Pairing: Gilbert Beilschmidt/Roderich Edelstein (Prussia/Austria)
Summary: Human AU. Gilbert Beilschmidt is not, generally speaking, a romantic man. Which makes his behaviour this particular Valentine's Day a little odd for Roderich to understand… Gift fic for TCTBS; spin-off of 'La Patisserie de la Rose.'
This story is for Pixie (This Could Theoretically Be Sparta) and is a spin-off from a Franada story also written for her, 'La Patisserie de la Rose.'
Those who have read 'La Patisserie de la Rose' will be (somewhat) familiar with this version of Gilbert and Roderich. For those who haven't, all that is really needed to know is that Gil and Rod live in Canada, and that *cough* Gil's a brony. This is set a few years before the current events of 'Patisserie.'
A low, muffled thump echoed in Roderich's dozing mind, causing him to wake just enough to feel the fluffy pillows beneath him and smell the familiar, smooth aroma of coffee wafting from the kitchen. He waited, drowsily, on the edge of consciousness, for another thump. Not hearing one, he sighed quietly to himself, and drifted easily back to sleep. The next bang was a little louder, and a little harder to ignore. Roderich reluctantly cracked open an eyelid, taking in the muted sunlight creeping through the frost-covered windows. The dull thuds gradually grew louder until Roderich had no choice but to stir languidly, stretch slowly in the soft, warm bed, and wonder what Gilbert could possibly be doing at this time of the morning to make so much blasted noise. Roderich yawned sleepily and debated whether to stay where he was, or to find and berate his frustratingly loud boyfriend. He was just deciding on the former when…
"Morning, Roddy, baby!"
Roderich groaned. Sleeping in was a thing of the past since Gilbert Beilschmidt had barrelled into his life three years earlier. Roderich pushed himself up, reached for his glasses from the bedside table, and blinked incredulously. He was immediately certain he was still asleep and dreaming. Because Gilbert stood at the foot of the bed, grinning proudly, holding a tray with a coffee pot and mug, a small selection of pastries, and a single red rose. Roderich rubbed his eyes behind his glasses, but the remarkable vision remained the same. When he finally convinced himself he was not dreaming, Roderich narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "All right, what did you do?"
Gilbert laughed and carried the tray towards him. "Can't I bring breakfast to my boyfriend in bed without a reason?"
"Not really, no." Roderich sat back against the pillows, fully awake now as Gilbert placed the tray on the bedside table.
"In that case, I'll give you one." With wild, messy hair, stubble on his face, and wearing nothing but his Tweety Bird pyjama pants, Gilbert looked both dishevelled and annoyingly gorgeous as he held out the rose. "It's Valentine's Day, baby!"
Oh. Ohhh… Roderich immediately felt guilty. He had been so busy rehearsing for his next recital in Toronto that he'd completely forgotten. Yet, regardless of the day, Gilbert bringing him breakfast in bed was completely unexpected. "Oh, well… thank you, that's…" Roderich took the rose and gave it a puzzled glance. "...surprisingly sweet." And Roderich truly was surprised. Gilbert never did things like this; he did not have a romantic bone in his body. Roderich had accepted that long ago.
Gilbert fell heavily onto the bed beside him. "Don't act so shocked, babe, it's coffee and a rose. You'd think I'd proposed or something."
Roderich laughed and accepted Gilbert's messy, forceful, morning-breath scented kiss with only the smallest groan of reluctance. He broke it, however, before things got too out of hand. "Yes, yes, don't get carried away." Roderich leant across Gilbert and reached for a pastry.
"Snobby prude," said Gilbert, but there was no malice in the words. Roderich just put his nose in the air and took a bite of the pastry. It was meltingly delicious.
"Oh… it's one of Francis'."
Gilbert scratched his head a little sheepishly. "Well, I was going to make you French toast, but I thought that would be too much Francis in the morning." Roderich snickered softly. "And then I thought about a Spanish omelette but again, you know, just way too Antonio-inspired, and you know how eggs upset Gilbird. So then I decided on the perfect starter course for the day..." Gilbert grinned and his deep bronze eyes flashed red. "Prussian sausage!"
Roderich furrowed his brows and looked back over at the tray. "But there's no food but the pastries…"
Gilbert winked. "I wasn't talking about food, baby."
Well, there was the Gilbert he knew. Roderich was caught between laughing and sneering as Gilbert pressed him into the pillows. "I should have known you couldn't keep this romance thing up!"
"Lucky for you there's something else I can keep up…"
"Gilbert, you are so utterly crass it's… oh… ahh!"
Three hours later, after finally managing to extract himself from both Gilbert's arms and the bed, Roderich sat down at his piano in his downstairs studio to get some serious practice in. He had recitals coming up, and recordings to make, and… Roderich paused, blinked, and stared, puzzled, at the unfamiliar sheets of music sitting on the stand. They were printed with elegant old-fashioned script on beautiful ivory paper, and tied with a red satin ribbon. Roderich reached for them slowly, and noticed the title written at the top of the page. 'Gaspard de la Nuit,' by Maurice Ravel.
Roderich's mouth fell open. This was the most difficult piece he had ever encountered, so difficult he had never even bothered to obtain the sheet music. He had once mentioned to Gilbert that he would love to play it one day, but that he knew he would never be able to. After all, some of the greatest concert pianists in the world could not manage it. So why on earth was this beautiful, brilliant, notoriously demanding music now sitting on his piano? Roderich untied the red ribbon and a small note fell onto the piano keys. He picked it up and read the five small words in Gilbert's handwriting.
Because I believe in you!
Roderich's heart swelled in his chest. He blinked disbelievingly, touched and bewildered that Gilbert would remember something like this and make such a thoughtful, heartfelt gesture. Smiling, he turned the small note over to find more writing on the other side.
I looked this song up on YouTube and I think it sucks but baby, you are awesome enough to pull it off!
P.S. I could totally play this trash but I don't wanna.
And there, again, was the Gilbert he knew. No one else would call one of the greatest works of French impressionism 'trash.' Roderich rolled his eyes, sighed, then laughed softly to himself. And just for the sake of it, he began playing out the first few bars of the exquisitely difficult third movement.
"So, did you learn that song yet?"
"It's not a song, Gilbert. And no, I did not learn arguably the most challenging piano piece ever composed in the twenty minutes you allowed me to practice before dragging me out the door."
Gilbert hummed disapprovingly. "Hmm, losing your touch, old boy."
Roderich decided to ignore that. He and Gilbert strolled along the walkway beside the river, coats and scarves drawn close against the cold February day. Roderich had to admit - with how much he had been working, it was nice to spend time with Gilbert like this. He did still feel rather guilty that the silly little gift he had planned was not finished yet. After all, Gilbert seemed to be making an effort for the day - Roderich had the very odd feeling that he was trying to be romantic. Well, as romantic as Gilbert could manage, anyway. But even just strolling quietly together, their eyes meeting occasionally and their hands sometimes brushing, perhaps just the fact that they weren't squabbling was romantic enough.
"When are you heading away again?" asked Gilbert.
"I have that concert in Toronto next week."
"Oh, that's right." Gilbert looked down and scuffed his heel on the ground. "I'll miss you."
Roderich glanced up quickly. Gilbert did not usually say things like that. "Well… you're still working on that old department store building in town, aren't you?"
Gilbert brightened somewhat. "Yep! She's coming down next week. It's gonna be massive!" Gilbert's job as a demolition worker worried Roderich sometimes, but of course he would never say it.
"Well, there you are then. You'll be so busy blowing things up, you won't even notice I'm gone." Roderich smiled, but Gilbert did not return his look. Instead he stopped short, looking at the bench beside them.
"Hey, what's that?"
Roderich stopped and followed Gilbert's gaze. A red envelope sat on the wooden sidewalk bench. "Probably nothing, just…" Roderich trailed off when he noticed that the envelope had his name on it. His eyes narrowed. "All right, what…"
"Oh, hey, would you look at that!" Gilbert spoke with exaggerated surprise, his eyes wide and his hands spread. "It's addressed to you, babe! I wonder how that could possibly have happened!" Roderich raised an eyebrow, unimpressed. Gilbert grinned and winked. "Well, you'd better open it." Roderich sighed wearily. This was entirely too suspicious… but he picked up the envelope and opened it anyway.
"Okay, what have you done now?" Inside was a map of the south part of the river and its surrounding locations, with a dotted line leading from their current position to a nearby location. Roderich stared at it blankly for a few moments. Could Gilbert possibly have something else planned? Roderich looked up warily, ignoring the tiny part of him that melted at Gilbert's silly gesture and thrilled at his unexpected attempt at romance.
Gilbert giggled, his brilliant eyes twinkling. He looked far too self-satisfied. "You've got to follow the map now!"
Roderich allowed himself a tiny, wry smile. "What will I find when I get there?"
"That's a surprise!"
"You're up to something."
Gilbert attempted to look affronted. "Hey, can't I do something romantic for my boyfriend on Valentine's Day!"
Roderich raised an eyebrow. "But Gilbert, you're not romantic. Last Valentine's Day you gave me a hammer."
"That was last Valentine's Day, babe. And hey, for someone not romantic, I'm doing a pretty awesome job at it!"
Roderich still felt a little cautious, but he had to admit – that was an incredibly sweet thing for Gilbert to do with the music, and that morning had been a rather… er… inspiring way to wake up. He sighed, looked back down at the map, then took Gilbert resignedly by the arm. "Very well. But I swear, Gilbert, if there's a power tool at the end of this map I am going to most upset."
Actually, there was a wine café at the end of the map. Gilbert disappeared immediately to the bathroom, leaving Roderich to sit alone, drumming his fingers impatiently on the table. Roderich suspected that, with one destination, this was possibly the lamest treasure hunt in history - if that's even what it was supposed to be in the first place. Still, it was more effort than he'd expected from Gilbert, so the silly German got points for that at least. And it was a rather nice wine café, after all. Roderich looked out across the water, wondered just how long he would have to wait, then startled when a waitress appeared beside him and placed a glass of champagne on the table. "Oh no, I didn't order…" Roderich trailed off. The beautiful crystal glass was engraved with words. His stomach flipped as he picked it up and read.
I love you!
Valentine's Day, 2011
Roderich was no longer surprised. He was completely stunned. He read the engraving three times before blinking up at waitress, who smiled down at him knowingly. "I was also asked to give you this, sir." She handed him another red envelope. Roderich took it slowly, a little thrown.
"Oh… thank you."
"That's a very sweet boyfriend you've got there… I'd hold onto him." The waitress winked. Roderich raised his eyebrows. He wondered if she'd think Gilbert was so sweet if she knew that he had an unshakeable whistling habit, bit his toenails, and occasionally came home at four a.m, Spaniard and Frenchman in tow, smelling like a brewery. But Roderich just thanked the waitress again as she left, and turned his attention to the envelope. He opened it a little faster than the last, and as he turned it over a key fell out and clattered onto the table. Inside, as expected, was another map, with a note.
Every morning you greet me.
Small and white, clean and bright,
You look happy to meet me.
The last two words were scrawled in large, bold letters. Roderich stared at them wide-eyed. So Gilbert had gone to more effort, after all. Roderich was really starting to wonder now – what on earth had gotten into Gilbert today? Where had this come from? Roderich and Gilbert did not really 'do' the romance thing. Yes, they had given each other flowers a few times, and Roderich was pretty sure Gilbert had told him he loved him once or twice. But when a relationship started with both people actively hating the other, romance just never really had a chance to bloom. However, looking down at the map, and the key, and the glass, Roderich couldn't stop the warm feeling that spread through his chest; that strange, happy frustration that thinking of Gilbert always seemed to invoke. If Gilbert wanted to be romantic for once, for whatever random reason, then Roderich decided it couldn't hurt to play along. For one day, at least. He quickly drank the champagne, put the key in his pocket, then left the café; map and glass in hand.
The map led Roderich to the botanical gardens beside the river. He entered through the gate, headed onto the path, and found that the little line on the map finished exactly where he currently stood. Now what was he supposed to do? He looked up, glanced around in confusion, and saw it – a single edelweiss flower, attached to the first tree in the middle of the path. Roderich's heart leapt. He walked cautiously past the tree, and immediately noticed another edelweiss on a signpost up ahead. He quickly realised the small white flowers were making a trail. But what did a key have to do with this?
Roderich followed the trail of edelweiss, his pulse pounding and his stomach fluttering. He followed it onto the grass, past tall trees and timber benches and picnicking couples; through green lawns and colourful gardens; over small trails and little wooden bridges; until he finally reached a vine-entangled wall with a tall wooden gate covered in edelweiss. His heart thrummed even faster in his chest now. Roderich could not remember the last time he had felt this nervous, or this flattered. He reached out and ran his hand over the old gate, finding a latch with a little locked keyhole. Taking the key from his pocket with a slightly shaking hand, and still clutching his glass with the other, Roderich turned the key in the lock and pushed open the gate.
Roderich stepped onto a small, lush, grassy lawn, strewn with edelweiss and enclosed by vine-covered walls. And in the middle, beside a large white blanket and a picnic basket, stood Gilbert, holding a single edelweiss and a bottle of champagne. Roderich felt his heart leap and his jaw actually drop. Gilbert just grinned at him. "Happy Valentine's Day!"
Roderich shook his head, his lips turning in an unstoppable smile. He put his hand to his forehead and walked across the grass. "Oh, Gilbert. What have you done?"
"I know, right? I mean, come on baby. How awesomely romantic is this?" Gilbert bowed slightly when Roderich reached him. "Your glass, sir?"
Roderich rolled his eyes, smiling, and held his glass up as Gilbert filled it with the fizzing champagne. "You never cease to amaze me, do you?"
"I don't believe I ever will!" Gilbert finished pouring the champagne and held out the edelweiss, his eyes suddenly intense. "Did you know, that in the olden days or something, infatuated young men used to brave the dangers of the high alpine cliffs to collect edelweiss for their beloved? As a sign of their courage and devotion."
Roderich smirked as he took the white flower, turning it over in his hand. "What are you telling me? That you climbed a mountain to bring me a flower?"
Gilbert scoffed. "Oh hell no, I just went to that florist on Main Street. I did have to brave downtown traffic at peak hour, though, and I think that for sure beats climbing the measly Alps."
And there was the Gilbert he knew. Roderich couldn't hold back a burst of laughter, then gasped as Gilbert grabbed him by the waist. "Hey, don't spill the champ-mmph…" The kiss was warm and strong and playful and surprising and everything Gilbert was, everything Roderich loved. He smelt like warmth and home; he felt like joy and wonder. When Roderich finally managed to pull away, he was slightly flushed, and laughing softly. He straightened his clothes with his free hand, then looked from Gilbert's amused gaze down to the picnic basket. "Tell me you didn't cook."
"Nah, you're not getting that lucky." Gilbert reached for basket as they sat on the blanket. "Courtesy of the little Italians for the main, and Francis for the dessert."
"Oh, thank goodness. I mean, oh… what a shame."
Gilbert tossed an edelweiss at him. Their eyes met, sparkling, and Roderich knew, he loved this brash, loud, arrogant, strange, uncouth man more than anything he had ever known. More than his piano, and more than music, and more than life itself. This was Roderich's best, oddest, most surprising Valentine's Day with Gilbert. But sitting here with him on the grass, surrounded by edelweiss, Roderich knew it would not be the last.
That evening, when the long, mad day was done, Roderich led Gilbert to the bedroom dresser. He was actually starting to feel terrible that he hadn't done anything for Gilbert after all the effort he had gone to for Roderich. Roderich's little present now felt pitiful in return, but he had to give Gilbert something after all he had done today.
"It's not really anything compared to what you've done for me, just silly, really, but… here." Roderich opened the top drawer and pulled out his unwrapped gift. "They're not completely finished yet. Feliciano was helping me with them, you know how artistic he is." Roderich handed them over, feeling a little ridiculous giving My Little Pony's to his twenty-six year old boyfriend. But this was some mad, strange part of Gilbert, and as much as Roderich didn't understand everything about him, he loved every part of the Gilbert he knew.
Roderich knew immediately it was the right gift. Gilbert looked stunned as he took them, almost overwhelmed. He stared intently at the two ponies - one violet with brown hair, glasses, and a music note on its flank; the other with white skin and hair, red eyes, a black iron cross on its flank, and a tiny yellow bird perched on its head. Gilbert gave a short, amazed laugh, looked up into Roderich's eyes, and said, "Marry me."
Roderich laughed. Gilbert didn't. It took a few moments for Roderich to realise that Gilbert wasn't smiling, and that his eyes were focused and steady. He was serious. Roderich's heart stopped, his stomach turned in knots, and he gasped loudly. "Oh, God, I knew you were up to something..."
Gilbert spoke quickly. "I know that came out really fast, I didn't mean to say it like that... I actually wanted to ask at the gardens, I wanted to be romantic, but then I thought maybe it was too romantic, and I thought you might... I mean..." Gilbert broke off, flustered. He took a deep breath, ran a hand through his hair, and put the ponies on table. Then he took Roderich's hands in his. Roderich didn't know if he could believe this yet; his heart pounding, his skin burning, his head spinning... "Roderich, I don't ever want to be with anyone else but you. I know I go on about how you're the luckiest guy in the world, but the truth is - I am. You're just the only one on earth who can put up with me."
Roderich couldn't help but smile. That was the truth, after all. "But Gilbert..." He looked down at their hands, his brow furrowing, still unsure if this was real. "You don't believe in marriage."
Gilbert shrugged. "But I believe in you." Roderich's heart started again, thundering rapidly in his ears. He looked up into Gilbert's beautifully unusual eyes, and felt his words flow into his heart and soul.
Gilbert smiled and squeezed Roderich's hands. "When you're miles away, in another city, or another country, playing to an enormous concert hall - I want you to be able to look down at your fingers on the piano keys, see your wedding ring, and know that I'm waiting for you to come home. That I'll always be waiting."
Roderich was astonished. Amazed, overjoyed, thrilled, ecstatic, and had Gilbert actually said… wedding ring? "Oh…"
Gilbert grinned. "One last present." He pulled a box from his pocket, and Roderich's heart stopped again. This wasn't some random spur of the moment idea - Gilbert really meant this. He held the box on his open hand, his eyes bright and hopeful, his breath coming too fast. Roderich reached out, still disbelieving, not even sure what to expect, and opened the small box with shaking fingers. He was almost relieved. Inside was a plain, elegant, white gold band. It was perfect.
"Oh," he said again. Roderich wasn't sure he would ever be able to speak again.
Gilbert bit his lip uncertainly. "I hope it's all right. I was going to get you a thick yellow one with our initials in diamonds, but Francis said that would be tacky. So, uh, I'm taking your silence as a good sign, but… I can make it official, if you like, I mean, I'll get down on one knee if it'll seal the deal…"
Roderich gave a short breath of laughter. Gilbert couldn't be completely serious even when proposing. But then, true to his word, Gilbert took the ring from the box and dropped to one knee. And Roderich nearly fell over.
Gilbert gazed up at him, his white hair falling over his hopeful, eager face, his lips turned in a bright, playful smile. "Roderich Edelstein. I love you. Will you marry me? Please?"
And Roderich's chest swelled, his heart melted; he felt all those silly cliché romantic things you were supposed to feel at a time like this. He even felt a lump in his throat, but he stubbornly ignored it. He swallowed heavily and forced himself to speak. "Oh, Gilbert. Get up."
Gilbert's smile faltered, his expression slightly worried. It was the most uncertain Roderich had ever seen the boisterous, confident German. "Er… is that a yes?"
Joy rose bubbling in Roderich's chest; wild and incredulous and overflowing. He smiled, grinned, laughed. "Of course it's a yes."
Gilbert's eyes positively lit up. "Awesome!" Laughing brightly, Gilbert placed the ring on Roderich's finger, stood, and swung him into his arms. The embrace was even more wonderful than their kiss in the park; it was love and fulfillment and promise. Roderich had never felt anything so perfect or so right. It had taken Gilbert an entire day of ridiculous romance to get to the point, but goodness – wasn't it worth it in the end. Finally breaking the kiss, Roderich smiled up at Gilbert and thought he'd better make something clear.
"I love you too, Gilbert."
Gilbert grinned wildly, maddening and beautiful and Roderich's forever. "Best. Valentine's Day. Ever!"