AN: I should be banned from writing multi-chaps. Like, right now.

For one, it takes me an unholy amount of time to actually update because writer's block is gay and stupid and needs to swallow a big fish spine and get it stuck in their damn throat because ow that really hurts right now, and for another...what the hell is up with my writing. Seriously. It's so fucking inconsistent and not the same style – WHAT IS THIS, I CAN'T EVEN CARRY IT ON FROM THE LAST CHAPTER SOB –




Disclaimer:...-wails quietly-

"No one needs to know."

"Ve? Know what?" His sister blinked through lashes heavy with mascara, peering at the scowling reflection standing next to her.

"I said," he ground out, eyes steeled on his own mirrored image as he smoothed out his lapels, gazing critically at the open collar. The glass was both massive and magnificent, spanning almost the entire wall of the suite and gilded with artistically faded gold. Just like everything else in the room. And just like everything else in the room, standing in front of it or even in the near vicinity of it made him feel extremely rich and extremely small, which was why he stood next to Feliciana – obviously because she would feel tiny and insignificant (even though she was taller than him) if he stood all the way on the other end, dammit, and then she would whine and cling to his arm and get her stupid make up all over his nice black suit. Fuck. Lovino wasn't a pansy; that was his sister, not him. "I said that no one needs to know, especially not the old man, alright? I told you –"

" – fifteen times already, fratello. Si, I counted. And no, I haven't told anyone yet," she sighed into her lipstick, shaking chocolate brown tendrils out of her face to focus on perfect application.

He spun around to grab the tie off an equally gilded sofa, shoes clacking on the polished boards as he resumed his spot beside his sister, letting the fabric slide on his trembling fingers a little uncertainly. What. He goddamn knew how to tie a tie. He'd just...well, he'd had a fucking fit earlier so that was his excuse for forgetting the basic process he had so done a million times before without Feliciana's help so there. "There was the potato fucker. You told him," Lovino sniped, strapping the silk around his neck and wincing at the soreness there. "You told him and he – he saw me. How could you let that happen? How could you do that to me?"

"Do what to you, Lovi?" Her eyes swivelled to his, his real ones, not the identical pair staring at her in the mirror. "Ludwig knows already, ve, and he wouldn't let me take the vespa alone after what happened at the market. With the fruit cart. Aheheheheh..." she trailed off, giggling a little sheepishly before coughing, a slight whine entering her voice. "Besides, you shouldn't have gone alone. That was really stupid, ve, fratello, especially considering your condition."

His cheeks flushed red at her disapproving tone – the words cut. "I'm not letting those suited bastards follow me around anymore. As if they could have fucking helped, anyway!" Goddammit, his hands still trembled as he tried looping the tie around – around and again on both sides, up and in and pull, wasn't it? It was that simple, wasn't it? – causing him to fumble as the fabric slipped through his fingers to pool at his feet with a well-timed expletive. He bent to pick the damn thing up, seething. "Besides, I'm a fucking grown man. I don't need babysitters trailing after me just because the old bastard finally thinks he has enough money to buy me off; enough to keep me locked up and out of sight like a goddamn prisoner in my own home!" The burst of hot rage gave him enough strength to savagely yank the tie into what he severely hoped counted as acceptable in the world of tie-tying, even as the rest of his body shuddered in exhaustion. Lovino swayed on the spot, glaring at the silk mess around his still open collar.

Feliciana sighed, and turned to face him. "I know, ve. But he only wants the best for you..." She picked at the stubborn knot with delicate fingers. "He means well, you know, you don't always have to be so angry."

Angry at his grandfather? Or angry at the world in general? So hard to choose between the two – he isn't even going to try. "Shut the fuck up and just tie it, sorella."

She sighed, pursing her carefully glossed lips and unravelling to silk to start again.

He was silent with relief. Sometimes his sister could be so stubborn, and today he didn't feel like he had enough energy to stand against it. But maybe there was another reason he was relieved – she hadn't seemed to realise it yet, and he was hoping they could go the whole night without –

"Ve." Her hands stilled, and she stared at him, a little furrow between her brows. "Are you sure you should be going out there tonight? I mean..."

"...I'm going." His legs trembled minutely, but he had his face under perfect control. "I'll be fine. I'm always fine when I play, so just – shut up."

With one final pat, Feliciana gave him a look and shrugged away, heels clacking on the tiles and gown – blue, satin and sleeveless – trailing behind her like a night attendant. He blinked. "Feli!"

"Mm? Che cosa?" Her head turned.

His movements were slow and hesitant, something unseen passing in his eyes as he drew closer to her. " forgot this."

Her gaze darted down, catching onto the object in his hand with a small flare of surprise and panic. "G-grazie, fratello," she stuttered, flitting to his side. Her hand was cool in his as she took it and shot him a quick, shaky grin. That was close, said the grin.

It was, he replied silently as she spun around for the second time and headed out to the stage area for rehearsals. It really was, sorella.

It was starting to itch already.

Damn, if Antonio had known this particular shirt was that starchy he'd never have worn the thing. But it was the first thing he'd grabbed out of his wardrobe and besides, it wasn't going to take that long, right...? He sighed, rubbing his temples and leaning back in his seat, trying not to look too bored.

"Toni," prompted Femke.

He was fiddling with his program, watching the ornate 't' in 'scappatella' crack white as he bent the paper. Maybe he could leave at intermission, give some excuse about his aunt being sick...

She rolled her own program up and slapped him lightly over the head with it. "Tonio!"

Antonio blinked, swerving his head up to meet her gaze with a confused, "Mm, what's wrong? Claustrophobic? Afraid of heights? Do you need those funny binocular things those ladies over there are using?"

Femke rolled her eyes at him, crossing her arms. "Be serious, Antonio. I didn't take you here for nothing, alright? You need to relax – it's been too long since you've had a night out. If my brother's been working you too hard, just say so."

"Sweetheart, if you wanted me to have a good night you shouldn't be telling me to be serious," he laughs, patting her shoulder and shifting forward in his chair to peer over the balcony. "I'm sorry if I seem distracted, but I'm pretty tired. The last client just wouldn't quit, and things got a bit...messy."

She frowned, thwacking him upside the head again. "You told me that was tomato sauce! 'Tonio, you know you're not supposed to kill your clients, that's my job!"

He winced, rubbing his head with a silent ow. "It wasn't as if I had a choice! He rushed me, okay? I wasn't ready! I just gave him a sedative that, okay, maybemighthavebeensomepoison but that was definitely an accident, I swear, and I didn't expect him to start sneezing blood everywhere!" He mourned the loss of his favourite sweater internally – that had been a gift from his dear madre, bless her soul. Bloodstains were so hard to clean.

"'Tonio," she started through gritted teeth, voice lowering reluctantly as the lights in the hall dimmed and lively conversation around them died to whispers, the air heavy with anticipation. Perfect. He flapped his hands at her before she could continue berating him, making shushing noises as he sat up in his chair, feigning interest at the stage far below. Antonio could be very good at pretending when he wanted to be.

She made a small 'tsk!' of annoyance, but a silence fell on the crowd as the lush red curtains drifted apart and she shut her mouth. There would be time to yell later – she'd smuggled her and Antonio into one of the private boxes on a discount and she wasn't going to waste all that effort by hissing reprimands into his selectively deaf ear for the length of an entire opera, minus intermission! Jeez, he could piss her off in his own time.

A lone cello slid into a mournful tune, and the darkness rippled as a woman stepped into the light, hands clasped modestly in front of her dark, ruffled gown. A pause in which the cello built up its low melody, and then dark curls shook as she lowered her lashes, mouth parting in slow, high song. "Ave Maria..."

It was beautiful. Utterly entrancing and heartbreakingly full – Femke felt her heart swell with emotion as she stared from above, feeling the vibrations fill the hall with a startling vibrancy. The woman (Feliciana Vargas, informed the program in curly writing) lifted her head as she sang, each note higher and stronger than the last. Oh, this was why she'd begged her brother for tickets to the new, rising virtuoso! Feliciana had only been in three performances, but already she was whispered about, admired for her beauty and girlish charm, but most of all, her voice. Femke swivelled her head to Antonio, unable to contain her excitement and ready to grab onto his arm with a small squeal, when –

She stared.

One Antonio Fernandez Carriedo was gazing intently down at one Feliciana Vargas, an expression of complete, devastating rapture burning in his eyes as his hands clutched the railing. Even in the dim light, it was unmistakable. He was blind with sudden adoration, intoxicated with marvel. She felt something falter inside her before an unreadable smirk lifted the corners of her mouth. The hall felt silent even though the cello was ringing and the soprano was singing as her mind shifted into gear, watching her co-worker with keen ambition.

Her brother was going to find this very interesting.

Closing Note:

I gave up studying for my exams for this. ;_;

And. If the end of the first part was confusing and was meant to be C: This story is going to take on a very much darker tone - I've kind of plotted ahead, and yeah. Might bump it up to M soon.