Hello! My name is Jay, and I would like to share this story with you all! Please review as you please. Since this is a rather strange piece I would love to hear everyone's reactions, how they thought it was, what they thought it was representing, etc. You can even flame it if you want, I just want to hear what you guys think! They can be anonymous, signed, written on a burning bag of shit, I don't care! Just, if you could be so kind as to please give me some feed-back on whether I should continue this or not! :)
And now, to the story~
Lurking in the Dark
Characters: Veneziano and Romano
Rating: T for Violence and some language
Pairings: None stated
Words: 3,768 words
Summary: Dreams can be just as hindering as they are inspiring. Even for someone as carefree as Veneziano there are some demons hiding in the shadows, ready to strike.
It always starts with whispers.
Why won't they listen?
There isn't anything to see, but still they slither in his ears, behind his eyes, caressing him like a lover and stealing what bits and pieces of him they could get their sneaky hands on. His walls were crumbling and there were pieces being taken down from both ends and there was nothing he could do to stop them. No one listened to him.
You're as pathetic as they say, sì?
You're not weak, they're just blind.
Don't worry, I love you.
It was always that same voice too. Never more than one, though he knew there were plenty hiding in the dark, eager for him to fall asleep and give them the opportunity to sink their claws in.
Why let them get away with insulting you?
I hate them all for how they treat you.
In the end, aren't you just better off dead?
Why do you cry, Feliciano? You don't need them, you only need me. I can make everything so much better, for you. Io li uccidono per voi, Feliciano. Perché ti amo. Solo tu.
And you love me too, right?
Veneziano just wished he could get them to go away. They'd plague them for hours, days, centuries and he never had a full reprieve of them. Sometimes they'd be quiet, let him be, allow him to enjoy the world around him. But just when he was ready to think them gone, back they'd return, louder than ever and even more biting, loving, gentle and cruel than before and no matter what was said the Italian was reduced to tears.
"Lovi, can you hand me the papers on the national deficit? I need to know how much debt we're in so I can get an accurate number for how much we should ask Germany to loan us," Veneziano said wearily, rubbing his aching forehead as he stared at the stack of paperwork in front of him. It was nearly two in the morning and the Vargas brothers had been working over the numbers for hours, trying to find a way for them all to equal saved money instead of wasted without much success.
With a groan Romano stretched his arms over his head, wincing as his spine popped several times with the movement. "Fratello, take a break." He ordered once he sat upright, frowning at the paperwork as well. "You haven't gotten up since dinner, it's not healthy to sit for so long! Dammit, you're gonna turn into the potato-bastard at this rate, I told you to stop spending so much freaking time with him!"
The younger Vargas boy had to chuckle at that, running an exhausted hand through his hair. "I will Lovi, te lo prometto. I just—"
"No!" Romano said firmly as he slammed his hands on the table, glaring over at his brother. "I'm going to scoop some gelato for us, if you're still working when I get back I'm not letting you eat pasta for a month, va bene?" All Veneziano could do was nod until his brother sighed and ran a hand through his hair, looking apologetic. "Mi dispiace," he groaned, looking exhausted. "We've been staring at this for too long, tomorrow we're just going to go to town and have some fun, okay? My treat. Anything to get away from this fucking shit."
"Really?" Veneziano asked excitedly, sounding a bit more like himself at the promise. Romano never offered to go spend time with him anymore. They were practically attached to each other due to work and his brother couldn't handle spending so much time inside with the same person every day. "Sì, I'd love that!"
Romano rolled his eyes at his brother's enthusiasm before standing. "What kind of gelato do you want?" He asked gruffly, trying not to smile at the childish glee on Veneziano's face.
"Ve, chocolate~~" The younger brunette chirped, setting his pen down and stretching a bit himself. "I'm going to get ready for bed, just bring it upstairs per favore?"
"Yeah yeah, get going before I kick your ass up the stairs."
And Veneziano was left alone. He sighed, running a tired hand through his hair as he heard soft footsteps behind him even as echoes of Romano walking around downstairs reached his ears. "Ve, are we playing this game again?" He asked, not flinching as arms wrapped around his waist and pulled him back-to-chest with icy skin.
"What game, Feliciano?" The whisperer asked in response, burying its face against the brunette's throat, inhaling appreciatively. "I just want what's best for you, what's always been best for you! No one knows better than I do, after all."
The response was always the same too. "Let go," the Vargas twin said without conviction, resigning himself to another session of being treated like a fragile doll but a toy nonetheless.
So he was shocked when suddenly, those icy arms were gone and he blacked out. Sort of. The energy was almost literally sucked out of him and he felt his body tumble down beyond the floor, falling forever…There were bursts of words now and then, but Veneziano couldn't understand what they were saying. …and then there were screams. Shrieks, begging, pleading, laughing, he floated there, not even able to curl up and cover his ears as the cacophony of sound assaulted his ears and clawed at his mind and he wondered what was wrong with him, wrong with them why couldn't he help?
That's how he lost consciousness. Afraid and uncertain and wanting to help for reasons he couldn't begin to fathom.
Veneziano moaned, mindlessly swiping at his cheek as he rolled over, away from the irritating feeling of something dripping on him. "Fratello, go away~" He whined, burying his face in his arm. "It's too early to get up, stop pouring water on me!"
A strange smell began to fill the air as Veneziano fruitlessly tried avoiding the water that was suddenly poured all over him, aimed directly at his face and making him splutter. "Che diavolo?" He squawked, jerking upright and trying to swipe the warm liquid from his face. "Lovi, wha-" the brunette cut himself off to spit a few times to the side, trying to clear his mouth of the strangely tangy liquid that had been poured on him.
"It's not your precious Lovi, Feliciano."
Veneziano slapped the cold hand from his cheek, blinking past the blood dripping down his face and onto the cold floor. "Go away, Italia," he spat, shuddering as the sickly-warm liquid started to cool on his skin.
"Aw, that's not very nice~" Veneziano's own voice whined, scraping against the middle Vargas's eardrums in a cruel revelation of how Germany must feel hearing Veneziano speak when he wasn't wanted. Two tan hands reached out of the shadows and grasped the brunette's wrists, their skin colors mingling and becoming indiscernible from one another as they pulled him unwillingly to his feet. Deceptively worried wine-stained amber eyes looked into Veneziano's, whose reproach was stronger than usual in the face of this annoyance. "I was just wondering if you were okay, trying to separate you from me nearly killed you!"
"…Liar," the brunette hissed, trying to pull himself free, glaring daggers at darkness still hiding Italia from view, just like always. "Leave me the fuck alone, bastardo."
"Is that really how you should be talking to someone you haven't seen in as long as time as we've been separated? You're forgetting your own peoples' ways of hospitality~"
"Italia, you've been consistently annoying me since Nonno Roma's death," Veneziano deadpanned, the cheerful persona he normally wore falling in the face of his irritation. He frowned in distaste at the apparition that was more his clone than even his brother, Romano. Italia had the same hair, the same skin, same height, posture, even the bounce or lack-thereof in their steps was identical. All that the other brunette was missing was the infamous curl in both Veneziano and Romano's chestnut brown hair. "I don't owe you a thing."
Italia's lips quirked up and his eyes were alight with amusement as he started to walk backwards, leading Veneziano forward by his wrists. "Ve, you wouldn't be where you are without me!" The boy proclaimed, more than proud of his supposed achievement for the Italian. Then the good humor was gone for something a bit darker. "You'd be further along if you wouldn't fight against me all the time, Feliciano. I want what's best for you, best for the people! Having the others around just divides me, I need one, Feliciano, and you're the one I want!" As Italia spoke his very frame shifted from time to time, looking as if he were a black wall with a faulty film flickering against it. Sometimes he wasn't Veneziano, but a girl a few centimeters shorter than the brunette with molten chocolate chips for eyes, or a tall man with wavy hair and just the slightest bits of scruff and faint crisscrossing scars on his chin. But the most disturbing to the middle Vargas child was when a pair of familiar rich green eyes twinkled at him from a stranger's face.
With a harsh tug Veneziano pulled his wrists free and took a few steps back, glaring at Italia, who was wearing his face again, identical down to the brunette's normal innocently naïve smile. "Stop talking in riddles!" The normally soft-spoken nation demanded hotly, swinging tightly clenched fists to his sides in an attempt to not strangle the apparition in front of him. "We've been doing this same thing over and over again for centuries, what the hell do you want from me? Why do you always look like me or Nonno Roma or Lovino?" Normally Veneziano wouldn't be demanding answers from Italia, after the first century of having them ignored in the face of twisted images and sick thoughts he had given up on learning anything about the elusive shadow stalking his every movement. But today's meeting was certainly different from before, Italia had never just left and he'd never passed out and certainly never woken up to—
"So it's finally registered, ve?" Italia asked warmly, amber eyes eagerly drinking in the sickened look on Veneziano's face. "Vieni qui, Feliciano," he purred, eyes narrowed seductively in a leer as he stepped back into the darkness, beckoning the other Italian forward. "There's something you'll want to see~"
"Get back here, faccia di merda!" Veneziano growled in response, charging after his clone and into the shadows…Only to raise his childhood sword to block a slash at his throat from a seven-year old Romano. Unthinkingly he twisted his blade around Romano's and shoved his brother back. The sun was blazing down from a brilliantly blue sky, baking his and Romano's golden skin a deep bronze and drying the already dusty ground as sweat poured from pores like enraged lovers, failing to cool his skin. They were in a clearing where the ground was stomped flat and free of grass, leaving a thin layer of grainy sand in its wake. "Ve, it will be my win today, Lovi!" Veneziano heard his own childhood voice call out in Latin, watching with a strange ethereal sense of giddiness as Romano tried pushing himself to his feet.
"Feli, don't get distracted by taunting!" The deep voice of Roma boomed from where the Ancient Empire stood on the far outside edge of the sparring ring, clad in full battle armor and ignorant of the heat. "It is disgraceful during a fight! Save it for when you win, sì?" he finished with a cheeky wink to his youngest grandson.
"Va bene, Nonno!" Veneziano replied cheerfully, turning back to his brother only to see a sword mere centimeters from his throat as Romano kicked his twin's legs out from under him. Swiftly, before the smaller brunette could push himself up the oldest Vargas boy pinned him to the ground. "Bastard, you're making this too easy!" Romano said smugly from his position, digging a knee into his twin's gut and a sharp sword into the soft skin over Veneziano's jugular.
Loud clapping came from the sidelines as Roma started walking their way. "Lovi wins again!" He cheered, smiling proudly at Romano before kneeling down and helping his youngest grandson to his feet. "Feli you need to stop getting distracted," he gently admonished as he tried to wipe off the dirt clinging to Veneziano's sweaty skin. He and Romano were clad only in their cloth undergarments, so there was dirt clinging to some very uncomfortable places. Roma opened his mouth to—
Veneziano shook his head, or tried to. His body didn't move from where it was standing, listening to the suddenly non-understandable babble coming from Roma's mouth. When had he started dueling Romano, especially a child Romano? Seeing how Roma looked in his eyes the brunette deduced that he was a child as well, but how was that possible? He was supposed to be finding that bastard Italia!
"Pay attention Feliciano~ You don't want to miss this!"
The brunette tried pulling out of his grandfather's grasp and hunt down that disturbingly annoying mimicry of his adult voice, but he couldn't get his child form to move. Instead he stared adoringly at Roma as he finished his short speech with another encouraging smile and a hair ruffle before standing and walking to Romano, most likely to give the other an equally encouraging pep-talk. This had to be a dream, he was supposed to be fully grown and running Italy with his brother! But it was so real, he could feel the heat cooking his skin, the sweat trailing down his skin and stinging as the salt dripped into small cuts adorning his flesh from what had to be a long lesson with Romano.
"Feli!" The stern shout pulled both Veneziano and his child self out of whatever daydreams they were caught up in and they looked over in tandem at Roma and Romano, both frowning at him. Once he was sure he had Veneziano's attention Roma shook his head good-naturedly. "You have to pay attention! If you want any mutton or tuna tonight you have to win this fight, okay?"
"Sì, I remember!" Veneziano replied cheerfully, not knowing where these responses were coming from. The real Veneziano was trying to demand Italia to stop with this damn farce of a game but his words seemed to twist and warp into things he would have said when he was little. "I was just thinking about what I wanted to paint tomorrow!"
"Oh just relax, Feliciano~" Italia soothed as he suddenly appeared next to him, still adult form but once more looking more like Roma than any of his grandchildren. "I've been trying to find something to show you and stumbled across this memory! I can't believe you'd repressed this, isn't it amazing?"
Before Veneziano could try to respond, he was distracted by a loud series of claps. "Let's begin again!" Roma cheered, smile back on his face as he left the ring. Immediately Romano jumped forward, sword held in a stabbing grip near his right hip between both his hands, but child-Veneziano must have been expecting the move because he leapt out of the way without any problems, holding his own sword in front of him at a 45 degree angle from his own waist. It was a defensive hold, Veneziano recognized, but even as adults he wasn't as good with swords as his brother, so he knew that the only way he'd be able to win was by counterattacking or waiting until Romano either tired himself out or became too irritated to fight strategically. He smiled to himself at the familiar sight. Before Roma had separated the twins they had sparred like this every day, rain or shine, freezing or roasting, light or dark.
"Dammit, stop jumping around, bastardo!" Romano finally snapped after several minutes of being blocked or evaded as the smaller brunette danced around the sparring ring.
"Nonno, Roma said a bad word~" Young Veneziano whined, though he hadn't tried saying anything. It was starting to become difficult separating himself from the situation, his younger self. Maybe this really was a memory?
"Stop whining to Nonno all the damn time you freaking baby!" Romano shouted, feinting to the right before locking swords with his younger brother, the loud sound drowning out their grandfather's words. "It's shit like that that's gonna get us made fun of by the others!" The oldest Vargas boy growled, trying to drive Veneziano back and out of the ring. The two, even though they were Roma's grandchildren and nation representations themselves, were rarely allowed to eat with the Empire, let alone any sort of meat at the same time. Veneziano remembered this and could read the intention to not let him win from Romano's blazing green eyes. Still so pretty, even back then…
"The other nations won't tease us, stupid!" Veneziano found himself sneering childishly at his older brother, sticking his tongue out and everything. "And if they do it's because of you! The servi have better manners than you do!" Veneziano scrambled for information, some sort of clue as to what his younger self was doing. He couldn't remember this fight. When they were little—Hell, especially when they were little Veneziano couldn't remember trying to pick a fight with his brother, he always cried to Roma when Romano was yelling at him, then turning to Spain or Hungary after the Empire passed on. Just the thought of fighting back against Romano made Veneziano's stomach twist up into a painfully nauseous knot of guilt, though he couldn't think of a good reason why.
"…Did you really just say that, you fucker?" Romano hissed, green eyes glaring daggers into his younger twin's amber ones.
Italia clapped delightedly as Veneziano was shoved off his feet in perfect replication of how he had shoved Romano over the last fight, knocking the smaller brunette out of the sparring circle and winning the fight. "This is my favorite part~~" The apparition squealed, sounding exactly like Veneziano after hearing about a new pasta recipe and effectively drowning out Romano's scathing reply to Veneziano's insult. But Veneziano knew that the answering jab was more than personal because of the white-hot rage he felt boiling his blood. Only to start in alarm as his chubby hand moved on its own to wrap around the hilt of his fallen sword as child-Veneziano pushed himself to his feet. With growing horror he watched as the small brunette boy stalked towards Romano, whose back was turned. "Can't you feel the rage?" Italia cooed in his ear as Veneziano got to see in perfect first-person view his younger self brought the deadly-sharp edge of the sword down across Romano's small, suddenly vulnerable back. Roma had realized what his grandson was about to do and was racing across the sparring circle, but there was still enough time for Romano to roll over, a look of such stupefied betrayal etched into his face, to earn a deep cut across his right eye by a furious Veneziano. Icy arms wrapped around his slim waist as Italia watched on with sick fascination "You nearly killed your precious Lovino!" He chirped a bit redundantly as the scene started to slow down as Romano started screaming in pain to perfectly match Veneziano shrieking in outrage for some childish insult and Roma ordering Veneziano to get back. He spun Veneziano around until he was chest-to-chest with a perfect copy of his brother, green eyes twinkling disturbingly. "But the best part?" He whispered, leaning forward until his—Romano's—lips just barely grazing Veneziano's as everything around them began to melt to black.
"You want to make sure he stays dead this time."
And Veneziano started screaming as something warm and sticky suddenly stained his lips and Romano stumbled back, clutching at a knife-wound in his stomach, shocked betrayal in his eyes as blood dribbled down his chin.
"Vene? Oi, Veneziano, wake up you fucking retard! VENEZIANO!"
The brunette shot upright, breath caught in his throat as he tried screaming through his sobs. Warm, muscular arms wrapped around his torso and Veneziano curled against his brother, bawling his eyes out. Romano sighed as he started carding a gentle hand through his brother's hair, sitting back down on the bed and forgetting about the two bowls of chocolate and vanilla gelato melting on the bedside table. He started rocking them both side to side in a comforting motion he'd perfected over the past few centuries of waking to a hysterical Veneziano begging to share the bed after a nightmare he never got to hear about. "Damn idiot, I was only gone for twenty minutes," he grumbled without any bite to his words. The oldest Vargas was starting to get worried, Veneziano still couldn't sleep peacefully for longer than half an hour without someone sharing the bed with him. "What was it, fratello?" He asked quietly, hoping for an answer this time though he couldn't bring himself to expect one. Not anymore.
Veneziano shook his head where he had it buried against Romano's shoulder, whining deep in his throat as sobs shook his slight frame. "M-mi dispiace, Lovi~" he cried, clinging tightly to his brother's sturdy frame. "Mi dispiace, ti amo, mai più!"
With a wondering look on his face Romano shook his head at his twin, resting his chin on the crown of Veneziano's head, staring at the opposite wall. "Vene, I don't know what you're talking about. It was just a nightmare, relax fratello," he replied gruffly, belaying his irritation by tightening his grip on his twin, pulling him more fully onto his lap and rubbing soothing circles into Veneziano's back in an attempt to calm him.
"J-Just…a nightmare," The shorter brunette repeated dutifully, slowly starting to relax in his brother's embrace. "A nightmare…" It had to be, Veneziano would never attack Romano. Romano was his brother, his twin, half his soul that helped represent the full country of Italy. That thing, Italia, didn't exist, he told himself almost hysterically. He and Romano made up Italy, how could something else be Italy too? Veneziano felt himself go almost completely limp as he chanted, "Just a dream, not real," against Romano's cool skin. That, coupled with the hand in his hair, steady heartbeat and his twin's overall calm presence-which was hilarious considering the darker brunette's spitfire personality—eased his mind until he fell asleep, warm and safe and against his twin's chest, who sighed and tucked them both under the bedsheets.
The flickering candlelight illuminated amused amber eyes as Italia laughed.
Io li uccidono per voi, Feliciano. Perché ti amo. Solo tu: I will kill them for you, Feliciano. Because I love you. Only you.
Veneziano: Venezian or Of Venice
Romano: Roman or Of Rome
te lo prometto: I promise (you)
va bene: All right! or Okay!
Mi dispiace: I'm sorry
gelato: ice cream
per favore: please
Che diavolo?: Wha the hell?
Nonno Roma: Grandfather Rome
Vieni qui, Feliciano: Come here, Feliciano
faccia di merda: shithead
ti amo, mai più: I love you, never again
In Roman times, meat, even fish, was scarce in the diets of Roman citizens. Only the rich were able to afford any sort of meat in their meals daily, though even then it was often saved for large celebrations and festival-days. Children of nobles never ate at the same table as their fathers, but I tweaked it a bit since they are all nations/empires and are bound to be a bit above general practices like that.
In a basic repeat of the top of the page, please review! And the girl that was mentioned in there was supposed to be the representation of the Island of Sicily, a brief shout-out to fellow FFNet writer Chandinee Richards, who previously had a Sicily letter-system and now writes with many other awesome people, including myself, in a forum for writing to nations. The other shout-out is for mi amore iOtakuIZZY, fondly regarded as Broski, whose Romano stars in this fic and RPs with me on the aforementioned forum.
Shameless recruiting: For our forum, we are lacking a Germany! Repeat, we are lacking a Germany! If you are interested in joining this forum and RPing as our stoic blonde friend, please either leave a review or PM me and I will discuss the options with you!
Even if you don't leave a review, just the fact that you have taken the time to read this story warms my heart. I love you all! Peace! :)