- Day 1 -

"You go without me. Give my spot to someone else."

As Roderich Edelstein laboriously towed his ski gear and suitcase down the street, his friend Vash Zwingli's words echoed in his mind. He and Vash had been looking forward to the university ski club's ski trip for almost two months. Just two short weeks away from their departure, Vash had lost his chance at skiing on the big, beautiful slopes of Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont. He had been breaking in the new pair of ski boots he'd received for Christmas at the small local resort that paled in comparison to what awaited them at Stowe, only to crash-land, fall, and break his leg in the process. Roderich had visited him in the hospital. He had watched the Swiss boy's face contort with pain as he told Roderich to go on the ski trip without him – to enjoy himself for once.

When Roderich had told the ski club officers that Vash wouldn't be coming on the trip, they had simply blinked at him and said, "We gotta let someone else have that spot. Oh, and we're gonna have to pair you with a new roommate. You cool with that?" The Austrian had murmured a "yes" and hoped he wouldn't be paired up with someone annoying. He still had no idea who his new roommate would be. Well…Roderich had one guess, but he hoped to God that he was wrong.

After having struggled for nearly fifteen minutes to haul an unwieldy pair of skis and a hulking suitcase down the street from his dorm room, Roderich finally reached the coach bus. He was reluctant to let the club officers take his precious skis and shove them carelessly in the storage area at the bottom of the bus. He shuffled onto the bus, found a seat, let his backpack slide off his shoulders, and settled in to wait for the bus's departure. Roderich had managed to find a moment of peace in which he allowed his eyelids to slide shut and his mind to wander until a loud and unmistakable voice interrupted him:

"Where should we sit, guys? Here? Or here? Or…you have got to be kidding me. Specs, you on this trip too?"

Now that Gilbert Beilschmidt had addressed Roderich, as it was inevitable that he'd do at some point, the Austrian could no longer ignore the German boy. His eyes snapped open as he studied the albino with the slightly disheveled silvery hair. "It would appear that way," he said coolly, trying not to let his patience wear thin – yet. The trip was three days long. He'd have plenty of time to be annoyed at Gilbert on Saturday and Sunday. Today it was Friday, and he just wanted to relax. "Oh, and how many times must I tell you not to call me Specs? I do have a proper name, you know."

"Oh, stop being such a fucking priss," Gilbert said. Much to Roderich's chagrin, he slid into the seat directly behind the Austrian. Francis sat next to Gilbert, and Antonio sat across the aisle from the two. It seemed that Roderich never saw Gilbert without the French boy and the Spaniard in tow. The three usually arrived at ski club meetings and socials together, and no one could miss their entrance, because they were usually rather loud. The club officers and the other club members seemed to love them. Roderich, on the other hand…well, Francis and Antonio were normal enough if you got them alone. But as a group, they were simply irritating.

"Are you really going to sit there?" Roderich asked Gilbert. "You've made it very clear to me on several occasions that you hate me. So why are you…"

"Itineraries and room assignments, guys!" A nonchalant ski club officer with tanned skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, and glasses announced as he passed out little packets of papers.

Roderich wasted no time in glancing at his room assignment. Of course. Of course. They had stuck him in the room with Gilbert, Francis, and Antonio. It made sense, though. They had a group of three, but each hotel room held four people, so the club needed a single member to fill the extra space. "Mein Gott," Roderich muttered as he rolled his eyes. The three friends exchanged glances. The Austrian could tell they were all thinking the same thing he was. Just make the best of this, Roderich, he commanded himself. You're here to ski, not to make friends with these weirdoes. After all, they'd be spending most of their time on the slopes, not in the hotel room. Stowe Mountain Resort was so huge that Roderich could probably avoid Gilbert for most of the day if he wanted to. He cleared his throat. "As I was saying, if you hate me so much, why are you sitting right next to me?"

Gilbert laughed and shoved Roderich playfully in the shoulder. "Oh, silly Roddy, I'm sitting behind you, not next to you!" He paused to arch one pale eyebrow, crimson eyes wide and flashing mischievously. "Besides, who said I hate you? What if I actually like you?"

Roderich, Antonio, and Francis gasped collectively. The Austrian could feel his cheeks getting hot. Gilbert couldn't be serious, could he? "I…you…you do? What-I mean, seriously?" he sputtered, tripping over his own words.

With another laugh, Gilbert shot back, "Oh, God no! Don't get your hopes up, Roddy. 'Cause, ya know, who wouldn't want the awesome me to like them? I don't like you, I like bothering you." He flailed his arms in Roderich's direction. "Bothah, bothah, bothah," he said in an exaggerated fake British accent.

"It's going to be a long three days, isn't it?" Roderich said dryly. He settled back into his seat and fished inside his backpack for his iPod. He slipped the earbuds into his ears and selected his classical music playlist. The sounds of Debussy's Clair de Lune filled his ears, and he instantly felt himself relax. It was a piece he knew well, and he found himself moving his fingers in time with the music as if he were playing the piano. Eyelids slid closed as the world around Roderich fell away. Even the sounds of Gilbert and Francis chattering behind him, and the roar of the engine as the bus pulled out of the parking lot, ceased to exist as the Austrian tuned in completely to the music.

Only half an hour had slipped away in near silence – if you could call the way Gilbert, Francis and Antonio chattered constantly "near silence" – before Roderich was interrupted again. "Hey, dude, ya want one?"

Roderich looked up to find that the club officer from before was standing beside his seat, clutching a huge crate filled with bottles of beer. The Austrian arched one chocolate-brown eyebrow in the officer's direction and glared at him. "No thank you," he said. "I'm here to ski, not to get shitfaced."

The boy turned to Gilbert. "Hey, what's this prude's name?" He jerked his thumb at Roderich, who flushed and tried to control his urge to smack the club officer.

Gilbert chuckled as he responded, "Oh, Alfred, that's Roderich. You'll get used to that one. He's always like that." Oh, great, Roderich thought. Gilbert and the ski club officer are ganging up on me. Is it too late to get my money back for this trip?

"You three bros want beers?" Alfred said. Francis, Antonio, and Gilbert all nodded and accepted, with grins that implied they were more than willing to take the offered alcohol. Alfred moved to continue down the aisle to offer beer to other club members. But before he left, he shot Roderich a playful, scolding glance and shook his head a little.

"God, why do you have to be such a priss, Priss?" Gilbert said with a laugh as he waved the bottle briefly in Roderich's face. The Austrian reached out and shoved the bottle away, which slipped in Gilbert's grip. Beer sloshed out over the top. Yelping in surprise, Gilbert jumped back, but not in time to avoid spilling alcohol all over his pants. "Hey! Look what you did!" he scoffed as he stood to examine the damage.

"Oh…Gilbert…scheisse, I really am sorry," Roderich mumbled. "I didn't mean to do that."

"Sure you didn't," Gilbert said, rolling those crimson eyes of his.

"No, I really didn't!" Roderich shot back. "Look, I know we're not exactly on the best of terms, but why would I spill beer on you on purpose? I'm not that much of an asshole!"

Gilbert froze in motion as his eyes widened in surprise. "Oooh, Roddy cursed!" he said mockingly, and then wagged a finger at the Austrian.

Roderich folded his arms across his chest. "I am just as capable of cursing as you are, Gilbert," he said, aiming an intense stare at the silver-haired boy, who simply laughed again.

"Actually, that's true," Antonio said out of nowhere with a little chuckle. Francis and Gilbert looked at him with questioning expressions on their face. "What, you two don't know that?" Roderich narrowed his purple eyes dangerously at the Spaniard. You'd better not say another word, he willed Antonio silently. Thankfully, he said nothing else.

"Well, if you're so sorry, then what are you going to do about it?" Gilbert demanded, ignoring Antonio's comment, his attention drawn easily back to Roderich as though he were a puppy dog who got distracted by every little noise and movement occurring around him. "As far as I see it, my pants are gonna be soaked in beer this whole bus ride, and there's nothing you can do to take that back. Unless you're some kind of freaking pants-fairy or something who can magically produce pants out of thin air."

For a moment, all Roderich could think to do was huff in frustration at Gilbert and hope that the German wouldn't keep him from squeezing in at least a few hours of sleep tonight before they woke early to head to the slopes the next morning. But then it dawned upon him: "Gilbert…actually, I do have an extra pair of jeans in my backpack," he said. "They'll probably fit you." Gilbert looked stunned for a moment, blinking steadily at Roderich as a little trace of pink crept into his pale cheeks. "Well, do you want them or not?"

"S-sure," Gilbert managed to say. Roderich dug in his backpack, found them, pulled them out, and held them out to the German boy. Gilbert snatched them out of Roderich's hands and retreated with an indignant look to the restroom at the back of the coach bus. While he was gone, Francis and Antonio cast amused stares in the Austrian's direction. The French boy snickered under his breath. Antonio bit his lip in an attempt to hold back his laughter. Roderich glared at the two until Gilbert returned, wearing the Austrian's jeans. Since Roderich was an inch or two shorter, they were a tad short on the albino, but they looked as though they fit him through the hips. Francis and Antonio raised their eyebrows in mocking approval.

"Not bad," the Spaniard offered.

"Oh, shut it, both of you," Gilbert muttered.

"I didn't say anything," Francis added.

"It was a pre-emptive 'shut it' for you, Francis," Gilbert said. He settled back into his seat next to the blonde, shooting him a warning glance as he did.

The three friends soon quieted, though, and sipped casually at their bottles of beer. The rest of the trip continued in peace. Roderich once again tuned out to the sounds of classical music. Eventually, the sun sank in the sky until the last traces of light had vanished altogether. Roderich fell asleep in spite of the incessant conversations occurring around him. He had stayed up late the previous evening studying for a difficult music theory exam, which he had taken in the morning before leaving for the ski trip.

Roderich awakened to a nudge on the shoulder. "Roddy," he heard Gilbert say. "We're here. We're at the hotel."

In an automatic reflex, the sleepy Austrian smacked the hand away. "Go away, Gilbert," he muttered.

"Wake up, sleepyhead," Gilbert teased. Reluctantly, Roderich opened his eyes to see the lights of the hotel glowing outside. The building was nestled in a layer of fresh snow as more flakes swirled from the clouds, standing out against the dark sky as they fell to the earth. Roderich smiled as he stood, gathered his belongings, and exited the bus. Tomorrow would be the perfect day for skiing, especially with some fresh powder on the ground. Not even Gilbert Beilschmidt could ruin his mood.

Once he and the other three settled in their room, Gilbert flung himself onto one of the hotel beds and aimed sparkling crimson eyes at Roderich. "Ach, Mein Gott, no," the Austrian said. "I am not sharing a bed with you." He then turned to Francis and Antonio. "Please, do not make me get in the same bed with that idiot."

"Ew, who said I'd want to share a bed with you?" Gilbert shot back.

Francis held up his hands defensively. "Okay, kids, stop fighting!" he said. "Roderich, you can share a bed with me." Roderich nodded, pleased with that solution. "Because I wouldn't make you sleep with Antonio either," the Frenchman added in a low voice that the Austrian hoped the other two couldn't hear. Even if they had heard, it was probably nothing they didn't already know about. It was common knowledge within the ski club that at one of the club's socials, Antonio and Roderich had left together, drunk and chuckling. They had gone back to Antonio's apartment and spent the night having sex. What the club's members didn't know was that he and Antonio had gone on a few dates afterward. Antonio was nice, and didn't seem to be nearly as obnoxious as Gilbert or Francis, but Roderich had backed away from the fledgling relationship, insisting that he was much too busy to have a boyfriend. Indeed, majoring in piano performance was rather time-consuming, and the Austrian spent much of his free time in the practice room. But the real reason, perhaps, was that he was afraid to get too close to someone again after having dated Elizaveta. He thought what he shared with the Hungarian girl had been special – until she'd left him, for a girl from Belgium, of all people.

"All right," Roderich said to Francis at last, forcing himself to focus again. "But you had better not try anything," he warned. Francis was notorious for being a flirt. He'd slept with several of the girls, and even one or two of the guys, in the ski club.

"I'll keep my hands to myself!" Francis promised as he pressed his palms to his chest. "See?"

Roderich rolled his eyes at the three friends. I cannot wait to ski tomorrow and get away from them, he thought. Especially that Gilbert Beilschmidt.

So originally, this was going to be a oneshot, but when I realized it would probably end up being about 20 pages long, I decided to turn it into a three-shot.

Also, I'm a skier, and I did take a trip with my college ski club last year, so this is somewhat based on personal experience. (At least the skiing parts of it.)

Did anyone catch that slight Potter Puppet Pals reference in there?

As always, thanks for reading, and reviews are love :)

Oh yeah, I don't own Hetalia.