KKA: All right, last chapter. It shouldn't be as long as the last one. Then again, I tend to be wordier than I think I will be. *shrug* Enjoy my Christmas present to y'all. (Yeah, I know it's late. My internets is down, ya know.)
This Is Going to Happen
Antonio leaned down to give Lovino one more lingering kiss.
"I'll be back before ya know it. Christmas isn't so far from now. I'll bring you a really good gift Lovi."
Lovino forced a smile. "Yeah, I know. Who's fucking counting, anyway? I'll be too busy to even know you're gone."
"We'll all be here for Christmas, right? It'll be so much fun if we can celebrate again like we used to! Ve~ Ve~" Feliciano suggested eagerly as he body-slammed Antonio in a hug. Antonio nuzzled Feliciano's head with that dopey, kinda sketchy smile on his face.
"Si, si, I like that. Let's all celebrate in Rome this year!"
"I'll see what I can do," Ludwig said noncommittally as he tugged Feliciano away. After a month of trying to protest and ignore the obviously growing chemistry between them (Feli hadn't held back at all), Ludwig and Feliciano were officially dating. Because of this, he was a tad more possessive than he had been. Antonio and Feliciano pouted. Well, until Ludwig put his arm on Feli's shoulders, then Feli was grinning like an idiot again.
"I know I can make it. I'm just my boss's bitch, but as long as I get my blueprints in on time, I should be golden," Gilbert shrugged. "I like Italy. It's warm."
"Paris is so beautiful in the winter, with the houses frosted with snow and the smells of the pastries baking, but I also will come to Rome for Christmas. I would rather spend my holidays with family," Francis agreed eloquently. For a few seconds, Lovino actually liked him.
"Bueno," Behind Antonio, the train blew the warning whistle. He adjusted the duffel bag on his shoulder. "I have to go."
Antonio hesitated, his green eyes flicking towards Lovino's. He had never spoken to Lovino about the night a week ago when he'd cried himself to sleep. Lovino had thought it weird, but didn't bring it up himself. While Lovino didn't catch that guilty look anymore, Antonio had begun looking at him in a completely different, unsettling way. It made Lovino's stomach flop. Antonio glanced at his friends, who quickly pulled the other two away. He set his hands on Lovino's shoulder, his green eyes filled with that strange new look.
"I'm coming back. I promise. What happened this past month, it isn't over." Amber eyes fell to the floor. "Damn it, Lovino, look at me." The Italian looked up, startled. "I mean it! You're… you're thinking something you won't tell me, and I'm really freaking out here. There's something going on that has nothing to do with why you cried last week, isn't there?"
Lovino inhaled sharply. "H-How'd- Wh-wha-?"
The whistle blew again, sharp and jarring. Antonio cursed in Spanish and met Lovino's eyes again.
"You're going to tell me the truth when I come back, Lovi." He pressed his mouth hard against Lovino's, who was still wide-eyed and baffled when Antonio pulled back.
The Spaniard took off running for the train, swinging up into the doorway and waving at the group as they gathered behind Lovino again. Lovino watched the train, clutching his shirt over his heart. For once, Antonio was reading under the surface, even just a little. Too bad it was too little, too late.
Because Lovino wouldn't be here when Antonio got back.
"What do you mean you're going to Paris!" Feliciano cried out as Lovino hauled his suitcase to the door.
"Why don't you listen to what you're saying? I am going to Paris, simple as that," Lovino puffed. Jae-soo finished cleaning out the fridge, satisfied that his apartment was clean enough for the tenants living there next for a year. "I'll be back at the end of next summer in time for my last year of college."
"We will not be staying there longer than a year, Feliciano. It is just a study abroad program for our respective majors," Jae-soo explained in her soothing, calm voice. Feliciano refused to be soothed.
"A year? But you're coming back for Christmas, right? We promised Antonio! Doesn't Antonio know?" Feliciano tearfully pressed on. Lovino sighed.
"No, you're the first one I told. Well, except for Mom and Dad. I made them promise not to tell you because I knew you'd fucking act like this. You aren't a damn baby!" Lovino rolled his eyes.
"You did not inform Antonio?" Jae-soo queried. She wrung the sponge into the sink, her brows lowered. "You and Antonio are a couple, so why does he not know about this? I was sure you had informed him before he left."
"We are not a couple. We were fuck buddies for a month. Antonio would never be serious about me," Lovino muttered as he shoved more miscellaneous crap into a box.
"Don't say that, Lovi! Antonio loves you!"
"He didn't ONCE fucking say that to me, Feli! So shut the hell up! You don't know what you're fucking talking about, okay? SHUT UP," Lovino finally bellowed, red faced. He rubbed at his face with his fist. "Stop fucking talking about him, okay? I've been signed up for this trip for seven months, Feli."
Feliciano sniffled. "I still think you're wrong about Antonio, Lovi. I don't care so much that you didn't tell me about Paris; I care more about you not trusting Antonio. Why couldn't he be in love with you?"
"I said stop fucking talking about him," Lovino snarled, teeth bared. Jae-soo set the sponge down and wiped her hands dry.
"Feliciano, you should call the boys for help. It will be easier on all of us if Gilbert, Ludwig, and Francis help move these boxes to storage," Jae-soo suggested diplomatically. Feliciano nodded and fled to room.
"Thank you, Jae-soo."
"I agree with Feliciano."
Lovino glanced up, startled. Jae-soo shrugged and picked up a shirt to fold neatly into the last suitcase destined for Paris. They were going to be leaving that night, and all her things were already packed and waiting neatly in the hallway.
"I will not pry or ask questions. I will not even mention his name and I will never bring this topic up for debate again. I will concisely state my opinion now. I believe you should have told him about the year in Paris. I also believe there is more to the two of you than… fuck buddies. He looks at you as if you are everything he ever wanted, as if you are all that exists in his world. Perhaps you do not see it, but anyone looking on, even a blind man, could see that you belong together."
Lovino looked down, fists digging into a one hundred dollar silk blouse. He breathed slowly, in and out, and released the cloth. "Maybe he's the one that doesn't fucking notice, because he never once said that he felt that way about me. He's talked about wanting me physically. Damn, I know he lusts for me, but love? That's different, Jae-soo. And that's what I want. I thought I just wanted the fucking sex, too, but I don't. It hurt like shit, touching him and knowing there was a time limit. Sure, maybe he'd still want me at Christmas, maybe we'd be together a whole fucking year, but in the end, it would be just sex. You were seeing things."
Jae-soo reached out to touch Lovino's hand gently, for barely a moment, and then continued folding clothes.
Lovino smiled bitterly. Was it sad that he could believe the nasty bitter things so much easier than the hopeful pretty things?
It seemed like a matter of moments rather than hours before Lovino was at the airport. The Beilschmidts, Feli, and Francis had come to see him off, but all of them were frowning. Well, Feli was sobbing. Jae-soo had run to the restroom, being pragmatic and efficient she always tried to use the restroom before travelling. Lovino sighed in relief as she strode towards them. She was the only one that wasn't pissed off at him. Even Ludwig was pissed off because he had made Feli cry. Lovino gawked when he noticed the large, imposing man at Jae-soo's heels. Gilbert stepped forward, looking even angrier than before. Of course, the tall, fair-haired stranger with the strange, cheerful smile looked intimidating just standing there. Being Gilbert, however, meant having zero fear.
"Jae-soo, who's this bastard following you?"
"He is not a bastard. He helped me a moment ago and I agreed to lead him to his gate. He does not read or speak Italian well. He is Russian."
"My name is Ivan Braginski. You lovely girlfriend helps me out well, da? I not know how find my plane, however I teach… ah, I learn that lovely girlfriend goes to Paris, too," Ivan explained in the worst Italian Lovino had ever heard. Even Jae-soo's Korean-accented Italian wasn't as bad as that.
"His English is much better," Jae-soo said with an apologetic shrug towards Lovino.
"Yes. I English speak very well," Ivan agreed.
Gilbert crossed his arms over his chest, frowning. "Jae-soo, you call me if anything funny happens."
"I will be in a plane. After that, I will be in Paris."
"Berlin isn't so far from Paris." Jae-soo stared at him until he laughed out loud. "I mean it, I will come if you need me. This guy is frickin' weird."
"I understand you, da?"
"I meant you to. She's my friend, so if you do anything freaky and I find out, I'll come after you," Gilbert warned in clear English.
"You have very protective friends," Ivan told Jae-soo with a smile, also in English.
"Don't worry, Gilbert, I'll watch Jae-soo's back. I'm her friend, too," Lovino reassured Gilbert. He couldn't really blame Gilbert for being protective. This Russian guy was pretty… strange… somehow. And Jae-soo had opened up to him too easily. Normally, Jae-soo wouldn't even talk to strangers, let alone help one out. "We better hurry if we want to get through security."
Jae-soo and Ivan nodded. Lovino hugged his brother and Antonio's two friends. Feliciano and Gilbert both fell on top of Jae-soo, hugging her and kissing her cheeks. She bore it with a resigned scowl and a scarlet face. Then, Lovino, Jae-soo, and the random stranger named Ivan walked towards the security gates with passports in hand.
Paris was freezing that year. The snow was mostly sleet and the roads were paved in ice. Inside the little flat over the Laundromat, Lovino put ornaments on the tree Jae-soo and he had bought and Ivan had dragged it up the stairs. Somehow, the Russian and Jae-soo had not only become friends in an amazingly short amount of time, but also… well, not quite lovers, but Lovino doubted Jae-soo would hold out for long. He remembered their plane ride and shuddered. He doubted Ivan would let Jae-soo leave Paris, actually. That guy had a crazy possessive streak.
Lovino shook the thoughts out his head. The Russian had grown on him, after all. He took both of them out to expensive French restaurants, always brought over enough candies for the roommates to share, and always invited Lovino to watch movies with them. He wasn't so bad, even if he was a little creepy sometimes. Lovino whistled and put on another blue glass globe. Behind him, Jae-soo walked in wearing a knee-length skirt and showing off the gorgeous black silk stockings she had bought in Rome months ago. Lovino looked over his shoulders at her footsteps and grinned.
"Wow, Jae-soo, I didn't know you had such sexy legs. I bet they love being shown off."
"They hate feeling naked actually," Jae-soo snapped. She smoothed her hands down her skirt, frowning. "You are positive this is decent? I feel so… so indecent exposing my underwear."
"Stockings are not underwear. Besides, they were, what, twenty dollars? They're made from real silk and have that pretty embroidery up the side. They're supposed to be shown off. Just don't flash your panties at anyone and you're decent."
"Lovino!" He laughed and before long she joined in. The doorbell rang and Jae-soo's laughter cut off abruptly as her face paled.
"This is my first Christmas Eve date, Lovino. This is my first date ever, really. What if I ruin it?"
"You can't ruin a first date. They're already fucked from the start. You and Ivan have been technically dating for months anyway."
"No, we have not! He only asked me out last week."
Lovino walked over, grasped her shoulders, and wheeled her around towards the front door. "You're already ruining shit if you keep him waiting." The doorbell rang again.
"You can stop now. I am going!" Jae-soo protested. Lovino released her, chuckling, and walked back to the living room.
He bent down for another box of ornaments as Jae-soo left the apartment. Her footsteps faded down the stairs to the front door of the building where Ivan was waiting in the cold. Good thing he was Russian. Lovino could bet it was a lot colder there. He hummed a Christmas carol as he placed another ornament. Memories of Christmases past played through his thoughts as he took out old ornaments his mother had let him keep when he moved out for college. One of them was made of fired clay and painted by his own hand. He smiled at the colors. The thing was hideous. He had been ten and wild for Antonio at this point, so he had used his and Antonio's favorite colors. Antonio had actually helped him and they had ended up making a total mess and taking a bath together afterwards in their swimming trunks.
His fingers tightened around the simple, stupid object that represented so much. He hooked it on a branch, but couldn't seem to let go. A great metaphor really. Stupid philosophy class. He kept seeing symbology everywhere. Next, he'd find meaning in his hot cocoa.
His shoulders shook as he struggled not to cry. If there was a God, or a Santa, he didn't fucking care which, he wished they would bring him Antonio. Hopefully an Antonio that was as madly in love with him as Lovino was with Antonio. Maybe with a diamond ring and a proposal on bended knee, too. Since he was making impossible wishes already, he might as well go all out. Maybe afterwards, Antonio would sweep him off his feet and they would make passionate love and whisper 'I love you' after every kiss. Yeah, that was sappy and impossible enough. What else could he wish for?
Lovino laughed and wiped at his face, glad that Jae-soo had left before he had become morbid. He'd been morbid enough around his best friend.
Lovino finally let go of the ornament and fiddled with it until it hung just right. "There, perfect."
"I've never seen anything more perfect, mi amore."
Lovino froze, his fingers still on the ornament.
"I can remember something similar though. There was a little boy under a lilac tree. He was singing a duet, a love song, all by himself and eating cookies. I think he was also reading a stolen Vogue magazine. There was summer sunlight all around him and his eyes were even more golden than the sun when he looked at me. And you know what he said? 'Where the hell did you come from?' Fusososososo~"
It couldn't be. But who else had that stupid, idiotic laugh? Who else saw him in the bushes that day? Who else heard him say just those words eleven years ago?
"All I could think was 'perfect.' This was the angel meant for me, me alone. I wanted you so bad and I didn't even understand what it meant. I didn't understand how exactly I felt until I was seventeen years old and you were so close I could smell you. I ran away, Lovi, because I was scared. I think I told you that. You were dangerous to me, because you bring out this darkness in me. I wanted to take you away and eat you up. I didn't want anyone else to have you, to touch you, or love you. It wasn't fair to you. I wanted you to be able to grow and experience things and fall in love like you should. I had laid a claim on you when you were so damn young. I felt like I was caging you and I didn't want you to hate me for it later."
Lovino's hands curled into fists. "You st-stupid-"
"Wait, wait just one more moment, mi amore. Then, you can yell at me all you want."
Lovino turned as Antonio stepped forward, the footstep on wooden floorboards breaking through the ice that held him in place.
And it really was him in all his dark, beautiful glory. Tall, lean, the colors of coffee and chocolate and stunning, brilliant emerald. Lovino felt his heart thump and tumble to the floor at Antonio's feet. Just in a few moments, he had fallen in love all over again. He shivered as Antonio neared, his eyes locked on his. He could see it, the darkness Antonio said he had, that Lovino brought out. But if Antonio was scared of it, Lovino wasn't. He reveled in it. Look at me more, his mind pleaded. Look at me like that every day, all the damn time.
"I can't, though. I can't let you go." Dark fingers touched Lovino's face and both sighed at the touch. Lovino leaned against his fingertips, nuzzling Antonio's palm with his nose. "When I said this summer "it won't end there," I didn't mean sex, you blind, stupid, lovely idiot."
Lovino frowned. "What?"
"Well, it did partially mean sex, but that wasn't it." Antonio grinned crookedly. "I meant once I had you, I wouldn't be able to give you up. I've been wanting you so long, Lovi, now that I have you, I'm addicted. I need you," Antonio's eyes darkened further. "The idea of you being with anyone else… of them touching you like I did, seeing what I saw when you were writhing under me…" Antonio's free hand clenched before he visibly calmed himself. "I'm not a very nice person when I think about it. Nor am I very forgiving."
Lovino scowled, blushing brightly. "Why couldn't you tell me this summer? I thought… You never said anything like that to me. I never …you… you still haven't said…" Lovino broke off, unable to string a coherent sentence together. Finally, he looked away, his cheeks puffed out angrily. "It's still fucking not enough. It's not enough to want or need. I don't want to be a damn possession you can get tired of. I want something better," Lovino muttered as the stray curl on his head crinkled.
Antonio reached out and smoothed the curl out, smiling softly. Lovino felt his insides melt and he had to painfully pull himself together when Antonio spoke. "I know. You already told me how you feel, Lovi."
Lovino paled and his eyes widened. "Wh-What?"
"You told me, that night you cried. I didn't ask about it later because I thought I understood why. But maybe I didn't understand enough. I wanted to get you something, something that would last. Something you would believe more than words."
Antonio fished in his pocket and Lovino stared with horrified eyes. Did I really say it during sex? Of all times? Oh shitshitshit. All horror ended, though, when Antonio pulled out a black velvet box that was worn bare at the corners.
Lovino fell to his knees. "Don't-Don't f-fucking play with m-me about this, Antonio," Lovino stammered, staring as Antonio's knees.
"Lovi? Are you okay?" Antonio knelt next to him, black box placed on the ground. His green eyes were slightly panicked.
"What's in the fucking box?"
"Wait, you're really pale. I should-"
"WHAT'S IN THE FUCKING BOX?"
Antonio winced, then grabbed the box. He flipped it open. Inside was a thin silver band with a rectangular-cut diamond, a princess-cut, in the middle. It was simple, elegant, and old. Lovino could tell. He also recognized it. He had met Antonio's mother once. She had come to meet Mrs. Vargas one summer because her son had spent so much time in Italy. Lovino had only been twelve, but had instantly been struck with how like her son Mrs. Carriedo was, or should that be the other way around? On her left hand and second to last finger had been a gold ring with a large circle diamond encircled by tiny emeralds the exact shade as hers, and Antonio's, eyes. Next to that ring was this very one Antonio held out. It was an engagement ring that had been passed down the Carriedo line since the time of the Spanish Inquisition, maybe even longer.
"Will you marry me, Lovino? We'll wait till you've graduated and found a career, of course, but Madrid has a lot of fashion, right? If not, I'll see about my father switching back to Madrid and I'll take over the French branch. This isn't very, uh, stylish, I guess, but we Carriedo men always give it to our brides- er, well, fiancé may be a better word for now," Antonio babbled on nervously as Lovino stared.
Lovino slapped his hand over Antonio's mouth and then took the ring. He slid it onto his finger and it actually fit. It was a little tight over the knuckle, but it was perfect.
"W-Wait, you haven't said yes. Does this mean yes?"
"The words," Lovino choked, then cleared his throat. He clutched his left hand and glanced up at Antonio, amber eyes still wide and astonished. "I want the words first."
Antonio blinked and then grinned sheepishly. "I forgot to say them? I love you, Lovino. I thought that was obvi-OOF."
Lovino flung himself on top of Antonio, sending them sprawling to the floor. "Ti amo, ti amo, ti amo," Lovino laughed, kissing Antonio's mouth, his cheeks, his eyebrows, his mouth again. His arms wrapped around him as Antonio laughed.
"Ay Dios mio! You really know how to make a guy work at it," Antonio managed to get out. He cupped Lovino's face, gazing up into amber eyes. "Te amo, mi corazon, mi amore, mi todo." Antonio whispered, tracing Lovino's cheekbones with his thumb. Lovino blushed red.
"Did I really tell you I loved you while we were having sex?"
"Si, mi amore. I was well and truly loved that night. We should definitely have a repeat," Antonio laughed. Lovino punched his shoulder, making him groan and wince.
"Well, let's go right now," Lovino muttered, kissing where he'd punched.
"I would love to, mi corazon, but we have guests."
"WHAT?" Lovino squawked, struggling to get to his feet.
"No, no, not in the house! Calm down! They're waiting outside. I think there is a coffee shop across the street, they are waiting there. I was supposed to call Feli when I either left or you said yes. He really wanted a Christmas with us all together," Antonio quickly explained. Lovino groaned.
"How about a quickie?"
Antonio laughed again, his sides aching. "No, mi amore, we will have the rest of our lives to make love. Let us spend today with our friends."
"How long exactly are we talking about between now and the making love part?" Lovino asked with a glare. Antonio grinned.
"We also have all night. We will use every moment. I have missed you, too." Antonio placed his hand behind Lovino's head and pulled him down. "For now, besame."
Lovino laughed as Antonio used his favorite Spanish word against him. They pressed together, ravenous and craving, soft and sweet, then hard and possessive. They barely stopped for breath. As they drank each other in, Lovino couldn't help but remember a question he had asked himself seven years ago.
Maybe love tasted like Antonio's skin?
Sure, why couldn't it?
Last A/N from KKA: I hope y'all had a Happy Christmas and will have a good New Year!