man's hair with a small, rare smile, "This is your big chance, right? Don't try to give it up because of me. If you'd asked, I would have said I'd come, idiot."

"It's love," Hungary sang, twirling around with her mind still filled with thoughts of American clothes, "Lovey-dovey, love, love."

"It is not!" Ludwig growled in embarrassment, his hand falling back to his side pointedly. He glanced at Feliciano, "When do we leave then?"

"Francis says he can arrange for tickets for tomorrow night, can we be ready by then?"

"If we pack all night," Ludwig replied, "can everyone else manage?"

"Yes!" Elizaveta said immediately, followed closely by Lovino and Arthur.

Feliciano grinned, "Francis," he said into the receiver, "We'll be there on the plane tomorrow then."

^-^ ^-^ ^-^

Arthur had conveniently forgotten a few crucial points when he'd agreed to this whole thing. One being the fact that unlike everyone else, he'd been born and raised in London, and had never been on an airplane before. The other being the teeny-tiny fact that America was across the ocean. The plane had yet to take off and he was already hyperventilating.

Feliciano was sitting next to him, and reached over to loosen his friend's seatbelt, "Look how tight you have that," he chided, "no wonder you're breathing funny."

Ludwig looked up from his seat on the aisle as Arthur made a funny little "eep" noise when Feliciano loosened the seatbelt. "Arthur, switch seats with me," the blond said quietly, motioning towards the window, "I like sitting in the window seats."

The Englishman sighed in relief as he and Ludwig switched, the German's words disguising the fact that he could tell Arthur was freaking out. When he was buckled safely in again, a bit calmer now that he was away from the window, Ludwig took the opportunity to pass Kiku across to him, setting the child in his lap. "Don't squish him too hard when the plane takes off," he said quietly, a slight teasing air to his voice as the engines flared to life.

Arthur tired not to, gluing his attention to the baby as Kiku patted at his hands in a rhythm that may or may not have been patty-cake. The blond began to hum to keep his heart rate down as he felt the plane begin to rumble along the runway, the words from their newest song coming to his lips, "I know you wanna show the world but no one knows your name yet-"

"Wondering when and where and how you're gonna make it," Feliciano said beside him, filling in with the lyrics he'd added the night before.

"You know you can, when you get the chance, except in your face the door keeps slamming," Antonio piped up from behind them.

"And you're feeling more and more frustrated, and getting all kind of impatient," Elizaveta sang from across the isle, "Waiting, we live and we learn-"

"To take one step at a time," Arthur picked up again, closing his eyes as the plane started to lift off the ground, "there's no need to rush. It's like learning to fly, or falling in love . . ."

"It's gonna happen when it's, supposed to happen," Feliciano sang quietly, "and we'll find the reason why, one step at a time."

It was hours later that Arthur dared look out the window, only to feel his stomach drop upon seeing nothing but water. Ludwig was asleep near the glass pane; Feliciano was also out cold, head on the taller man's shoulder. Arthur smiled slightly when he noticed their fingers laced innocently together between them, but decided he wouldn't blackmail them about it. He turned his gaze to the child in his lap, who was playing with peanuts on the tray on the back of the seat in front of them, with no intention of eating them as far as Arthur could tell. Across the aisle, Elizaveta was leaning over a snoozing Roderich and talking to a tall, busty, flustered looking flight attendant short ash-blond hair about American fashion. She flashed Arthur a smile when she caught him looking, and pointed discreetly to the row behind him.

The blond peered through the space between his and Feliciano's seats, blinking in amusement at what he saw. Lovino was still awake, flipping lazily through the Sky Mall catalogue with one hand, the other occupied as his fingers ran through Antonio's hair, the older man asleep with his head in his cousin's lap.

Arthur smiled, leaning back into his own seat, Kiku still in his lap. He had the feeling that this move would be good, for all of them. Though he himself felt a bit reluctant to leave his home country for the first time. He ran a hand through his hair nervously, wondering if America was a different as everyone said it was. Or, hell, what this brother of Antonio's was like. He had after all, licensed his band with the man without meeting him first. He just hoped that wouldn't turn out to be a horrible decision. Yawning, he closed his eyes, deciding that a nap wasn't such a bad idea. It might make him forget that they were currently right over a seemingly endless ocean for a few hours, which would be nice.

When Arthur dreamed this time, he was no longer at the edge of the river. But rather, he had rolled up his pants past the knees, and had taken the first, tentative step into the water. He was still afraid, yes. But something made him want to cross this time. Because just on the other side of the river, he could see someone standing there, waving at him, waiting for him.

RANDOM AUTHOR RAMBLE

I got this idea from the fact that for awhile now . . . I've really wanted to do an Mpreg. So you have been forewarned. The main character in this fic will be our lovely Arthur Kirkland. :] Poor Arthur . . . We will be subjecting him to angst and torture. (actually, that depends on what your definition of torture is. :D ) the main pairing will be FrancisxArthur, but as you can obviously see, all the others will be mixed in here too, but won't have a plotline like in LDoH. (thank god . . .) speaking of which, since I want to work on both these fics at once, and I already have a shitty computer situation, updates will be slow. Like, once a week if you're lucky. But that's speedy for all of you, isn't it? I get impatient however. *thumbs up*

Anywho . . . This is the only pairing I could even do an Mpreg with. *shudders* mostly because they do have "children". *snerk* Oh, and about Kiku being a baby, there's a reason for that. Remember my OTP, readers of LDoH? Yes, that one. Well, I like to keep it intact, and if they're not countries anymore, age is a factor. So Kiku, I babytized you. And it gives me an excuse to make Ludwig and Feliciano his adopted daddy and mommy. :] which is fun. Yay for fluff.

Oh, and yeah, the flight attendant was Ukraine, *teehee* could you tell from my description? I was gonna make it Bela, but decided she'd probably rather throw a bag of airplane peanuts at Hungary than talk to her. Lol. Oh, and the song they sing is "One Step At A Time" by Jordan Sparks. I don't think I'll be using any original songs for this fic, but they will be singing a lot. (unless u want to donate ur original song. Go ahead and feel free.)

Next chapter, you'll meet Francis, and his friends in New York! (another place I have never been. Hmm . . .) and Francis has some fun (in some cases, scary) friends that we all know and love. :3