The television, while not up to full volume, was loud. Gunshots and other various firearms sounded from the set, but that did not bother him, nor did the shouts coming from the room. What irritated him was the hum of the television, the tweeting of the birds outside, the rushing of cars passing, each and ever breath that he dare breathe. All of it seemed to sound in a high definition surround sound, but all of it was flawless, all of it was natural. Yet the only sound he craved shattered his ear drums.
He pressed his fingers to the keys of the piano in front of him and a terrible cacophony rang out from it as various sharps weaseled their way into what should have been a beautiful melody. While someone could likely guess the name of the piece despite the mistakes, that was not the point. All of it flustered the musician to no end and soon enough, he refused to play anything. Instead, he slammed his fingers against the ivories. For a moment, he hoped that either he would break the instrument itself or perhaps his fingers, anything would have been better than this.
In the other room, an albino had parked himself on the couch. He hammered away at the buttons on the remote in his hand. Strapped to his head was a headset and he was currently holding a conversation with someone on the other end as they attempted to formulate a plan. Hearing the ear-splitting cry of the piano though, he paused, knitting his brows together. "Hey, Al, I'll be back in a sec," he told the person on the other end. The remote flopped on the couch when dropped and he strode into the next room. His footfalls were heavy due to the fact that he had left his boots on.
Pausing in the doorway, he watched as the musician's shoulders heaved and his hands shook. Alfred, his gaming partner, continued to play, shouting in various intervals when he managed to shoot someone down. Having stopped playing, the musician could hear the even breathing behind him. Setting his elbows on the keys of the piano, another sour note ringing out when he did so, he buried his face in his hands. "I can't see you… but I know you're there," he called so that he could be heard beyond the barrier of his palms.
The albino laughed, the sound obviously forced. "You alright, Little Master?" he asked. Of course he had heard the noise. Not only that, but he had all together avoided speaking on how, even if Roderich were facing him, he never would have been able to see Gilbert. The musician wanted to answer the question with a negative, but he held his tongue, settling for a mute nod.
"Gil, what's up?" a garbled voice asked through the headset.
"Give me another minute," Gilbert growled before shuffling toward the piano bench. He sat down next to Roderich and the pianist shifted, letting him have room. His hands fell into his lap and Gilbert set one of his own over top of one more slender to draw Roderich's attention to him. "Are you sure?"
While his head turned, his focus, which at one time may have been on the scarlets before him, were more so on his lover's lips. It was an improvement though, especially considering how everything had started. Only six months ago, Roderich would have been able to see perfectly. He would have been able to wake every morning and dress himself, cook for himself, navigate his own house (barely, but still), yet now he needed help for every simple task. It was a miracle that he even managed to play piano, but he had been determined in the first few weeks to play based on memory.
The disease that had stolen his vision was open-angle glaucoma. He was told that the main cause for it, or at least in most causes, was ocular hypertension. In the case of open-angle glaucoma, there were rarely any signs aside from loss of vision, but when he had bothered to have the examination, it had already been too late. They had given him drops in order to slow the process some, but before he had known any better, his vision had been lost. Another side effect was that he no longer possessed proper balance and he was known to trip over what would seem to be nothing. There was no real cure, but the doctor that had treated him in the hospital had told him there was hope for one. He may have been blind physically, but Roderich was not blind enough to believe such a lie.
After the diagnosis, Gilbert had decided that it would be best if he moved in. Roderich lacked the will to protest and his pride was dashed the second he tried to step through his front door, only to fall on his knees. Yet he could no longer pretend as though nothing was wrong. "No, I'm not alright," he finally answered.
While he could not see Gilbert's face, he could only assume that he had frowned judging on his tone of voice. "Roddy-"
"I don't want to hear about how everything is going to work out and I don't want your pity." Roderich exhaled breath shaky. "I just… I've never been so… pathetic. I'm a musician who can't even read the music he's been told to play. I can't even so much as dress myself in the morning."
"Mozart managed to play and he was deaf," Gilbert argued. In concerns to music, one would think that losing ones hearing would make it near impossible to play.
The musician rolled his eyes, lacking in vision, but not expression. "Beethoven was the one who went deaf."
"Uh… what about Andrea Bocelli, that Italian guy? He went blind too," Gilbert tried again.
"He was a singer," Roderich argued again. "And you're missing the point."
The albino huffed, his patience wearing thin now. He understood that his lover had lost his sight, but at least he was alive. Being albino, his own vision was poor and if he did not have contacts in at the moment, he would have fumbled around a little himself. "Yeah, well what is the point?" he grumbled.
"Well, since you refuse to say it, since everyone refuses to say it, I will. I'm blind, Gilbert. The only reason I know where you are at the moment is because you're so god awfully vociferous. There is no existing cure for my condition. I'll never see the shimmering ivories. I'll never see the sun rise. I'll never read another sheet of music and I'll never see your face again. Forgive me if I'm not exactly used to the idea after 25 years of having near perfect vision."
"Uh, dude, you still there?" Alfred asked through the headset after a lengthy pause.
"God dammit, Alfred!" Gilbert shouted. There was a small wince and retreat from Roderich even though he had been the first to outburst. He recovered though, simply to glare at the albino. "Yeah, I'm still there. I'll be back in a second," he grumbled letting his hand slide from Roderich's before he stood up and trekked into the other room. He and Roderich would spend their nights alone playing various shooter games and listening to music through a headset respectively.
There was a flash and the whole room lit up for a split second. Following that was a loud crack like that of a canon firing. Roderich winced, pressing his pillow against his ears. A few minutes later, another flash filled the room before another crack of thunder sounded. He curled up beneath the silky sheets on his bed as if that would somehow ease the ebbing pain. It may not have seemed that much louder in comparison to when he could see, but he had nothing to focus on aside from the noise. There was no lightening for him.
Unable to sleep, he retreated to his thoughts as best he could with the current distraction. Having had most of that evening to himself, the pianist had been able to reflect and more importantly regret his sudden outburst. While he had his stress, Roderich could only assume that Gilbert had his own as well. He had not exactly been in the best of moods since all of this began and he had probably taken a few of his frustrations out on Gilbert during their arguments.
The storm continued on and after awhile, Roderich climbed out of bed. He used the nearby nightstand to help him rise before he set his hands out in front of him while he searched for a wall to guide himself. Eventually, he found it and followed it out into the hall. Finger tips brushing against it, he continued to the room at the end.
However, he tripped in the middle of the hall. He fell face first, unable to catch himself in time. The air rushed from his lungs and he rolled onto his side with a painful grunt. Roderich cursed mentally before stretching one arm forward and then one beneath him to prop himself up. He rose slowly to his feet before setting his hand to the wall again. He stopped when he could no longer feel anything firm beneath his fingers, an open doorway. Both he and Gilbert had a habit of never shutting their doors.
Roderich assumed that Gilbert was sleeping as he had no real way to tell if he was not. His breathing was even and he did not hear any shuffling of any sort. Another boom of thunder sounded in the distance. In the silence between the next roar of thunder though, Roderich heard his voice, "I can't see you… but I know you're there."
Stepping forward, Roderich managed to find the edge of the bed. He used that to guide him around then and he was suddenly thankful that Gilbert tidied up his room often. Once he was close enough, Gilbert reached out to him and caught his arm, grip gentle. He helped him crawl into bed, scooting over so Roderich had enough room. The blind musician lay down with him, rolling over to face the source of heat next to him. His nose crinkled as he caught a whiff of the hints of cigarette smoke lingering on Gilbert's clothes. Although, he did not complain about it as Gilbert wrapped his arms around him and tugged him closer. Gilbert pressed a sweet kiss to the musician's forehead while Roderich curled up with him. "Thank you," he mumbled.
Gilbert quirked a brow. "For what?"
There was never any explanation though. Soon enough though, another blast of thunder sounded and Roderich shivered, pressing as close as he could to Gilbert. The arms around him tightened. He then found that he could finally drift off.
The white cane, one that was red at the bottom near the tip of the cane, skimmed the ground, sliding back and forth like a windshield wiper. It gave Roderich a better sense of where he was going even though Gilbert was dragging him along. An unintentionally rough pull was forced onto the cane as Gilbert tried to gain Roderich's attention. "What?" Roderich snapped, stumbling some before regaining his balance again.
"Lift your cane off the ground," Gilbert answered.
"Why?" Roderich asked. The tip of said cane continued to swish back and forth, occasionally tapping Gilbert's ankle.
"Because," the albino replied, as though that were a perfectly acceptable answer. Roderich raised a brow, waiting for Gilbert to go further in depth with his explanation. Gilbert gave an exaggerated sigh. "It's a surprise, Roddy. Just lift it up."
Hesitantly, Roderich took the cane off the ground, holding it more like a staff then instead of how the guide cane was supposed to be held. He relied heavily on Gilbert, only able to guess where they were judging on the sounds around them. They were no longer so close to traffic as the sounds of cars were distant. People shouted and laughed or chatted amongst each other and birds chirped. It provided little information though as most of the surrounding area sounded like that.
"Almost there," Gilbert told Roderich. He picked up his pace then and Roderich struggled to keep up with him. Soon enough, the albino slowed before stopping all together.
"Gilbert, where are we?" Roderich asked.
"I told you, it's a surprise," the albino answered before suppressing laughter. Roderich shifted in his spot, unsettled now. While he found the hissing sound rather endearing at times, it also signaled mischief.
Gilbert had taken them to a lake. Boat rentals were often offered there and he had reserved one earlier that week for today. It was there waiting for him, tied to the dock. He carefully led Roderich over the dock before he released him to step into the boat. Reclaiming his blind lover hands, he aided him into the boat. It rocked as Roderich entered and Gilbert watched as his eyes grew wide. The simple way that the boat shook beneath him alerted him that he had been put on water. Gilbert had never seen anyone move so quickly to escape the water, aside from perhaps a cat that had fallen into a bathtub. He hurried to untie the boat though and then grabbed Roderich before he could step onto the dock. If Gilbert had not caught him in time, he would have ended up in the water without any prompting.
"Turn the boat around!" Roderich shouted, fighting the arms wrapped around his waist.
"Calm down, Little Master," Gilbert told him, releasing the pianist to take up the oars. He leaned back to add to the strokes before eventually take them out to the middle of the lake. Roderich managed to remain a statue, either out of fear of moving and falling into the water or defeat as he knew Gilbert would not return to the dock.
Upon stopping in the middle of the lake, Gilbert stood up to glance around him. He smiled softly before sitting down again. It had been awhile since he had been on the lake. In fact, the last time he had been was when he learned that Roderich was deathly afraid of the water, or rather, what was in the water. "Hey… do you remember the last time we were here?" he asked suddenly.
"Gilbert…" Roderich said, trying to cut him off before he could continue.
"…Picture it, Roddy. It was just like today."
"Bright and sunny. The flowers had just started to bloom. Remember how I picked you an Edelweiss flower… they always were your favorite even if they were white."
"Gilbert, stop!" Roderich commanded.
"You had on one of your sissy cravats. I started to sing and you yelled because I was off key, but I think it was more about the boat. The water was clear, but you wouldn't relax until we were on land again. Later that night we stayed up and star gazed for awhile, after you played the piano…"
"Dammit, Gilbert," Roderich growled. "What are you trying to do? Make me miss what I can never have again? I'll never be able to see any of that… I… Why are you mocking me?"
"I'm not mocking you," Gilbert protested. "I just…"
"Enough!" the pianist bolted to his feet, perhaps a little too fast. His balance failed him and he fell back into the water. Without a second thought, Gilbert dove in after him, knowing fully well that Roderich could not swim. The world had already been dark to begin with, but under the water, his hearing would leave him as well. All Roderich could feel was the cold, wet embrace of the water. He could only imagine what was inside of it. He frantically kicked to break to the surface, hoping to leave the abyss. Gilbert broke the surface about the same time and he rushed over to help keep Roderich afloat. Roderich shook like a leaf, kicking to tread the water as well.
"Shh, I've got you," Gilbert assured him.
"Why did you even bring me here?" Roderich finally hissed. He sounded beaten, possibly on the verge of a long coming break down.
"Roderich, look at me."
"Did you do all of this just to torture me?
"No…I wanted to ask… what do you think of the last name Beilschmidt?" Gilbert asked, the question seemingly random.
"What… how is that even…" Roderich rambled before realizing that the albino was expecting some sort of answer. "It means Axesmith and it's German… there's very little else to say about it."
Gilbert chuckled and shook his head. "Not what I mean. Do you like it?"
"I… I don't mind it, but really what does this have to do with anything?"
"Marry me…" Gilbert whispered.
Roderich eyes widened. He grasped for words, managing only stutters. He opened and closed his mouth a few times before finally managing to breath, "Why?"
Gilbert smiled softly, even though he knew Roderich could not see the expression. "Because I love you… Sure, you nag all the time and we fight, but that's how relationships work sometimes, right? I love listening to you play the piano and I love sleeping with you next to me. I don't care if you're blind. If I did, I'd have left you a long time ago, Little Master. You know that right… and just… please, marry me?" He had not realized that he was rambling, but even if he had, he would not have cared. He meant all of it.
While, it may have been the worst reaction, Roderich laughed bitterly. It was such a foreign sound to Gilbert. Even before all of this, Roderich was stuffy enough that it took a great deal to even make him break into a smile. Gilbert had always told him that he looked better when he did, but that had never changed his mind. He loved the sound of the laugh the most though and he almost wished he had mentioned it in his spiel. "Gilbert Beilschmidt… I love you, I honestly do," Roderich started. "But… you do realize that there is more to a marriage than simply living together, don't you?"
"Of course I do!" Gilbert shouted, taking offense to the statement. "And I don't care!"
Roderich settled for a smile, his laughter having been short lived to begin with. "Yes…" Crimson eyes closed before staring quizzically at him. "I'll marry you," he whispered in return.
Gilbert broke into a grin before he used his hands to guide Roderich's head forward and steal a kiss. He felt Roderich shiver though and he pulled back. He burst into laughter when it finally dawned on him how they must look, drenched to the bone after being in the water. "You should see yourself," he told Roderich.
"Gilbert," Roderich growled.
"I'm kidding, Little Master… now come on, let's get you out of the water," Gilbert chuckled.
First, I'm going to say that not all the information in this may be accurate. I'm not an expert on glaucoma so please don't scream at me for having any inaccuracies on the subject. If you have a better grasp on the subject though, kindly point out what I have wrong so that I can fix it. I'll like to at least try and be as accurate as I can.
I had a lot of fun with this. It gave me a lot of practice focusing on other senses outside of sight though, which is probably better for me as a writer. I will admit to it being more dramatic in my head. I won't take all the credit for all of the last bit though. I roleplay Austria a lot and the one reoccurring things in the roleplays that I have with my Prussia is Prussia asking if Roderich likes the last name or saying something about Roderich Beilschmidt having a nice ring to it. It always sounded cute to me.
As always, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.