Nota Bene [FF.NET]
Disclaimer: I do not own Axis Powers Hetalia.
Prompt: Notes on the fridge composed of magnetic letters with any pairing (fic or art) (15th Sept) Fanfiction should be a minimum of eight hundred words.
Summary: It's the first way that they mark the place as their own; this flat that they have bought together to be 'theirs' rather than 'Arthur's, where Gilbert often stays over' or vice versa. Set in Off Script-verse, but can be read as a stand-alone. (Modern AU)
It's the first way that they mark the place as their own; this flat that they have bought together to be 'theirs' rather than 'Arthur's, where Gilbert often stays over' or vice versa. It comes before they record a message together for the answering machine and before their belongings litter the place, marking it clearly as both of their property.
Gilbert still has his set of magnetic letters from his days at university, so when he labels he fridge with 'The awesome Gilbert and Arthur's Humble AbodE' there may be a letter or so missing; they turn an 'n' upside down to make up for the lack of 'u's and Arthur rolls his eyes when Gilbert retrospectively swaps the 'a' in awesome for the 'A' in 'Abode'.
It stays there long after Arthur's collection of fantasy artwork is up on the walls, Gilbert's textbooks poking out of the oddest places after being abandoned in a moment of frenzied epiphany. It's a sign that's hardly even needed anymore with the way that they have settled into this new living space, their daily lives leaving their mark around the flat. It's in the already blackened window of the oven, the reading glasses on the coffee table and the unicorn plushie Arthur swears was given by a fan; Gilbert has his doubts – he's seen Arthur's skill with a needle by now – but doesn't voice them. Arthur has yet to comment on his own formidable army of plushies, after all.
(It's still there when Ludwig visits for the first time – he shakes his head in fond exasperation but makes sure to bring them a new pack of magnets when he next pops by, saying that it's a belated house-warming gift.)
They spend the whole of that first week in the flat together, excluding a grocery run and a few trips to collect the last of their belongings. Taking the time off work hadn't been an issue for either of them; Arthur only works part time at the call centre to enable him to focus more on his writing, and Gilbert has only used a few of his holidays prior to this.
The kitchen is already fitted, thank god, but the rest of the apartment is unfurnished. They make do with Arthur's bean bags in the lounge and an inflatable mattress for the time being, and Gilbert insists on having the internet installed on their second day there. If they get a little distracted by each other while browsing dining tables and sofas online, then well, at least there's no one there to scold them for it.
It's after that first week that a real routine is established.
Gilbert awakes first, eyes fluttering five minutes before the alarm is scheduled to go off. He stretches, padding into the bathroom and re-emerging again to look more alert for it. He dresses without a fuss, remembering just in time to silence the racket the alarm would be sure to make just as his phone begins to buzz pre-emptively.
A quick look over to Arthur, now fully cocooned in blankets with only a few tufts of blond showing from where he has burrowed himself; he seems to still be fast asleep. Gilbert gives a sigh of relief as he slips on his watch and ties his tie. He goes back over to the bed, leaning over so that he can lightly tug at blond hair, just because he can. The small grunt he receives has Gilbert grinning as he wanders away to fix himself something to eat.
He puts the kettle on before pouring himself some cereal, pausing for a moment as he goes over to the fridge to get out some milk. A small smirk curls over his lips as he uses the letters left on the counter to write a message, stealing a couple from his proclamation above so that it is ready to be read by Arthur when he finally rises.
He wolfs down his cereal and burns his tongue on his coffee, but is out of the door and starting up Arthur's car with a little time to spare. He's been forbidden to take his own car – he's still tinkering with it and insists is completely safe for the road but Arthur has his doubts.
It is at least another two hours before Arthur appears at the kitchen door, blinking blearily. His eyes find the fridge easily and he stares at it for a moment before shuffling around to make his day's first pot of tea. He doesn't bother trying to decipher Gilbert's message until he's halfway through his second cup, when he goes back over to see what the magnets say.
'SouNd like gruMpy sheEP'
He vaguely recalls the disruption to his slumber and rolls his eyes at the maturity of both the action and the message.
Not to be outdone, Arthur chuckles and leaves a response of his own before throwing a couple of slices of bread into the toaster for his own breakfast.
He partakes his morning meal with leisure, watching the morning news as he does so. It is not hard to pull himself away from the terrible daytime telly that follows; his writing desk calls him from the study, and his fingers itch to curl around a pen.
Gilbert often teases Arthur for being an old man, from his tea addiction right down to his occasional grumpiness. Writing his first and second drafts by hand has only encouraged this; the glide of a pen across crisp paper and the flow of the fluid hand is simply unmatched by the clunky process of typing when one is overflowing with ideas – or so Arthur says. There is also the fact that Arthur has to stare at screens enough during his time at work and doesn't care to do so when he should be enjoying himself, though he hasn't yet mentioned this other reason to Gilbert.
Lost in his world of dragons, faeries and trolls, it is several hours before Arthur is startled out of his concentration by the racket made by the alarm of his phone. He glances at the time displayed there and curses; he returns his empty teapot to the kitchen and scrambles into the bedroom to make himself presentable enough for work. After a brief search for his keys – how had they managed to find their way into the washing machine? – he pulls on his headphones and races to the bus stop.
With any luck, he'll be there just in time to slip inside before it pulls away from the curb.
(It's a good thing, he thinks, that Gilbert hadn't been there to witness the last frenzied ten minutes he'd been inside the house in retrospect; it certainly would have retracted any impact from the missive he'd left on the fridge, in any case.)
The flat is silent and empty of life for the next few hours, though when Gilbert stumbles in at five thirty-five, itching for a beer, he's greeted by the sight of their combined mass of plushies smiling up at him. Shaking his head, he dumps his bag on the floor and trundles to the fridge for the cold bottle he's been promising himself since lunch time.
He snorts with amusement at the message left there for him.
He almost misses the second line in his mirth, but catches it just before he pops the lid off on the side of the counter. Wrinkling his nose slightly, he puts it back inside to keep it cold.
The bottle is back in his hands ten minutes later as he sprawls across the sofa, bread put away (along with a few other bits and bobs he'd picked up while he'd been out).
By the time Arthur arrives home at seven, he can smell dinner as he steps through the doorway and it makes his mouth water. Gilbert's snoozing away on the couch, fingers loosely curled around his empty bottle as his chest rises and falls gently. Arthur contemplates dishing up the food ready for them to eat, but reconsiders when he remembers the last time he touched something that wasn't a ready meal.
Better to leave it to Gilbert.
Instead, he sets the rest of the table, glasses and cutlery in place. When he approaches the fridge to retrieve their drinks, he smiles at the latest note left on there for him.
'U lovE me For iT
x X x
There are some days when it doesn't matter how many notes Gilbert leaves on their fridge; the only ones that Arthur will see are the ones still there when he gets up to make more tea, and even then it depends on whether they catch his notice or not.
These are the days he spends locked up in the study, fingers flying over his laptop's keyboard in an attempt to get his draft written in time for the deadline he wishes his editor had never set. Gilbert will often peer around the corner of the room's door to find Arthur tugging at his hair in frustration as he hunches over the small screen; when the albino ambles over and rubs his shoulders Arthur hasn't the heart (or strength of will) to turn him away for being a distraction. He can admit (to himself) that breaks are probably necessary for him to produce a high quality work, and that creating tense knots of muscle in his back probably don't help a great deal, so he stays silent and relaxes into the touch.
Sometimes Gilbert can be hovering over his shoulder, reading as he types, and Arthur won't notice that he's even there through his concentration. Gilbert doesn't take offence; he knows he gets the same way when he's working on a particularly difficult problem and Arthur's always there with a cup of tea or bottle of beer when Gilbert begins to question why he decided to go into the thermodynamics of cars.
When Arthur finally resurfaces from his too-bright screen and piles of paper, eyes bloodshot and hair a total mess, Gilbert has often had to retire for the night in order to be able to haul himself out of bed in the morning. Eyes automatically drifting to the refrigerator, Arthur allows himself a tired beam before following the instructions detailing how to heat up his dinner without blowing it up.
When he crawls into bed at four in the morning, snuggling into Gilbert's warmth, he plants a soft kiss on the other's neck.
x X x
There are days when Gilbert seriously wishes that Arthur would come out of thinking about his stories for long enough to remember the simple things in life. Like how useful mobile phones are when not with their owners.
He'd unexpectedly managed to leave work early, for once, and today Arthur didn't have to go to the call centre or write; Gilbert had envisioned an afternoon and evening of lazing about the flat, bottles of beer and… whatever the manly version of cuddling was.
He certainly hadn't expected to come back to an empty flat, in any case.
Not that this causes him much distress, initially. It isn't as though Arthur is required to be house bound all day; perhaps he's gone for a walk to clear his head as he is often wont to? Or maybe he'd run out of tea? That's certainly something that would have the blond racing outside with nary a note… Because of course the first thing that Gilbert checks is the fridge. It stares back at him, bare save for a message left there by Arthur the previous evening about Gilbert's habit of setting up death traps around the flat by leaving his shoes all over the place.
His second instinct is to call Arthur's mobile, of course, though he waits an hour and a half before doing so. He fights the urge to repeatedly beat his head against the dining table when he hears the Dr Who theme tune float through the door of the study.
It's another half hour before Gilbert hears the door open with a soft click, and by then he's already hooked up his Xbox having gotten bored of waiting. Or so he says to himself, anyway. It's easy to see that it's an attempt at distracting himself from worrying while he sulks.
As the door shuts, he can hear Arthur saying something – to whom, Gilbert has to wonder, seeing as his phone is in the room next door – along with the surprise at seeing Gilbert's shoes strewn across the hallway. He looks up just in time to see his brother peering at him from the living room doorway. Whatever he sees in the albino's face has him excusing himself for the bathroom and the swift retreat has Arthur's brows climbing up his forehead and disappearing behind his fringe.
"I didn't realise you were getting back so early," Arthur says, taking off his jacket and draping it over the arm of the sofa. His posture is relaxed and casual, and Gilbert looks him over for a moment before turning his attention back to the screen to shoot something.
"Yeah, got off at around one thirty… Where have you been?" There's no accusation in his voice, not really; just confusion and curiosity.
Arthur's lips curl into a sort of half-smile, and Gilbert can't help but note how endearing the expression is. There's a wry sort of humour dancing in his eyes and Gilbert wants to know what on earth it has to do with his brother. Arthur doesn't keep him in suspense long. "I got a call on the landline asking if I could collect Ludwig from school because he's been suspended for the rest of the week."
Gilbert's mouth opens and closes. And opens and closes again, though no sound comes out. Arthur smirks, though he can certainly sympathise with the sock Gilbert must be experiencing since he'd been through it only hours before. "…I guess it's a good thing it's a Thursday?" Gilbert says, still looking as though he's being asked to believe in the existence of the tooth fairy. "What the hell did he do?"
"He had a philosophical discussion with a classmate and couldn't resolve their differences."
There is a brief silence. Arthur's eyes twinkle at him.
"…You're saying he got into a fight?"
"You know me too well," Arthur grins. "Yes, he got into a fist fight whilst defending a friend from bullies. We made a detour to a desert parlour before heading back."
Gilbert mulls over this as Ludwig emerges from the bathroom. He doesn't look as distraught over getting suspended for a couple of days as Gilbert would have thought the straight laced boy would be – he supposes he has Arthur to thank for that. Still, Ludwig looks ashamed for the stain it will leave on his record, but also apprehensive for his older brother's reaction to the news.
Gilbert can't imagine why.
An easy smile on his face, Gilbert pauses his game and draws his brother into the room chattering about the proper way to punch someone without hurting yourself and finding some ice for Ludwig's slightly bruised knuckles.
The evening is certainly different to what he had planned, but he's not disappointed. Arthur takes the car to drop Ludwig home and explain the situation to his and Gilbert's father – the general consensus had been that Arthur was least likely to exacerbate the situation – and it's while he's alone in the flat again that he spots the latest message to be left on the fridge.
'Thank you bOtH so mUch f0r 2Day'
x X x
It's a Sunday morning, and although he knows he has things he should possibly be getting done today, Arthur stays put and stares up at the ceiling. It's the first time in a while he has managed to wake up before Gilbert, whose nose is somewhere near Arthur's collar bone and one leg thrown over the blond. Arthur can feel the little puffs of air stirring his hair slightly, tickling him. He's warm and comfortable, and he can see the letter with the details for the resident's meeting they need to be at in an hour's time which is pinned to the fridge by a magnet in his mind's eye.
Then he remembers Gilbert's reaction when he'd read the letter, peering over the albino's shoulder to see what the letters he'd been arranging would say.
Arthur finds that he rather agrees with that sentiment, and doesn't resist when his eyelids flutter shut and pull him back into slumbers embrace.
There's no place he'd rather be than here, anyway.
N.B. - Nota Bene - (Latin) Note well, take note.
A/N: This was written for the aph_fluffathon; I'm still working on my other prompt so it's going to be late, unfortunately! I can't write it now though since it's gone 2am and I'm supposed to be moving into my house at uni tomorrow and STILL haven't finished packing! The original plan was to do it after posting this but mum's gone to sleep in my sister's room where all of my stuff is so I'm kind of tearing my hair out at the moment D:
As states above, this is in the Off Script-verse, though a fair bit further down the time line... Writing the two of them so domestically was a lot of fun! XD It was a bit rushed though, so I'll be coming back to this to improve it when I have the time... I'm sure there was other stuff to write here, but it'll have to wait for now. Hope you enjoyed reading this!