Disclaimer: Himaruya Hidekaz has the rights, not I.
A/N: Title taken from 'I Was Once a Loyal Lover' by Death Cab for Cutie. This fic is labeled on my computer as 'liz and gil have weird sexual tension' which kinda tells you everything.
Neither one will ever admit it, but Gilbert and Liz were best friends until middle school.
They had been in each other's first grade class and were told to be buddies on some field trip. It was Gilbert's idea to sneak away from the rest of the group, but Liz was the one to suggest that they go to the petting zoo while their class had to listen to a speech about birds. From then on, they decided to be partners in crime.
The next seven years were spent with Gilbert and Liz glued at the hip. The spent a whole summer reading through the children's section stock of books on King Arthur and decided from then on that they would be knights. Liz was there in the background when Ludwig said his first word and Gil pinkie promised that he'd never make fun of her glasses (and he never has).
Then It happened. It was what cause the abrupt stop to their carefree friendship and turned it into something significantly more awkward. It guaranteed that every interaction between the two would always be a little tense and a lot like walking on tight rope. And, like many Its in Gilbert's life, Francis caused it by pointing out one day during the summer before high school. "Liz is kinda hot."
Gilbert seriously choked on the ice dream he was eating as his brain tried to figure out how the words "Liz" and "hot" could ever go together. And a half second later, when he thought: huh, she is pretty cute, It had been solidified.
That summer was an uncomfortable one for Gilbert, who couldn't help but imagine what it would be like to be Liz's boyfriend. The idea seemed really awesome, since she already was his best friend who happened to be a girl. However, he didn't get to share this idea with Liz because she was spending most of her summer at her grandparent's house.
When she came back, Gilbert decided he would confess his feelings at the airport. (He'd been invited by Liz's parents to come and pick her up, along with some Russian girl she apparently had been writing letters to the whole time.) On the drive there, he planned the whole thing out, including the fact that the best time to tell her was when Liz hugged him hello.
Except when Liz left the boarding gate, all Gilbert could do was stare. His friend was in a dress with a low neckline making it apparent that Liz had the gall to grow a chest over her vacation. Her hair was longer now and she'd stuck a fresh flower in it. When Liz hurried to hug him after her parents, Gilbert could even smell perfume (and this was a girl who scoffed at the idea of showering in third grade and called him a wimp for still liking his rubber duck).
"Aren't you going to say something to me?" Liz demanded as she pulled back slightly. Her smile was dazzling.
That was all the eloquence that Gilbert could manage, because he was busy cursing puberty and poor timing and the whole world as he became rapidly aware of the fact that he was getting a stiffy in the middle of a fucking airport because of a hug. When Liz realized it too, she went bright red and made a similar sound.
And so It began.
"You're drunk." Gilbert says flatly.
He's not sure if he should be amused or horrified, because Liz rarely drinks. Especially not as she's supposed to be helping him clean up the restaurant before closing. It's pure coincidence that they wound up working at the same place over the summer and seeing Liz after months away at school is surreal. Her eyes, for one, seem greener.
"At eighteen, you can buy drinks in Hungary." She mumbles back, swiping lazily at a table with a rag.
Gilbert flips a chair up and takes the rag from her. All Liz can manage in response is a half-hearted attempt to snatch it back. He pushes her down into a chair and commands her to sit, because she'll likely end up more of a hindrance than anything else if she can't even block Gilbert. Wiping the table down properly, he shoots her a wolfish grin.
"So, you have a reason for getting sloshed on your break or what?"
Liz blinks as if she doesn't understand the question and a smile melts slowly onto her features. That's another thing that seems different to Gilbert, but he can't figure out how exactly. Settling into her seat, Liz picks at one of the ruffles on her uniforms skirt. "Roderich didn't want to make love to me."
He's focuses on another table now, wishing that he had some brain bleach. They may have been close when they were kids, but thinking of Liz having sex with Roderich is weird. Maybe it's because the other man is so uptight that it's like imaging the school librarian doing it. Awkward and most likely dusty.
"Ah, you're drowning your unawesomeness. Did Roddy finally 'fess up to batting for the other team?"
Liz turns pink, which is a dangerous in itself and mutters something that sounds an awful lot like 'I wish'. Her friend chooses to ignore it, moving to wipe down the booths now. All the cleaning this job requires sucks a lot, but it was either find work or pay room and board while he's home for the summer. Whatever.
Antonio is spending the first month of summer with his grandparents like always and Francis has to be home by nine at the latest to tuck Chelle in. Work is just another way for Gilbert to keep all his awesomeness to himself.
"He promised himself to wait for marriage." Liz finally manages. "I think it's sweet."
The other man would've scoffed, but couldn't manage it because he remembered making the same promise when Chelle was born. As much as he loved the girl, there was no fucking way he could handle that whole parenthood thing on his own. Besides, he still remembers the days when he attended church with his mother. The visits had lessened, but the messages stayed just as strong.
"You guys gonna run off and elope now?"
When she smiles, it's not as nearly as vicious as Gilbert would prefer. He wistfully thinks back to a few years ago, when Liz would chew him out for daring to even look at Roderich the wrong way. She hadn't told Gilbert about her crush on the older man, but he'd known from the beginning. Liz is nowhere as subtle as she might think, especially now, as she's sprawled out on the floor and hugging herself tightly.
"Am I pretty, Gil?"
While he doesn't freeze in real life, his brain jams up. The question is loaded and there's no correct answer. He can say no, piss Liz off and maybe make her cry. It's a bad option. Or, he can say yes, and risk sounding stalkerish or weird or something. The unknown is always the worse option. Gilbert is pretty sure that anyone could answer the question better than him.
"Doesn't it only matter what your stupid boyfriend thinks?"
Liz considers this, her head lulling to one side and green eyes slipping shut. She's not asleep, just thinking deeply. It's a little funny, Gilbert guesses, because the girl won't even remember his moment of maturity by tomorrow and will still consider him an ass. Their relationship, or lack thereof, will be the same old train wreck, but that's always worked for them.
Finally, Gilbert finishes cleaning up and sits down next to Liz. She's breathing shallowly, but still flicks her eyes towards him, reaches up to poke his cheek. "You're so serious right now."
The letter s is giving her some trouble right now, so it takes Gilbert a minute to get what Liz is actually saying. He shrugs lazily and pokes her back, telling Liz that she's so sloshed right now. His pronunciation comes out all right, which makes her frown a little. Still, when Gilbert offers his hand in order to pull her up, Liz accepts it.
Gilbert is in Germany with his brother and grandfather at the moment.
They've been traveling for a little over a two weeks and while he's thrilled at being 'cultured' and all, Gilbert can't help but feel a little homesick. But his phone is long dead and he'd forgotten to bring a converter. (Not his fault! No one told him that Europe wasn't awesome enough to run on the same type of electric outlets as the ones back home.) So, while West and Opa are at some boring museum, Gilbert hunts down a pay phone.
As soon as he reaches the phone though, the blonde realizes he has no idea of who to call. Francis would probably be watching Chelle since it's a Saturday. Antonio has gone straight that summer and got a job, which means that he was either working or sleeping before heading to work.
Gilbert figures that he could always call up Feliciano, West's cute little friend, but there's no way that he wants to deal with his brother's panties getting all twisted. That would just be another way to take all the awesome out of month long European vacation.
With no one left, Gilbert dials a number he tried to only use during emergencies or prank calls. By the second ring, a familiar female voice says. "Hello?"
Gilbert smirks and coos out. "Hey there, Lizzy Bizzy Boo. Guess who?"
"I thought you were supposed to be running amok around Germany, not bugging me while I'm just waking up." She sounds annoyed and Gilbert can just imagine the scowl on her face.
He also can imagine his friend in a cute negligee for all of thirty seconds, before it shifts to a more realistic tank top and pajama pants. Most likely, Liz's hair is be sticking out all over and she's got terrible morning breath. A small part of Gilbert thinks he'd still kiss her like that, but the majority of his mind was reminding him how nasty morning breath could be.
A beep tells him that he only has a couple minutes left (man, how not awesome could these pay phones be?) Sounding cocky, the blond asks. "So, has everyone been crying themselves to sleep now that I'm gone?"
Liz snorts. "Only if we're talking about tears of joy. Strangely enough, it's nice to wake up and not find that you have forced my mom to cook you a huge breakfast."
"Hey, it's not my fault that your mom can't get enough of me!"
Liz calls him disgusting and Gilbert only laughed. Another beep informed him that he had a little more than a minute, so the blond quickly says. "Well, tell your mom not to miss me too much alright? And don't tell anyone, but I kinda miss all you idiots back home."
There was a moment of silence and Gilbert almost hangs up, thinking that he's been disconnected. Finally, the girl softly replies. "I miss you too, stupid. Don't-"
He never learns what he wasn't supposed to do, since the phone actually cut out that time. Swearing loudly, Gilbert kicks the phone booth.
For her twentieth birthday, Liz has a costume party. For the most part, she keeps the guest list small. Feliciano and Lovino both offer to help her set up the party and for that, she is grateful. As the Vargas brothers work on preparing and setting out the food, Liz drags countless chairs, tables, and one stereo system into her backyard. By the time everything is done, there's an hour left before guests are supposed to arrive. She thanks Lovino and Feliciano for all their help and then the boys leave to change at their house.
She hurries to put on her costume, a hand-sewn knight's outfit, complete with cloak and tin-sword, and figure out what to do with her hair. Just as her cell phone rings, Liz decides to wear it up in a half-bun. The call is from her boyfriend, Roderich, who says that he's very sorry, but won't be able to make it to the party.
Liz tells him it's fine, since he won't know any of the people and then hangs up. Before she even has time to feel angry at her boyfriend, the doorbell rings. The first guests are, not surprisingly, the Vargas brothers, dressed in suits and fedoras. (They're going as mafia members, like they have for every Halloween since Feliciano was ten.)The next to show is Shui, whose dressed as a witch and hugs the birthday tightly for nearly two minutes, rapidly asking how the younger woman has been. Francis arrives with his daughter right on time. Liz pauses to coo over the toddler in her princess costume and Francis on his own matching (and very tame) prince one.
After that, the guests arrive in flocks of fours and fives and Liz is busy playing the role of host. That is, until a pair of hands cover her eyes and a familiar voice asks. "Guess who?"
"Is it you Saint Marie?"
There is a laugh and then Liz is spun around and then hugged tightly. The white-blonde hair and devil-may-care grin confirms her suspicions. Without a second thought, she stomps down on Gilbert's foot. A pained look floods his face and he lets go.
Smiling, Liz studies him. She hadn't seen him in a few weeks, despite the fact that they were going to the same university. Still, Gilbert hasn't change at all, with the exception that, like the birthday girl, he was now wearing a knight's costume.
"Jesus, Liz! Is how you treat everyone who wants to wish you a happy birthday?" Gilbert says scowling, "Not to mention you copied my idea to have a costume like when we were kids."
Liz rolls her eyes. Sure, she and Gilbert used to pretend they were knights all the time and that was their favorite Halloween costumes. That doesn't mean that he owns the idea and she tells him as much. Gilbert only laughs and tosses an arm over her shoulder. Out of all the things Liz would reluctantly admit that she liked about Gilbert these days is that he doesn't hold grudges for long. (Except in the case of Roderich, which never fails to piss her off.)
"So, is Rodick here as your princess then?"
She freezes halfway through pouring a drink. Liz has been so busy with the party; she hadn't had time to think about her boyfriend's sudden cancellation. Count on Gilbert to be the one to bring it up. The idiot always knew how to say the wrong thing. After clearing her throat, Liz says. "Roderich couldn't make it tonight."
"Are you fucking kidding?" Gilbert replies, "But it's your birthday."
"I know." She bites down on her lip."A good boyfriend should drop everything for his girl's birthday."
"I know, Gilbert." Her hands are clenching, as if on their own accord."If I was your boyfriend, I'd never leave you alone on your birthday."
"Of course you wouldn't. " She resists the urge roll her eyes and downed half of her drink instead.
"And I really want to kiss you right now."
For the second time in ten minutes, Liz freezes and stares at Gilbert.
"Tell me you're joking, Gilbert." She demands quietly, not wanting to draw attention.
The blonde's Adam's apple bobs a few times and then Gilbert shakes his head. Liz grabs him by the front of his shirt. (Or the fold of his cape, when you took their costumes into consideration). Her eyes are green slits and his are open wide as she pulled him in close. Their noses graze and Gilbert turns an even darker shade of red.
The girl's voice goes low. "Gilbert, if you only said that because Roderich didn't show up and you want to prove that you're the better man or whatever, I will kill you."
"Liz, I swear to God that this isn't a joke."
Gilbert leaned in slightly and she can smell that he'd had something fruity before he came up to her. As that thought occurred, a small dose of panic fills her body, because never before in her life has Gilbert been this close to her. Not even when they were little and it didn't matter that he was a boy and she was a girl, because they had been knights, meaning nothing was off-limits.
This right here is completely new and scary as fuck, because now Gilbert has his eyes half-closed while Liz looks like a deer about to be flattened by a semi.
Gilbert presses their mouths together softly and doesn't even give Liz the proper time to panic or hit him, before pulling away. His face is still bright red, but at least now he's looking her in the eye. Liz steps back from Gilbert and then socks him hard in the arm. He winces, but doesn't make any other moves. Nor does he say anything as Liz flees.
He does, however, have a small smile on his face.
Elizaveta is still in love with Roderich.
They had dated for a nearly two years (fifty-one weeks, she reminds herself, fifty-one glorious weeks) and then Roderich had been to one to actually break it off. He had to done it at the end of the worst month in Elizaveta's life. Of course, it happened a couple days after her birthday, just short of their anniversary. It had been two weeks since then and Liz is still adamant about staying in her room.
So, Gilbert makes it as his best friend duty to get the girl out of her slump. Which is to say, he hops the fence and sneaks into her house using the key that her parents keep hidden under a potted plant. Then, he helps himself to some food before making his way to Liz's room. She doesn't yell at him to get out or to stop dropping crumbs all over her carpet. Instead, the girl looks at him and wearily nods. "Hey, Gilbert."
He plops down onto her bed, takes a bite out of his sandwich, then declares. "You look like shit, man."
"I feel like shit."
"This is why I've decided to grace you with my ever awesome presence."
He flashes her a grin. Liz responds by staring back blankly. Gilbert hates that her eyes are red and puffy. Roderich (who he called countless nasty things inside his head) has made her cry. Gilbert has never even done that, not even when they had fallen out of a tree together and she had broken her wrist.
The two of them sit together in silence. Just as Gilbert was about to demand that they go and watch TV or something, Liz lets out this huge, awful sigh. She turns to her friend, looking like she could burst into tears on the spot. "You know, I was going to ask him if we could get married."
The girl starts to cry then and Gilbert is stuck looking stupefied for a moment. Then, Liz is reaching out to hug him. This is his fantasy: to be in her bed, holding her with no sign of her stupid boyfriend. Gilbert finds it supremely unfair that the only way he gets to do that was when Liz was sobbing about Roderich anyway.
Goddamn it, Gilbert thinks, stroking Liz's hair awkwardly, Edelstein is going to fucking pay.
In the end, Gilbert bribes the sound guy to play a recording of Roderich freaking out on some of the kid's he gives piano lessons to during one of his recitals. He winds up fleeing the stage in a huff while Gilbert records it from the audience, because he knows that one day Liz will be able to see the video and laugh.
As for now, she finds him in the library the next day and punches him in the shoulder. Gilbert swears loudly and is shushed by the librarian before he snaps at Liz. "The level of violence in our relationship really can't be healthy."
"You ruined his recital."
Liz's voice is a soft hiss and Gilbert considers this dangerous, because he knows it's not because their in the library. He doesn't say anything, just studies the flush on his cheeks (she's either really pissed or she ran her from her first class) and the way Liz's eyes seem a little brighter than the night he watched her cry herself to sleep.
"You ruined his recital." Liz repeats. "The news is all over campus. Tell me why."
Gilbert swallows several times, then decideds it's time to either nut up or shut up. "He made you cry."
This is clearly not Liz was expecting to here. She reels back, the flush on her face deepens, and her mouth hangs open in a way that reminds Gilbert of the pig he had to dissect in bio last week. (And that last thing shouldn't seem endearing, damn it, but it is because Gilbert's crush on Liz is the weirdest thing on the planet.)
"You ruined Roderich's recital because he made me cry?"
"My roommate, Eduard, helped with the tech stuff, but yeah." His voice is shaking a little. This sucks.
"And did you know that talent scouts were in the audience?"
"I personally sent them a recording of the entire thing." Now his heart is racing as Liz narrows her eyes at him.
"You recorded it?"
"And saved you a copy so we can laugh at it one day, maybe."
Gilbert snaps his eyes shut, sure that he's about to die. There's a moment of silence where his stomach is flipping with nerves and then, he's falling until his head collides with the floor. Liz is sprawled over him, laughing, crying, and possibly maybe kissing his cheeks a little. And that's where Gilbert sees his shot and shifts so she's kissing him on the mouth.
It's way better than the kiss at her party, even if Liz is crying, because she runs her hand through his hair once before pulling away. They stare at each other, ignoring the rapid footsteps of the approaching librarian. Gilbert pushes a strand of hair behind Liz's ear with a shaky hand and asks. "Now what?"
She looks at him, all honest eyes and small smile, and answers. "I don't know."
Liz starts laughing then and Gilbert joins, the two of them sounding like complete maniacs as the librarian kicks them out and says he's banning them for the rest of the day. And it doesn't matter, because Gilbert figures his term paper can wait for a little while, because as he and Liz walk to the restaurant they both still work at for lunch, their fingers keep brushing.
Though it took forever, It seems to suddenly become worth all the trouble.