Sunshine on Concrete
A/N: If this fic seemed… incomplete… in any way, it's because I wanted to write more, but a dry spell struck me totally by surprise. My muse completely left me and I was left with the worst case of writer's block. x_x Blah.
Dedicated to dawnerah.
Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of Axis Powers Hetalia. I just mix facts from Wikipedia with my garbled imagination. :)
Static noise. Click.
A music performance. Click.
A movie, in all its black and white glory. Click.
The news. Cli-
Ludwig's fingers paused over the large steel knob, something compelling him to not skim over this channel like all the rest. The television screen fizzled and the image jumped a few times before the reception cleared. Slowly, he allowed his hand to pull away, leaving the news channel on.
Today was nothing particularly special. It was a fine June day, exceptionally ordinary. And besides, he read the newspaper every morning over breakfast anyway, all caught up on current events before he started work at 8:00 sharp. His eyes left the screen for a moment to scoop up the bowl of butter yellow batter he had set down, resuming the whisking.
A pink tongue poked out as he whisked the batter with increasing fervor, and he stood up to return to the kitchen. A layered cake with cream sounded quite delicious this lazy afternoon, perhaps even with some honey glaze on top. Softly, he began to hum a small tune as he bustled around the kitchen, laying out pans and ingredients. Blackie gave a low whine from his position sprawled on the kitchen floor, content to watch his owner.
The house was quiet, except for the sounds of baking and the television in the background. Ludwig frowned as he poured the batter into a pan. Wasn't the president of America visiting right now? What was his name again? Ludwig strained to hear more of the news reporter's voice from the living room. Reagan? Apparently, his speech was about to broadcast soon, live from the Brandenburg Gate.
Hearing the beginning sentences of the president's speech caused Ludwig to heave a heavy sigh. He set down his pans and spoons, resting his empty hands on the countertop. He looked out the window towards the horizon, feeling as if his insides were a whirling tempest.
Politics. Peace. Hopes and dreams for the future. That was all they ever talked about. For the first time, Ludwig felt like he was just a chess piece on the board. Perhaps all countries were like this, merely pawns for their leaders. What use was peace when missiles were spread over Europe? What use was politics when his country was cleaved in two by the Wall?
His hopes and dreams withered the day cold concrete separated him from Gilbert.
Thoughts of his older brother always brought a sharp burst of pain in his heart, like a needle pricking his insides. If he closed his eyes, he could still see the outline of his brother's form. He could still imagine the way he walked, the way those ruby eyes would light up, and the way his silver strands would flutter on the wind. He could still hear the raucous laughter, the bold declarations, and the soft whispers in his ear. Sometimes, just the thought of those pale lips curving and molding itself was enough to drive him mad. And that iron grip on his hands when they were younger, so soft yet so firm.
How long has it been? How long must he look out his kitchen window and see the Berlin Wall tainting his view? It was a stone behemoth that served as a constant reminder of his failures and what had become of his once shining capital. His dreams had melted into unforgiving concrete and barbed wires.
His eyes stung, and he forced himself to look away from the window. He bowed his blonde head, gazing distantly into the perfectly mixed cake batter. Gilbert…
The television in the living room droned in the background. President Reagan's voice was clear and firm, commanding attention from the onlookers. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
His hands clenched the countertop even tighter. Those words echoed inside his mind, mirroring his feelings more than he would ever admit.
He watched in mute fascination as drops of salty liquid fell into the pan of cake batter, mixing with the sugary concoction, before realizing they came from him. Too late, as his eyes began to film over again.
I miss you.
Ludwig felt as if his heart had plummeted into his stomach, bathed in the acid, and then rose up again back inside his ribcage along with a chorus of angels. The sheer shock caused his eyes to bug out of his skull, twin cerulean pools reflecting disbelief. His hands almost shook on the doorknob, slick with sweat.
Raucous laughter. Of course.
Red eyes danced with mirth. "What's the matter, West? You look like you've just seen a ghost."
The blonde was quick to recover, catching his breath again, and licking his suddenly dry lips. No doubt his face was as white as a sheet.
"Well? You just going to stand there? Aren't you going to let me in and pop some caps off bottles?"
Ludwig could do nothing but step aside to let his brother in, closing the door behind them. He turned to face Gilbert, eyes still wide with amazement.
As for the older man, Gilbert didn't even bother to look around. He plopped himself down onto the nearest sofa, propping his dirty boots onto the coffee table, looking as if he had belonged there all his life. "Come on, West. We haven't got all day."
Those words finally snapped the blonde out of his stupor. He had a million questions swarming in his mind, and Gilbert looked all too happy to answer each one. He hurried into the kitchen, grabbed two bottles of cold beer, and handed one to his brother. The cap twisted off with a crisp –pop!–, and Gilbert took a hearty swig. "Ahh…" He sighed contentedly, lounging back into the sofa. "Feels like old times."
Ludwig took a seat opposite his brother, too stunned and curious to bother with the stains on the coffee table. After ten years, Gilbert just waltzed in as if he had never left. Evidently, nothing had changed with him. But that hardly mattered. Prussia was here in West Germany, in the flesh, real and tangible.
"H-how? How did you get here? I thought visits were forbidden! All the visas I'd applied for were all denied! Does Ivan kno-…" Ludwig abruptly cut himself off as a sheet of paper was thrust into his face. He had to cross his eyes to focus on the miniscule printed font, but it was obviously an approved visa.
"I didn't have much hope either, but…" Gilbert's face split into a mischievous grin. "Apparently, citing your reasons for visiting as 'urgent and important family matters' lands you the stamp of approval." He tucked the visa back into his coat pocket, face morphing into a pleased expression. "Genius, no?"
Ludwig huffed dejectedly. He had filled in every convincing lie about why he wanted to visit when applying for his visa, and had been rejected every time. Count on Gilbert to get lucky on his first shot, and with the truth no less.
Gilbert only chuckled at his countenance. The silver-haired man patted the seat next to him, red eyes soft. "Come here, Ludwig."
It was an offer he couldn't refuse.
He sat down next to his brother, aware of how close they were in proximity. He could feel Gilbert's eyes on him, examining every inch and picking up on any changes. Slowly, the elder brought up one gloved hand to the other side of Ludwig's head, caressing his hair before gently pulling his head down. Ludwig felt his cheek land on top his brother's lap, and he shifted his body over into a more comfortable position.
Memories assaulted him in waves, and he inhaled raggedly. He remembered back when he was no taller than Gilbert's stomach and he would often rest his blonde head on his brother's lap at night, especially when Gilbert returned from distant wars and it felt as if they should never part again. He remembered the decadent palace rooms, ceilings adorned with crystal chandeliers and the walls lavished with beautiful portraits and wallpaper. But Gilbert never once looked at the ceiling or the walls when they were together like that. He always looked down, into his yearning blue eyes, petting his hair and telling grand tales of faraway lands.
Those days were long gone, and they were in a modest house in West Germany in 1971. But one thing had not changed. His brother's eyes never left his as he toyed with the blonde strands of his hair. "Tell me." Gilbert spoke, quiet and calm. "What's happened?"
Now it was Ludwig's turn to talk. He told his brother everything that had happened in the last ten years since the Wall had been built. He told of stories about his people, the economy, his hopes, his opinions of Alfred, Arthur, and Francis. He told of how things seemed so different.
He talked long after the sun had set on the western horizon. He talked long after the fireplace was nothing but burnt embers.
Finally, he finished. The dam that had broken inside of him was slowly repairing itself. His throat was dry and his lips sore. Gilbert had not once interrupted or looked away.
Then, as if they were back in a palace in Brandenburg or Potsdam, Gilbert bent down and pressed a soft kiss to his forehead. Ludwig closed his eyes, feeling the fleeting curve of his brother's mouth in a smile, and wishing this moment would never end.
I have missed you, little brother.