AN. Thank you so much for your understanding, and I hope I didn't offend anyone (much) with what I wrote, but I do feel now that fans have finally understood me, and that I am closer to you all. So, thank you again for everything.

Antonio pretended he didn't notice the looks that Feliciano and Romolo were giving him, especially the older Vargas' one. He looked like in between throwing him out and hugging him until he couldn't breathe anymore and die. It was a weird look, if Antonio had to be honest. Either way it wouldn't be a nice ending for him, even if would prefer to die one hundred times over rather than break Lovino's heart.

That night when he had returned to his room after his night out with Francis and Gilbert, Antonio laid down on his bed and didn't sleep. He thought about what his friends said, then he wished he could just fuck it all, go to the room right next to him and curl next to Lovino's sleeping figure. He thought about it for a long while and came to the final conclusion that the best thing he could was to let Lovino go.

All in all it would be better if Romolo just kicked him out; it would spare him the difficult decision of playing the bad guy and put all the blame on Romolo instead. He couldn't do that, he reasoned. Romolo and Lovino seemed to finally be happy again, and Antonio couldn't bring himself to destroy something as beautiful as that. Nevertheless, if he kept this going, he was going to destroy Lovino's future and that would be irreparable.

But then there was Romolo's look, the look of one who knew what was going on and didn't know whether to pat him on the back or castrate him. There was Feliciano's look of pure happiness for Antonio, for himself, for everyone, and then there was Lovino's look, the most important one of them all… at least to him.

Lovino's eyes sparkled when Antonio was with him, and Antonio loved that so much he felt like dying at the idea of parting from it. So kill him now and get this over with, really.

"Hey, bastard, your hands should be on the guitar!" Lovino whispered, and Antonio's head abruptly turned to his direction, finally noticing that he had grabbed Lovino's hand rather than put his fingers on the chords like their teacher instructed them to. Lovino didn't seem pissed off, though, he just smiled at him (okay, a little bit sarcastically, but it was still a smile) and pushed him softly away. Their teacher didn't seem to notice a thing and just went on and on about a song or another. Antonio didn't really care in that moment.

He tried to concentrate on the task at hand, but all he could feel was Lovino's presence next to him. It was distracting, and not the kind of distracting it had been until a week before. That had been a nice period of his life, where Antonio didn't really care and could play a dangerous game between attraction and lust without thinking about the future.

Now, he suddenly realized, there was more than just mere attraction and lust on the line, and this kind of games usually end up hurting both parties. It was strange how much he didn't care of his own benefit.

"You've been daydreaming for a week." Lovino suddenly said, pushing Antonio out of his thoughts once more.

"You know that's my default face." Antonio said jokingly and absentmindedly caressed Lovino's cheek that turned red at the touch.

"Idiot." Lovino muttered and returned back to his guitar. Antonio's fingers lingered on Lovino's hair for a moment before he abruptly retrieved his hand. The realization hit him like a bucket of iced water.

Antonio was deeply in love.

Why?

He had no idea. Lovino just was the right one. Simply as that.

That was what he realized as he started playing a few notes on his guitar, wishing he was good enough to write a song.

After all, who cared why.

Antonio hadn't expected it. It was as if he went swimming in a sea he hardly knew. He thought he could walk a few meters and go back to shore, but the bottom of the sea suddenly deepened and dragged him down uncaring whether he could swim or not.

It was a terrifying emotion, but as he looked at Lovino, he knew he would let himself being dragged down again and again if he had the chance. Let himself be drowned.

But that was him, who had nothing to lose.

So he had to be the adult (hah! The irony!) and put an end to this.

Lovino, on the other hand, had no idea what Antonio was thinking. It wasn't as if all the other days of the week Lovino knew what went through Antonio's head, but that time Antonio's silence was scaring him shitless. It wasn't until later, when Antonio was driving them back home that he realized something dreadful was going to happen and that was when Antonio suddenly parked and stopped the car even if they had a long way to go still. He had looked at Lovino, had leaned down and kissed him on the lips and then on the forehead when he knew well enough that forehead-kisses annoyed Lovino deeply.

"I love you." Antonio said just like that, out of the blue, making Lovino grab on his seatbelt because there was nothing else to grab on to. Antonio furrowed his eyebrows as if those weren't the words he wanted to say in the first place, but then he looked at Lovino again.

"And that's why I can't do this anymore, as much as I want to."

Lovino was still recovering from the love-confession and it was no wonder he thought he hadn't heard right.

"You are making no fucking sense." Lovino said but his heart started beating really fast, instinctively predicting what was going to follow. He wanted to punch Antonio on the nose right there and then even if Antonio hadn't explained himself yet.

"You are too young for me." Antonio said and that was felt to Lovino like a slap on the face. "I am a college student and you are just seventeen. You don't even know what to do in life, and- oh, God." Antonio sighed and leaned against his seat. "It's coming all wrong, isn't it?"

Lovino's eyes were wide as saucers and he stared at Antonio as if he had unexpectedly turned mad.

"You are fucking freaking me out." Lovino said, but then he swallowed his anger (a very difficult task for him) and reached Antonio's hand. Antonio's eyes followed his movement and then let out a cry when Lovino suddenly pinched him.

"What was that for?" Antonio exclaimed with a pout. Lovino raised an eyebrow.

"You tell me you love me and then come up with this shit that I am too young for you and you ask me WHY THE FUCK I PINCHED YOU?" Romano shouted starting to gesticulate. "You fucking idiot! I should have punched you INSTEAD!"

Antonio looked at him clutching his reddened hand close to his chest.

"I am serious." Antonio said, "I shouldn't date you anymore."

"D-date me?" Lovino repeated stupidly, but then shook his head. "WHAT?"

"I am older than you, and you are just seventeen. You are just a child, and you don't even know what love is. You need to do something with your life and I am freaking out, Lovino. I am really scared I am going to destroy your life because you don't know what you want to do and what if you want to stay with me and not study anymore… or finding a job! And what if you are going to hate me afterwards? You should date someone young as you." Antonio took a deep breath and smiled, "What about Herakles? He is good right?"

"Yes." Lovino said slowly, "He is hotter than you."

"Really?" Antonio asked crestfallen. Lovino rolled his eyes but then gulped and looked away.

"Would you really prefer I dated Herakles?"

Lovino didn't dare to look at Antonio when the other said, after a long moment of silence.

"If that makes you happy."

Lovino closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then punched Antonio on the shoulder. Antonio didn't complain to that and waited for Lovino to say something instead. When he didn't, he decided to start the engine and take them both finally home. Nevertheless, as Antonio pulled into the traffic, Lovino finally broke the silence again.

"Of course I don't know what to do." Lovino said matter-of-fact. "Of course I am fucking young and of course in this moment I want nothing more than s-stay-!" Lovino bit his lips, blushed and continued: "-stay with you." He then shot Antonio an angry look, "But don't you ever fucking say I don't know what love is."

"Lovino…" Antonio started but Lovino shushed him.

"I-I love you." Lovino blurted out, his face a bright red. "I love you, you fucking bastard." He repeated and Antonio noticed the tears in the other's eyes. "And you love me, right?"

"I do." Antonio let out a sight. "God, I do."

Lovino fell silent again.

"My friend Francis…" Antonio started, his throat suddenly dry, "… had fallen in love at your age. In order to have a chance with the guy he loved, he fucked up his interview to get to the college he wanted to be accepted in so badly that they never wanted to hear from him ever again. He gave up his dream only to find out three months later that his love has always been one-sided. Gilbert, on the other, is madly in love with a married woman. She is a teacher in a school, and in order to be with her, he decided to work there part time as a janitor, a job he hates, giving up all offers for a job that he would love."

"You think I will be like that, is that what you are saying?" Lovino asked. Antonio didn't dare look at Lovino's way. "I say: bullshit! There is something that you don't want to tell me. You are the one that feels guilty and I don't fucking understand why!" Lovino shouted reaching hysterical, "But you know what, I don't care what happened to you. I don't give a fucking damn!" He added immediately after shocking Antonio. "I am breaking up with you. Damn it."

Antonio's hold on the steering wheel tightened and suddenly realized he didn't feel as relieved as he should have. Not taking it anymore, he parked the car once more and hid his face in his hands.

"You are so insecure about us, aren't you?" Lovino asked and Antonio was taken aback at Lovino's words. "Maybe I understand that."

Antonio remained silent, waiting for Lovino to burst out in anger as he always did when something didn't go his way.

"Herakles had told me why he broke up with his boyfriend." Lovino suddenly said. "I know his ex because he is my brother's friend. It wasn't because Herakles didn't love him or have cheated on him, or because Kiku couldn't stand his lazy attitude or how knows what the fuck else. They were just insecure about each other, because they were so different and had such different interests."

Lovino sighed.

"Kiku put this idiotic idea in my brother's head that people destined to be together are linked by a red string, or something as stupid as that. One day he told Feliciano that he had finally understood what he was meant to do with his life and that being with Herakles wasn't going to be an obstacle. If it is their destiny, they are going to fall for each other again and again. Herakles doesn't know about it yet, that Kiku might try to come closer to him again, but I am sure he won't be against the idea. He still loves him."

Lovino bit his lips and snorted.

"I don't know why I am telling you this, damn it." Lovino said, "Probably I was trying to tell you that I would never date Herakles because he is not fucking meant for me."

"I liked the red string theory." Antonio said and Lovino burst out laughing.

"That's all you got from all I said?" Lovino asked looking at Antonio, who just shrugged, a playful smile ready to form on his lips. Lovino shook his head, amused.

"Then what are you saying?" Antonio asked. Lovino looked out of the window and sighed once more.

"I guess I will do what you want." Lovino whispered. "I will finish high-school, for once. I might go to college, even if I don't want to now. I will find a place of my own, maybe, because dad can perfectly do without me and then-!"

"Then if you are still in love with me-!" Antonio piped in, "-I will be waiting for your call."

Lovino and Antonio looked at each other for a long time.

"Can you really wait for me?" Lovino asked, his throat suddenly dry. Antonio nodded, and Lovino suddenly leaned in, grabbed Antonio and kissed him on the lips. The kiss had a salty tinge in it, and for the slightest of seconds Antonio wanted nothing more than to turn back time and be a selfish man. Lovino let him go and his eyes studied Antonio's face.

"I love you." Antonio said again. Lovino blushed once more, not used to such words. "But really, you wouldn't go out with that Greek, right?" Antonio asked instead when he saw Lovino was on the verge of crying again.

Lovino snorted but when he made to punch Antonio, the latter grabbed him and hugged him tight. He broke down in tears then, the first time since that damned day when Antonio was still seventeen and had no idea that the world could be so cruel.


"You are leaving?" Romolo asked that night taken aback. Antonio tried to smile, his luggage already ready by his side.

"Thanks for all you done for me." Antonio said instead when he couldn't find something better to say. Romolo didn't look happy.

"Lovino doesn't trust people easily." Romolo said, "He trusted you, man. If you broke his heart, I swear I-!"

"I want him to be happy." Antonio interrupted him. "And if that includes me in the future, I am willing to wait. We are both heartbroken as it is."

Romolo sighed loudly.

"My Lovino grew up so much too soon, hasn't he?" Romolo asked with a sad smile. He then stood up from the chair he was sitting and reached Antonio in two strides. Antonio let out a sigh he didn't know he was holding when Romolo suddenly hugged him.

"I wish you the best."

"Take care." Antonio said against Romolo's chest and hugged him back.