If one would look beyond Feliciano's dreamy face; beyond his boundless energy and naïve nature, it would become apparent that the younger Italy actually values the importance of keeping out of anyone's private business. Sure, most of the time he would find Japan's weird porn collection in his bookshelf, and there was this one time when he got his hands around Ludwig's illustrated copy of the Kama Sutra while cleaning a nasty ravioli mess he had made in his room - but all those instances were purely accidental.
Feliciano also knew that he must never be meddlesome or nosy around Romano's private affairs. Or his life. Throughout the course of their unification as Italy, he had to learn this little tidbit the hard way. Little rules such as never using and/or mentioning Romano's 'special pasta bowl' with the bright, happy dancing tomatoes, his secret diary that he had stashed under the bed, the small cassone he hid under the planks of their bedroom that had all those carved hearts on the bronze lid, or that he was still a virgin (who secretly liked to bottom)...
The truth was that they had never been close as brothers. At times he would even feel an inkling of Romano's resentment towards him for some unknown reason, but that did not mean that Feliciano never got himself worried whenever Romano was bearing one of his problems. It just came naturally to Feliciano's kindred personality, therefore there were instances when he felt it necessary to breach his brother's personal business and try and help him out, particularly whenever he appeared to be a bit too rough for wear, bitchy, despondent – or all of the above.
But all those other times when he came home bawling his eyes out naked paled in comparison to this.
Romano was covered, from the tips of his agohe to his once shiny Italian-cut shoes in mud, filth, grass, and a questionable goopy white thing that was all over his dark ochre shirt. He had bits of fruits and vegetables all over his clothes and hair, and his face and limbs were covered in scrapes and bruises which, he suspected, came from either crawling around a gravelly area with your occasional cactus patch or getting narrowly scraped by a speeding bus going over a hundred fifty.
Romano also did not have any pants on. And one of his shoes was missing.
If this had happened in another universe or dimension it could have been very comical, since the older Italy looked like someone who held a vegetable stall heist using only a stick and a group of untrained, rabid monkeys.
His brother half-limped to their bedroom and kicked the fallen doorknob somewhere after he almost destroyed the hinges off the doorway and succeeded in ripping the bronze doorknob off instead. Romano ignored the muddy trail he left behind him with his ruined shoe and grime-caked foot, then took his shirt off after undoing what was left of its complete set of buttons. He threw the ruined thing into a nearby laundry basket with a huff.
These sorts of scenarios, Feliciano concluded, screamed for Nosy Brother Time 101. Heaven, Hell, and Romano's Temper be damned.
Feliciano gulped and steeled himself, "Romano?"
He paused. His fingers fidgeted around the blanket on his lap, "Um… what happened?"
"Mind your own damn… fucking…" Romano mumbled something else and let his boxers drop on the floor, kicking the frumpled clothing aside like a football with his foot. He waited for his brother to give one of his tantrums; one of his rants; to roll on the floor, bawl his eyes out, hit him on the head or do something other than-
"Fuck it. Too tired."
Okay. This was serious.
Romano didn't pay Feliciano's worried stare any mind and staggered into the bathroom. Feliciano thought his eyes looked half open - that made sense since it was already two in the morning - and his steps were haphazard and all over the floor. Romano almost slipped on a mysterious puddle before he slammed the door behind him with a humph.
The younger Italy hardly moved from his spot. He listened to the muffled sound of the showers and Romano's silent cussing after what sounded like a nasty fall and a couple of things breaking and getting thrown about. He stared at the steady flow of steam seeping out from under the closed bathroom door, shoulders slumping in drowsiness... although there really was no point in going back to sleep now.
"Maybe Romano had too much wine and tried to woo that girl from the bakery shop again...?" He hummed in thought.
When his brother finally stumbled out - wisps of vapor and the dim bathroom light following him through the dark room - he didn't bother to dry himself off and flopped on their bed with a stiff and slightly pained groan. It took only seconds for Romano to fall asleep after his body hit the feather soft mattress, and he didn't even mind the wet duvet covers and the cold prickle on his drying skin. Feliciano leaned over his snoring frame and gave a disappointed 'Ve~'.
A beat passed before he poked Romano's cheek with a careful finger, "Romano?"
"… d-damned…… mm," Romano twitched, but he didn't seem to wake up, "Open the……… tomato..."
"Romanoo~?" he responded back in a very loud snore, "Wake up, brother…"
Feliciano tugged at his brother's arm, but the other simply swatted him away before turning his back against him with a sour grumble, "Romanoo…" Feliciano jumped on the bed several times. He whined louder this time: "Romanoooooo… were you attacked by Germany's dogs again?" Romano groaned and tucked his head under his pillow. Stupid dogs. He just wanted to sleep. "Was it- was it Spain and that maid outfit again? Tell me Romanooo~"
"All right," a drowsy voice came from under Romano's pillow, "All right. Stop naggingFeliciano." he said, elongating his name into a funny longwinded growl, that reminded Feliciano of a yawning baby tiger. Romano threw the pillow off his face and glared at him, "It was that asshole Korea."
"He tried..." Romano winced, failing to contain his anger, "Nothing. Go back to sleep, dammit."
"What? Can't you see I'm trying to sleep? Mind your own damn business."
Feliciano started shaking his arm harder this time, "But I want to know. I want to he~lp."
"Oh fucking fine." Romano threw his brother's hand off his back and sat up, flailing like a madman, "Korea tried to grab my boobs all day, okay?"
The younger Italy perked up and smiled, "Wow~ that's amazing! He grabbed my boobs earlier too, brother."
Romano made a choking noise and smacked the back of Feliciano's head, "How can you let him do that to you, you goddamn fucking MORON?"
"He seemed nice."
"What do you mean 'he seemed nice'?"
"Ve? He even thanked me afterwards and bought me balloon from a balloon man before running off somewhere…"
Romano bared his teeth and growled, hands gripping his pillow so tight as if he was trying to rip it in half.
"You know," Feliciano leaned toward his venomous expression and looked at him seriously, "Germany made the same face when Korea groped my boobs."
"FELICIANO YOU ASSHOLE." Romano hit his face with a pillow, "Don't you get it? He chased me through the market town, through idiot Greece and those fucking cats, and I got mixed up with some stupid clown circus thing with all the elephant shit, you idiot, ELEPHANT SHIT." He grabbed his collar and shook him like a paranoid schizophrenic. A terrified Feliciano briefly thought about calling a doctor or one of Austria's psychologists, "He found me hiding nearby Switzerland's house… and guess how that ended up with that fucking blonde, bob-headed cross dresser. AND YOU'RE TELLING ME THAT I SHOULD JUST LET HIM GRAB MY GODDAMN BOOBS? MY PRECIOUS VIRGIN BOOBS? "
"I thought Spain claimed Sicily befo-"
"That's not the point, goddamn it," he grumbled, "My point is that guys like France is scary, and Korea's just a fucking idiot. There's a difference."
"There is?" Feliciano scratched his head and looked at Romano's tomato red face, worried at how worked up he was getting by this whole boob-grabbing problem, "So what are you going to do, brother?"
"Easy," Romano let his tight grip on Feliciano's collar go and he puffed his chest out, nodding confidently, "I'll just hide under the bed all day and hope he doesn't find me."
A momentary silence.
The crickets were especially loud tonight, Feliciano thought.
"Oh fuck it, I'm gonna ask Spain for help. But the damn jackass is off camping with that macho potato's brother somewhere for a few days and… shit… I'm doomed." Romano fell face-first on his pillow and tried to stifle a sob. He was beginning to think about killing himself with asphyxiation before he felt someone patting his shoulder in a comforting manner.
"Ve…" Feliciano frowned, "You know Romano, when we were separated and I was still with Grandpa Rome, he told me lots of stuff about you."
Romano paused. He looked at Feliciano with tears in his eyes and bit back a choke, "Yeah? Bullshit."
Romano exhaled, disbelief still in his voice, "... he did?"
"Mm. He said that you made him proud with how tough you are, Romano, and that when you're all grown up you'll be a fierce warrior, just like him." Feliciano heard his older brother's breath hitch, but he continued, "He told me that even if you didn't know how to draw or paint, it didn't matter because he knew that you got his talent for doing battle. That you were a brave soldier like him, so it doesn't matter if you're afraid of Korea because I know you're tough."
Romano sniffled, "… Feliciano~"
He never knew that his grandfather had thought of him that way. He always thought that Grandpa Rome favored his younger brother best, but after hearing this from Feliciano... he couldn't help but feel an unexpected desire to live up to his grandfather's name. Romano's brow curled low, and he wiped the back of his hand on his nose, his voice still oddly low, "But I still don't know what to do."
"It's easy," Feliciano smiled at him, but this time Romano let himself feel comforted at the sight, "What would Grandpa Rome do?"
Romano's face went blank for a while, but he scoffed and shrugged his brother's hand off his shoulder for the hundredth time that night with a rough jerk, "Fine. Whatever. Go back to sleep, idiot." he grumbled, the earlier sting gone from his normal barb. He turned away from Feliciano's smiling face and rubbed the tears off his eyes with the pillow under his head. After a while, when he knew Feliciano was staring at his back in that... stupid dopey face of his, he felt the younger Italy settle down on his side of the bed and sigh.
Through the dim moonlit night of the room, Romano saw his grandfather's strong and bold physique taunt him in his mind. Not in a condescending manner, not anymore – his grandfather just taunted him. Dared him. Pushed him. What would Grandpa Rome do now? What was he going to do now? Before Feliciano's unwitting speech and confession of their grandfather's sacred word, Korea and his boob grabbing escapade had been an irritation which somehow ended up scaring him shitless. Romano constantly had to put up with bastards like France and Spain and their crazy ideas for getting him involved in a half-assed horizontal tango; claiming Sicily, Naples and Sardinia; making him wear stupid costumes and dresses… and now Korea was getting into the whole 'pick-on-Romano' deal?
Grandpa Rome had expectations of him after all. He actually thought he could do something.
His grandfather's expectations of him were wrong, and it was driving him up the wall.
No. Korea will never grab his boobs. He'll have to go through hell, first. Romano promised himself that he will personally make sure of that.
He finally closing his tired eyes to rest and mumbled a petulant thank you to whoever was listening out there.
Hmm... what would Grandpa Rome do…?
Far away to the east of Italy, Yong Soo sneezed.
R&R please! :D