Hey everyone! Thanks for all the alerts and things :) Sorry about the wait as well.
If Gilbert seems OOC, it's because, well, he is. He's not really been himself since Prussia fell, and he's been too depressed to be awesome thus far. But don't worry. He'll get back to normal.
Throughout the next week, Gilbert was even moodier than usual. He had pretty much given up on trying to pick things up, and much to Arthur's chagrin, he seemed to prefer going through walls to using doorways. He tagged along with the Englishman to the World Meeting and actually sat there for a bit, before getting bored with pretending and frustrated about not being able to interject his opinions, so he spent his time staring around the table, depressed.
Francis and Antonio didn't seem to have a sadness haunting them anymore, and the rest of the nations were acting normally. Had they all moved on that easily from his awesome? Gilbert frowned. But his face softened into a grimace of sympathy when his crimson eyes fell on Ludwig, who still looked as if he hadn't been sleeping. While Gilbert had been upset about his friends moving on so quickly, he wished West could, it was upsetting to see him like this. And it seemed to be affecting Feliciano as well. Though he hadn't gotten to know the small Italian as well as he would have liked, he knew Feliciano loved his brother, and it broke his heart to see the usually happy face transform into one of a man who wanted nothing more than to help the one he loved, but had no idea how.
When the meeting finally ended, Gilbert followed the crowd of nations hurrying to leave. "Mein Gott, was it just me, or was this meeting even more boring than usual?" he said to no one in particular, as Arthur was trying to talk to Ludwig about something while Feliciano was trying to drag him off for pasta somewhere.
He walked back to the Englishman's house alone, through the front door, the walls, the basement door, and the stairs. The only things he touched were his favorite Rammstein CD, the play button on his stereo, and the volume knob to turn it on full blast. He figured he could get through a song or two before Arthur intervened.
As if on cure, in the middle of the second track, the volume was suddenly lowered. "Some of us would like to keep our eardrums intact," Arthur grumbled. "I'm shocked none of the neighbors have noticed the sudden addition of blasted German metal coming out of my bloody basement at random hours.
"Hey Britannien. Maybe they think you finally got a decent taste in music." Gilbert joked.
"I doubt it," he sulked. "Well I suppose I'm glad to see you're acting a bit more like yourself...You were crying the other night, would you like to talk about it?"
Gilbert's face fell in milliseconds. "Nein."
"It's obviously bothering you, it'll help if you-"
"It's nothing you can fix!" he interrupted and strode away up the stairs and through the door.
"Oh bloody- Gilbert!" Arthur marched up after him.
"What!" the albino demanded, suddenly appearing through the wall on Arthur's left causing the Brit to jump.
"Would you stop doing that? I thought you were trying!"
"I was! And what's the point? I'm a ghost, I may as well act like one!" And to make a point, Gilbert ran through the adjacent wall and back. "Boo!"
"If you're trying to make me irritated, you're succeeding. You're more of a poltergeist anyway."
"Whatever! It doesn't really matter what I am if no one but you can see me!"
"Well I'm glad you think so highly of me."
"It's not about you! Sheiße!"
Arthur opened his mouth, presumably to argue back, then sighed, bringing a hand to his temple. "I apologize," he said through gritted teeth, "but you know that I've been reading about this, and you know I think that if you try you can be almost like you were before. Don't you want a sense of normalcy?"
"Well I don't know how long I'll be here, so what's the point?"
"I don't see you going anywhere anytime soon."
"Germania and Roman Empire are gone. So won't I just end up disappearing soon?"
"Maybe. But I don't think that will happen to you. You aren't gone yet. And there's something different about you and your situation than theirs, but I can't quite put my finger on it."
Gilbert let out a frustrated sigh. "Well, I'm getting fucking tired of all these unanswered questions."
"Well I'm getting tired of your constant mood swings between depression and anger. Why don't you just go away!"
"I would if I had anywhere else to go!"
"I meant just for a few hours, you wanker! I know you can't go anywhere else. Just-just go, I don't know, creep on people for a bit! I know you can't talk to them, but it'll do us both some good if we got a break from each other. Maybe it'll be good for you to visit people."
"And maybe it'll just suck and make me more depressed."
Arthur sighed. "Yes, maybe. But you can talk at them I suppose, you do it to me all the time. Just pretend they're listening. I don't know. Just don't move their things around or anything."
"I know! I'm not stupid!" Gilbert snapped.
"Good God, Gilbert, I know! You make me question that sometimes though. I'm just trying to help!"
Gilbert stood there for a moment, trying to think of another comeback, but gave up and sighed. "Ja. I guess you're right. I'll go for a while. Hey, it's a good thing Francis can't do this," he managed to semi-joke.
"Oh god." Arthur said in horror.
"Well, I guess I'll be back later then," Gilbert said, and later was accurate. It was so much later, in fact, that Arthur was asleep by the time he got home.
He had gone to Alfred's house first since the American lived close by. He found him playing video games, as expected. They used to team up on the multi-player ones sometimes. Gilbert sat on the arm of the couch and watched Alfred play for a while, yelling at someone through his headset.
It was like watching a movie, when you yell at the screen in vain attempts to communicate with the characters, but slightly more frustrating, by Gilbert's standards. Every once in a while, he found himself shouting out commands to Alfred like he was playing too. He felt the agony of defeat when Alfred's avatar lost a life, and celebrated when the American won as if he'd been able to help.
"Alfred, I missed your awesomeness." Gilbert said with a sigh when the American got up from his couch to grab some snacks and put in another game. "Though you're not quite as awesome as I was. Kesesese."
He watched the progression of another game, but started to get frustrated that no matter how much he talked or yelled at Alfred, he wasn't heard. But it was almost like hanging out with his friend again, even if Alfred didn't know he existed. The American's attitude was what he needed at the moment; indifferent, cocky, happy...he hadn't changed, and it comforted Gilbert.
He followed Alfred around his house when he was done with the game, commenting uselessly on the mass amounts of food in his kitchen, the somewhat cleaner state of his house, and the ridiculousness of the cowboy hat hanging by the door when there weren't any horses around. He left as soon as Alfred headed off to his shower; he sure as hell didn't want to see that.
He walked around aimlessly, slightly deterred by how late it had gotten, but came across a house with lights still on. It was Vash's house, and if he remembered correctly, the heavily armed nation's sister lived with him. He hadn't been to visit Vash in ages! This should be fun. And this time, he couldn't get threatened!
He drifted through the wall into the room with the lights to see Vash hunched over a table with a stack of paper. Upon closer inspection, he saw the Swiss man was drawing. Cute things. He didn't know that Vash could draw, and he never thought he'd draw things so adorable.
"Big brother!" so Lili was here. "I made you something!" the small girl skipped over with a prettily wrapped box.
"Oh. Thank you," he said stiffly, "Here are your pictures."
"Thank you, big brother! They're so cute!" Lili gushed as she hugged the drawings to herself.
Vash tugged the ribbon off the box and opened it to reveal a set of pink pajamas. He held them up with an odd expression.
"Do you like them?" she asked hopefully.
"Uh...yeah. They're great. Thanks, Lili."
Oh this was gold.Gilbert snickered quietly. He wished he could tell someone. Even Austria would get a kick out of it. Specs! He hadn't even thought to visit him yet!
Gilbert ran down the street to Roderich's house, and was surprised to see the lights on. Usually the Austrian went to bed early. And was that Hungary's car in his driveway? "I totally knew it!" Gilbert announced as he burst through the wall into Roderich's music room where Elizaveta was watching the Austrian play.
"Good for you, Specs, I'm happy for you." And he was. They looked so happy together. He knew it would happen of course, he was that awesome, but he didn't think Roderich would ever get up the nerve to ask Elizaveta out. Maybe she asked him, Gilbert laughed to himself. She would. Maybe even threaten him if he said no. He watched them for a while, but the longer he observed them being happy together, the more lonely he felt. Maybe Arthur's idea was stupid; it was just making him more upset. Because now the only person he could have a fraction of that with would be Arthur, and that was not fucking happening. He missed physical contact and he wished he hadn't treated it so meaninglessly when he was alive. Regretting things sucked.
He drifted out of the Austrian's house and slowly made his way back to Arthur's. He wasn't surprised to find the Englishman asleep, and since it was well past the time he'd expected to get back, Gilbert went through the stairs down to his couch-bed in the basement.
In the morning, Gilbert figured it was time to visit the Bad Touch Trio's surviving members to see how they were faring without him. Maybe they would cheer him up. He turned towards Francis' house first since it was likely that the Spaniard was still asleep. It was too early for most people to be awake, but Gilbert was restless and bored after a night of tossing and turning, trying to sleep, and so he was hoping Francis would be awake.
He knew better than to go into the Frenchman's bedroom without knocking, lest he see something he really wished he hadn't, so he went through the front door like most normal people. Except, unlike normal people, he actually went through the door. He was appalled at the mess he found; usually Francis was the neatest of the three. There were old wine glasses littering most flat surfaces of the living room and discarded clothes on the floor. But worst of all was Francis, passed out and lightly snoring on his couch, surrounded by recently poured bottles of wine. He had tear stains on his cheeks and was clutching a framed picture in one hand.
The Frenchman rolled over and his arm hung off the side of the couch. Leaning closer, Gilbert saw that the picture was one of the Bad Touch Trio that they had taken not too long ago.
"Dammit, Francis," Gilbert said softly. It appeared he wasn't holding up as well as he thought. It didn't take him too long to decide to hold off on Antonio's visit for a bit. Though the Spaniard had Lovino and Francis was dealing with things alone, Antonio had always been more emotional about things.
As tempted as he was to clean up his friend's things to try to help, he knew it would just make things worse, so he remained seated by Francis, looking on helplessly.
When Francis finally woke up, Gilbert left him to go back to Arthur's house.
"Where have you been?" Arthur said as Gilbert entered the kitchen.
"I was taking your advice, which sucks, by the way. Everyone's either happy and together, which makes me sad, or they're depressed, which makes me sad. Do me a favor? I know you hate Francis, but he's really not ok. Just...I don't know, be there for him if he needs you? He's pretending to be stronger than he is." Gilbert ranted.
"I...well, I suppose I could, if I must."
"Was anything good about your visits?"
"Well I guess. Roderich and Elizaveta are together, and they're happy, so I'm happy for them. I'm just jealous, as much as I hate to admit it. If I was as awesome as I used to be, I wouldn't be jealous. Everyone would be jealous of me!"
"And Alfred's doing pretty well. Maybe I'll go see Mathias later and make sure the rest of the Awesome Trio is doing ok."
"Well good. I'm glad it's making you feel better now that you have something to do. And you're finally talking more, as much as I hate to phrase it that way."
"Yeah I guess...what are you making?" he asked as Arthur started pouring unmeasured ingredients into a large bowl.
"Making scones. For your brother."
"Ugh. Just make them plain," Gilbert complained when Arthur picked up a box of raisins.
"But they're supposed to have some sort of fruit in them."
"Trust me. If you want him to even think about eating them, make them plain. So you won't burn them or have them mixed weird. Maybe they'll be almost edible that way."
"Oh ha bloody ha," Arthur retorted, but put away the raisins nonetheless.
"When are you bringing them? Can I come?"
"I couldn't stop you if I wanted to. I'm going by later this afternoon when these are done."
Gilbert went back into his basement to try to drown out the anticipation of the smell of smoke with his death metal. He made sure not to make it too loud, otherwise Arthur would leave his cooking unattended, and it would either set his house on fire or come to life. Either way, it was a bad plan.
A few hours later, they had the scones (that were oddly flat) neatly arranged on a plate and were on the way to Ludwig's house.
Arthur rang the doorbell and after a few moments, the door was answered by Feliciano.
"Ve~ Hello Arthur. How are you?" he said in a voice not quite as happy as the Italian usually sounded.
"I'm fine, Feliciano, how are you?"
"I'm fine," he replied with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Are you here to see Ludwig?"
"Yes, is he here?"
Feliciano nodded and led Arthur into the German's house, Gilbert following closely, looking more and more concerned as they continued into the house. Nothing was quite as sterile and organized as it used to be; in fact, it reminded him of when Feliciano used to clean Roderich's house. The Italian must be doing so much more to take care of his brother than he knew.
Feliciano led them to Ludwig's office which was filled with just as many papers as his office downtown with his boss. His brother was shuffling through a large stack of papers that Gilbert recognized as his own, trying to organize them into a more orderly manner.
"Ludwig? Arthur's here to see you," Feliciano said quietly. Ludwig looked up and he looked as if he hadn't slept in days. He tried to clear his face into his typical stoic expression, but it seemed pained.
"Ah...good afternoon, Arthur."
"Hello, Ludwig, sorry to bother you. I brought you those scones that I promised I'd make." Arthur held out the plate, which Feliciano took carefully.
"Thank you." Ludwig said stiffly.
"Er..."Arthur looked sideways at Gilbert, who was trying to get his eye contact.
"Say something nice!" he mumbled at the Brit.
"If you need anything, don't hesitate to call, or stop by, or anything. I, er, really am sorry and I want to help in any way that I can," he said a bit awkwardly, "I...I know he wouldn't want you to be this upset."
"...Ja. Thank you, Arthur. I know he wouldn't. If I need anything, I'll let you know. I'm sorry, but I really need to go through these papers." Gilbert didn't miss the grimace on Feliciano's face as he mentioned more work.
"Ve~ I'll walk you out." Arthur nodded and followed Feliciano towards the door.
"West, bitte, don't do this to yourself because of me," Gilbert said quietly and looked at his brother sadly for a moment. It wasn't fair that his death or disappearance or whatever was doing this to the people that he cared about. And as much as he hated seeing them like this, it was better than just ignoring them. He had to know. Had to find a way to make this better on them. Maybe Arthur could come up with something clever.
"Feliciano, I meant what I said. You too, let me know if you need anything. I know this is hard on you too," Arthur said gently.
"Grazie, Arthur. I will. He's trying I think, but it's hard I wish I could help but I don't know what to do, and half of the time I'm afraid I'm making it worse, and I try not to talk about my brother because even though he doesn't like Lovino much, I think it makes him sad, and now I don't see Lovino much and I don't like it, but I love Ludwig and I don't want him to be so upset. I try to make him pasta, gnocchi especially, even wurst, but he doesn't eat much, and he barely sleeps, and he just hides in his work all the time and I-I just don't know!" Feliciano wailed quietly, his speech getting faster and faster as he talked, making sure to keep quiet enough so Ludwig wouldn't hear.
Gilbert knew he'd have to talk to Arthur about this. There had to be something he could do.
"I'm sure your being there is helping more than you realize." Arthur said comfortingly.
"Really?" the Italian perked up a bit.
"Yes, I fear he'd be much worse without you. You keep him on his schedule and make sure he eats, you're always there if he needs you, you're helping the most." Gilbert nodded in agreement.
"Ve~ I guess. I just wish he'd be happy again."
"Maybe you could try talking to him. Or try to be your happy, affectionate self," the Englishman suggested.
"But Ludwig never seemed to like that much. And I can't be happy if he's not happy!" Feliciano looked as if he were about to cry again.
"He does! He really likes you, Feli!" Gilbert exclaimed, "Arthur, tell him Ludwig likes him, that he likes his hugs! He didn't show it, but they really made him happier."
"Feliciano, I...I think Ludwig actually would need your, er, hugs, now more than ever."
"You think so?"
"Yes. I believe they may really help him. He needs comfort, and who better to give it to him than you?"
"Ve~ you're right. I'll try. Thank you Arthur! And thanks for the funny biscuits!"
"Scones, Feliciano." Arthur managed a smile. "And you're welcome. I'll make more if you want." Gilbert shook his head and Feliciano's new-found smile wavered a bit.
"I'll let you know if Ludwig wants more."
"Brilliant! See you at the next meeting, then."
They said their goodbyes and Gilbert followed Arthur back to his house, remaining uncharacteristically silent as he went back over everything in his head, trying to find a way to fix the problems his death inadvertently caused.
Matthew shows up in the next chapter :)