It was a bitter cold winter day. I would feel pretty bad if anyone was walking in this. So naturally, I felt pretty bad about myself. I was walking along the highway, in a blue plaid shirt, ripped jeans and shoes that were almost falling apart. My violin was in it's bag and I was wearing it like a backpack. Though, that's exactly what the case was; usually it would hold money, a water bottle and food, but... I'd run out of money four days ago. I was so hungry... Thirst wasn't that big of a problem, because I could just eat the snow.
It was about a day's walk to the next town, and I honestly didn't think I would make it. If I did, I'd go to a shelter, though that was against my personal codes... ever since him. At least I would probably get some rest there, then I could go out into the street, find downtown and start playing to get money.
A car passed me. It was black, so I guessed it was pretty warm... must have been nice. I hadn't felt warm for the longest time, probably since summer. That was... five or six months ago. My violet eyes flicked back to watching my feet crunch in the snow. When I looked up again the car had stopped beside me. Trying to be polite, I stopped.
"I-Is there anything I c-can do for y-you?"
The man was quite obviously an albino, but his eyes weren't the usual blood-red. They were more... ruby coloured. He looked me over and frowned.
"You need an awesome ride somewhere?"
Then, I had an internal fight with myself. On one hand, it would be a lot faster to get to the next town, and I could get to a shelter with the guarantee of being alive. But on the other, this guy had a house. And that meant he might take me in, even if just for the night. His voice broke through my thoughts.
"Or do you need a place to stay?"
"F-for how long w-will I be staying?"
"As long as you need to, Birdie"
Birdie? He... just gave me a nickname? I shook my head to get rid of any lingering thoughts of walking the rest of the way and nodded my head. He unlocked the car and I got in the front seat with him. Once I was in, he started driving. I opened the case to my violin to make sure it was okay, something I did whenever I got a moment's rest. The man flicked a switch and suddenly the car was warm. I hugged my knees to my chest, hoping to warm the instrument with body heat and the heat from the vehicle.
The man's phone rang, and he picked it up, plugging it in somewhere and suddenly I could hear the voice coming from the speakers. It was a voice in German, and it brought a smirk to the man's face. He talked to the other man and said other man exclaimed something. I guessed the albino was telling about me.
Eventually the yelling calmed down and the first German voice said 'Fine... as long as he stays out of my way'. I smiled, though there wasn't anything behind it. I could tell the albino saw this.
"So Birdie... you want to stay at the house permanently?"
I nodded. It would definitely beat walking for days on end just to go to a place, playing for hours only to get twenty bucks maximum. Though, on one of my first towns someone gave me 50 dollars... I didn't have to play for a while after that.
"Good, because you were going to anyways. There's no way the awesome me would let you freeze to death! Oh, bruder told me to ask you some things. You addicted to anything?"
I shook my head and wiggled my big toe through a hole in my shoe.
"Good... are you homophobic?"
Again, I shook my head. Being homophobic would mean that I'm a hypocrite, because I'm gay. Part of the reason why I was living off of the violin...
"Do you have any life-threatening allergies or anything unawesome like that? Basically, anything wrong with you that needs the hospital?"
I gave the same answer and checked on the violin again. I didn't think I had any allergies, though I'd been living off of Faygo and delhi meat for the longest time.
"What's your name?"
"I'm Gilbert Beilschmidt, and my bruder is Ludwig. His husband lives with us, and his name is Feliciano. Just call him Feli though, or he'll get all upset and run to Luddy"
I smiled a little, though it was just as genuine as last time. My violin was starting to overheat, so I took it out of the bag and set it on my lap, checking on the strings and checking the tuning. Everything was fine, so I nodded and looked out the window. The world was passing by in a blur, though there wasn't much but white. I remembered when I was so excited for winter, because it was fun. Then again, everything's fun in the eyes of a child.
I supported my head on my arm as my eyelids drooped. I looked over at Gilbert and he was turning his music down.
"Go to sleep, Birdie... we won't be at the house for a while"
I did as he asked, singing myself a lullaby quietly. I didn't want to disturb the man that'd been so nice as to take me in... though I still had no idea why. When I woke up again we were pulling into a driveway. Some people were standing outside, and I guessed they'd been waiting for me. I zipped up the violin bag and got out of the car, walking slowly with my head down. It was just a habit; the only time I wanted to meet people's eyes was when I was playing. I stopped in front of the people and Gilbert walked beside me. He smirked and introduced the two in front of us.
"Birdie, this is Ludwig" He pointed to the taller, blond man, who nodded in acknowledgement. "and this is Feli"
The one named Feli bounded up to me and hugged me like it was the most natural thing in the world to do. Ludwig pulled his husband off of me, though I didn't mind the hug... I guessed it was because he didn't know if I was dangerous or not. Understandable.
"Sorry about that, Matthew... and welcome to the house. You will be staying in the basement with bruder, ja?"
I nodded and Gilbert walked ahead of me. The three went in the house. I paused for a little, looking the place over. It was a two storey brick house, with an... old feeling to it. I liked it. I walked inside and found my way to the basement, where the albino was waiting for me. He offered to take my bag, but I declined.
"Well, you should probably have a shower... my clothes will be a little big on you, but it's better than having to wear Luddy's, kesese!"
I nodded again and he dug through his drawers. I was handed a pair of plaid pyjama pants and a white shirt that looked several sizes too big for me. There was a shower in the basement so I just showered there. I took a quick, hot shower and got dressed in the bathroom. I shook my head quickly to get it into a somewhat respectable style and walked out. Gilbert was sitting on the floor in front of a big TV, some gaming controller in his hand.
"SHITSHITSHIT RUUUUUUN YOU LITTLE SHIT! Come on, you stupid fucking unawesome - YEAH! TAKE THAT, SON OF A- Oh hallo Birdie, kesesese!"
"B-bonjour... what a-are you playing?" I asked, being polite. I did know a little about video games, I watched... my brother play them a lot...
"Ju-On, the Grudge... it's a fucking scary game. The awesome me loves it!"
I looked around for my violin bag. That was the one thing I had to my name, besides... two nicknames. One being Birdie (which I still didn't understand) and Silent Music. That was how I usually introduced myself when I was going to play the violin. People payed more attention, and usually gave more money... which was good. that meant I had more to live off of.
"Looking for your violin of awesomeness? It's on the bed... which we're going to have to share"
I nodded, though he couldn't see. I'd figured as much. Even though Gilbert had called his brother, they couldn't have gone out and got another bed just for me. Even still, I would have been happy with the couch... it sure beat the rotting wooden floor of an abandoned house.
I sat on the bed and opened the violin case. A five dollar bill fell out, and I wanted to beat myself over the head with something. That was enough to get me a pack of hot dogs, for maple's sake! Sighing, I put it in the front pocket for possible use later. I looked back to Gilbert and the screen of the TV. He was taking a rest from running.
"Kesese, looks like the awesome me evaded her! I'm so awesome, kesesesese!"
"L-look behind you"
"Birdie, there's no wa- FUCKING SHIT AAAAAGH!"
The albino threw the remote-type thing. I caught it while he fell back, laughing nervously.
"A-aheh, kese sese sese... the awesome me wasn't scared, and I totally didn't die... I just... hit the menu button... kese..."
A genuine smile fought it's way to my face. His ruby eyes, all wide with obvious fear and a little excitement was funny. I handed him the remote, but he just shut off the TV. He crawled on the bed beside me and looked me over.
"Ah, I guess we should feed you, huh? When was the last time you ate?"
"F-four days ago..."
"HOLY SHEISSE! BRUDER, GET SOME FOOD READY!"
Ludwig's voice travelled down the stairs, saying that food was ready. Apparently it was pasta night, because that's what Felici- ah, Feli kept going on about. I highly doubted he did that all the time. With my stomache growling so loud I thought it was going to eat me, we went upstairs. I was right; there was a huge bowl of pasta in the middle of the kitchen table. What smelled like garlic bread was set beside four plates. There was a glass of water at one plate, two cans of beer at two other plates and a glass of red wine at another. I guessed the one with water was for me. I would have to try not to chug it, because I... well, I guess I could have, but that probably wasn't polite. I hadn't had to use table manners in... almost five years.
Gilbert made sure he was beside me, which was good. It felt... protective. Maybe it was just because he was the one to find me, and not the bigger blond or the Italian. Feli said grace, and everyone grabbed their forks. Not knowing what to do, I just watched everyone get forkfulls of pasta and put it on their plates. I did the same, hoping to not spill anything. I managed to make a meatball roll onto Gilbert's plate, though. He just chuckled and put it back on my plate.
The pasta really was good, and not just because I hadn't eaten in a couple days. I told Feli that and he went into a flurry of... hm. Italian, German, Spanish and a little English. The basic translation (provided by the albino beside me) Was that he was glad I liked his pasta, and if I ever wanted him to make some for supper again, I just had to ask. I couldn't eat much, because my stomache wasn't exactly used to full meals. When we were done, Ludwig took the dishes and called me over.
"Mat, come with us to the living room"
Feli started freaking.
"VE, LUDDY! DON'T KICK HIM OUT, I WANT HIM TO STAY!"
"FELICIANO! I am not kicking him out, he lives here now. I just need to know about him, so we can see what we can do for him"
"Y-you've already done a lot," I said quietly. "A-after all, I haven't been this warm and full in a while"
All three looked at me with small smiles. Ludwig walked to the living room and I followed, not wanting to make him angry. It was clear he was the 'man' of the house. We sat down on the couch. Feli sat on Ludwig and Gilbert sat on the floor in front of me. He was smirking, but his eyes were tight. Ludwig sighed and looked at me.
"Mat... please don't get upset, but I need to ask you some questions"
I nodded and let my hands fall limp in my lap.
"Are you afraid of dogs?"
I didn't mind dogs at all. But I liked cats better. An albino kitten had managed to convince some more people to give me money when I was down to my last dime (literally) on my first winter alone. After, the kitty smirked and walked away. I never saw that him again.
"You don't have any family to go to?"
"Where are they all?"
"M-my cousins a-are in Britain and France, my brother o-owns a cattle ranch in Texas and my dad... m-my dad... doesn't w-want t-to see me..."
"What about your mutti, Birdie?"
Though I whispered, the sound resounded off of every object in the room.
Gilbert shifted on the floor, obviously trying to get my attention. I looked at him through slightly blurry eyes.
"Birdie... can you tell us your story, everything awesome and/or unawesome that's happened to you?"
I hugged my knees to my chest and whispered as I spoke. A few people had asked why I was on the street, but I usually said I'd fallen on hard times. They nodded and usually gave money, which was enough for me. But, I guessed it was time to be honest.
"My b-brother and I are twins... but my maman died giving birth to me. Because of that, dad didn't like me, and hardly payed me any attention, g-going for my brother instead. When I was seventeen and had just graduated-"
"Isn't the usual age for an awesome graduation 18?"
"O-oui, but I skipped a grade... a-anyways, when I was just out of highschool, I came out to my father... he kicked me out, saying he didn't want a 'homo interfering with his perfect family'. I-I was allowed to take two things, s-so I took the violin a-and a picture of my maman, s-so I could dream of what a family actually was... where h-home would have been. I left a-and I haven't gone back since. Everyone had left before me, s-so I don't know what dad was talking about when he said 'perfect family'. I've b-been on the road for five years, playing for money u-under the name 'Silent Music'. My first few weeks were... horrible. I-I couldn't play that well, so I ended up going to a shelter. One of the p-people living there taught me how to play by ear, s-saying I had untouched p-potential. We played together f-for a little, until I admitted I... I liked him. He... rejected me s-so harshly I left, and ever since then I've been going from town to town playing... I've g-gone as far as Quebec, where I stayed for a year a-and learned french. I... I guess that's it"
The silence for me was uncomfortable. Everyone was wrestling with what I'd just said, and honestly I was too. My inner struggle came out in the form of tears. I don't know how it happened, but when I lifted my head I was sitting on Gilbert's lap, his arms around me and his ruby red eyes filled with compassion. My arms were wrapped around his neck and shoulders pretty tightly... it almost felt like I was holding on to something real. I had thought I'd been dreaming up until that point, or maybe I'd died and this was what heaven was like. But... looking into the scarlet that appeared to be mimicking the swirling, popping patterns of the sun, I realised this was for real.
Another set of arms joined the hug, and surprisingly enough it was Ludwig's. Feli jumped onto the other side and we had a group hug... though it felt like they were a blanket I'd hide under as a child, hoping dad wouldn't hit me. I rested my head on Gilbert, so the curve of my nose was around his neck and the top of his collarbone was against my face. He pressed his cheek to the top of my head. I figured he was silently telling me everything was okay now, that nothing would happen. In that hug, I guess a bond was formed between us. Us meaning all four of the people in the hug. I felt my eyelids droop, and suddenly they closed. I was really tired; I'd stayed up the four days I went without food. I figured I should just keep going, wait until the next town and then get sleep. I felt someone pull back from the hug, and I guess it was Ludwig.
"Bruder, he looks pretty tired... you should take him to bed, ja?"
"Ja... check on the puppies, Luddy... goodnight"
Gilbert stood up and was still holding me. The rocking motion of his seemingly careful walk was calming, and before I knew it I was on the verge of sleep. But right before I was claimed by the realm of dreams, I whispered something against his neck.
And I was out like a light.