APH and its characters © Hidekaz Himaruya

Boyue's Note: A collection of short stories, each inspired by a quote on love.

"Love is more than three words mumbled before bedtime. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day." - Nicholas Sparks

Pairing: Spain x Romano

Lovino was spending another day gazing out the open window. He had lost track of how many days it had been since Antonio had left to fight in the Americas. Perhaps, it had only been a few days. Perhaps, it had been years – decades even. He only knew that his heart was suffering from a horrible pang at the cheerful Spaniard's absence. What wouldn't the south Italian give to see that stupid grin on Antonio's face right now? Or to hear that obnoxious chuckle and to feel those rough hands massaging his scalp?

Damn that Spanish bastard to hell.

Lovino shifted his elbow and blinked at the setting sun. He watched it drench the world in fuchsia and salmon. In the blur of the horizon, he saw a group of silhouettes approaching. He squinted against the still-bright sun. He saw flags and banners; the Spanish coat of arms waved dully in the lack of wind. The south Italian huffed, pushing away from the window. It was about damn time the Spanish army returned home.

Lovino took a quick glance of the house; it was a mess as usual, but Antonio would expect that. He – somewhat – hurried out the door. From the front of the house, he could see a better and closer view of the returning army. Lovino might still be a child at the time, but he knew enough to recognize defeat when he saw it. The number of soldiers coming home was pitiful; Lovino was certain they had left with much more than that. He smirked and rolled his eyes, his arms naturally crossed over his chest. He couldn't wait to laugh at Antonio's stupid face and tell him what a loser he was.

But when the Spanish army reached the house, Lovino couldn't find one reason to ridicule Antonio. The dirty, blood-soaked and pus-filled cloths, so clumsily wrapped all over Antonio's body, rocked his chest. Battle wounds – both old and fresh – decorated the Spaniard like war medals. One of Antonio's wrists, Lovino knew for sure, was broken. His fists tightened; stubby fingernails scraped his skin.

Mio Dio, what the hell happened, Antonio?

Still, Antonio perked up when he saw the little Italian. But even the brilliant smile couldn't hide the fatigue and anguish in his tanned face.

"Romano," the Spaniard chirped but his voice was so drained of energy, "I'm home~! Have you been good while I was gone?"

Lovino couldn't logically explain what happened to him next. Tears burst out from him and his legs ran without his permission. He was thrown into Antonio's arms. He could physically feel how weak Antonio was; the older man barely caught him and actually stumbled a few steps back. He heard the sharp wheeze that came out of Antonio's mouth and knew damn well that his sudden hug had caused the Spaniard quite an amount of pain. He didn't care though; he needed the comfort of being close to Antonio. He dug his fingers into the unkempt brown hair and pulled their bodies close. His cheek rubbed the ruffled fabric of the Spanish uniform. His chin tilted downward, eyes burying into Antonio's shoulder.

"What's wrong, Romano?" Antonio asked, "Are you hungry?"

Lovino only kept his head down and sobbed quietly, wetting Antonio's clothes with saline tears.

"Goddamn it, Antonio," the south Italian mumbled, "Goddamn it…"

"Do you want pasta?" Antonio raked his fingers– and how horribly they were shaking – through Lovino's hair. He chuckled, "No hay problema~ I'll make some now."

Lovino's arms locked around Antonio's neck. He kept his head down as Antonio weakly walked into the house. He flinched whenever Antonio bumped into the walls during the trip to the kitchen. The quiet hisses of pain made Lovino's stomach twisted. He shook with rage while Antonio fumbled around in the kitchen and opened the cabinets to take out the pot and a bag of pasta, all the while carrying Lovino in his arms.

"Antonio, you bastard!" the Italian shouted, finally pulling away to stare Antonio in the face, "don't make pasta now!"

"But you're hungry," Antonio said with a blink, "I don't want you to be hungry."

"But you are hurt!"

"Eeee? No te preocupes!" the Spaniard laughed, patting Lovino in the back. "You're more important."

Lovino clenched his teeth. He brought his hand up and slapped Antonio hard across the face. Antonio shrugged his shoulders and hissed at the surprise attack.

"O-ouch! Romano!" Antonio scowled but did nothing else otherwise.

"I hate you, Antonio," Lovino screeched, hot tears once again pumping out of his emerald eyes, "I hate you so much!"

"That's not a nice thing to say," Antonio pouted with a deep frown. "You'd be cuter if you were more honest!"

Lovino ignored the comment. He returned his head to Antonio's shoulder and gripped his back tight. Antonio sighed with a short chuckle; he gave the stand-alone curl a playful tug. Lovino shuddered and kneed Antonio in the stomach – what a pervert! The Spaniard laughed in apology, followed with a cough that made Lovino's heart jumped.

Antonio brushed his face against Lovino's hair and inhaled. Lovino turned his head and did the same. The scent of the Spaniard filled his nostrils – dirt, sweat, and blood. But at least Antonio was here. At least he was alive.

"Te adoro," Antonio whispered into his ear.

Lovino growled and kneeed Antonio again. Antonio apologized once more and went on to boil hot water. Lovino didn't know how Antonio was still standing or even have the energy to make food for him. But damn it was he grateful. Damn it was he lucky.

Damn it was he loved.


Boyue's Note: Eep! It's my first time writing Spain x Romano. Dear, I hope I did good. o.o;;