“Anyone up for a snack?” _____ dug through her purse as the group neared the exit to the airport and pulled out an already opened bag of sunflower seeds. She waved them around in front of her friends’ faces. “Alfie~? Gil~?”
Alfred reached for the bag and pried it open, stuffing dozens of the tiny seeds into his mouth at one time. Then Gilbert took the bag next and stuffed his face as well.
“Hey, Fräu,” said Gilbert through his mouthful of sunflower seeds. “Got something to spit the seeds into?”
_____ pulled a plastic bottle out of her bag. It was deprived of water, the only contents inside being saliva-covered sunflower seed shells. Gilbert took the bottle and spat several shell fragments into it. _____ put a few seeds in her mouth and spat the shells into the bottle, then passing it to Alfred, who had finally unshelled all the seeds he had crammed into his mouth. _____ noticed a group of girls walk by with disgusted faces. She took a few more seeds and popped them into her mouth.
“What?” she said to them, defaulting to a very un-ladylike stance. “Ain’t you ever seen people eating sunflower seeds before?”
The girls rolled their eyes and walked away.
_____ sighed and spat out her shells.
“What’s their problem?” said Gilbert, taking the bottle to spit.
“Guess they didn’t like sunflower seeds.”
Gilbert laughed. “They are a little too salty, Fräu.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Your point?”
“Nothing. They’re still good, anyway.”
“That’s good.” She grabbed the bag and offered some to Feliciano, who took one but gave up after accidentally swallowing the shell. She looked at Ludwig. “Want some, liebe?”
“Eh?” Ludwig looked at the bag carefully for a moment. “I’ve never had them before.”
“WHAT?!” _____ shouted, causing a silence to spread through the airport and everyone to look at her. She stared at Ludwig, dumfounded. “You’ve never had the goodness that is roasted and salted sunflower seeds?! What the hell is wrong with you?!” She blinked and forced herself to calm down, smoothing down her dress and hair and returning to a more refined pose. “U-Um, sorry. . .It’s just, um, I grew up on these, so it’s kinda weird that someone would’ve never tried them. . .” She wrapped her arms around the German and pressed herself into him. “Sorry for blowing up at you, Luddy. . .”
_____ blinked when she heard a deep rumble come into her ear. She looked up to see her boyfriend grinning.
Ludwig chuckled. “Oh, mein liebe,” he said, humored, as he patted her head. “No need to apologize.” He kissed her on the forehead and picked a few sunflower seeds out of the bag she was holding. He popped them into his mouth and was about to start chewing when _____ said something.
“Uh, you have to crack open the shells with your teeth, then spit them out and eat the seed.”
Ludwig nodded, a bit embarrassed at the fact that he needed instructions for such a simple task, and moved his jaw back and forth and side to side as he attempted to crack the shells. He finally unshelled them and spat the shells into the shared bottle, which was filling up very quickly.
_____ grinned. “Congrats, Luddy. You have now officially eaten your first sunflower seeds~! How you like ‘em?”
“Not bad,” he said, swallowing the seeds.
“Well, Fräu,” said Gilbert, looping his arm around her shoulders. “Those are pretty good, but do you know anywhere we could go for lunch? I’m starving.”
“Yeah,” she replied. “My place.”
“Nice to see you haven’t changed up the place,” remarked Alfred as he stepped out of the car at _____’s house.
“Yeah, well.” _____ opened the trunk for the boys to get their suitcases. “There wasn’t really much to be done to it in the first place.”
“True.” He tugged his suitcase out of the trunk and walked to the front porch.
After the men had gotten their suitcases, _____ locked the car and unlocked the front door to her house. She swung the door open and was the first to enter, quickly scanning the interior of the house.
“Sorry about the mess,” she said. “We need to fire the maid.”
Alfred tilted his head slightly. “But _____, I thought you didn’t have a maid.”
“I don’t, Alfie. It was an expression.”
“Oh. Okay.” He set down his suitcase in a corner in the living room.
“So, what’s on the menu, Fräu?” said Gilbert as he walked into the kitchen, _____ and the others following.
“Whatever you can find that’s edible, so long as you don’t make a mess,” she replied. “I’m gonna go change. I’ll be right back. Luddy, make sure they don’t start any fires!”
“But _____!” called Alfred after her. “We didn’t start the fire! It was always burning since the world’s been––”
“Enough with the Billy Joel, Alfie!”
Alfred waved his hand down in dismissal in her direction as he filed through the refrigerator for food. Gilbert then grabbed his shoulder and whispered something into his ear. The dirty-blonde nodded in agreement.
Ludwig looked at the two. “What are you two conspiring over there?” he said, causing the pair to smile like cheshire cats.
Meanwhile, _____ was in her room preparing to redress. She had already taken off her shrug, and she now flopped down on the bed and pulled her shoes off. She grimaced at the blisters across the heels and sides of her feet; they were already starting to bleed. She groaned and stood up, soreness obvious in her feet, and skillfully unzipped the back of her dress and slipped it off her body. She zipped it back up and lay it on her bed and went through her closet for a change of clothes. She easily found herself a pair of cargo shorts, and she pulled out a plain t-shirt when her bedroom door came crashing open, a certain blond German falling on the floor in the room.
_____’s face instantly turned a very bright shade of red. “Ludwig! Get outta my room!”
Ludwig looked up to see his half-naked girlfriend, his face also turning red. His eyes darted away and to the floor. He nervously scrambled to his feet and tried to open the now closed door, but failed. He turned the door knob several times, but it would not open.
“Oh, scheiße,” he muttered.
“What?” said _____, attempting to cover herself with the t-shirt in her hands.
“The door is locked.” His eyes went wide and flared with anger, and he banged his fist on the door. “Bruder! Holt mich hier raus!”
Outside the door, the two could hear Gilbert laughing mischievously. “No can do, West!”
_____’s anger rose when she heard Alfred join in on the albino’s laughter. Abandoning the t-shirt and shorts, she stepped to the door and slammed her fist down on it as hard as she could. “Guys, unlock this door right now, or so help you I will gut you both with an honest-to-God smile on my face!”
A silence followed, and after a moment _____ gave up and pulled the shorts and shirt onto her body. She looked up at Ludwig, who was still turned away from her with a dark blush painting his cheeks. She grinned. “Okay, Luddy, you can turn around now.”
Ludwig turned his head to her, his expression softening and his blush diminishing slightly. He stepped toward her, then stopped when his eyes focused on her feet. “You’re bleeding.”
“Oh, yeah,” she said, looking down at her feet. She sat down on the bed by her dress, propping one ankle up on the other knee. “I guess the shoes I was wearing kinda rubbed me raw. I probably would’ve been okay if I hadn’t gotten a damn pedi.”
Ludwig knelt down in front of her and gently took one of her feet in his hands. He examined the blisters for a moment, then set her foot back down and stood up. Without warning, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the door. “Bruder,” he called. “Unlock the door. _____ needs first-aid.”
Mere seconds later, the door was opened, Gilbert standing in the doorway with worry apparent in his eyes. “Is she okay?”
“I’m fine, Gil,” said _____. “I just got some blisters, is all.”
The worry immediately left his eyes, and he raised an eyebrow, but he moved out of the way when Ludwig walked out of the room.
“Ludwig,” _____ chided, “I can still walk. And I don’t need first aid. It’ll take care of itself.”
Ludwig sighed. “Liebe.” He stopped walking and kissed her forehead. “Liebe, it’s alright. You can let people worry about you. It’s alright to be weak sometimes, to let go.” He smiled at her. “You were the one who taught me that, remember?”
She rolled her eyes, failing to hide the growing smile on her face. “Yeah, yeah.”
“Where’s your first-aid, liebe?”
“In the kitchen.”
Ludwig carried _____ to the kitchen and set her down at the dining table, pulling out one of the chairs for her to sit in. She instructed the German as to where the first-aid supplies were, and he came back to the table with a box of Band-Aids, a few tissues and cotton balls, and a small bottle of rubbing alcohol.
“No, Ludwig,” _____ whined. “Anything but the rubbing alcohol.”
The German smiled as he dabbed a bit of the strong liquid onto a cotton ball. “Now, liebe. You know if I don’t apply it, your feet will get infected.” He gently picked up one of _____’s feet and ran the cotton ball across the blistered spots, causing her to make a loud hissing sound as she breathed in through her teeth. She reached out and gripped onto Ludwig’s shoulder. He stopped and looked up. “Too much?”
She nodded. “Guess the pedi messed with my nerves or something, too. Damn beauticians are sadistic people.”
Ludwig sighed, kissing _____’s cheek and continuing quickly and more lightly with the rubbing alcohol. He then placed four Band-Aids on each foot and disposed of the garbage. He walked back to _____, seeing her grin. “What?”
_____ giggled. “You really do love me, don’t you?”
Ludwig blinked, but smiled warmly and knelt down beside her. “Yes, I do.” He picked up her foot and kissed a spot with a Band-Aid covering it, then took her hand and kissed the back of it, then kissed her cheek. _____ smiled and turned her head so that their lips met. She wrapped her arms around his neck while he cupped her face in his hands.
The two froze when they heard (for the second time that day) a collection of wolf-whistles and cat-calls. They looked over and glared at the albino and American standing side by side near them. Feliciano was right behind them with a bright smile on his face and a camera in his hands. He lifted the camera and quickly snapped a picture.
_____ rolled her eyes and sighed. “You guys have no life, do you?”
Gilbert laughed. “None whatsoever!”