Pairing: Antonio Carriedo/ Lovino Vargas (Spain/Romano)
Summary: WW2 AU. Lovino Vargas only ever wanted something exciting to happen in his boring, everyday Italian village existence. He never expected war, Resistance, love, passion, treason, or a cheerful, confusing, irritatingly attractive Spanish freedom fighter.
This story is part of an ongoing WW2 AU of mine, called the Veraverse. This particular fic is a companion story to the Germany/Italy fic 'Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart.' I will try to keep it separate enough that you can understand it without reading 'Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart,' but it might make a little more sense if you do.
A village in Italy
Lovino did not turn at the sound of Feliciano running behind and shouting his name. He kept his eyes on the narrow dirt road, his fists clenched and his teeth gritted in irritation. The sun shone brightly overhead and a warm breeze drifted past, carrying the light, subtle scents of spring. Lovino barely noticed. His mind was still running through the events of the morning in the market. Every day, he heard the same things. 'Little Feliciano, I have the very best for you today!'… 'Oh, you didn't tell me you had such a cute brother, Lovino!'… 'Extra tomatoes? For you, Feliciano, absolutely!' Lovino was used to feeling invisible around his little brother. But sometimes it became a bit too much. Sometimes, Lovino wished that something would happen around here: something important, something where he could make a difference rather than living in the shadow of his always cute, always sweet, always noticeable little brother.
"Lovino, wait for me! Lovi… ARGH!"
Lovino spun around at the shriek to find Feliciano sprawled face first on the road. Lovino's stomach fell a little as he ran back and knelt swiftly beside his brother. "Feli, are you all right?"
Feliciano slowly pushed himself to his knees, brushed himself off, and smiled brightly. "You shouldn't walk so fast, Lovino, my legs aren't as long as yours and I can't keep up, and I don't think you always hear me when I call out and then accidents like this happen, but it's okay because I don't think I'm hurt only look, I did scrape my knee, do you think I need to see the doctor?"
Lovino rolled his eyes, holding out a hand to help Feliciano to his feet. "Don't be silly, you'll be fine." Why was he never able to stay upset with his little brother for long? "I'm sorry I was walking so fast." Once on his feet, Feliciano continued to cling to Lovino, swinging their hands between them as they continued down the road. Lovino shook his head in exasperation. Anyone would think his fourteen year old brother was actually a little child. No wonder the villagers at the market always thought he was so damn 'cute.' Lovino was barely a year older and yet he felt like the adult; the sensible, responsible one. But he let Feliciano hold his hand as they walked down the country road, eventually turning onto the narrow lane that lead to their small farmhouse.
"We're home, Grandpa!" Feliciano cried cheerfully as they walked through the front door.
"Welcome home, boys!" Grandpa Roma stood from his chair at the front table. Lovino went still when he noticed the man sitting opposite. Dark haired, shabbily dressed, with an olive complexion and wide, sparkling eyes. The young man flashed them a bright cheerful smile; Lovino eyed him warily.
"Who the hell are you?'
Roma glared at Lovino. "Watch your manners, young man." Lovino folded his arms and glanced sullenly at the ceiling. "This is a friend of mine. Antonio Fernandez Carriedo."
Feliciano looked completely confused. "Antonio... Fernando…"
"You might have to write that one down," said Lovino.
"Call me Antonio." The man stood. Lovino took a step backwards.
Roma smiled proudly as he took a step closer to his grandsons. "Antonio, this is Lovino, my oldest, and little Feliciano."
Antonio held out his hand to Feliciano, who took it in a careful handshake. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Feliciano!" Antonio's Italian was slightly accented.
"Hello! You speak funny."
Antonio laughed. "I am sorry about the accent. I am from Spain, and not used to speaking Italian."
Feliciano looked astonished. "Spain? Wow! Do you fight bulls? All Spanish people fight bulls. I read it once in a book, and there were pictures, but it made me very sad, because they were getting stabbed and it was all horrible and I ended up crying because it's just so terribly mean and wrong and... and… and it was so awful…" Feliciano blinked rapidly and sniffed. "Grandpa, I don't think I like your new friend." Lovino kicked Feliciano's foot.
Antonio laughed again. It was so wild and joyful. For some strange reason, Lovino felt his heart leap at the sound. "Feliciano, not all Spanish people fight bulls. I swear to you, I've never hurt a bull in my life."
Feliciano broke into a wide, relieved smile. "Oh, good. Well that's all right then, and I'm very sorry I said I don't like you, and I'm sure you're actually very nice."
Antonio laughed and Roma shrugged dotingly. Lovino tapped his foot and rolled his eyes. Here we go again. Someone else falling all over cute little Feliciano.
"Well, aren't you just the cutest thing," said Antonio. Feliciano tilted his head and flashed a blinding smile. Lovino looked away briefly in frustration, and when he glanced back, he found Antonio extending his hand to him. Lovino's eyes went wide, his brain froze, and he clasped his hands behind his back. Antonio dropped his hand immediately and just smiled. "And I am pleased to meet you, Lovino."
Lovino told himself to say something. Anything. To open his mouth. Now, damn it. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Grandpa Roma cuffed him over the head. "Don't be rude, Lovino. Antonio is here on a business meeting."
Lovino stared at the ground, burning with embarrassment. "Business? About the farm?" He tried to rub his head discreetly.
"Something like that. Boys, go and start dinner while we finish talking. We don't want to bore you!"
"Can we have pasta?" asked Feliciano eagerly.
"That sounds like a brilliant idea!" said Roma, smiling indulgently. Feliciano skipped happily into the next room but Lovino stayed where he was for a moment, glancing warily between Roma and Antonio. He did not know what this meeting was about, but he was willing to bet it had nothing to do with any 'business.' He was also willing to bet Grandpa Roma would not tell him anything about it. As much as Lovino felt like an adult compared to Feliciano, Grandpa Roma never treated him as anything but a child.
"Is something wrong, Lovino?" asked Roma. His tone was pleasant, but his eyes held a warning.
"No," said Lovino softly. "I'll go help Feliciano." He left the room without a backwards glance. As soon as he shut the kitchen door, however, he quickly grabbed a wine glass, held the rim against the door, and placed his ear to the stem. Feliciano looked up from where he was starting to boil water on the stove.
"I don't think you're supposed to be doing that, Lovino."
"Shut up," snapped Lovino, before adding quickly, "…and don't tell Grandpa."
Lovino could not hear much of the conversation, especially with Feliciano banging the pots and plates behind him. But a few phrases and sentences filtered through the amplifying chamber of the glass: something about an Italian alliance with Germany, about a fascist occupation of Czechoslovakia, about rumours of war, about a place called Guernica. Lovino was captivated. He had heard rumours around the village lately, but nothing like this. Nothing that sounded this serious… this important. Lovino listened to Antonio's lilting Spanish accent with a growing fascination, until he was no longer sure if it was what Antonio was saying that held him enthralled or the deep, intense, yet somehow still cheerful way the man spoke the words. Grandpa Roma's voice suddenly rose in volume and Lovino heard the words perfectly through the door.
"Tell me why do you did not just become a soldier, Antonio. Could you not accomplish something important using your skills in the military?"
"Sometimes soldiers do great things. And I, of all people, respect the desire to do duty for your country. But I have seen what the military can do. I have seen the consequences of blindly following orders. Soldiers kill innocent people, Roma. And I would die before I do that."
Lovino's pulse pounded between his ear and the glass. He felt slightly out of breath. Every word Antonio said was spoken with an edge of passion - it was like nothing Lovino had ever heard.
"I think I can trust you, Spaniard." Roma sounded satisfied.
"Lovino, do you think I need to add more…"
Lovino waved a hand at Feliciano frantically. "Ssh, shut up!"
"And I you, Roma. I will give you any and all information I am able to acquire. Let us hope, however, that this German incursion is stopped before it gets too far."
Lovino tried to breathe through the dozens of emotions flowing through him. He could not be sure of exactly what his grandfather and Antonio had been talking about, but it sounded like exactly what he had hoped for. Something different, something new, something that might finally change this stale, everyday existence where nothing ever happened and where he felt invisible and ignored. Hearing Roma and Antonio begin their goodbyes, Lovino pulled the wine glass from the door and, almost unthinkingly, opened the door a fraction to peek through. Grandpa Roma had his back to the kitchen, rifling through a pile of papers on the table. Antonio, however, stood facing Lovino, and their eyes met immediately. Lovino froze when Antonio smiled at him broadly, his light eyes sparkling. Then he winked. Lovino's eyes widened. He abruptly slammed the door shut and leant against it, his heart beating fast in his chest. His breathing came so fast he was nearly panting.
Feliciano looked up over the boiling pot and smiled. True to form, he did not seem to have noticed anything unusual. "Grandpa's new friend is really nice, don't you think?"
"No," said Lovino, frantically trying to convince himself that his pounding heart and burning cheeks were a result of the conversation he had overheard, and not that stunning smile and startling wink. "No, I don't think so at all. Oh honestly, Feliciano, you've cooked far too much pasta once again…" Lovino went to help Feliciano with the dinner, and tried to forget Antonio's brilliant green eyes.
Lovino slowly grew used to Antonio's visits over the next few weeks. To listening through doors for some idea of what was going on, to that frustrating little jump he felt in his chest whenever he heard that Antonio was visiting, to that swelling feeling of excitement he felt every time he overheard Antonio and Roma speak of escalating rumours of war. But at the same time, Lovino never quite grew used to Antonio's constant cheerful smile, to his messy brown hair and bright green eyes, to his ready laugh and joyful presence and the way he always ruffled Feliciano's hair and called him 'cute.' Lovino told himself he didn't care. He almost believed it. But then Antonio would smile at him, or glance at him in passing, and Lovino would scowl and look away, the whole time feeling unsure and confused and angry that he could not quite understand the reason he was feeling this way.
It all became quite usual and everyday until the morning everything finally struck him in understanding. Lovino sat on the low garden wall, the bright sun beating down relentlessly, thinking through the conversation he had just overheard. Antonio had a way of speaking that made everything sound important, but his words earlier as he spoke with Grandpa Roma had sounded graver than usual.
"You are still committed to this, Roma? I will do everything I can to help you. But you will be a resistance. You will be fighting against the government of your own country."
"A government that does not care for the freedom of its people. Yes, I am committed."
"And you know what you will be risking?"
"I know all too well what I am risking. But if anything is worth that risk, this is."
Lovino had left before hearing the end of the conversation, feeling like he needed air. The little garden was dappled with bright sunlight and shadow from the tall trees that surrounded the wall, the air stiflingly hot with the promise of a long summer. Lovino kicked his feet absently and stared unseeing at the rows of rosemary before him. Those words resonated in his head… "I know all too well what I am risking." His mind spun with a hundred thoughts. He had known Grandpa Roma and Antonio were planning something. But now he wondered just what exactly that was, and what it would mean. What would Grandpa be risking… what would he be doing… what exactly was the meaning of all this talk of war and Germany and invasion? Suddenly that familiar feeling of excitement carried an undercurrent of fear.
Lovino looked up at the sound of the back kitchen door opening, only to see Antonio stepping out into the garden. Lovino's heart leapt annoyingly into his throat. He shrank back carefully on the wall, but Antonio did not notice him. Instead he walked swiftly past the bright flowerbeds before leaning against the far wall by the back gate, his chest rising and falling rapidly. He looked slightly anxious, and quite exhausted. He pulled a cigarette from his pocket, lit it, and was just breathing the smoke deeply when Lovino jumped down and took a few steps in his direction. Antonio looked up sharply, then smiled. "Lovino."
Lovino stared at Antonio cautiously. He was never quite sure how to act around him; it was more confusing than it should be. Lovino folded his arms. "I've overheard you talking with Grandpa, you know."
Antonio looked politely curious. "Oh?"
"There is going to be a war, isn't there?"
Antonio's expression turned slightly uncertain. He took a draw on his cigarette and breathed the smoke out slowly. "Probably."
Lovino nodded thoughtfully. "Right. Well. I guess I'll just have to join the army then."
Antonio laughed softly, staring at Lovino with sparkling eyes. "The army?" He tilted his head slightly. "I just realised I've never asked… how old are you, Lovino?"
Lovino thought about how to answer. He thought briefly about lying. Then he realised it probably did not matter much. "Fifteen," he said huffily.
Antonio's eyebrows shot up and he looked away quickly. "Fifteen," he muttered. He shook his head, took another long draw on his cigarette, and stared at the sky for few moments. "You won't be able to join for a while then. And when you are old enough, do you even know what you will be fighting for?"
Lovino furrowed his eyebrows. What a strange question… "For Italy, of course."
"Hmm." Antonio often thought for a long time before speaking. Lovino wondered if it was because of the difference in language. He refused to admit that it fascinated him. Because it didn't, damn it. Antonio breathed out another lungful of smoke. "Sometimes, joining the army is not the best way to serve your country. Sometimes, to do what is right, you have to stand up and fight for what everyone else thinks is wrong."
Lovino swallowed heavily. Antonio had said something like that earlier. You will be fighting against the government of your own country... "I don't know what you mean."
"You will." Antonio flicked his ash on the ground and stared at it. "War is not exciting, Lovino. I sincerely hope you do not make the mistake of thinking so before you actually see it."
Lovino narrowed his eyes as he studied Antonio, thinking through everything he had overheard in the last few weeks. About civil war in Spain and fascism and that place Antonio kept mentioning, that place called Guernica… "What are you really doing here?"
Antonio thought for a moment again. "I think I am trying to fight for what is right."
"I hope. Unfortunately, I've never been very good at separating right from wrong. I think I've always just felt too much to truly know the difference. But this… yes, I'm sure I'm right in this. I have to be."
Lovino tried unsuccessfully to suppress the swelling in his chest. So he tried angrily to ignore it. "I didn't ask for your life story, bastard."
Antonio looked vaguely amused. "No. Forgive me, Lovino." He inhaled deeply on his cigarette, his eyes still on the ground. A heavy silence fell. Lovino was not sure if he should leave. For some reason he did not dwell on, he did not want to. He fidgeted with his hands behind his back for a moment. Antonio did not continue, so Lovino broke the silence.
"Can I have a cigarette?"
Antonio laughed. "No."
"Screw you, bastard!"
Antonio dropped the cigarette and stood on it. Then he finally looked up, his eyes meeting Lovino's, burning into them. Lovino felt his next angry words die on his lips. The hot stillness of the day seemed to close in on him. He could not move, could not breathe, could not tear his gaze from those brilliant green eyes staring into his. Antonio took a step closer then paused, shook his head, and laughed softly to himself. "Fifteen," he muttered, before turning and walking out the back gate. Lovino watched him go, his heart pounding in his ears, unsure whether to feel relieved.
Only a few days later, Lovino stood at the kitchen door, listening as Antonio explained to Roma that he was going away for a few months. Lovino was surprised, annoyed and infuriated by how upset and disappointed that made him. This was stupid. He shouldn't care, he didn't care, why the hell would he care…
"Things are moving fast, Roma. Faster than expected. Of course I will be back regularly, but from here it is up to you. You will be the face of this. I will simply be your informant."
Roma laughed raucously. "Sometimes you sound so much older than your years. Do not forget that you are talking to the youngest Italian officer to ever rise past the rank of Captain. I am quite capable of inspiring a group to victory."
Antonio's voice became cheerful and lighthearted once again. "Like any student of the Great War, I am well aware of your military accomplishments. Maggiore Vargas, hero of the Isonzo campaign. Why else do you think I am so eager to work with you?"
"All right, stop with the flattery, kid." But Lovino could hear the delight in Roma's voice. Grandpa always loved when people spoke of his celebrated military history. "You do your job, and I'll do mine."
The rest of the conversation became too soft to hear properly. When the room finally fell silent, Lovino pressed his ear as close to the door as possible. Had they left? Was their meeting over? He tried listening for the sound of footsteps, but heard nothing, until suddenly the door opened inward. Lovino cried out in surprise and fell forward, right into Antonio's steadying arms.
"Bu... wha... get off me, bastard!" Lovino's face burned and he frantically pulled himself upright, pushing Antonio away and backing up until he hit the wall behind him.
"Why do I always find you listening in doorways?" Antonio smiled at Lovino amusedly.
"It's my house," said Lovino indignantly. "And I wasn't listening, I was..." Lovino had no idea what to say. "I was... oh, go away."
Antonio smirked and nodded. "Very well." He started to walk past, but as he did, Lovino felt his hand shoot out and grasp Antonio's shirt. He was sure he hadn't meant to do that. Antonio looked down, almost as surprised as Lovino himself. Lovino's eyes darted nervously.
Antonio smirked again. "You weren't listening?"
Lovino glared at him. "It's the only way I ever find things out around here. No one tells me anything otherwise."
"Yes, Lovino, I am leaving for a while. Please don't worry, though. I will return soon enough. I will be returning quite frequently."
"I'm not worried!" Lovino spat indignantly.
"Of course not." Antonio was too close. Lovino tried to ignoring the fluttering in his stomach, tried to ignore the way his breath came faster, because he didn't care, Antonio was not making him feel like this, oh God he smelt so good, NO! "Well," continued Antonio, "I suppose this is it until..."
"Don't waste your goodbyes on me, bastard, go find my cute brother and say farewell to him instead." Lovino immediately winced at his words. Crap, damn it, why did he say that? That hadn't come out as sulkily as it sounded, surely...
Antonio just let out a breath of laughter. "Oh, Lovino." Antonio took a step towards him and Lovino pressed himself even closer to the wall. Then Antonio leant over and rested his hand slowly, lightly, against Lovino's side. Lovino's eyes widened. His heartbeat increased, his palms started to sweat, and the back of his neck burned with a heat that quickly spread through his entire body. Then he felt Antonio's breath hot against his ear. "Feliciano is cute, Lovi. But you are beautiful."
Lovino was stunned. Beautiful. Antonio had called him beautiful. Not cute, not adorable, not sweet; something more than any of that. Antonio had said it to him, to him alone; whispered it in his ear when no one else could hear, words meant only for Lovino. This was too much. Lovino could think of only one way to deal with these wild, confusing, unfamiliar feelings racing through him. He squared his shoulders, drew back his fist, and punched Antonio square in the jaw. "You don't call boys beautiful, you creep!"
Lovino turned and stormed from the room, pretending he did not hear Antonio laughing behind him.
To be continued…