"You should probably change first." Matthew decided, taking in the strange combinations of feathers and animal pelts Gilbert wore. The albino was several inches taller than him and more muscular, telling Matthew upfront that none of his own clothes would fit him. "Some of Alfred's clothes will probably do. I doubt he'll even know they're missing."
"What's wrong with what I have on now?" Gilbert was back on the floor, sitting cross-legged and rifling through the hundreds of scrapped pictures that littered the carpet. Each time he found a drawing of himself that he liked, he let out a peculiar purring sound and held it close to his chest before tossing it aside in search for another.
Matthew couldn't help but smile as he watched him, his heart glowing with warmth each time Gilbert showed his approval for his art work. All of this was so surreal; only in his wildest dreams would he believe that one day Gilbert would be here with him. It was just too good to be true! "Humans don't dress like that." He explained patiently. "You'll stick out."
Gilbert turned his head toward him, his painfully handsome face looking troubled. "But I'm not a human." He reminded Matthew with a cute little tilt of his head. "Why do I have to pretend to be one?"
"Well… most humans don't believe that spirits or other creatures like you exist." The Canadian admitted, reaching up to fiddle with his glasses, which had begun to slip down the bridge of his nose. "If they realized you did, they might want to take you away."
Gilbert's red eyes grew to nearly twice their usual size and he reached out, grabbing onto Matthew's hand with an earnest expression. "But I don't want to go away! That would be totally unawesome!" He protested quickly. "I want to stay with you, Birdie!"
Matthew's heart soared at the words and he smiled, leaning down the give the albino's forehead a shy kiss. "I know, Gil. I want you to stay too." He pulled him gently to his feet. "That's why we're going to pretend like you're a human."
Gilbert nodded quickly, clutching his hand a little tighter. "Okay." He agreed. "I can do it! I'll be the most awesome human ever!"
Somehow Matthew didn't doubt that; Gilbert was simply perfect in every meaning of the word. "Let's go to my brother's room," he said, starting to tug Gilbert into the hallway. "You can borrow his clothes for today and later you and I can go shopping for some of your own."
"You have a brother?" Gilbert's scarlet eyes lit up. Matthew remembered him mentioning earlier that he also had a brother, the West Wind. "Just like me!"
"Lots of people have brothers and sisters, Gil." The blonde giggled, nudging open the door to Alfred's room. It was shockingly clean inside; back home, Alfred's room was always a pig's sty, but here Arthur cleaned up after him almost obsessively. There was a huge American flag tacked to the wall (Gilbert seemed delighted by all the pretty stars and stripes), surrounded by a hundred posters of varying sizes and themes.
Matthew crossed to the closet, pulling it open and shifting through numerous jersies and hoodies, relieved to see that everything looked about Gilbert's size. Finally he found a storm-gray hoodie at the back of the closet that Matthew could have sworn he had never seen Alfred even touch before, handing it over to Gilbert along with a generic pair of blue jeans that felt virtually unworn. "These should fit you." He decided, folding the closet doors closed and leading the albino back to his room to change.
Then a thought occurred to him. "Do you, um, know how to dress yourself?" He asked hesitantly once the door had been shut behind them and they were once again alone in his room.
Gilbert studied the clothing in his hands thoughtfully. "I can figure it out," he said, seeming eager to impress Matthew by doing things on his own.
And then he dropped his pants.
Matthew shrieked (quietly) and immediately clasped his hands over his eyes, resisting the urge to peek through the cracks of his fingers. No, Matthew Williams was no pervert; no no no no no. He was too shy to even attempt picturing Gilbert naked... but from what he had seen, the wind spirit was amazingly well-endowed... Dear God he was a perverted. He was worse than Francis.
… Scratch that. No one was worse than Francis.
"Mattie?" He heard Gilbert say in a questioning tone.
The Canadian turned away quickly so that he wouldn't be tempted to look. He really wasn't surprised that the wind spirit had no qualms about being naked in front of him; it was probably just a human thing. "I, u-um.." He swallowed nervously around the lump that had risen in his throat, trying to form some sort of intelligible sentence, but all he could think about was Gilbert's... thing. Since when did they even come in that size!?
"Birrrdiiie," the silverette prompted, his tone now pouting.
"Um... boxers!" Matthew squeaked, daring to peel his hands away from his face and open his eyes. Not daring to look at Gilbert, he made a mad dash for his dresser, wrenching the top drawer open. He produced a pair of never-before-worn boxers from the very back corner of the drawer and tossed them in Gilbert's direction without a glance. "H-Here, but these on before the pants." He said, thankful his voice had finally stopped shaking. "They're clean." Indeed Matthew had never even touched the things; he had always been more of a briefs kind of a guy, but after Feliks had introduced him to the wonder that is boy shorts, he had recently been wearing those instead. So what if some of them had lace trimming and flowery patterns and hugged his butt snugly? They were comfy, okay?
"Um, okay.." There was an inquisitive note in Gilbert's voice but he didn't ask him any further questions. The rustling of different types of fabric for the next several minutes told Matthew that he was obeying. "Okay. I'm done."
Matthew turned around to face the wind spirit, letting out a breath of relief when he saw that Gilbert had managed to get himself completely and properly dressed. "Very good, Gil." He praised, walking around him in an appraising circle to make sure no feathers were poking out from underneath the hoodie.
Once he was satisfied that nothing suspicious was poking out, he nodded his approval, reaching for the door. "Time to go downstairs and meet the others, then." He decided. "Remember, they can't know who you really are. Just go along with what I say if they ask you any questions."
Gilbert nodded enthusiastically. "Don't worry, Birdie! I won't let you down!" He promised.
Matthew blushed and resisted the urge to hug him, settling for reaching out and taking Gilbert's hand instead. He led him out the door and down the steps, through the living room and into the kitchen where all the noise was coming from.
Being a Saturday, no one had any classes, leaving which meant all sixteen of the other residents Matthew shared the huge house with were crowded into the kitchen for breakfast. One can imagine with so many people crammed into once space (not to mention hungry, college-age boys), things usually got quite loud and out of hand. Matthew had just stepped under the archway when a burnt scone went flying overhead, missing his sensitive curl by inches.
"Bloody Frenchman! If you insult my cooking one more time I swear I'll strangle you in your sleep!" A shaggy-haired, bushy-browed Brit screamed from the far side of the room, held up and restrained by the strong arms of Matthew's twin brother, Alfred.
"Honhonhon~ how kinky! I did not know you were into that sort of thing, cher~" Francis snickered from where stood by the stove flipping omelets, completely oblivious to the Luxembourgian who lurked adoringly by his side.
"Prease do not shout, Arthur-san," Kiku- the tiny Japanese exchange student who was in several of Matthew's art classes -spoke up, petting the hair of the slumbering Greek next to him. "You might wake Heracres-san."
"Yeeeeeeeeaaah, keep it down, bushy-brows." Complained a spikey-haired Dane named Mathias who sat at the kitchen table, clutching a cold bottle of beer to the side of his head. His other arm was locked tightly around Lukas's (the Norwegian student Matthew had spoken to earlier that morning) waist, keeping him in his lap despite his thrashing and elbow-blows to his gut. "I've got a bitch of a hangover."
"Oh do you now?" Lukas smirked, grabbing Matthias by his spikey golden locks and screaming what Matthew could only assume was some pretty vulgar Norwegian curses right in the unfortunate Dane's ear.
Mathias yelped and fell backwards off his chair, taking Lukas along with him. The Norwegian proceeded to strangle his fellow Scandinavian on the floor, which quickly turned into some strange sort of angry make-out session.
"You two are acting like children." A snooty Austrian named Roderich sneered, scooting his chair away from the couple on the floor, looking at them like they were something nasty he had just scraped off the bottom of his shoe. "If you're going to partake in such activities, please do so privately, not where we're all trying to enjoy our breakfast."
"I do not mind," Ivan chimed in cheerfully, watching the two Scandinavian's tussle with an unsettling gleam in his lavender eyes. "But it would be much more fun if you did that with me~ In fact, everyone should become one with Ivan, da?"
"Fer th' last t'me, Iv'n, no'ne wants teh "bec'me one" with yeh." The towering Swede glowered from across the table at the Russian with obvious dislike, wrapping one arm possessively around a scared-looking Finnish boy named Tino.
"I would not say 'no one', Berwald~" Ivan giggled, unswayed by the Swede's glare. "In fact, last night Yao and I-"
"Ivan!" The long-haired Chinese boy launched himself across the room and into the Russian's lap, clapping a hand over his mouth, his cheeks burning with color. "Shut UP, aru!"
"U-Um.. guys..." Matthew spoke up timidly, embarrassed at the first impression his friends were making on Gilbert. A quick glance over his shoulder told him that Gilbert seemed amused by what he had seen so far, his scarlet eye s glimmering with excitement.
"Hey, who is he?" Vash's voice called over the commotion, gesturing at the wind spirit with his fork.
Everyone fell silent, turning their heads in unison to stare at the two in the doorway... well, everyone except Heracles, who continued to snore softly on the tablecloth.
"Mattie!" Alfred released the Brit (who by then had stopped struggling and simply hung in his arms like a deadweight) and pushed his way over to his brother. "Whose your friend, bro?"
"Uh, everyone, this is Gilbert. He's an exchange student. The Dean asked me to let him stay here for a while." Matthew lied by the skin of his teeth.
"An exchange student? Really?" Arthur spoke up interestedly, walking over to stand next to Alfred. "Where are you from Gilbert?"
Shit. Matthew hadn't thought about that. Everyone in the room came from a different country, it was just the way things had worked out; between all sixteen of them, they covered a wide range of languages. He'd need to come up with some place pretty obscure so they no one would be able to see through their lie. "He... uh... um.." He started to stammer, but was quickly interrupted by the albino next to him.
"I'm from Prussia!" Gilbert said enthusiastically. "Prussia is the best country ever!"
Crap! Gilbert must have really outdated knowledge if he thought Prussia was still a country. "He was kidding!" The Canadian chimed in quickly. "Germany. He's from Germany, the part that used to be Prussia."
"I see," Roderich stood up, peering doubtfully at Gilbert. "Your accent is a little strange. You speak German, then?"
Shit. Matthew had only made it worse. Roderich was Austrian, of course HE spoke German; There was no way Gilbert-
"Ja, natürlich habe ich Deutsch sprechen." Gilbert said obviously, rolling his eyes. "That's kind of a stupid question."
Matthew and Roderich's eyes each grew to the size of saucers. The brunette puffed out his cheeks, his cheeks red with anger. "Well, that was quite rude!" He huffed, sinking back in his seat.
"Don't mind him, Gilbert." Tino's kind voice spoke up, smiling kindly at the wind spirit. "Its really nice to meet you."
"Yeah, like, one problem though." Feliks, Matthew's Polish friend, spoke up. He sat in Toris (his Lithuanian boyfriend's) lap, filing his nails with his new favorite pair of Prada shoes kicked up on the table. "We're like totes out of rooms. Where's he gonna sleep?"
"He's staying in my room." Matthew said quickly. There was no way he could risk letting Gilbert stay with someone else and having them see him wings; not to mention, he wanted the wind spirit all to himself. He was his angel, after all. There was no way he was going to share.
"You sure, Mattie?" Alfred pursed his lips suspiciously, peering at Gilbert over the frames of his glasses. "You don't know this dude. He could be a pervert and try to molest you or somethin'."
"Huh? What does that mean?" Gilbert tilted his head in naïve confusion.
"N-Nothing, Gil." Matthew blushed, giving his brother a frustrated look. "He's not going to do that, Alfred. Gilbert is really nice."
"Hmph. If you say so," Alfred shrugged. "But if I hear any screaming coming from your room in the middle of the night, I'm coming in with my baseball bat." He warned, giving Gilbert a serious look.
"Honhonhon, most of the screaming comes from your room at night, Alfred." Francis reminded the American. "Arthur is quite loud, isn't he?"
"DAMMIT BLOODY FROG, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" The Brit screeched, making an attempt to leap at the Frenchman, only to be held back by Alfred again.
Matthew sighed as all hell broke loose again and they were back to where they had started. At least everyone had bought their story, though. "I didn't know you could speak German." He commented, turning to Gilbert and taking his hand, leading him into the privacy of the living room.
"I can speak every human language." Gilbert said simply, as though it wasn't really very impressive.
"Of course you can." Matthew shook his head. Gilbert really was amazing. Every second he spent with him he realized that more and more. That was why he had to keep what Gilbert really was a secret; if people knew how amazing, perfect, incredible, extraordinarily awesome he was, they would definitely try to take him away.
But what happened when Gilbert's wing healed and he could leave on his own? Would he really choose Matthew over his life and duties as the Spirit of the East Wind? Or would he leave and Matthew would be forced to go back to his life of going unnoticed and unwanted, in love with someone he could only see in his own artwork.
He hoped not. Dear God, he hoped not. After knowing him less than three hours he was already more in love with Gilbert than he ever had been. If Gilbert went away, he would take Matthew's heart with him, and there would be nothing left again. Just loneliness...
No. Matthew would do anything to keep that from happening. He wanted Gilbert to stay with him forever.