"Fine. I'll watch this fucking tape. But no way in hell will I forgive you! You hear me, bastard? NEVER!"
Antonio breathed heavily in and out. Great, now he was talking to himself.
He sighed. He had only decided to watch the tape because Feli had begged him. He really didn't want to see it, though. Because right now, he was furious at Lovino. Because Lovino had lied to him and pretended that shit was fine when he was going to kick the bucket. If Antonio had known, he would have made him undergo treatment. He would have been by his side everyday. He would have cooked for him and cared for him. Instead, he had never known. He had found out when Lovino collapsed during breakfast, and he had driven him to the hospital, and the doctors had told him that Lovino was in a coma, not likely to wake up and pumped so full or morphine it was a miracle he was still alive.
The news had hit Antonio like a ton of bricks. In a coma? Morphine? What the hell did the doctor mean? Lovino was no drug addict! If he was, Antonio would have noticed! They lived together, for Christ's sake!
But it had not stopped there. The doctor also told him that Lovino had a terminal pancreatic cancer. As in, "going to be dead within two days" kind of terminal cancer. And that explained the morphine, but it left Antonio in a sorry state. Crying and yelling and screaming and trying to get in Lovino's room to beat his face in and kick his ass into oblivion.
The doctors had to call security and restrain him. But they didn't send him home. They just let him hang around with a hollow face until, 5 hours later, they had to tell the poor Spaniard that Lovino was going to die in ten minutes or so, and if he wanted to spend that time in his room with Belle and Feli.
Antonio had started screaming obscenities again.
He hadn't even shown up at the funeral. He just wanted to forget that there was a time in his life when he had been happy with Lovino. He just wanted to forget everything.
Because Lovino had never been in love with him. If he had been, he would have told him the truth. He would have accepted treatment, he would have clung to Antonio, they would have made it.
But not like this.
He growled as he fetched a VHS reader. "Don't you think I'm doing this for you! I'm doing this because I really want to see your excuse for this! And when I'm done, I'll laugh in your fucking face and I'll take this fucking video tape and smash the hell out of it! And I'll burn its remains with all the shit you left behind! You get it, motherfucker?"
Antonio bit his bottom lip. No use talking to a empty house. He closed his eyes, sat on the floor in front of the TV and hit play.
Ah. He really wanted to see what excuse he'd come up with. He already knew that by the end of the tape, he would have to keep himself from burning the house down.
The tape started. It seemed that the bastard had recorded this in the bedroom. He was sitting on the bed, fumbling with the video recorder.
"Crap, is this thing working?"
Antonio was not really looking at the tape. He was hugging a pillow to his chest. And he let out a cruel mocking sound. Lovino really was beyond stupid when using technological shit.
"Ah, yeah, it is. So, uhm. Hi there, Antonio. I figure that if you're seeing this, I kind of... died already."
Antonio bit his lip so hard he could feel the blood in his mouth. Was he trying to be funny or shit?
"Man, I'm sorry. I really didn't want this to happen. But it's not something I had any control over. I know that you must be really angry... no, scratch that, you're probably furious right now. Because if I died, it means you had to drag me to the hospital, and there they must have told you everything."
The Lovino in the screen sighed.
Antonio tried to contain his impulse to grab a knife and disembowel the TV.
"I'm sorry. That must have been a shitty moment. I'm sorry. But don't get me wrong! I'm sorry that you had to go through that, but I'm not sorry about not telling you."
Antonio stood up at once. Was Lovino trying to pick a fight?
"I'm not sorry because I think I did the right thing. If I told you, you would have been desperate. You would have changed. You would have cried. You would have made me get treatment. You would have stopped working to stay by my side as I went through attack after attack. You would. I know you would, because you love me. I would have done the same if it was you. So I am sure as hell that it would have happened."
Antonio couldn't stop the incoherent yell that came out of his mouth. Of fucking course he would have done that! He would have wanted a chance to help Lovino out in the moment he needed him the most! Couldn't Lovino understand? He would have given anything to do that! To be crying, and be desperate, and be by Lovino's side! Why didn't he let him? WHY THE FUCK! ?
"But that's not what I want. I want you to always be happy. I want you to always smile. I didn't want you to forget about everything just to stay by me. That wasn't what I wanted. That wasn't what I needed. I needed you to be... you. Antonio, you have no idea how much having you by my side helped me. Every time I had an attack and had to wait it out on that damn toilet alone, or I had to go to the doctor and endure the looks he gave me, I wasn't sure I was doing the right thing. But when I came home to you, and you smiled to me and asked me how my day was, and everytime you kissed me and held me and made love with me, I remembered why. You made my last months one hell of a time. I was happy. And you were happy too. I mean, if you knew, we wouldn't have gone to Paris together, or had that kick-ass birthday party, and all that jazz. If you knew, I would always be surrounded by sad people. I didn't want that."
The Lovino in the screen rubbed his eyes.
Antonio had no idea what to do.
Lovino took another deep breathe.
"So, yeah. That's the reason why. I kind of decided to take all your pain, so that you could be happy. I... damn, this is gonna sound so sappy. But I love you, I really do. It was a cool life I had, and meeting you made it fantastic. Believe me when I say that I prefer to go away this soon rather than live 80 years without ever knowing you. I mean it."
Antonio felt a lump in his throat form, tighten and throb.
Lovino rubbed his eyes again. "... so, that's it. On to more serious matters, I decided to let you have my inheritance. You know, my grandpa's houses and the money. I know that we're not married and that they are Feli's now, but she will give them to you, I'm sure. You can do whatever you want with that. You can sell the houses and throw the money down the drain, I don't really care. It's all yours now. That's quite a bit of money I'm talking about here, so yeah. I hope you'll enjoy it."
Antonio scoffed. What the hell did he care about money and houses. He just wanted to wake up and find out that this was just a bad dream.
The Lovino on the screen smiled. "And now, back to us. I'm sure you kinda lost count of the days, buuut, I've arranged for this tape to arrive today. Check the date, come on!"
Antonio took his cell-phone and checked what damn day it was. His teary eyes widened. No way...!
Lovino's smile widened. "That's right! It's the seventh of July! So, happy sixth anniversary to us!"
Antonio didn't even try to hold back tears anymore.
Lovino's eyebrows knitted together. "I know, this is not the way I wanted to celebrate it. I wanted to be with you when the day came. But I won't be able to. So this will have to do."
Antonio felt his heart break.
Lovino scratched the back of his neck. "So. Yeah. I wanted to say so much, but now I don't even remember what I thought of. Well, one thing I remember."
Lovino looked straight at Antonio's green eyes. "You don't have to let this bring you down. You have to go on, and live for me too. And one day, you'll have to look for someone new. Someone that will love you, and make you happy. I don't care who it is, a guy or a girl or whatever. I'm sure that such a person exists. And when you meet this person, I don't want you to get all broody thinking that I would be jealous and wouldn't approve or shit. I approve. I'm telling you now. Maybe it will take some time, but it'll happen. And you have to be happy. That, or I'll... I don't know, come back from the dead especially to kick your ass."
Antonio was crying so hard that he couldn't breath anymore.
Lovino smacked his forehead as if he had forgotten something. "Oh yes, one more thing. You probably didn't come to my funeral. Don't feel bad about it, okay? I don't feel betrayed, I'm not angry or shit. I know that you must have been pretty... uhm... livid with anger, so I understand if you didn't go. It's okay. I don't really care, it must have been boring as hell anyway."
Antonio felt suddenly really guilty about not going to Lovino's funeral.
Lovino seemed to ignore it. Then he got closer to the camera. "So. Yeah. That's it, in the end. I love you, Antonio. I love you so much. That will never change. I'll wait for you. And when we see each other again, I want to see a happy old geezer with a hundred of grandchildren. But until then, live and love for me too."
Lovino rubbed his tears away again. "So, that's it. I love you. Don't forget that. I have to go now, you're going to be back in ten minutes, and you really shouldn't see me while I do this. So, goodbye. Have the happiest life you can. I want that for you. And for the upteenth time..."
Antonio swallowed as Lovino's eyes became softer.
"I love you."
Antonio's throat felt so raw he couldn't even speak. And when Lovino kissed his fingertips and brushed them on the screen, Antonio felt like a dam had broken inside of him. He couldn't stop himself from crying for hours.
"... you idiot... I was so angry at you... how could you make me forgive you..."
Ludwig had really no idea what to do to help his Feli. It had been a week since Lovino's funeral, and she had barely gotten out of bed. She forced herself to eat something only for the baby's sake, and that was the only time she actually got out of bed. But she never even dressed for that. She spent all day in her pajamas, watching old picture albums and crying.
Ludwig's heart felt like it was breaking a little more with every day.
Well, there was one thing he really wanted to do. He wanted to kill Lovino, even if he was already dead. How on Earth could that idiot let this happen? Did he really think that not telling anyone (not even Antonio, for fuck's sake!) about his disease would make things better? Didn't he think that Feli would cry herself to death when he died? Wouldn't telling them before save her all this pain?
Ludwig banged his head softly against the kitchen table. Damn, damn, damn. What was he supposed to do? Feli didn't even speak anymore. And of course she didn't smile. She was a ghost of what she used to be.
Ludwig clenched his fists hard. He felt so helpless. There was nothing he could do that could make Feli feel better. Even if he held her all night until she fell asleep, or if he cooked for her, or if he told her that surely Lovino had had his reasons. Feli was just not listening anymore. She wasn't really there.
Ludwig couldn't really blame her. He knew that he would have felt the same if it was his brother. But Ludwig could blame Lovino. He really wanted him to be alive, so he could grab him by the hair and make him see the mess he'd made. Then he would force him to apologize to Feli on his knees, and after he did that, he would give him a well placed kick in the ass that would send him flying to the moon, and...
… and someone was ringing the doorbell.
Ludwig got up and dragged himself to the door. He opened it to see a mailman.
"Hello. Here's your package. Sign here."
Ludwig didn't even bother saying that he wasn't waiting for anything. He just signed the paper and took the package.
When the mailman went away, Ludwig looked at it. His heart skipped a beat ot two when he recognized Lovino's handwriting. There was an envelope that said "To whoever receives this" on top of the package.
Ludwig opened it feverishly and read it. And there, in Lovino's messy handwriting, was a message.
Dear I don't know who but probably Ludwig since Feli is probably crying too much to answer the doorbell,
This package has three tapes in it. They have Feli's, Antonio's and Belle's names on them, so please make sure they get them.
Make sure Feli watches it.
Thanks for the trouble,
p.s. I know you're really pissed at me, potato. But please do this.
Ludwig's brain didn't know how to process what was happening. He opened the parcel, and actually, there were the tapes Lovino had been writing about. He looked at them for a long while before retrieving a VHS player.
"Feli? I'm coming in."
Feli didn't even acknowledge Ludwig. She just wanted to be left alone. She pulled the blankets up so that her face was covered.
She felt the mattress sink with Ludwig's weight.
"Feli, please, I have to tell you something important."
Feli groaned. Nothing was really important anymore. Her twin had died. What could be more important than that?
"Feli. At least look at me."
Feli did, but only because Ludwig's voice was so strained. She looked at him, but said nothing.
Ludwig seemed to appreciate her effort. He stroked her hair as he spoke.
"There was a tape with your name on it in the mail. It's from Lovino. You should watch it."
Feli's eyes widened as she sat up in the bed.
"Ve! Are you for real!"
Ludwig nodded. "I set it up in the living room. You just have to hit play. I'll go out for a while."
Feli got up and put a dressing gown on. "...thank you, ve."
Feli sat down on the floor in front of the the TV. She bit her lips before hitting play. And there was Lovino.
Feli's heart ached. He looked so thin and tired. How could they not notice that he was sick? It was so painfully obvious now.
The Lovino in the TV started speaking. "Hey Feli. I hope you are doing well."
Feli felt her eyes sting.
Lovino sighed. "... probably not. I mean, if it were you that died, I most certainly wouldn't be doing well. I would cry and whine all the time. So probably you're doing that. I'm sorry."
Feli rubbed her eyes.
Lovino went on. "This is so terrible. I never wanted to die so soon. I wanted to live till I was a hundred or so, or at least until the baby was born."
Feli sobbed loudly.
"I know, I lied to you. When you asked me if I wanted to be the godfather, I told you that I would. I'm sorry. I already knew I wouldn't be around for the birth. But I'm sure you can ask Gilbert. He'll me more than happy to steal my thunder, that bastard."
Feli wiped her tears, but there were just so many...
"But, but, but. Now that I got the sad stuff out of the way, we should think about the happy stuff. Like the fact that you're having a baby, for instance. I never lied about that, Feli. I truly, really am very happy about it. Because it means that a little part of me will be walking in this world even if I'm dead. And because it means that even if I and grandpa died, you still have family. Hell, you'd still have even without children. I mean, Ludwig is sort of your husband. He's family too."
he gave a mock wince. "However much I wished he wasn't. But I wasn't really serious about that. I bet that right now, he's doing all he can for you. I'm sure he forces you to eat and tells you not to cry. You should listen to him. He's right. I don't want you to cry and be sad. You need to be the happiest you can. You're gonna be a mom soon. Do you really want your brat to have a depressed mom? And besides, I'm really, really sure it will be a boy. Blond and with blue eyes, with a curl. I can picture him so clearly in my mind. So yeah, if I'm right you'll know that I will be saying 'I told you so!' from wherever I will be!"
Feli felt her chest tighten.
Lovino went on. "Yeah. This is the reason why I didn't tell anyone. It was because I wanted to have some happy last memories. I think I managed. Our birthday was cool, Feli. I really had fun. So now, you have to smile. Do it for me. I mean, you have all our old pictures, and my stuff from when we were teenagers. I'm sure you will treasure them. I would if I was in your place."
Feli cried a bit harder.
"So yeah. One last serious thing before my final words. You know the house in Rome and the one in Puglia? And my money? Give them to Antonio, please. I'm sure you will, but there, I needed to make sure. And now on the most important part."
Lovino sighed and looked directly in the camera with determination in his eyes.
Feli held her breath.
"Point one, you were the best little sister I ever could have. You're cute and adorable and fantastic. I hope you will always be like that, Feli. You make everyone happy, and I want that to never change. And even more important, point two. I don't know if I'll go to Heaven, or Hell, or if I'll be reincarnated. But if that's the case, I want to wait a bit before that."
Lovino sighed and rubbed his eyes.
"Because if I am ever reborn, I would still want to be your twin."
Feli could not hold back the tears anymore.
But that day, after having turned off the TV, Feli had a clear feeling that she was going to make it.
Belle stared at the play button. She stared and stared. She didn't want to push it. Because Lovino would show up on the screen and probably have a monologue. To remind her once more that he was, in fact, dead.
But she knew Lovino would have wanted her to watch. So she closed her eyes and hit the damn button.
And of course, Lovino showed up.
"Hi Bells, it's cool to see you. I mean, I don't see you, but you see me, so yeah, it kinda works. So. These are going to be my last words for my best friend. I hope they'll be nice or whatever. I make them up as I go on, so yeah, if I get distracted or shit I'm sorry."
Belle looked away from the TV. Seeing Lovino there was a stab to her heart.
"Now. First off, I'm sorry. Man, I keep apologizing so much lately. I think you guys noticed. But yeah. So. This is to tell you that I really liked being your friend, Bells."
He smiled heartily. "Actually, I really liked being your boyfriend too, back in the days when we were seventeen. But yeah, I like you as my best friend way better. Because we don't have to worry about anything when we're together. That's what I liked the most about us. The way we would talk about everything, and all those afternoons when we hung out together, and all the times we've watched 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' and how you look like a cat when you smile, and that stuff."
Belle was hit by a wave of nostalgia. She thought back of those times. She gave a watery smile. They had been fun.
Lovino went on. "But yeah, since you know me so well, I think you already know why I kept silent about the cancer. So I won't explain it to you. It'd be boring otherwise. But one thing I want to tell you. I really, really enjoyed this last months. We hung out so much, we went to places, you are getting your friendship with Antonio back on track, and you've found yourself a nice, cheapskate boyfriend that speaks your language. I mean, how cool is that?"
Belle chuckled through her tears.
"So yeah, Belle. When you start to think that you are indeed gonna die, you start realizing a lot of shit. And I did. I realized that you're the best friend I've ever had, and that my life was a lot like the hunchback, you know? A really cool story with a crappy ending."
Lovino paused a bit.
"Well, it wasn't so crappy, after all. I mean, I got to spend my last moments with people I love, and even if I had to go so soon, it was worth the ride. If I'm reborn, I want to be the same I was. I still want to go for bike rides with you. I still want to listen to your rants. I still want to ask you for a kiss on the cheek and then chicken out because you're so beautiful and I wasn't really expecting that you'd give me one..."
Belle smiled fondly. Now that had been a cute time...
"So, yeah. This is it. I hope you'll be really happy, because I know how much you deserve it. I really hope you will. And if you ever feel like, I don't know, chatting about whatever comes to your mind over a nice hot chocolate with me, you can do that. I won't answer, but I will listen. I'm sure I will, because I want to."
Belle sniffled loudly.
"So, my last words for you are: you are one of a kind, Bells. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You're going to have the most beautiful life, and you're gonna be so happy. And..."
Lovino blushed. "... and you were my very first love. There, I said it. Now you know. Now, what I want you to do is have a nice, long, good cry in that flying Dutchman arms and then move on. Maybe you'll cry some more over me, but that's okay. It takes time, I guess. But you have to move on anyway, okay? Or I'll come back from the dead and give you the biggest bitch-slap you have ever gotten."
Belle really wanted to stop crying now. But she couldn't. Lovino's words were so sweet they hurt.
The Lovino in the TV gave one last, teary smile.
"So yeah. That's it. I love you, old friend."
The screen went blank.
No one was in the house.
So Belle cried to her heart's content.
But in the back of her mind, she could feel that it would get better, one day.
Here you go, ve. I decided not to be a tease and give you the final chapter!
I put all the videos in a single chapter because I don't like drawn-out endings, and it would have looked like I was dragging it out just to get more reviews, which are always nice, but they have never been my goal.
Also, someone told me that Lovi died too suddenly. But the truth is, I don't think that Lovino's the kind of guy who would give a long, flowery speech on his deathbed. He'd hate to be seen at his weakest. And besides, remember Lovino's personality: he has trouble with his feelings, so much that he sort of died alone, to spare himself and others the heartache. I wanted him to stay true to himself until the end.
Sorry, Lovi. I always make you suffer D:
Hope you enjoyed.
And now, my usual Shameless Self-Advertising(tm): I'm posting a new fic, Gerita, with fem!italy as usual, with a small side of Spamano. If you guys feel like new reading material, you could check it out... XD