You glanced up at the Aerie sign above your heads as Gilbert and you passed by the store.
The mall was crowded, though it usually wasn’t, and it was Wednesday afternoon too. You clung to a half-finished cup of bubble tea while Gilbert laughed obnoxiously about what he had done to his brother this morning. You honestly felt bad for Ludwig, always having to deal with Gilbert’s wild antics, even if you loved Gilbert and thought he was the coolest person to hang out with.
Perhaps that was why he hung out with you so much. It was obvious to everyone that you adored him, and since the “Prussian” was so full of himself, he probably really enjoyed hanging out with someone who idolized him. You weren’t entirely verbal with your affections unless he asked, but just being around him made you incredibly happy. However, that didn’t mean you couldn’t recognize when he was being a bit too…much, especially when it came to his brother.
“Do you wear bras like that, (name)?”
Gilbert’s unexpected question not only made you snap back out of your thoughts, but it also made you start choking on some of the bubble tea you loved so much. He carefully patted your back, but his eyes stayed on all the bras inside the Aerie store.
“Or are you more into sexy bras?” His eyes met yours. “So, which one is it? Cute or sexy? What’s your style?”
“That’s a really personal question, Gil, and I’m not going to answer it.”
His cheeks turned red, but he laughed it off, running his fingers through his hair. “Elizabeta was the sexy style, actually, even if she acts like a tomboy sometimes.” Elizabeta was Gilbert’s ex-girlfriend, even if she was now dating Roderich, your school’s most musical talented person. “I don’t know why. I guess I was just wondering if you were like her. You don’t really wear cute clothing or sexy clothing, just jeans and T-shirts.” His attention was stolen by Game Stop, just two stores down. “Ah, Alfred told me about a new game that just came out! Let’s go!”
You watched him run down to the store before you glanced down at your T-shirt and sighed. You were neither cute nor sexy. Great. You probably wouldn’t have cared if anyone else had said that, but hearing it from Gil, it kind of made you extremely self-conscious of your lack of style.
You coughed as you finally followed Gil into Game Stop. Your throat had been bothering you all day; it felt scratchy and full of phlegm, and you kind of just wanted to drink hot tea all afternoon and lay down, but you also really wanted to hang out with Gilbert. Of course, at the moment, it wasn’t the best experience possible, but you put his comment to the back of your head. You met up with him as he pulled out a new game, showing it to you. Even if you weren’t a gamer, you agreed to join him in playing it sometime soon.
You coughed again, and it was a very dry cough, one that left you feeling very unsatisfied and annoyed.
“Hey, liebe, you’ve been coughing a lot. You okay?”
You blushed. You honestly didn’t think he’d notice; you had tried to cough as discreetly as possible. “My throat…hurts a little.”
He shook his pale, blonde head, taking a step back. “Nope. Awesome people can’t get sick. It’s against the rules.”
You really turned red at his comment this time. It was a bit insensitive, and it made you feel awful, and you should’ve just stayed home then. You meant, in a way, he was kind of right. It was a bit rude of you to come out with him while sick; you could get anyone around you sick, not just him.
“Sorry. Um, I should go then. Don’t worry about giving me a ride. I’ll call someone.”
You turned around, ready to just leave the store, when he caught you by the arm, pulling you back into his embrace. You gasped softly, almost to yourself, surprised by the warmth of his chest and abdomen on your back and his arm wrapped around your torso. He quickly let you go, and you cleared your throat as you turned around to face him.
He had a determined look on his face. “Since I am the awesomest person in this whole mall, I am the only one qualified to look after you. I will buy you tea first, something warm for your throat, and then some medicine.” Gilbert looked so proud of himself that you couldn’t help but smile. “After all, awesome people can’t get sick. If your throat hurts, that means you’ll get sick soon, and it is my duty to take care of you. Doctor’s orders.”
Your eyes widened in realization. “Wait, I’m…awesome?”
He rolled his eyes at your…stupid question, apparently. “Obviously. I am only friends with the coolest people.”
Well, he was friends with everyone. Well, technically, you were pretty much one of his only friends. He had some close friends, but you dared think you were the closest. You hung out with him all the time, and a lot of the people he called “friends” were actually jerks who mocked him behind his back. Despite him actually being incredibly talented whose biggest fault was his arrogance, people would say how in reality, he just sucked because he was so full of it when he had nothing to back it up with. They only hung out with him at school, and when he was at home or during vacation, they pretty much ignored him. Gilbert claimed that he enjoyed the loneliness and was always smiling, but you could tell it bothered him sometimes.
And Gil was talented! He was strong, the strongest on the wrestling team. And he was punctual and diligent, and though he was crass and rude sometimes, he was really smart as well. His so-called “friends” were blind idiots.
He patted the top of your head, a common trait of his (petting people), and then he grabbed your hand and pulled you with him out the store. “Are your parents home?”
“No, they’re working. Why?”
“I will make something for you to eat there. With potatoes. And soup!”
“That sounds lovely, thank you.”
You took a fresh gulp of air before you decided to do something a bit forward: you patted the top of his head. He was a very touchy person, so you were used to him petting your head or grabbing your hand randomly, but you restrained yourself from touching him too much. You’d get addicted to it and end up annoying him, you were sure.
Gilbert glanced back at you for a bit before he smiled arrogantly and turned back to the direction you two were going. “I know you’ll like it. Obviously! I am making it, so it will be good, and everyone will be jealous that you got to eat soup made by me. Even my loser brother.”
“Of course they’ll be jealous. I would be too if you were cooking for someone else.” You blushed when you said those words, but you decided to just let it go and continue speaking. “Where are we going again?”
“To buy your tea, obviously! Something to warm you up!” He stopped for a moment as a thought entered his mind, and he let your hand go as he took off his jacket, handing it to you. “Here, this will keep you warm. Then you definitely can’t get sick.”
“But I’m not cold—”
“Well, you’ll catch a cold if you don’t wear it,” he blurted, and then he helped you put it on, even if you hadn’t exactly accepted it.
You noticed, as he stood right in front of you—his eyes drawn to your arm where he was trying to get the sleeve on—that his cheeks were slightly flushed, that his lips were a pale pink, and that from this angle, you had a very lovely sight of his neck muscle and defined clavicle. If it was possible to be attracted to a clavicle, Gil’s clavicle would be the one. You wanted to run your finger against it, lightly press your mouth against it. And he smelled so good, like a kind of…rich, earthy smell with just a hint of mint from the gum he had been chewing earlier.
His scarlet eyes peered down at you as your arm finally went in, and he kept his gaze locked with yours as he fixed the jacket on your frame, and then he smiled lightly before he pulled away, fixing the hem of his T-shirt.
“What kind of tea do you want? It’s just around this corner.”
And he walked on before you could even answer.
You sat on your sofa, eating a bowl of Gil’s delicious soup as you watched a movie. Gilbert had gone out, saying that he was going to get your medicine, even if you had insisted you had probably just strained your voice and it wouldn’t be anything serious. He refused to believe that, saying “awesome people need to be taken care of”, and he had left, without his jacket and with his car keys in hand.
Your cellphone rang, and you quickly picked it up as you put the bowl down on the coffee table in front of you. It was your mom.
“Hey, mom. Something wrong?”
“Why didn’t you tell me, (name)?” your mother rasped, and you furrowed your eyebrows as you tried to recall anything that you had done in the past three months that could possibly piss her off. “I just got a call from Gilbert saying that you were extremely sick! Why didn’t you call me? You could’ve stayed home from school. I could’ve stayed home from work to care for you! And to hear this from some boy rather than from you!”
“Mom, he’s not some boy. He’s my best friend, remember that. And I’m not sick. Gil noticed me coughing, and I told him my throat hurt a little, and he’s making a big deal of something tiny. I am honestly fine, mom. A scratchy throat is the extent of my symptoms.” You pulled your knees up to my chest, fixing the blanket Gil had insisted you use so that you wouldn’t catch a cold. You had even tried to explain to him that being cold didn’t make you catch colds; other people did. It was pointless to argue with someone as headstrong like him. “Besides, even if I was sick, he’s taking care of me. He made me warm soup, got me some warm tea, is forcing me to rest and wear a blanket, and he’s out buying me medicine right now. I’ll definitely be fine now.”
“Is Gilbert…your boyfriend? Are you two dating without telling me?”
Your face was burning, and you were happy Gil wasn’t home. “Mom, no! Gil isn’t my boyfriend. We’re just friends. He’s…he’s not even my type.” Your heart was hammering, and you hated to lie to your mother, but your mother was just so worried about everything you did that you couldn’t help it. To ease her off your back a bit, a little lying was necessary, or else she would never let you hang out with Gil again. No babies for you, not until you have a stable job and home and marriage, young lady! “Anyway, mom, my soup is getting cold. I’ll see you when you get home, okay? Love you.”
“Stay safe! I love you too.”
You hung up and put the phone down beside you, picking up the bowl again. It was still warm. Thank goodness.
“Uh, (name)?” You quickly looked behind you, surprised to see Gilbert there. Shit—had he just overheard that conversation? How embarrassing. “I’m back with your medicine. It’s the best kind, of course, because I chose it.” He even had a spoon with him. “I told you I’d be back soon, and I never lie.” You placed your soup down, standing up to go over to the kitchen to take the medicine. “No, stay there! I’m coming to you!”
You reached the kitchen entrance, confused by his desperate tone, and that was when you noticed a small bouquet of flowers on the kitchen top. A few daisies, some baby’s breath, and a single red rose in the center—it wasn’t much, but it was beautiful. Your eyes widened, and a smile spread on your face.
“Are those for me?”
You went under his arm—he was trying to block you from entering the kitchen, and he caught you by the waist just as you grabbed the flowers. You felt slightly winded from having him hold you like this again; he had done it before, many times, but the more he did, the more hope grew in your chest that he’d like you back one day. Still, you turned the flowers over to catch the message.
(name), I thought some flowers might make you feel happier. Get well soon, and stay awesome!
~ Gilbert (:
Gil let you go, and you turned around, grasping the pretty flowers and laughing lightly. “I do feel happier. Thanks for the flowers. Oh, my medicine.”
You reached for the spoon, but Gil pulled his hand back, shaking his head. “I am the doctor, and you are the patient. I…I have to give you the medicine.”
He put the spoon down on the counter as he tried to open the medicine bottle, even if he had some trouble with the child-proofed cap. He managed though, and he poured some out into the spoon for you, bringing it up to your lips. You drank it quickly, and then he gave you another dose, as instructed on the bottle. You licked your lips to make sure the violet liquid wasn’t leftover on them.
“Thank you, Dr. Gilbert Beilschmidt. So, doctor, tell me, how much longer do I have to live?”
“Don’t play around, frau. You’ll make me worried.”
“I’m sorry for making you worry,” you answered, surprised. You glanced down at the flowers. “I really am happy that you’re taking care of me, even if it isn’t that serious.” You looked up at him. “You even got me my favorite flowers. I am the luckiest girl alive. I should put these in a vase.”
“I-I can do that! After all, I am teaching you to be…more like me.” He grabbed an empty vase and filled it up with water.
“More like you?”
“You know—awesome enough to make everyone like you.”
“But I don’t care if everyone likes me. You liking me is enough.” You thought about his words for a second though. Maybe if you were more like Gilbert, he would like you more—maybe enough to date you? “Well, even then, it would be cool to be like you. You’re so talented and friendly that everyone just can’t help but want to be around you.”
“Y-you really think that?”
“Of course I do! I am the best in the world.” Though he had appeared melancholic for a split second, he was back to his usual mood, and he brightly fixed the flowers for you. “That medicine will make you tired, so go finish your soup, and then go to sleep. The awesome me commands it, so it must be done.”
“Yes, sir,” you answered, and then you did something impulsive, something unlike you: you kissed his cheek. You still managed to smile, despite the warning bells going off in your head. You had crossed the line. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Commander Beilschmidt. Thank you for taking care of me, sir.”
You heeded his orders and finished your soup in the living room before your curled up on the sofa. You heard the front door open and close, and you shut your eyes.
Sleep came quickly, as expected.
You woke up with a hazy dream of being kissed in the forehead and having a certain “Prussian” whisper “I love you” into your ear as you slept. You were in your bed, so you figured it must have been your father.
When you finally got out of your bed and stopped in front of your closet to get dressed, you stopped to think about what Gil had said yesterday about being neither sexy nor cute, and so you pulled out the cutest bra and panty set you could find, and then you pulled out a skirt and a cute sweater, and before you could convince yourself otherwise, you pulled them on. Knee-high socks and boots would keep you warm, and a comfortable coat would convince your mom you wouldn’t die out there. Besides, it was February, but it wasn’t that bad out there anyway.
Gilbert picked you up after breakfast, like he always did, and you felt a little satisfied when he couldn’t keep his eyes off you. This was a good sign, right? You slid into the car seat, closing the door, and you put your book bag on your lap, turning to look at him.
“Are you okay?”
“You need to wear something different. Not a skirt.”
“What?” You looked down at your skirt. It wasn’t even that short. “What’s wrong with my outfit? I’m perfectly covered.”
“Because then all the guys will want to take you away from me.” He turned back to face the road. “And besides, it’s too cold, and you’re sick, and—”
“I’m completely warm. Besides, no one is going to want to take me away, nor would I want to be taken away. I thought I would look cooler this way though. Worthy of being Gilbert Beilschmidt’s best friend.” You crossed your legs at the ankles. It was a little uncomfortable wearing a skirt though. Your legs felt too free. “Or was I wrong? Should I have worn something different?”
“You’re perfect the way you are, liebe!” You turned to look at him, surprised at his tone. “You…you might even be better than me. Maybe, though. Okay? Just maybe. You don’t need to…try so hard to impress me, frau, especially since we’re only friends.” Hope died out inside of you, and you nodded solemnly, opening the door. “You are…you are awesome exactly the way you are, (name).”
Well, at least there was that much as comfort. Gil thought very highly of you, so much that he wanted to protect you and keep you to himself. Perhaps it wasn’t for romantic reasons, but there were different ways to be intimate than just through sex and romance.
You switched into jeans, and your mother was much happier about that too. Then you rushed out into Gil’s car before the both of you could be late to school.
He drove in silence. Extremely unusual.
“Are you okay, Gilbert? I’m sorry for trying to be more like you. I thought you would be impressed.” Your eyes were focused on the houses that passed by. “I’m sorry. I’ll never do that again.”
“We’re just friends,” he repeated.
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“Stop saying that, liebe! Isn’t it obvious? I don’t want to be friends with you. I want to know why I am not your type. I want to know why I’m not good enough to be your boyfriend!” This car ride was definitely taking a weird turn—but you couldn’t believe that he would actually be wondering those things. “I…I thought that I had a chance with you, (name). I thought you liked me back—you always said I was awesome and you always made me feel special, unlike everyone else. But I’m not really that special to you, am I? Warum ist das so? Ich liebe dich…”
“What does that mean?”
“I love you, (name).”
You could hardly think right now, not properly. Your heart was palpitating quickly, and you were breathing hard. It was weird to hyperventilate during a confession, right? Oh, a confession! After seven months of friendship, you seriously didn’t think you’d ever hear a confession from Gilbert! He had dated so many girls, and with his last one being the gorgeous Elizabeta, you thought you surely didn’t stand a chance. But here it was, one of the things you had craved so much in the past few months: a confession.
“Why do you think I was so worried when you got sick? Why do you think I got you flowers yesterday? Why do you think I call you liebe? Why do you think that I am less of my usual, awesome self around you?” He suddenly pulled over in front of a house, turning his car off. “Why didn’t you know?” he whispered. “Everyone else did, and I thought you did too, and I thought… This is so uncool. I am so un-awesome right now. I am embarrassing myself, and you—” He turned his ruby eyes towards me, his silver hair shaking with the rest of his body. “ Es tut mir leid. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. You don’t have to like me. No one else does. I’m sorry.”
I’m sorry. He had apologized. He never did that because apologizing was for losers, apparently. Like you.
And he said no one else liked him.
Your heart broke.
“Gil,” you whispered as you reached over for him, touching his hand lightly. He didn’t pull away from you. “My mom worries a lot, and she was asking if you were my boyfriend and if I liked you, and if I had said yes, she might’ve made me stop seeing you. So I lied to her.” He peeked at you. His facial expression made your heart flutter. “I love you too. I’ve liked you for so long! I’m the one who didn’t think you’d ever like me, and everyone knew how much I liked you and admired you, but then you would say we’re friends and I would lose all hope. I dressed up today because I wanted you to think I was cute, so that maybe you would want to be with me.”
“Besides, anyone who doesn’t think you’re as amazing of a person as I do is clearly wrong.” You clipped off your seatbelt and leaned over to him, smiling. “But it doesn’t matter. They missed out on you. If you love me back, then I have already won over your haters. After all, my boyfriend is the coolest person in the world.”
He didn’t stop you when you covered your mouth with his, nor did he protest when you slid yourself on top of him to continue the kiss in a more comfortable position. Instead, he placed his arms around your waist, holding you so close against his body that it seemed he was afraid you’d float away if he let you go. He broke the kiss for a second to whisper that you were definitely cute and sexy, making your face flush, and with his annoying but addicting laugh, he pressed his lips to yours again.
You two ended up being late for first period, but the cause was worth it.