Warnings: Gilbert's potty mouth. Later chapters will have much worse and a higher rating, but that won't be for a while.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Hetalia who populate this fic, just the story idea.
There was no way around it: it was hot. Way too hot. The late August sun beat down on the bricks of the campus walk and the facades of stone buildings, creating a cruel boiling pot for the hectic swarms of new students and movers milling about and struggling with overstuffed suitcases and bulging cardboard boxes.
Ludwig Beilschmidt looked queasily out at the shimmering sidewalks from the cool safety of his third story window. Perhaps he could busy himself with rearranging the haphazard pile of possessions on his half of the cramped dorm room in order to avoid re-exposing himself to the oppressive atmosphere of move-in day just yet. And it wasn't only the heat; Ludwig was sure that the nagging beginnings of a headache in his temples were caused as much by the clamor of annoyed voices as by the powerful sunrays. His austere cinderblock first-year room was becoming more and more appealing, with its air conditioning and relative peace…
"WHEW! It's hotter than Brad Pitt's ass in a speedo out there! I'm sweatin' like a nun in field of cucumbers!"
Ludwig cringed as his older brother banged through the door and announced his presence to the world.
The new arrival dropped the trunk he had lugged through the entryway onto the linoleum with a loud thud and dashed over to where his little brother stood at the AC unit. Ludwig shifted guiltily as he watched him pant dramatically and tug at his shirt front as he let the blast of cold air rush over him.
"Oh, I'll get the rest, Gilbert, it's okay," he offered.
If his brother could take this weather, he had no excuse. Ludwig, unlike Gilbert, was not albino. Ludwig, unlike Gilbert, did not have hyper-sensitive eyes and skin. Ludwig, unlike Gilbert, did not have to wear long sleeves and pants on ruthlessly hot and sunny days in order to go outdoors.
"Kesesese!" Gilbert laughed his distinctive laugh. "No worries, bro, that trunk was the last of it, thank God. Jesus Christ, though, Luddy, since when did you have so much fucking stuff? You're almost as bad as Elizaveta! Speaking of which, can I hang out with you when my housemates get here? I don't want to be around that PMSing bitch while she's arranging her stuff, y'know? She's kinda compulsive about neatness. I tried to help her organize her kitchen utensils last year, and she hit me over the head with a frying pan. A mother fuckin' frying pan! Not like her pansy new boyfriend's much better though. All his shit's super expensive, he gets all possessive about it. Oh, and don't even think about laying a finger on his piano; he's having it shipped from home and I swear to God, he acts like that thing's a baby born of his own vag."
Ludwig's already slightly achy head reeled at his brother's ranting.
"Aren't those your friends you're talking about?" he questioned weakly.
Gilbert snorted. "Well, yeah, that's why I'm allowed to talk about them that way."
Ludwig quirked an eyebrow. He wasn't entirely convinced his brother was over the fact that Elizaveta had dumped him for his best friend, Roderich, though that had been over a year ago… but the three were sharing the rent on a house just off campus along with their humorless acquaintance Vash, so it couldn't be that bad, he decided.
"Ah, I see. Well, I hate to think how you must talk about me, then."
"Kesese, well, if you ever did anything to piss me off you might have something to worry about, but as it is you're in the clear." Gilbert slapped his little brother heartily on the back.
Ludwig allowed himself a small smile despite the dull pounding in his cranium. It was true his older brother never seemed to find any fault in him, and was always proud or even boastful of his accomplishments. In fact, it was Gilbert who had encouraged Ludwig most enthusiastically to attend his own alma mater, carrying on about how awesome it would be to go to school with his awesome little brother for one last year before he graduated. Standing by his brother as he gazed out at his new home, he thought that Gilbert might actually have had the right idea for once.
Gilbert stuck around a while longer, ostensibly just to help his little brother unpack a few things. He ended up sprawled out on Ludwig's bed instead as he prattled on about the best way to organize a dorm room, pointing here and there as Ludwig did most of the work. By the time he had removed the last item from the last suitcase, he almost wished that he, too, had a frying pan to hit his brother over the head with.
But only almost. His headache was receding despite his brother's babbling, and he had to admit that had Gilbert not been there, he may have committed what were apparently several horrendous faux pas of dorm décor. Not to mention that it would have taken at least twice as long for him to haul all of his luggage to the room by himself. No, this had worked out well. With Gilbert and Ludwig attending the same university, Gilbert could drive them both in his car and help the freshman settle in, meaning that their father didn't need to take one of his precious few days off work to assist the process or sacrifice his vehicle to the cause.
Gilbert gave an exhausted sigh from his place on the bed as if he had been the one pacing back and forth across the small space, bending down, reaching up, for the past hour or more. He sat up and Ludwig perched on the edge of the bed next to him, surveying his handiwork.
"Well, little bro, I guess I better get outta your hair before your suitemates get here or I might cramp your style, right?" Gilbert grinned.
"I'm actually surprised none of them have arrived yet. Registration must be closing soon."
Gilbert snorted. "Y'know, not everyone's as anal and insistent on getting to registration the moment they open as you are." He fell suddenly silent as he seemed to consider something seriously for a moment. He glanced at his brother. "Hey, hey Lud—you catch that?" He smirked.
Ludwig rolled his eyes. "Wow, Gilbert, aren't you witty today."
"What's this? Do I detect a hint of sarcasm in my angelic little brother's tone? Never!"
Ludwig had to chuckle in spite of himself as his brother cackled merrily.
Gilbert wiped his eyes as he hopped off the bed.
"Anyway, I'll leave you to it. But I'll expect a full report! I dunno how I would feel about a roommate who goes by the nickname 'Feely.'"
Ludwig scoffed. "It's 'Feli.' I think it's supposed to sound more European. His family's Italian, apparently."
"Oo, he's from Italy?"
"No, he said he's from Brooklyn."
"Aw, damn, I thought for a moment if you got real buddy-buddy with him you might have a ticket or two across the Atlantic for spring break."
Ludwig sighed. "Well, Dad will probably want to travel for Christmas again."
"Oh, god. As long as he sticks to Germany. I think I was permanently scarred by London last year. What the fuck was he thinking? English food for Christmas dinner. Never again," said Gilbert, a stricken look on his face.
Ludwig grimaced. His brother may have been overdramatic, but he had to admit it was not a pleasant memory.
Gilbert shivered as if to shake off the thought of the distasteful meal. "So, need anything before I go?"
"I don't think so…"
"Thanks for all the help, really. I… I'm glad it's worked out like this."
"Kesese, anything for my little bro." He reached out to ruffle Ludwig's hair, purposefully mussing up as many of the carefully slicked back blonde strands as possible.
Ludwig growled in annoyance but didn't say anything as his brother turned to go. Before he reached the door out of the suite, Gilbert took the sunglasses that had been stored on his shirt front and flipped them open with the flair of familiarity before placing them smoothly on the bridge of his nose. They were specially prescribed tinted glasses to reduce discomfort on exposure to light, so Gilbert wore them almost all the time when he was out (though he insisted it was merely because he was that awesome).
The albino flashed a grin, "See ya later Lud," and went out.
Within the next hour all three of the missing suitemates had arrived. They were all coming from the airport, where there had been some sort of hold up. Ludwig was glad he was already mostly organized and able to sit peaceably on his bed as the other three rushed about unpacking.
His roommate, Feliciano Vargas, turned out to be a brunette ball of effusive energy and enthusiasm. He kept on forgetting where he had packed things and what he had already unpacked, though, which made Ludwig wonder if he was truly all there. He had been quite startled when the smaller boy had insisted on giving him a huge welcoming hug, and his apprehension only increased as the Italian-American maintained a ceaseless stream of chatter as he set about his work. Luckily it only required the occasional grunt of acquiescence from Ludwig, but he couldn't help but think that this could get very tiring very quickly.
The boys sharing the other room could hardly have been more different from Feliciano. There was Kiku Honda, a foreign student straight from Tokyo, and Herakles Karpusi, a Greek-American from Chicago. Kiku would have been hard pressed to fit the Japanese stereotype any better than he already did. He was painfully polite and actually greeted Ludwig with a traditional bow, which surprised Ludwig almost as much as the hug from his own roommate had. He had thought for some reason that that kind of thing really only happened in movies, and it had been incredibly awkward when he had to drop his hand from its outstretched position where it had been waiting for a handshake. Ludwig half-inclined his head in an uncertain response—was he expected to bow back?—and shifted uncomfortably at how close the straight-faced student was standing to him. He supposed Kiku's personal space bubble must be considerably smaller than most Westerners'.
Herakles was just as quiet as his roommate, but his calm seemed the result of plain lethargy rather than rigid formality. Ludwig was relieved when he shook his hand like a normal human being (rather than a hyperactive hummingbird or an expressionless robot), but was quite concerned by how downright sleepy his new acquaintance appeared. There were a few times he noticed Herakles paused in the middle of the small entryway to the suite and thought that the boy had simply fallen asleep on his feet. He wondered if this was his usual behavior or if he was simply abnormally tired after packing and travelling. Maybe he suffered from narcolepsy?
The four decided to go out for dinner together and ended up at a nearby pizza joint at Feliciano's insistence. Most of the meal was taken up by the Italian's energetic chatter, and Ludwig found himself somewhat amused by his roommate's ramblings despite himself. He learned that Feliciano had a strong dislike of any physical activity and that he had many relatives in the area around Rome, though more than half of his extended family had moved to Brooklyn within the last century or so. He had decided to become an art history major after visiting some relatives who had taken him to all the greatest museums of the Italian capital.
Ludwig also managed to glean a few interesting tidbits from the others when they had a chance to speak. Herakles apparently looked after all the stray cats in his neighborhood and, despite his Greek Orthodox religion, seemed to believe he would be reincarnated as a cat in a future life (Ludwig was beginning to think maybe the Greek was just as strange as the other two). Kiku was a talented artist (as evidenced by a sample drawing he did for them on a paper napkin) with an extensive manga collection, though he was planning to study robotics in school (rather appropriately, thought Ludwig).
Ludwig, in turn, explained that his brother was a current senior at the university, and that they had both been raised by their single father, who had moved the family to the States from Germany when they were still very young. Though his father was technically a resident alien, he and Gilbert had received citizen status long ago, though they still enjoyed vacationing in their country of origin.
After hearing the names of all of Feliciano's favorite pastas (which included more types than Ludwig had ever even heard of, let alone tried), they decided to turn in for an early night after such a long day. Glancing at Herakles, who had fallen asleep at the table less than halfway through Feliciano's list, Ludwig thought that was probably a good choice.
A phone went off.
"Huh? Wha—uh, ahem, hello?"
"Soooooo? How are they?"
"Uh… who's… who is this?"
"Aw c'mon Lud, don't tell me you can't recognize your own awesome brother's voice."
"Gilbert? What time—Gilbert, it's two in the morning for God's sake! What the hell are you calling me for?"
"I already told you—I expected a full report. You never got back to me, so I thought I'd call. Is the coast clear? Can you talk? Or is the roomie there?"
"Gilbert, it's two a.m.. Where else would he be?"
"Heh, guess you haven't gotten used to a college schedule yet."
"Well, considering I haven't even been here a full day yet—"
"Okay, jeesh, keep your voice down, don't wanna wake Italian boy from his beauty sleep. Or is he still up? Wait, don't tell me—are you guys having a party in your room with all the new floor hos right now? Am I interrupting some, ahem, private time?"
"Uh, private time, yes actually. Me, myself, and I were really enjoying some nice, peaceful sleep."
"Oh. And the roomie?"
"He's… uh, snoring. Okay, scratch the 'peaceful.'"
"Ouch. That sucks, bro. But how is he?"
"He's… well… we're… polar opposites."
A low whistle. "This oughtta be interesting."
"Yeah, it's too early to tell anything though, I think."
"Hmph. Okay, and the others?"
"I can't tell what the one's thinking, it kinda creeps me out. The other one seems to fall asleep a lot and has a thing for cats."
"…You have weird roommates."
"Oh c'mon, like yours are any better."
"Hey! They—are… not that weird."
"… I think I can hear him snoring. O my god."
"Hm, not surprising. So… what did you do?"
"Oh! I had a great time! Turns out Antonio got into town early too, so we hung out and caught up."
"Oh… do you two still hang out with that Francis guy?"
"Do we hang out with him? Dude, we're a trio! How could we not hang out with him? That's the whole point of a trio, there are THREE of you."
"Hm, well… just don't do anything stupid. He doesn't seem like a good influence."
"Awww! My little bro's trying to look out for me! Kesese, you're so sweet, Luddy. Frankly, though, I think I have more to worry about with you surrounded by robot-boy and cat-lady/man. I mean, that whole rose-down-the-pants thing was only that one time—though I did keep finding tiny thorns in places I never thought or hoped to for at least a week afterwards… but anyway, Francis is arriving later this week and yes, I do plan on going out drinking with him and Toni first chance we get."
"Hey! Why don't you come with us? That would be so awesome!"
"Uh, no thanks."
"You're no fun. But believe me, I'm taking you out drinking before the semester's over whether you like it or not."
"Gilbert, I'm underage."
"My point is—oh, never mind."
"Kesese, thought so. Okay, well, enjoy orientation tomorrow—if I remember correctly, mine absolutely sucked ass. But, hey, I've had a faulty memory before."
"Great. I'm really hopeful."
"You gonna be able to sleep with that motor engine in the room? Or do you want me to count sheep for you like when you were little?"
"Gilbert, I hate to break it to you, but I'm pretty sure that only ever kept me awake longer."
"Nonsense. How could you possibly resist this mellifluous voice?"
"Mellifluous? Really Gilbert?"
"Hey, I can hang up whenever I want to."
"I'm counting on it."
"Ouch, that hurts! C'mon, don't ya wanna talk to your older bro?"
"Not at two o'clock in the morning, particularly."
"Oh fine, fine, grandpa. Get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Good night, Gilbert."
"'Night, Lud. Sleep tight."
A/N: So the first chapter is pretty lighthearted, and the next few will be too, but I gotta warn you-don't expect it to stay that way the whole way through. I'd like to address a few issues in this fic that always seem to be hanging around the edges of the fandom but which I've never seen really in the spotlight.
So please, read, review, and tell me if you'd like to see more! Chapter 2 will be up soon, and I've started on chapter 3, but reviews really motivate me, if you care to take a few seconds. :)