It all started with a funeral. A funeral for a bastard. The church it was held in was aged and cold, just like the asshole laying in the coffin at the front. Lovino and Feliciano Vargas stood shoulder to shoulder and stared down at the lifeless expression on their grandfather's face. Their own expressions were just as blank. With a small sigh Lovino looked up and at the stone walls around them, his eyes finally resting on the opulent stained glass window directly in front of him. His mind raced as he felt Feliciano's hand grab on to his. His younger brother always seemed to know when his mind was troubled, which pissed him off normally.
Gripping on to the hand that held his, he felt the familiar burning of anger starting in the pit of his stomach. He wished he could just reach over with his foot and kick the coffin over, dumping it's contents on the cracked stone floor where it belonged. He didn't however, instead he turned and pulled Feliciano down the insanely long isle. Their polished dress shoes smacked violently against the stone, the noise bouncing off the walls and vaulted arched ceiling. They breezed past the packed pews of nosy people who wished to see how the heirs of the Vargas empire would react. Lovino ignored them all, focusing his eyes on his destination which was the bright light filtering through the open church doors. Now if only running away from everything else was this easy.
Once he was out in the fresh air he took a deep breath, stopping in the middle of the stone steps only briefly. Closing his hazel eyes he felt the light breeze brush his cheeks. It was getting colder with each day that passed, soon fall would be in full swing. If he pretended hard enough he could imagine he and Feliciano weren't here right now, that they were far away. "Lovino, Feliciano!"
Lovino's eyes shot open in shock. What the fuck was he doing here? Feliciano tugged his hand from Lovino's suddenly desperate grasp. "Antonio, you came!" Turning slowly Lovino saw Feliciano hugging the taller man tightly a few steps away, both were smiling. Lovino looked away quickly, not enjoying the nervous flip his stomach. He looked too much like Lovino remembered. His black suit messy like he hadn't hung it up properly the night before or ironed it. The top three buttons of his white shirt were open, exposing his tan skin... And the dumb ass had no tie on. What a complete slob.
"Of course I came. I didn't like your grandfather but I wanted to support you both." From the corner of his eye Lovino saw Antonio pull away slightly from his little brother, keeping an arm around his shoulders. Then he focused his emerald eyes on him. "You're looking good Lovi." He smiled, but it wasn't like usual. Then again, after everything that had happened how could it be.
Lovino ignored the small ache in his heart and twinge of guilt at that conclusion. "Of course I am, bastard." He grumbled and looked over and mistakenly locked eyes with him. Antonio's smile didn't falter, his eyes only becoming softer. Fucking asshole. Glancing past both he and Feliciano, Lovino noticed a group of older men gathering on the top step watching the scene. "Feliciano get in the car."
Tossing a quick look over his shoulder to see what his brother was looking at, Feliciano nodded and said a soft goodbye to Antonio before heading toward a black car with tinted windows. There were a few moments of awkward silence as Antonio stared at Lovino and Lovino stared at a particularly interesting spot on the side of the church wall. When he heard Antonio inhale as if he were going to say something, he interrupted. "You remember that cafe we used to go to all the time?"
Antonio's smile widened and he nodded. "The one on 7th. Is it still there?"
"Yeah. Meet me there in an hour." He shoved his hands in his black tailored slacks and bounded down the remaining stairs quickly before he could change his mind. Sliding into the car next to Feliciano he slammed the door closed and it pulled away from the curb almost instantly. It wasn't until then that he noticed Feliciano was talking to someone. Turning quickly and leaning over to see past Feli he glared at the blonde man on the other side. The fact that his baby brother had his hand on the blonde's leg didn't go unnoticed. "What the fuck are you doing here?" Why was everyone popping up today when he wanted nothing more then to be left the fuck alone?
Feliciano made an annoyed noise and turned to narrow his eyes at Lovino. "He's here for support fratello. Don't you think that you should be nicer to him now that things have changed?" He poked out his bottom lip in an angry pout. Lovino just rolled his eyes, mumbled something under his breath and stared out of the window. "Ludwig is willing to meet you halfway, the least you could do is..." He trailed off as the German mumbled something in his ear.
Peeking at them from the corner of his eye Lovino noticed they were sitting pressed together, closer then they had been before. Great, his disapproval had the opposite effect of what he wanted. He knew Feliciano was right though. He had to be grateful to Ludwig all things considered, but that didn't mean he had to like the bastard. He just wanted to get all of this bullshit over with and put his asshole of a grandfather into the ground where he belonged.
Antonio had been sitting at the back of the small dimly lit cafe for forty minutes now. He'd been too excited and nervous to go anywhere else first. He wanted to make sure he was there when Lovino showed up. He hadn't seen or talked to him in over a year, though he called from time to time Lovino never answered. Now he wanted to talk to him and every possibility ran through Antonio's head. He particularly liked the ones where Lovino confessed to him, but he knew there was a big fat chance of that happening.
Glancing for the millionth time at the clock ticking away on the cafe wall he noticed he had five more minutes before Lovi showed up. The last time he was supposed to meet Lovi, it didn't turn out so well for him. Shifting his attention to the large front windows of the cafe he smiled widely. Lovi was already there, pacing the sidewalk and glancing at his watch with his ever present grumpy expression. Leaning back in the booth Antonio watched him war with himself, to be early or not to be early. He paused, his back to the cafe and Antonio noticed a shiver run through his old friend's smaller frame. Leaning in on the table he shook his head, Lovino had always been too proud. He'd really stand in the cold and quickly approaching night in nothing more then his suit rather then look anxious to meet with him? Seeing Lovino lift his leg and kick a parking meter he chuckled under his breath as the younger man stomped into the cafe.
Raising his hand to wave him over seemed to be unnecessary as Lovi was storming straight for him. Antonio opened his mouth to greet him but was cut off. "Switch." Lovino demanded gesturing that the other side of the booth belonged to Antonio.
Chuckling under his breath Antonio obliged and once they were settled he shook his head. "Still don't like to have your back to the room do you?"
Lovino rolled his eyes and looked away. "No. You can never be too careful these days." Antonio nodded slowly, knowing all too well what his childhood friend's words meant. His gut twisted in guilt, so their conversation was going to go in a bad direction already.
Looking up he saw the waitress bring over a cup and set it in front of Lovino. "There you go Lovino, your usual." She smiled and winked at him before walking away. Both the young men stared down at the heart pattern etched into the the drinks foam. Antonio frowned slightly as Lovino cleared his throat and dipped his spoon in the steaming drink and spinning it around quickly.
Antonio moved his eyes back to down into his own half empty cup, his second actually, when Lovino spoke up again. The tone in his voice causing Antonio's chest to tighten, he now stared at the younger man who was looking past Antonio into the rest of the cafe. "Do you remember when I was... nine and you were twelve, and I'd mouthed off to that group of fifteen year olds for making fun of Feli?"
Thinking back Antonio nodded his head slowly and smiled. "Yeah... You always did have a mouth on you." He laughed under his breath and tilted his head as if to ask why this was being brought up.
"You remember what I said to you?" There was a pause of silence, Lovi locked eyes with Antonio but Antonio was no longer in the present, he was remembering the past.
Kicking his football down the sidewalk he lost control and it rolled into the gutter. With a small annoyed noise Antonio leaned down and brushed the dirt off the black and white ball. "Tonio!" Turning at the sound of his name he smiled, knowing full well it was Lovino's voice. His smile disappeared quickly as he saw the smaller boy running toward him with a flushed face and worried expression. Tucking his ball under one arm he reached out with the other as Lovino bumped into him. "Run you idiot!" Lovino yelled at him and taking his hand pulled him in the direction he was headed before.
Antonio went without much of a fight, he'd go anywhere Lovi wanted he didn't mind. Tossing a look over his shoulder he saw a group of five older boys running in their direction down the sidewalk. Antonio cursed under his breath in Spanish and quickened his pace, now pulling Lovino along with him. "What did you do now?"
"I didn't do anything... Okay so maybe I called their moms cock suckers but that's only cause they insulted Feli and made him cry!" Lovino defended, his nine year old voice sounding on edge.
Antonio ducked down an alley, continuing to run. "Do you even know what a cock sucker is Lovi?" He came to a abrupt halt bumping into a chain link fence.
Lovino shook his head. "No, I just heard my Nonno say it before." His hand gripped Antonio's a little tighter, staring up at his suddenly worried face.
"I'll explain it to you later." Antonio mumbled as the group of older boys made their way down the alley. "Hold on to this Lovi." Antonio handed him his football and stepped in front of him. Antonio was usually a lucky-go-happy kid, always willing to talk things out first but when it came to those he held dear to him... That's when he didn't bother with words.
The boy in front with a blue knit hat pulled over his messy black hair sneered. "What are you going to protect him or something?" Antonio didn't answer, just glanced over his shoulder at a wide eyed Lovi who was hugging his ball tightly. Damn right he was gonna protect him, even if he had to face five teenage boys by himself. Frowning back at the boys Antonio made the first move and lunged forward, catching the boy in front off guard and knocking him to the ground. He was able to get a few punches in before his friends got their shit together and realized what was happening.
"Tonio!" Lovino cried out and dropped the football. He ran forward without even thinking. Antonio needed help, he couldn't do this by himself. Though Lovi knew he was only nine and not as strong as everyone else in this fight he was going to try anyway. Reaching out he pulled on the first article of clothing he got his hands on. It was a camouflage jacket, the owner of it pulled himself up and Lovi rammed his fist in the the guy's face as hard as he could. "Bastard!" Lovi screamed and held his now throbbing hand to his chest.
Unfortunately his punch didn't do much. The fifteen year old recovered quickly and grabbed the front of Lovino's shirt. Wincing Lovi kept his eyes closed, the punch connected with his jaw and he dropped backwards on the pavement. Tears in his eyes now he looked up at the boy that hovered over him with his bleeding lip still set defiantly.
"Hey what are you kids doing down there? I'm calling the cops!" A voice yelled from above. Looking up and behind him Lovino saw a heavyset woman about the same age his Nonno was, which was old, hanging out of a window. The teenagers stopped and looked up at her too before running off.
Antonio sat up, his ears ringing and sides hurting from the punches and kicks he'd received. Not to mention his head was pounding. All he heard was the word 'cops' so he stood quickly too his feet and picked up his fallen football. Reaching down he pulled Lovino up to his feet, noting his bloody lip and feeling the unpleasant lurch of his stomach. Yanking him along quickly, he didn't stop or speak until they'd reached the park they usually played at a few blocks away.
Staring down at Lovi and dropping his ball, Antonio took the bottom of his own shirt and dabbed it over his younger friend's busted lip. "You ok?" He wondered softly, Lovi just nodded wiping away his left over tears with one hand but keeping his other tucked against his small chest. Antonio reached out and pulled it away into both his bigger ones. He rubbed his thumbs over the top of Lovi's hand ignoring his own injures. Like his own bleeding lip, busted knuckles, the countless bleeding cuts on his arms and face and the quickly darkening circle under his left eye.
They both stared down at Antonio rubbing Lovino's hand for a few moments. "One day Antonio, I'm gonna be bigger and I'm gonna call the shots. You'll work for me and I'll be the one protecting you."
Antonio's green eyes shined with humor as he looked up at Lovi, who was making direct eye contact. Antonio laughed and dropped the smaller hand. Reaching over he tousled Lovi's auburn hair. "Of course you will Lovi!" He doubted his Lovi would do any of that, besides Antonio would always be the one protecting him. It's just how it was going to be, Antonio had decided that the first day they'd met.
Snapping back to the present Antonio lifted the cup in his hands to his lips and sipped the now chilled liquid contained within it. When he lowered it again he chuckled. "You said you'd be bigger then me, but that didn't happen did it?" He teased and was pleased with the reaction he got, Lovino rolled his eyes irritated. Grinning, Antonio figured that he should bring up what Lovi probably meant or feel the wrath of the spitfire Italian's curses. "You said I'd work for you one day."
Lovino smirked and folded his hands on top of the table. Raising his eyebrow at Antonio he nodded slowly. "Well, I just came into possession of a business."
"Ah, yes. I never knew what exactly it was that your grandfather did." Antonio tapped a finger to his lips and glanced up at the ceiling trying to think. Giving up after a few beats he shrugged and continued to grin. "Are you asking me to work for you Lovi?" He laughed, the thought was ridiculous. "Unless you tell me what kind of job it is I can't take it." He wouldn't take it anyway, he was perfectly happy where he was now, a chef at one of the city's finest restaurants.
He watched as Lovi slowly leaned in, compelled to keep up the joke Antonio leaned in conspiringly as well. "I'm kind of in the mob now." Lovino leaned back watching Antonio closely, who to his credit didn't start laughing loudly until a few moments after. The idea of his clumsy, overly emotional Lovi being in a mob just was too much. Tears spilled from his eyes as he hit the table making the cups clatter. Glaring at him from across the booth Lovino's foot shot out underneath and kicked him in the leg. "Shut up you stupid bastard!" He hissed and leaned in again. "I'm serious here. That fucking asshole Nonno of mine was head of one of the strongest mobs in the city. Since I'm the oldest it was handed down to me." He folded his arms as Antonio quickly composed himself. He wasn't letting this joke go quickly was he...
"Um..." Antonio rubbed his temple as he rested his elbow on the table top. He had to poke holes in the story, fluster Lovino which wasn't too difficult to do. "Don't you get mob guys with the business? Why do you need me?"
Lovino cursed under his breath. "I have to get my own guys. I don't trust that bastards men, and they're all old as fuck anyway. So what do you say Tonio? Wanna be in the mob?" Lovino folded his arms across his chest and raised his eyebrow as Antonio could only stare with an open mouth across from him.