Title: Play the Part

Pairings: Germany/Italy, one-sided Germania/Rome

It was nine years ago that Feliciano lost his grandpa, and nine years since his brother last cracked a smile. Now the past has come back to haunt them, and Feliciano realises just how big it really is; could this man with blond hair he keeps seeing in his dreams and in photographs be the key to his grandpa's disappearance?

The six-story block of desolate flats had never looked quite so bleak to Feliciano before as it did that evening. Ever the cheery optimist; the Italian was nothing but pleased with his and his brother's small, two-bedroom flat on the fourth floor of this grimy, graffiti strewn structure. That same ginger cat that often greeted Feliciano on his way home from work was waiting, as always, in the small alley for him beside that murky puddle that was ever present on the pavement, even on scorching summer days that lit up the building's dazzling off-white paint and made it a complete eyesore for any unsuspecting passers by. Pookie, the Italian had affectionately named the stray, sat up when the man approached and moved towards his outstretched hand for a scratch behind the ear. The cat had been kept waiting longer than usual for his stroke and leftover ham sandwiches from Feliciano that day; by the time the man had arrived the sun had well and truly vanished below the horizon.

Feliciano zipped up his bag after distributing his leftovers, patted Pookie once more before letting himself into the side entrance of the building. The familiar stench of rubbish bags and urine greeted his senses and the Italian hurried to the lift opposite and rang for it. He waited patiently yet with that ever present uneasiness that came with living in a building with such unpredictable occupants. It hadn't been that long ago that Feliciano had been whisked to the emergency room following a drunken row with one of the downstairs neighbours over a disagreement with his girlfriend. From what the young man could pick up on during his intoxicated ramblings; this man's girl had apparently let slip that she had somewhat of an infatuation for Feliciano, something he found rather difficult to take as a compliment.

All was still, however, that night and surprisingly quiet. No coked up madman jumped into the lift with him at the last second and demanded Feliciano give up his shoes to him -and how the young man wished that that were something he'd just made up and not a personal experience-, no middle aged woman with her dozen and a half kids piled in after him, clamouring at his feet and telling him all about how much of a nice man he was whilst their mother batted her eyes and gave him rather a disturbing 'come hither' look. Feliciano often wondered what it would be like to have normal neighbours again. But he reasoned that, in such a decrepit, government owned building, you weren't likely to meet people you could trust.

Feliciano was graced with having the lift all to himself; the urine smell was distressingly potent in the confined space and he held his breath for the duration of the ride up to the fourth floor. The Italian clutched his bag tightly as the lift came to a shuddering, creaky halt and released his hold only when the doors slid open and the fourth floor corridor was shown to be empty. Realising just how late Feliciano was when he glimpsed the dark sky out of the narrow glass window at the end of the hall; the Italian practically ran to the flat marked number eight and jammed his keys into the door. Any hope that his older brother would be fast asleep and unaware of his return were dashed before he'd even pushed the heavy door open.

"Why are you so late?" were the scornful words that greeted Feliciano the moment his key unlocked the door.

Feliciano smiled weakly as he shuffled into the dim light of the kitchen where the foul glare of his sibling watched him. "I was on the close." came the meek reply. Feliciano eyed the kitchen counter and felt a pang of guilt to see the stone-cold plate of tagliatelle that had been waiting for him.

Lovino gave a grunt of annoyance and rubbed his tired eyes, "Never this late, isn't there some kind of law against forcing people to work this many extra hours at a time?" the short Italian was already dressed in his jogging bottoms and vest top, ready for bed.

Feliciano looked at his brother sadly, "You didn't have to wait up for me, fratello." he dropped his bag by the door and went to offer the man a hug, but was met with a rather stilted look.

"Of course I did, it's not safe around this neighbourhood, I was this close to calling the police." Lovino held up his index finger and thumb in his brother's face, and Feliciano couldn't help but notice with yet another pang, how they trembled ever so slightly.

"I'm sorry." Feliciano offered quietly, "Next time I'll just tell them I can't stay."

"No." Lovino almost growled with frustration, but whether at him or himself, the Italian couldn't decipher, "Don't go getting yourself fired, just eat your damn dinner and go to bed."

Lovino dodged another hug automatically and dropped himself onto the sofa in the living room, Feliciano knew it to be pointless insisting he get some sleep, even though he looked like he desperately needed it, until he himself was ready to go to bed as well. The Italian sighed, scooped up the cold dish on the counter and shoved it in the microwave.

"It won't be nearly as good after re-heating it..." Lovino grumbled from the cushions, running a hand through his dark brown hair.

Feliciano jumped up onto one of the bar stools whilst his pasta slowly rotated behind him, "I said I was sorry." he tried asserting himself further only to revert back to his quiet mumble when Lovino turned on the sofa to glare at him. "I didn't mean to take so long."

"It's stupid." Lovino shook his head, lifting himself up to straddle the arm of the sofa. "Your shift was supposed to finish at eight, it's almost midnight...I thought that Cara girl was on close?" he asked slowly.

Feliciano shrugged a little too aggressively, "I don't know, she needed extra help closing up so I stayed."

"Why does it take over three hours to close up a café?" Lovino spoke slowly, getting to his feet.

Feliciano spun around on the stool to face the microwave, his heart started to drum faster beneath his work apron. "We had an incident...kids threw up everywhere, big mess, we had to disinfect everything." he blurted out nervously, the Italian hopped down and stood with his arms folded directly in font of the microwave, watching his food rotate with intensity.

The Italian could feel his older brother standing behind him, and see his dark stare in the reflection on the glass from over his shoulder. "Feliciano, it does not take three hours to clean up a place as small as that, no matter how much those kids threw up." the cold tone Lovino took with his brother left no doubt in Feliciano's mind that he knew he was lying to him.

Feliciano swallowed slowly, watching his pasta intently through the glass window. "...it was a big mess." he muttered pathetically, his inventiveness when it came to fibbing had never been up to scratch.

For a few tense minutes; Lovino and Feliciano stood, one in front of the other, neither willing to back down or admit defeat, although the younger of the two came very close. He could feel his brother's gaze burning into the back of his head but he remained strong and resilient for once, after all he'd had quite a lot of practice over the last nine years.

Eventually, and to Feliciano's surprise, it was Lovino who moved first. He stepped back and went to the other side of the counter and Feliciano sighed with relief just as the microwaved beeped at him and came to a stop. Before he could even retrieve his steaming food, however; Feliciano heard a rustling noise behind him, and the sound a zip being slid open.

"Lovino!" Feliciano cried, he spun around and saw what he feared, his older brother had a hold of his bag and was rooting around inside.

"I knew you were hiding something!" Lovino snapped, he twisted himself around the backpack as Feliciano dived across the counter to reach for it.

"Give it back! I'm not hiding anything!" Feliciano knew it was already a lost battle, he fell to the kitchen floor as Lovino hopped out of his way and ran to the living room, desperately trying to find what Feliciano desperately wanted to keep hidden.

Lovino began piling his brother's belongings onto the floor and scrambled through the array of pens, papers, water bottle and other bits and bobs before he found what he was looking for. The Italian grabbed a battered photograph that had been stuffed right at the very bottom of the bag and jumped up onto the sofa, holding it up in front of his face which had fallen into a deep grimace.

"For fuck sake, Feliciano..." Lovino didn't sound angry or enraged, he just sounded tired.

Feliciano got up from the floor, hanging his head rather sheepishly, "Lovino, I can explain-"

"You went back to the old house again, didn't you?" his brother asked him, his brown eyes burning into the photo in his hand.

Feliciano sighed, he reached up for his brother's hand but Lovino dodged away, keeping a tight grip on the photograph. "Lovino I just wanted to look around, collect some things that were left." he said gently.

"You're not allowed to be there, you idiot. Do you want to be arrested again?" the Italian's voice wavered noticeably and he cleared his throat. "What do you want with this piece of crap, anyway?" he muttered, haphazardly flicking the photo away from him and jumping down from the sofa. Feliciano hurried to catch it before it touched the ground, carefully smoothing it out. Lovino watched him and sighed with frustration. "Feliciano, don't go back there again, I mean it. I'm going to bed." the Italian spoke softly, almost without any conviction. Lovino distractedly tidied the coffee table in front of him before sloping off towards the bedrooms.

Feliciano stared after him, his body felt strangely numb and he blurted out his words before he could stop himself. "I don't hate him, Lovino."

His brother stopped just short of his bedroom door but didn't turn to look at him. "I know you don't."

"I...I just think there's more to it." Feliciano grappled on, knowing he was digging where he really shouldn't. "I don't think we fully understand what happened, and I want to know, Lovino."

"Fine." his brother barely even spoke, he pushed open the door in front of him rather violently. "Goodnight."

"Lovino," Feliciano walked towards him, "why can't we ever talk about it-"

"I SAID," Lovino burst out suddenly, halting Feliciano on the spot; the Italian took a deep breath and composed himself. "...goodnight." he finished softly, closing the door behind him, but not without revealing his shining eyes to his brother for a split second before he left for bed.

Feliciano stared at the closed door for a few moments before returning to the kitchen for his pasta which, for once, he didn't really have the stomach for. He kept hold of the photograph carefully with his thumb and index finger in one hand whilst he ate, managing to polish off the entire bowl despite his unease. Feliciano cleaned up the kitchen, re-packed his bag, turned off the lights and headed to his bedroom, momentarily stopping outside of his brother's room to press his ear against the door and listen. He heard Lovino's bedsprings creak as he tossed and turned during another restless night; the Italian hesitated, wanting to knock and see if he could find some way to have the discussion he'd wanted to have for years. His heart wouldn't allow it. Even the mere mention sent his brother off into an emotional rampage and he couldn't bear to see it.

Instead he retired into his own, smaller room, hung up his jacket and bag on the hook by the door, navigated his way past the tower of cardboard boxes and flopped down onto his narrow bed in the corner. Feliciano didn't bother with the light, or even getting undressed for bed. He lay, face down for a long while, the photo still in hand, just listening to the traffic buzzing outside, even at this hour. Occasionally the sound of laughter and shouts could be heard from people returning to the building after a heavy night of drinking, but he didn't hear Lovino screaming at them to be quiet from out of his bedroom window this time.

It was almost one in the morning when Feliciano finally sat up, rather dizzy with tiredness. He kicked off his shoes and moved towards the boxes he'd neglected to unpack since moving in. Even though he'd had almost a year to do so. In the box on top he retrieved his photo album, a nice leather bound one he'd bought last month to house the memories Feliciano had been collecting over time. It wasn't even half full yet, and most of the pages only had one or two pictures slotted into each one. Feliciano flicked carefully through the album until he came to a clean page where he slid his newly acquired photograph into the opaque casing. The corner was slightly bent out of shape from where Lovino had been holding it and Feliciano closed the album gently to smooth out this crease.

It was only during the night time that the Italian had the urge to sort out his room, he lost the will in the day; he still needed to set up the bookcase he'd bought several months ago since their last flat hadn't come with one, neither did this one. The parts were all there in a box at the end of Feliciano's bed, he'd even purchased a hammer and screwdriver ready to build it himself but had lost the drive to do so almost as soon as he'd started. It didn't matter so much for him to own a bookcase, he only had his album, a few recipe books and a couple of old children's stories that Lovino read to him as a boy. Still, it would be nice to have something more to fill the empty space with.

Feliciano sighed, finally disrobed and crawled back into bed. The heating had gone off again in the early evening and it was freezing cold and almost impossible to get comfy. The Italian hadn't had a good nights sleep in a very long time, and not once whilst living in this apartment. Nine years didn't seem that long on paper, but to him it felt like a lifetime ago; a lifetime of unanswered questions and doubt, of pain and confusion and a family torn apart. Feliciano's promise to himself was the same that night as it had been since that night nine years ago. Somehow, and some way; he would find out what had happened to his grandfather.

My first fanfic in over a year, forgive me if I'm a little rusty. Not sure how long it's going to be, may add a couple more pairings later, let me know what you think so far, rating may change to M. It's good to be back.

Reviews are love :)