Antonio was humming to himself as he walked through the grocery store. He had tossed a few treats for the dogs we was working with into his basket, like he always did. He couldn't give them very many, just when they did something good, but he still liked to get them treats of a higher quality than the ones the school provided. And onto the next aisle to claim his guilty pleasure, the one thing he would always buy copious amounts of every trip he made to the grocery store: tomatoes. The Spaniard turned the corner for the produce aisle, eyes searching for the red fruit. There was someone else looking at them, and for whatever reason, he struck Antonio as familiar.
The brunet lifted his head, a ripe tomato in hand, and Antonio remembered where he had seen him before. He had come with his brother just last week to get a seeing eye dog. The brothers (of whom he confessed to have thought to be twins at first glance) were a stunning, adorable pair of siblings, which had instantly struck Antonio's fancy.
He sauntered over, going for nonchalance as he picked up a tomato. "It's the perfect season for them, isn't it? Just look at them."
The younger man blinked up at him in a surprise that lasted all of two seconds before his brow drew taut and his expression became harried. "Fortunately, yes," he mumbled, picking up one plump fruit for himself, prodding it with curious fingers to test its ripeness. "It's been a long time coming, but they're finally back in their best season. It's about fucking time, too."
Antonio slapped a hand over his heart in a dramatic gesture. "Another person who missed them as much as I do! I'm terribly sorry, I recognize you from the school, but what was your name?"
"Who? What school?" The shorter man (of, if he was not mistaken, some Romantic descent, judging by the fetching olive tone of his skin) frowned deeply before his expression relaxed marginally when, apparently, his confusion was assuaged. "Oh... oh! You're that annoyingly cheerful guy."
"That's no way to talk to the potential love of your life," Antonio said, laughing a little. His flirting came naturally, as it always did, and at least seventy percent of the time, it got him what he wanted. It would be a delight to bed this cute man, and it just so happened that his schedule was empty for the night. To his great surprise, however, what he received from the (tentatively labeled) Italian was not so much a blush, or even a flirty little scoff, but rather total and complete disgust. He reached quickly for a few more tomatoes and piled them high in his basket before shuffling quickly away, not even gracing Antonio with a backwards glance, which was a reaction he wasn't used to. Antonio quickly followed after him. The young man halted when he noticed Antonio striding alongside him. "At least tell me your name! I suppose it would be easy for me to look it up in the records, but I would much rather hear it from you."
Wide eyes, a brown so light and vibrant that Antonio could almost label it gold, narrowed on him furiously. He leaned in closer and hissed, "Do you know how seriously creepy this is? Back the fuck off. Now."
Raising an eyebrow, Antonio held up his hands and stepped away. "Alright, I surrender. I suppose in my mind, I will just have to call you Cutie."
A visible shudder ran through the youth's body, and Antonio had the nagging suspicion that it wasn't from pleasure. "Just. Lovino," he said, his lips curled in some potent mixture of agitation and disgust. When Antonio took another step back, he seemed to relax marginally, though his gaze was still sharp. "What the fuck? Do you assault everyone you meet? Damn."
Antonio grinned brightly and tilted his head. "Only the really cute ones. See you later... Lovino." He made sure to say his name with a slightly deeper voice, dragging the last O out so it rolled off his tongue. He was glad that his parents had insisted teaching him Spanish so that he could say it with the right accent.
And, walking away, he glanced over his shoulder to sneak a peak at the seduced, if confused expression that was sure to be on Lovino's face.
For what must have been the hundredth time in the past five minutes, he was surprised. There was no expression on Lovino's face at all, as far as he could see. The Italian had turned his back to Antonio completely.
Antonio was just finishing his lunch when he walked past Ludwig's lesson. He first saw the blind brother, walking along with the black dog, and then he saw Lovino sitting in a chair by the wall, watching them. So this was his chance, then. He walked over and smiled at him. "Lovino! This must be fate for us to meet again."
A split second of surprise and then that familiar distaste as Lovino rolled his eyes over Antonio's form. He would normally take it as a compliment to be so obviously checked out, but Lovino's expression was not so much appreciative as it was scrutinizing. The attractive youth was sizing him up. "Can't tell if you're seriously this corny, or if you're just trying too hard," he explained dryly before turning his eyes back to the shorter brunette down the hall, walking with Ludwig.
"It is called being romantic, and it is much better than your approach to flirting, which seems to be simple rudeness." Without asking, Antonio sat down in the chair next to him, deciding that no one would notice if he was a few minutes late coming back from lunch. The dogs certainly wouldn't care.
Lovino snorted, though his shoulders tensed, almost as though he was bristling from the comment. Like a cat. "It's not romantic if it's one-sided. That's just creepy. What are you even doing here? Aren't you supposed to be working?"
He lifted his bag in one hand. "Lunch. And are you sure it is one-sided? I notice that you didn't protest that I said you were flirting."
"I was subtly refusing to dignify it with a response," Lovino grumbled, folding a pair of sun-loved arms over his chest. He frowned when the German down the hall snapped something at his brother. Antonio saw it as well, and leaned on the arm rest nearest Lovino. The Italian moved away from him.
"You don't have to worry about Ludwig. He comes off as mean, but that's just how he is. He's really a good guy. A very good dog trainer."
"He just seems like an uptight asshole to me," Lovino said in that growly voice of his. "Doesn't know shit about customer service. If someone pays for your services, you greet them with a fucking smile and a good attitude. Doesn't matter if my brother's blind; he can still tell whether or not someone's smiling at him. Bastard."
"Ah, but you misunderstand. You aren't paying for our service, you are paying for the dog, and we teach him how to use that dog. You pay for College, but does that mean the teachers have to be nice to you?" Of course, Antonio was always nice to the clients anyways, he didn't like people to dislike him. Which was why it was so strange that Lovino acted like this. The Spaniard dug in his lunch bag and pulled out a tomato. "I was going to save this for my last break, but you can have it if you want."
Lovino glanced over at him and then at the tomato, and for the first time, Antonio could see that he was enticed. He couldn't help but grin. However, that only seemed to fuel Lovino's suspicious little fire. The young man frowned at him. "What did you do to it?" he asked.
"I soaked it in love potion," Antonio said and laughed. "It's just a tomato, I swear! I bought it from the same grocery store where we last met." His eyes were drawn to Lovino's lips as he bit the bottom one. It was soft and red and full, Antonio couldn't help but notice. Damn, this guy had to know what he was doing. How could this be anything else but flirting?
After glancing back at his brother for just a moment, Lovino graced Antonio with his attention once more and scowled. "Well... I guess you might be too dumb to really try anything," he mumbled, taking the fruit from Antonio's hand and inspecting it warily. "You look it, anyway."
Antonio pouted a bit at that. "Aw, that isn't very nice. I give you one of my precious tomatoes and you call me stupid?" But he was quick to go back to smiling as Lovino bit into the tomato, juice dripping down his chin. The Spaniard reached out, swiping it up with his finger, and licked it off. He brightened immediately. For the first time, a healthy red flush spread over Lovino's cheeks. He cursed under his breath and stood, retreating down the hall toward Ludwig and his cute little brother, shouting all the while and scurrying quickly away from Antonio.
But the Spaniard could not help but notice that, despite his words and actions, the tomato was still firmly planted in Lovino's palm.
After that, Antonio made sure to check Ludwig's schedule for when Feliciano had an appointment, but the next few times, Lovino didn't come with him. The brunet was getting frustrated, as this was now a matter of pride. If it was just that Lovino said he was straight, or just wasn't attracted to him, he could live with that. But he was fairly sure that Lovino found him attractive (because, who wouldn't, really?), so then, what was it?
Finally, the following week, Lovino showed up at the school. Antonio looked at his watch and found that he had about half an hour until his next appointment. Perfect.
The persistent Spaniard sidled up to Lovino in the hall as the young man browsed the soda machine. With a deep, harried sigh, Lovino let the machine eat his money and selected a bottle of water, bending over to retrieve it when it came clunking down to the bottom of the machine. "Can I help you?"
"In fact, you can. I seem to be in need of a dinner partner tonight, and it has to be a man between 20- and 25-years-old with brown hair and a cute butt. You wouldn't happen to know anyone by that description, would you?" He would have been more specific with the age, but he figured that Lovino would be one of those people that looks younger than they actually are.
"Nope," Lovino said casually, unscrewing the lid and taking a deep gulp of water. He cleared his throat as the bottle drew away and let his hands fall to his sides. "I don't make a lot of friends. And none that I have fit that description. Ask someone else."
Antonio sighed, looking to the side. "That's too bad. I was really hoping you would know someone. How about if I asked for that same description to come with me for a coffee?" Maybe he could hit something that Lovino liked to do.
An older gentleman with a golden retriever passed, and Lovino followed them with his eyes (really too lovely and golden for his own good). "Probably not if you're going to be so fucking creepy all the time. Hey." He looked back at Antonio sharply. "Feliciano- my brother- he's had a few dogs before and they never helped. The trainers say he ruined them all or something, but that's just a crock of shit, right?"
"The intricacies of owning a guide dog." Antonio smiled, and then thought that maybe this was his way in. He made a show of glancing at his watch. "Unfortunately, I should be getting back to work. But, I could continue this conversation... perhaps over a drink tonight?"
If Lovino's expression was to grow any more dry, it could have been dessert sands. "You have got to be fucking kidding me." But he was enticed, Antonio could tell, and unless he was completely delusional, perhaps the Spaniard could detect just the slightest pinch of amusement. "Fine. You know what. Fine. Okay. But you're paying."
Success! Antonio smiled and gave a small bow. "But of course! Well, you know Rose's bar on Southerland? Meet there at eight, and I'll tell you everything you want to know about guide dogs." With a little wink and a spring in his step, Antonio returned to the kennels. Hopefully it wouldn't take much alcohol to get Lovino drunk enough to agree to spend the night: after all, his pay check wasn't the fattest. But to accomplish this, he was willing to pay just about any bar tab.
He was on ridiculous little pins and needles all afternoon, and dashed home immediately after work for a shower. Judging by Lovino's designer jeans clothes and almost outrageously expensive-looking watches, the Italian was a man of taste, and Antonio was willing to work to fulfill at least some of that expectation. He could probably stand to tidy up a bit, as well.
Hopefully, though, they wouldn't even be coming to his house. He had chosen Rose's because it was close, and judging by the fact that they went to the same grocery store, he figured that Lovino also lived close. That served two purposes: one, he would offer to walk Lovino home, so even if the brunet still refused to sleep with him, he would know where he lived. And two, if they did sleep together, he could leave easily enough without any problems. He wasn't like some guys, and he wouldn't leave while Lovino was still asleep, but he never stuck around much after the good morning kiss and possibly a cup of coffee.
Though, from what he had heard about Italians, they were rather feisty. If he could entice Lovino once in the evening, provided he wasn't too hung over in the morning, perhaps Antonio could even hope for a second go.
Finally it was time to walk over to the bar. He was looking forward to the challenge. As long as the brunet wasn't completely straight (a possibility of which Antonio had his doubts) then he should have a pretty good shot. The best part was that, from what Antonio had seen of his attitude and demeanor, Lovino seemed like the type that would be an animal in bed. Antonio was good at thinking wishfully. It had served him well so far. So cheerfully he checked himself in the mirror one last time before sweeping out of the apartment and down the sidewalk on the comfortably warm summer night, his hands stuffed down the pockets of his jeans.
He arrived at the bar a few minutes fashionably late, and saw Lovino sitting at a table in the corner, already nursing a beer. He walked over, hands in pockets. "Hey beautiful. Care for some company?" Antonio slid into the booth across from him and called the waiter over.
There was a wrinkle in Lovino's brow and he pushed the bottle over. "This stuff is shit," he grumbled, leaning back in his seat and going back to staring out the window.
"Then why did you order it? What would you rather drink?" Antonio took a swig of the beer, noting offhandedly to himself that it tasted fine. He grabbed the wine list from the table and opened it up to see what they had. Antonio didn't know much about wine, but maybe Lovino liked it.
Lovino shrugged, a gesture that was almost painfully elegant, despite the casualty of it. "My taste is... expensive." He leaned on his elbow with his chin cradled in a palm, glancing up at Antonio meaningfully.
Antonio did very well at not showing that it mattered to him how much it cost, he thought. He had a few credit cards, so it shouldn't be too bad. "Well, I would expect nothing less. You obviously came from a wealthy family. Order away." He wondered why Lovino would have ordered the beer in the first place, but it didn't really matter.
Quirking one finely arched eyebrow (hopefully it wouldn't be the only thing arching that evening), Lovino ordered a bottle from the list and with the most vindictive of smirks, he asked for dessert as well.
The Spaniard kept smiling, and when the waitress left, he put his hands on the table. "Well, I guess I should hold up my end of the bargain. What do you want to know about guide dogs?" It was obvious that Lovino was far from being drunk, so he would have to draw this out until he had had a few glasses of wine.
At that, Lovino's interest seemed to finally be piqued. He leaned forward ever so slightly, leaning on his elbows. "Feliciano's always been told that he's too sweet on the dogs," he said with a gruff earnestness. "Is it true that that really makes them inefficient?"
"Yes, absolutely. No matter how well you train a dog, if you spoil them they stop behaving right. Since the owner gave them treats, the dog will do whatever the owner wants, which isn't good for the dogs. They wouldn't stop the owner from walking into something, they would just follow him." Antonio knew that that was usually a problem for some owners, and what he had seen of Feliciano, it was obvious that he would have that problem as well.
Lovino's brow furrowed and he leaned back, rubbing his jaw thoughtfully. "Well, damn," he sighed. "That's Feli all over. What should I do, then?"
Antonio shrugged and leaned back as well. "Nothing. He's a big boy. Besides, I'm sure Ludwig will not leave him alone until he understands not to spoil her." He smiled and finished off his beer and motioned for another one. "Any more questions?"
A pretty young thing brought Lovino's bottle to the table and the Italian gave her a smile that Antonio had never seen before, winning and too charming for his own good. She flushed at his thanks and smiled back and the instant she was gone, the Lovino Antonio knew was back, frowning and stern. "Yes," he growled, ignoring the bottle. "What can I do? I know that my brother is a fucking adult, but that doesn't mean I should just sit by and let him fail again."
"I told you, Ludwig will make sure Feliciano doesn't pamper the dog. He is nothing if not strict. If he can't help your brother, then no one can." He smiled over the top of his bottle, not really wanting to talk about dogs, but they had to keep talking for at least as long as it took Lovino to finish a few glasses of wine.
He had thought that perhaps Lovino would stray from the topic, even just a little. Surely a fit young man, possibly well-traveled, certainly educated, and a bit mouthy would have something else he'd rather discuss than dogs and his brother, but it did not seem so. Lovino did not particularly like the answer that Antonio had provided, and wasted no time in trying to haggle all of the information he could well into the third glass.
By the fifth, Antonio knew more about Feliciano's past more than he ever wanted to, but Lovino was on a roll, sharing anecdotes between sips with a wry little smile on his face.
Because of the number of drinks Lovino had had, Antonio thought it would be fine putting his hand over the Italian's, forcing him to look up. "That's enough about your brother, I want to hear about you. I find you... extremely interesting, Lovino."
Lovino let out a bark of laughter and though his eyes were a bit hazy, they were a bit too knowing for Antonio's tastes. "Try again," he said, pulling his hand back tapping a finger against his own lips. "Nothing I haven't heard before. Gonna have to get creative."
Antonio grinned inwardly. Creative? He could be creative. He gave a sigh and looked down. "I was hoping I wouldn't have to tell you this. I know you won't believe me, who would?" Then he looked up, keeping the serious look on his face. "But I will tell you. We were together, in another life. We are meant to be together, I have finally found you after all these years, and now we have to follow destiny and become lovers."
After a very long, hard moment of staring, Lovino covered his mouth with the back of his hand. He burst out into laughter, his shoulders shaking and body hunched over as he tried to breathe. "Fuck!" he gasped, shaking his head and carrying on with smaller peals of laughter until his forehead rested against the cool table. When he'd finally calmed, Lovino sat up, his cheeks flushed and eyes watering. He wiped at them with the back of his hand. "Holy shit, that was good. Never again."
The Spaniard smiled at him, glad for the reaction he got. "You have a very nice laugh, you know. You should do it more often."
Taking another sip of the wine, Lovino's smile sobered marginally, but did not melt off his face. He shrugged, eyes focused on his hands. "Yeah," he said, quieter than usual. "That's new, too" Another sip. He looked up at Antonio thoughtfully. Then he turned and began fumbling to get out of his seat. "Gotta piss. Back soon."
While he was gone, Antonio flirted a little with a waiter, but made sure that he wasn't when Lovino came back. He didn't want to blow his chances when he was so close, after all. He arrived back at the table looking noticeably less pleased than when he left, his eyes immediately trained back out the window. At first Antonio was worried that Lovino had seen him exchanging pleasantries with the waiter, but after a moment, the Italian spoke. "What are you doing here, really?"
He was a little surprised by the sudden question, but shrugged anyway. "You wanted to ask about the dogs, I wanted to have a drink with you. Don't you think it worked out well?" Antonio held his bottle up and then took another drink. However, he was always careful to not be drunker than Lovino. "Why do you ask?"
Lovino looked at him almost too clearly for a man who had emptied nearly the entire contents of a sizable bottle of wine, his eyes a dark, molten gold in the soft lighting of the place, outlined in lashes so dark it was almost maddening. "Because you don't seem to want my brother, so you're of questionable character, that's why."
Antonio actually laughed at that, surprised by that answer. "Your brother? Alright, I admit that he's cute, but that's only because he looks so much like you. I think that you're much more fun." And besides, he was starting to think that Ludwig kind of had a thing for the younger brother.
"Definitely the other way around," he scoffed, draining the rest of his glass and pouring another. "Feli's... Feli's smart and silly and he's got this smile that's so innocent that it makes you feel like the worst kind of sinner and.." Lovino took a swig. "... And he's just sweet. Kind. Thoughtful and shit. Only an idiot wouldn't want him. Only an idiot wouldn't prefer him."
Antonio hummed, as if in agreement, and took another gulp of beer. "Well that explains it then. After all, you've been calling me an idiot all night."
Another scoff. Lovino avoided his eyes after that, aiming them pretty much everywhere but at the Spaniard across from him. "He's so fuckin' smitten with that potato-gorging bastard," he mumbled finally, forefinger tracing the rim of his glass. "Gonna get himself hurt again. The moron."
So that meant that they were back on the topic of Feliciano. Antonio couldn't believe how fixated Lovino was on him. He had a serious brother complex. "You are very protective of him. I'm sure that he can take care of himself just fine without you always being there." He tilted his head slightly. "You should try to be more selfish. Just worry about what you want."
Lovino did eye him then. "Do you have younger siblings?" he asked, and seemed to read his answer before Antonio could even move just by the change in his smile. "No? You wouldn't get it. I'm responsible for him. He's practic'ly a child. Forgets to tie his own damn laces sometimes."
"If you and everyone stopped babying him, maybe he would grow up. Lovino, you deserve to be happy, stop worrying about your brother. You wouldn't notice a good thing for you if it was right in front of your eyes." Antonio said sincerely. Somehow, this conversation had stopped being about him bedding Lovino. He was curious now. Antonio truly wanted to see what the Italian would be like if he stopped worrying about his brother all the time.
If anything, Lovino's imbibed, honest eyes seemed almost hurt by Antonio's words. He grimaced. "It's bad, then," he said, rubbing his cheek awkwardly. "Fuckin' bad. Can't stand the thought of him. Leaving. Brother's all we've got." He seemed to realize that he was speaking out loud, because he quickly sealed his lips around the rim of the glass and drank.
Antonio sighed at that and decided to drop the subject. Well, anyway, at least Lovino seemed drunk enough now. "I think I should get you home. Is it within walking distance? I'll walk you there." Antonio stood up and got his wallet out of his pocket, grabbing one of his credit cards to pay the bill.
Lovino waved a hand and shoved the card back across the table when Antonio had it out. "Taken care of," he mumbled, standing upright, if a bit wobbly. He righted himself with a hand on the table. "Don't need help. Jus'... sit. Stay."
"'Taken care of'? I thought I was paying." Antonio still stood up to follow him. Even if he hadn't been planning to sleep with Lovino, he wouldn't let a guy this drunk walk home alone. He would probably trip and fall on the road into traffic or something like that.
"Just." He waved Antonio away, shuffling toward the door like an irritated old man. "Just wan'ed to see if you'd really do it. Not jus' posturing. 's my grandfather's stuff that I got. Don't need to pay. Back off, dammit. Can... I can walk home myself."
The Spaniard shook his head and opened the door for him. "Don't worry, I'm not walking you home. I just happen to be going in the same direction." Which just so happened to be Lovino's bed. "Well, you have to let me pay next time."
Lovino laughed at that. "Next time!" he chuckled tilting his head up when a warm breeze blew in. "Damn, do you even hear yourself sometimes?"
"I'm not deaf, so I would assume that I do." Antonio smiled and grabbed the back of Lovino's shirt as he almost walked right into traffic. And the Italian thought he could walk home by himself. Lovino tried to slap his hand away and ended up sulking, trudging on as Antonio guided him patiently down the sidewalk. Eventually, they did make it to Lovino's condominium, Antonio balking at the sheer size of it, and Lovino leaned heavily against the door frame as he allowed Antonio to fumble with the keys. He yawned widely, which did not bode well for Antonio's libido.
Once he found the right key and the door was opened, Lovino almost fell inside, and hardly noticed as Antonio followed after him. The Spaniard put his hand lightly on Lovino's hip, as if to steady him. "So, where is your bedroom?"
"Wouldn't you like to know," Lovino hummed, making his way down the hall and stripping as he went. Antonio watched, a little smirk playing on his lips- not so much that he believed he was getting what he hoped for, but because Lovino did it so easily despite his drunkenness, so naturally that it must have been commonplace for him to strip the moment he was in the privacy of his own home. It was odd. It was amusing. It was intriguing.
Unfortunately, he kept his boxers on. Antonio gave a little pout at that, but followed after him. Hopefully they could at least get to a little oral before Lovino passed out or something, or else this would have been all for nothing.
The Italian had shut himself into the bathroom by the time Antonio had shucked his shoes and seated himself on the ridiculously plush bed, and to his surprise, when Lovino came out and fell into bed, he smelled faintly of mint. So he could barely keep himself upright, but he could brush his teeth? Antonio gave a mental shrug and moved to lay beside the young man. Maybe he just had one of those obsessive compulsive disorder things. He brushed a hand through Lovino's hair, thick and soft and smooth to the touch. The Italian closed his eyes and sighed, his minty breath drifting between them.
Glad at the reaction, Antonio went forward, but paused to see if Lovino would pull away. When he didn't, he continued, fitting his lips over the Lovino's soft pink mouth. Maybe too soft... had Lovino also put on chapstick in the bathroom?
A puff of air came and came again and Antonio pulled back to find Lovino laughing quietly, his eyes still closed. "The fuck are you?" he breathed quietly, his eyes opening just a crack. "Can't fuckin' kiss me. Haven't even..." He yawned. "... mmm. Bought me dinner."
"I tried to pay, but you beat me to the bill," Antonio said, running his thumb along Lovino's chin. Was he gonna fall asleep before they even got to second base? To try to keep him awake, Antonio used his other hand to drag his fingers down Lovino's bare stomach.
"Nonno's wine," he sighed, seemingly unperturbed by the wandering hands below. He did, however, respond almost naturally to the hand on his jaw, leaning into it ever so slightly as his eyes fluttered shut once more.
Antonio tried to keep him awake, but knew he was failing. Obviously he was, if Lovino was actually cuddling up to him. The Italian curled up on his side, facing Antonio, eyes mostly closed. Damn, there was nothing he could do about it now, it wasn't like he was going to fool around with a guy who was asleep. He sighed, and moved his hand to stroke through Lovino's hair. "Alright, go to sleep."
A light little snore greeted him, and for the life of him, he did not know whether he was more amused or disappointed.
Unsurprisingly, Antonio was the first to wake up in the morning. He had been a little buzzed the night before, but not nearly as drunk as Lovino. He got out of the bed carefully, making sure not to wake the sleeping Italian, and then went down to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee.
Everything was in a neat little place in the cupboards and in the drawers. It made sense, of course, for it to be organized in such a way when one had a blind sibling that visited on a frequent basis. It seemed that Lovino did not allow for a healthy smidgeon of chaos in his own home, every little part of his life centered around his younger brother.
It was an older coffee pot, which was strange when Lovino had so much money, so it took a bit of time to make the coffee. Antonio didn't mind, however, as it gave him a chance to look around the house. There were a few pictures on the wall, mostly of Feliciano, some of them were him and an older man. And there was one of Feliciano and Lovino standing with a beautiful lady that looked to be their mother. Lovino's smile was uncomfortable when he was faced with a camera, though everyone else's seemed easy and cheerful. There were no candid shots anywhere to compare with.
The furniture that he had missed the night before as they stumbled through the house in the dark was, when brought to the light, deceptively plain, but was just pristine enough to suggest tasteful, elegant simplicity. A fortune spent to look ordinary. Antonio shook his head and made his way around the room, observing the very tall, very full bookshelves all along one wall, and the fireplace that was so clean that Antonio doubted it had ever been used since the building was erected.
Looking at this house, Antonio was reminded of what he felt the night before when Lovino had talked about his brother. Lovino didn't even try to live for himself. This house was empty. The only proof that anyone lived here were the pictures on the wall, and they all were of his brother. It just... didn't seem fair that he had to live his life like this.
When the coffee was done, Antonio put it in two mugs and got some sugar and cream. Maybe... maybe he could be the one to make Lovino think about himself more, and not just about his brother.
Lovino was interesting anyway. You'd think that with no interests outside of his brother, the Italian would be completely dull, but from what Antonio had experienced, he was anything but. Perhaps a little sheltered, but never boring. Even his bad expressions made Antonio want to smile, and his uninhibited laughter was far too charming for his own good. And maybe, if he worked really hard, he might even get laid by that pert little ass. Grinning to himself, Antonio gently nudged himself into the bedroom and set the coffee and cream on the table before flopping onto his stomach to stare at the young man at close range. Thinking twice, he twisted around and grabbed his mug before returning to watch Lovino sleep.
Even unconscious, Lovino did not seem to rest easy. He still frowned, though it was far more mild than his truly derisive scowls, and Antonio wondered offhandedly if that was just Lovino's default expression. He reached out without a thought to it and ran his fingers beneath the deep, dark reddish-brown hair that swept over the Italian's forehead.
The man twitched and groaned, then pressed his face into the pillow. "Don' wanna get up. Go 'way, Feli." he grumbled, not even opening his eyes.
Antonio chuckled a little, still stroking his hair. "Feli isn't here."
Those dark, languid muscles along the student's back stiffened and his one visible eye cracked open. "Fuck," he mumbled, burrowing deeper into the covers.
Antonio sighed and grabbed the mug of coffee. "Cream and sugar?" he asked, feeling a little guilty that Lovino was so hung over. After all, it was his fault that the Italian had drunk so much the night before.
"What?" Lovino hissed, glaring up at him from puffy white blankets. He assessed the situation with red-rimmed eyes: Antonio, then the mug in his hand, then the clock on the bedside table, and then back to the coffee. "No. I take it black. Shit, what time is it? I need my contacts... ugh."
He handed the mug over, humming a little in surprise that Lovino wore contacts. "Do you have glasses I can grab for you?"
That look of disgust was back again. He curled his slim fingers around the warm mug and took a sip. "Absolutely not. I'll just... later. When I don't feel like offing myself. How much did you let me drink last night?"
"Just enough for you to have some fun." Antonio put some cream and sugar in his own cup, stirring it with the spoon. He took a sip. Lovino drained his faster than perhaps was recommended for a beverage so hot and thrust the mug back at Antonio, slowly sitting himself up and rubbing his eyes. "Time."
He looked at the clock. "Almost ten o'clock. Hopefully you don't have anywhere to be, because it doesn't look like you'll be out of bed any time soon." Antonio put the empty mug on the side table, looking around the room. "Do you want some Advil or something?"
"Get me the fuckin' bottle," he grumbled, flopping back down into the ocean of blankets. Antonio chuckled and moved into the adjoining bathroom to look for the pills. When he stepped back out, he was presented with a long, gorgeous back and shoulder blades pulled taut as Lovino was leaned up on his elbows. He seemed to be texting on his rather expensive-looking phone, squinting at the little screen as his thumbs flew across the keypad.
Antonio sat on the bed and handed him the bottle of pills, as well as a glass of water. "Texting your brother? Or how can he even get texts..." Maybe there was a way that blind people could have texts read to them?
"No," he grumbled, rubbing his eyes. "Client. Thanks." He popped two Advil and let his head flop back down into the pillow.
He nodded and watched him for a minute. "What do you do, exactly?" Maybe if Lovino had spent any time from last night to talk about himself instead of his brother, he would know.
The coffee seemed to have sharpened Lovino's senses, because his eyes were clear when he turned them to Antonio. "I work for my grandfather," he grumbled, slowly rolling to his back.
"Oh? Doing what exactly?" He was pretty sure that Feliciano was going to University, but he was a little younger than Lovino, so it made sense that the older one was already working. Obviously it was a well-paying job.
"You know," he said, shrugging lightly as he sat up. "Wine and shit. It's boring. Hey, what the fuck are you doing here?"
Antonio laughed and laid down on top of the covers. "You didn't seem to mind me being here last night." He was confident that if Lovino hadn't fallen asleep last night, they would have gone all the way. Now that he had gotten this far, he wasn't going to back out just because the Italian didn't want to admit that he liked him.
The Italian looked almost scandalized by the ease at which Antonio eased himself down into the plush comforter. The sleek, shiny mobile buzzed with an incoming message and Lovino brought it up close to his face, reading over whatever was written there and replying with thumbs that were almost a blur, they were so quick. "Yeah, thanks to all of the fuckin' alcohol," he droned while he texted.
"Aw, don't be like that." Antonio finished off his own coffee. "After all, it was you who agreed to go out with me last night." He was hoping that it would be easy now for him to stay with Lovino, at least until he got another chance to sleep with him.
"Right," he conceded, firing the message off before letting it fall into his lap and yawned, stretching his arms above his head. "Thanks for your advice. I appreciate it. Even though it wasn't all helpful. So what are you still doing here?"
The Spaniard chuckled, and sat up on the bed. "Come on, I was a perfect gentleman last night, doesn't that get me any points? I tried to pay, I walked you home, stayed with you to make sure you didn't choke on your own puke, and I didn't even try to take advantage of you. I would say I'm a modern day knight in shining armor."
At that, Lovino actually laughed. He picked up his phone and resumed texting when another message came in. "You found out, then?" he said with a little smirk. "It doesn't count if I can't get it up anyway."
Antonio lifted an eyebrow at that. "What? You're... impotent? You're a bit young to get ED. And for your information, I didn't even get in your pants, you fell asleep after one kiss."
"No!" Lovino cried, flushed and alarmed. "You're so fucking- no. No, I mean... when I'm drunk, I can't... holy fuck, of course I can, you know, on a normal basis... Damn."
"Oh... I'll keep that in mind for future then." Well, that complicated things. Antonio shrugged it off. "I guess that makes sense. I mean, after that kiss, you would have been so hard you wouldn't be able to help yourself. No wonder you just fell asleep."
"K-kiss?" His thumbs stilled and he finally looked up from the screen. "I-I wouldn't kiss you...! And I wouldn't get hard from a kiss! How young do you think I am?"
He smirked, finally having gotten a reaction out of Lovino. "It was a pretty amazing kiss. It's too bad you don't remember it, really. Of course, I could always give you an encore?" He was having fun playing up what they had had last night, even though he hadn't even gotten any tongue in. But if the Italian didn't remember it, then what was the problem with a little bit of teasing?
"You've gotta be kidding me," he hissed, glaring furiously at Antonio. "What else did you do to me while I was under the influence? I could file for sexual fucking harassment."
"I told you! I was a total gentleman, we only kissed." He gave a handsome smirk. "Besides, I didn't do anything you didn't want. I couldn't resist after you started taking your own clothes off in front of me. You have a really beautiful body, you know."
Lovino's whole body froze at that. If Antonio had expected him to blush prettily at the compliment, he was sorely disillusioned. If anything, Lovino seemed guarded, posed and ready to run at a moment's notice. He did not seem flattered in the slightest. He was only confused. Which just meant that he had to try harder. "I think I must be really lucky. Lucky that no one else has swept you away. I guess they just don't see what I see. You really are beautiful. And I'm not just talking about your body." Even if they were lines that he had used countless times, Antonio felt the potential here to see the reality in them. Lovino was interesting and funny, in his own way, and very self-possessed, which was insanely attractive to Antonio. It was too bad he seemed to be both confident and overly self-conscious all at once.
"You, um." Lovino frowned, his eyes averting from Antonio's to the phone in his hands. "You need to go."
That... was not the reaction he had been expecting. Antonio bit back a smirk. "Make me."
Stumbling out of the bed, Lovino grabbed the back of his head and closed his eyes. "Really. You need to go. I'm going to take a shower. I'd like you to be gone by the time I get out. And if you get any funny ideas, I'll bust your fucking kneecaps."
Green eyes going wide, Antonio shot a hand out, catching Lovino's wrist. "Did... did I say something wrong? Or... do something wrong? Please, if I've... offended you or something, tell me."
Lovino flinched away from his touch, startled. "No. Yes. Fuck, just... I need to shower. Thanks for... yesterday." He rubbed the side of his neck and retreated into the bathroom far quicker than Antonio had ever seen him move before.
The Spaniard sighed and looked around the room. He saw Lovino's phone on the pillow, and went over and grabbed it. He quickly got the number, and put his own in there as well. At least now he knew where the brunet lived, and knew his phone number. The challenge was still on.
Antonio sighed in frustration. About a week had passed since his first date with Lovino, if it could even have been called that. At work, they had just received a litter of new puppies, and everyone was working overtime trying to get them trained. He hadn't had much time to himself, so he hadn't seen Lovino at all. There were a few times that he went by his house after work, but each time the Italian wasn't home.
So, Antonio started texting him instead.
Thursday, 8:56 AM Antonio: The puppy I'm working with is almost as cute as you XOXO
Thursday, 9:02 AM Lovino: Fuck off.
Thursday, 9:47 AM Antonio: D: such dirty language
Thursday, 10:12 AM Antonio: Lovino. Lovino.
Thursday, 12:58 PM Antonio: LoviLoviLoviLoviLovi Are you free for lunch?
Thursday, 1:07 PM Lovino: No.
Thursday, 1:12 PM Antonio: Are U free for dinner?
Thursday, 1:13 PM Antonio: Or drinks?
Thursday, 1:13 PM Antonio: how about a movie?
Thursday, 1:14 PM Antonio: Would U play Pool with me?
Thursday, 1:16 PM Antonio: Can I sleep over? :3
Thursday, 1:17 PM Lovino: I'll fucking kill you.
Thursday, 1:17 PM Antonio: So is that a no?
Thursday, 1:18 PM Lovino: It's a no.
Thursday, 1:21 PM Antonio: Is it because ur bad at pool?
Thursday, 1:22 PM Antonio: or sleepovers?
Thursday, 1:22 PM Antonio: because I can see why you'd be bad at sleepovers.
Thursday, 1:25 PM Lovino: That doesn't even make sense. Now shut up. I'm working.
Thursday, 5:46 PM Antonio: Are u still working?
Thursday, 6:03 PM Antonio: If U don't answer I'll just keep texting
Thursday, 6:04 PM Antonio: Alright then, here we go
Thursday, 6:04 PM Antonio: I'm just at home, eating dinner
Thursday, 6:04 PM Antonio: Naked
Thursday, 6:05 PM Antonio: Did I mention I was a nudist?
Thursday, 6:06 PM Antonio: Just do everything naked. Cook naked. Read naked. Touch myself naked. Think of U naked.
Thursday, 6:12 PM Antonio: Wow, really thought that would have gotten a response
Thursday, 6:25 PM Lovino: I had a meeting. What the fuck? Eight messages? Really?
Thursday, 6:27 PM Antonio: Yay Lovi! UR talking again! What are U wearing?
Thursday, 6:39 PM Lovino: A suit.
Thursday, 6:40 PM Antonio: That's kind of hot Lovi.
Thursday, 6:46 PM Lovino: At a work dinner. Stop talking.
Thursday, 6:48 PM Antonio: Have another drink for me 8D
Friday, 12:18 AM Antonio: Lovi I can't sleep. Read me a bedtime story?
Friday, 10:56 AM Antonio: I miss u. Do u miss me?
Friday, 11:19 PM Lovino: I don't even know you.
Friday, 11:22 AM Antonio: Sure u do.
Friday, 11:25 AM Antonio: U know enough.
Friday, 11:26 AM Antonio: Enough to want me. Uncontrollably.
Friday, 11:34 PM Lovino: Oh, I don't know. I think I'm holding up pretty well.
Friday, 11:48 AM Antonio: I bet if u saw me right now u wouldn't be able to stop yourself from jumping me
Friday, 11:49 AM Antonio: U would start kissing me and begging for more
Friday, 12:01 PM Lovino: I really wouldn't.
Friday, 12:09 PM Lovino: Do you have anything important to say?
Friday, 12:09 PM Lovino: I mean, actually important?
Friday, 12:37 PM Antonio: Of course I do! But every time I say how beautiful u r, u get mad at me
Friday, 12:38 PM Antonio: I mean, other then that the only important thing I can talk about is the working dogs.
Friday, 12:39 PM Lovino: That's what you know best. I only want the helpful information.
Friday, 12:40 PM Lovino: Feel free to tell me anything you can about the dogs.
Friday, 12:58 PM Antonio: Well, dogs r like humans. For example, I'm working with one right now that's so cute, but pretends not 2 like me. Sound familiar?
Friday, 1:04 PM Lovino: So how soon should Feli be able to take his home?
Friday, 1:07 PM Lovino: And do you really think that that potato-sucking asshole will be able to properly train him?
Friday, 1:09 PM Lovino: Feli, I mean.
Friday, 1:13 PM Antonio: Well, that sounds like another dinner conversation. I did say I would pay next time.
Friday, 1:19 PM Lovino: Nice try. But no.
Friday, 1:20 PM Antonio: Alright, then u pay
Friday, 1:29 PM Lovino: My lunch hour is over. Stop texting me unless you have something to say that would be useful to me.
That night, Lovino found a card in front of his door. He opened it up, and noticed a silly-looking clown on the front.
Feli told me that your birthday was last week. Sorry I missed it! Happy belated Birthday! Maybe I can be your present?
Friday, 11:06 PM Lovino: You cannot.
Friday, 11:32 PM Antonio: Aw, but I already had the wrapping paper out and everything!
Friday, 11:39 PM Lovino: Well that's just a damn tragedy.
Friday, 11:39 PM Lovino: Also, don't come to my house when I'm not around.
Friday, 11:40 PM Lovino: Or when I am around.
Friday, 11:40 PM Lovino: Ever.
Friday, 11:41 PM Antonio: So... would it be really awkward if I was actually on ur doorstep about to ring the door bell?
Friday, 11:42 PM Lovino: Yes.
Friday, 11:43 PM Lovino: I hope you're fucking joking.
A second later, the door bell rang and Lovino hung his head. He had really come over? Why would he come over now? He went to the door and looked through the peep hole, and sure enough, Antonio was standing on the step with a handful of roses. Cracking open the door, Lovino scowled at the beaming Spaniard outside. "What the hell did I just say?"
"You said it after I was already here. Well, I was almost here, and I wasn't gonna turn around." Lovino glared as Antonio pushed his way through the door just enough to thrust the bouquet at him. "Happy belated birthday! I would have left them on the step with the card but I didn't want someone to steal them, and... well, I wanted to see you."
"Why?" Lovino asked tersely, looking at the bouquet as if he didn't quite know what to do with it. Turning on his heel, Lovino moved toward the kitchen to find a vase.
Antonio followed after him. "Why did I want to see you? Do I really have to answer that?" he said with a laugh, but was happy when Lovino took out a vase. "I don't think I've been really discrete in trying to get you to go out with me."
"I'm not going to date you," Lovino said bluntly, only looking at him long enough to scowl. "And 'not discrete' seems a lot like stalking, don't you think? Borderline creepy." He filled the crystal case with water and arranged the flowers inside, stroking the silken petals. "... I do like roses, though, so thanks."
The Spaniard rolled his eyes and sat down on one of the chairs. "You keep saying those things, but I don't believe them."
Lovino glanced at him sharply. "What? Why not? I wasn't lying- I do like them. Can't I like things?"
"Not that. You keep acting like you want nothing to do with me. You say that the only reason you talk to me at all is to get information about the dogs." Antonio grinned widely then. "But if you hate me so much, why don't you ask a different trainer? Talk to Ludwig, he's the one who trained Feliciano's dog, so why not ask him? Or any other trainer there? You keep talking to me."
"You're convenient," Lovino mumbled, leaning forward to take a deep breath of the crimson roses. "And you're dumb enough to keep talking to me, even after you became acquainted with me. So you're the obvious choice." He huffed. "And that German asshole is too fuckin' scary."
Antonio laughed at that. "If you have questions about the dogs, it's our job to answer them, if you didn't want to talk to Ludwig, you could talk to any of the other trainers." He stood up, and went around the table to stand beside Lovino. "Look, I don't know why you keep trying to push me away, but you should give me a chance. Go out with me. If you still want nothing to do with me, then I'll leave you alone."
"No!" he growled, stepping guardedly away. "You really need to learn to take no for an answer. I'm not just going to jump into a relationship. I don't know you. I'm not going to be romantically involved with a veritable stranger."
"That's what the date's for. We get to know each other more. It's just a date, not a commitment. After the date, I won't call you, I won't text you or anything, but if you want to talk then all you have to do is send a text." Antonio's eyes were more serious now, almost pleading him to say yes. "Come on, when was the last time you did something just for yourself?"
Snatching the vase up, he brushed past Antonio to the dining room, where he set the flowers down and began to fumble with them distractedly. "Stop saying that, you presumptuous ass." Lovino gripped the base of a rose a little too hard and winced, sticking the pricked thumb into his mouth. "You just assume I don't do what I want, but that's bullshit. I only do what I like. Fuck."
Antonio looked at the injured thumb, and grabbed a paper towel and handed it to Lovino. "I think you do too many things for your brother. I understand: he's blind, so your parents probably told you that you had to look out for him, yeah? But Feliciano is all grown up now. He doesn't need his big brother to look after him, and you need to take some chances. You might get lucky."
Flushed and angry, Lovino gripped the paper furiously in his fist. "Yeah?" he said with a sneer. "And that's you, right? You're gonna be the dream-come-true that makes everything right in my life? You, the bastard that thinks primarily with his dick. If you want a fuck, fine. But you need to cut all this shit." He gestured to the roses, as red as the blood welling from his thumb. "Just say you want to sleep with me and when Feliciano's finished with his training, I'll sleep with you. I don't have the time or patience to do this fucking song and dance with you, Antonio. Just because you want to get into my pants, that doesn't give you the right to tell me how to live my life."
"I don't just want a fuck!" Antonio practically yelled, surprising himself. Well... it was true, wasn't it? When was the last time he had tried this hard just to get in someone's pants? Sure, at first it had been a challenge, but normally he would have given up when someone hotter came along. He glanced away, composing himself again, putting the smirk back on his face. "I mean honestly, you're hot, but you're not hot enough for me to try this hard just to have sex. It's more, alright?"
Bewildered, Lovino took a minute step back. "Fuck you!" he cried. "You don't know anything about me. And if you did, you wouldn't want this, so just fuck off!"
The taller brunet scoffed. "No, I don't know what your favorite ice cream is, or where you grew up, or how long you picked your nose for. It's your personality I like, I don't care about the other stuff." Antonio shrugged. "At this point, pretty much the only thing that could turn me off would be if you were a crazy ax murderer or something."
Lovino laughed at that. A near-hysterical bark of laughter, and he pressed the back of his hand to his mouth. "I could be in the mafia. What if?" he said, grinning behind his hand. "I could be that. A crazy-ass motherfucking ax murderer. I could be worse."
"No offense, but you don't really seem like the mafia type. The only mafia-ish thing you have going for you is the fact that you're Italian." Antonio grinned widely. "Besides, you're too cute to be mafia."
"That doesn't even make sense," he said, shaking his head. Then he sighed and looked tiredly from Antonio to the roses. Lovino rubbed the side of his neck and rolled his shoulders. "Okay. Sit. I'm gonna make some coffee."
Finally! Antonio sat down on the chair, watching Lovino go to the kitchen. "It totally makes sense. The mafia guys in the movies have big noses, scars on their faces, and huge rings on their fingers. You have none of those."
"Oh?" Lovino said with a dry, amused snort as he rinsed out the pot. "And of course movies accurately portray everyone in the mafia."
"Of course." Antonio snorted a little at that. This was going really well so far. He had been in the house a whole five minutes and hadn't been thrown out or threatened with bodily harm. Normally, he would start putting on the moves now to get Lovino exactly where he wanted. But... maybe he could take this one slow. Obviously his other tactics weren't working. He was going to have to switch it up.
As the brew dripped, Lovino returned to the dining room and flopped down across from Antonio, shucking his jacket and draping it over the back of his chair. Lovino leaned back, smoothing the absent wrinkles in his charcoal waistcoat.
"So. I think we need to be on the same page." He gave Antonio the sharp stare he reserved for his more difficult clients. "I'm not planning to date you."
"No." He gazed down at his neat, trim nails. "I'm in no position to date. And it has very little to do with my brother."
Antonio hummed and nodded his head. "So what does it have to do with?"
Lovino shrugged. "I just don't date. I've got a job that eats up my time and energy, and whatever I have left over I use for online courses for school. And I refuse to be perpetually on call for anybody besides Feliciano. Not to mention my personality doesn't exactly encourage close relationships."
"I wouldn't mind having to fit in your schedule. I'm not like a girlfriend. I wouldn't demand your time or anything." As long as he got to see Lovino at all, he would be happy. "And I already said I like your personality, didn't I?"
"Yeah, for now," he said, standing when the timer went off on the coffee machine. He made two cups and slid the second mug and a little pitcher of creamer in front of the Spaniard before he returned to his seat. "But you've only met me a handful of times. I've lived with myself for twenty-three years. I'm aware of how fucking awful I can be. And I like it this way. I'm not going to change."
He added some cream to his coffee and took a sip. "I didn't ask you to change. You have to stop deciding for me if I like you or not." Antonio put some sugar in to sweeten it up and stirred it. "But it's not like I'm proposing to you. You don't have to decide if you want to spend your whole life with me. All I'm asking right now is for a chance. A date. Come on."
"No." Antonio frowned and opened his mouth to protest, but Lovino held a hand up. "I'm not going to go on a date with you. But I'd be willing to go somewhere as acquaintances. Er. Friends."
Well... he could work with that. "Alright, I'll agree to that. But, it has to be some place where we can talk, get to know each other better. You're the one always saying I don't know you, right?"
"So food?" Lovino said with a smirk, sipping his coffee. "Or did you have something else in mind?"
"Food would be fine. You wanna pick the place? And, since you said it wasn't a date, we'll each pay our own?" He wasn't sure his pride could take another time of Lovino paying the bill for both of them. He wasn't a gold digger, dammit!
"Yeah," Lovino answered with a little smirk. "That's what it means. Not dating. So obviously we'd pay separately. And we're not going to eat from each other's plates like some fucking romantic comedy, and we're not going to end up caught in the rain, or spill shit and have to strip. There will be a no-tolerance policy in regards to sexual tension."
Antonio laughed at that, putting his mug on the table. "But what if you choke on your food and I have to give you mouth to mouth?"
"You won't. The Heimlich will do just fine." He took another sip. "And I won't choke. I think I know how to properly chew and swallow my food, thanks. Asshole."
He finished his coffee quickly and took it to the kitchen. "Alright, we'll go tomorrow then. You pick the place and text me." Antonio looked back at him and winked. "And I'll see you on our not-date."
"Busy tomorrow," Lovino said flippantly, taking his phone out of the pocket in his trousers and tapping away at something or other. "Not free until... Sunday evening."
Antonio sighed at that. Of course he would pick a day that they were working in the morning. "Alright, Sunday it is. But that means I'll have to go a whole day without seeing you!" He made a pretend whine and laughed when Lovino glared at him. "Just kidding. See you Sunday."
"Get out of my house," Lovino said, waving a hand.
He glanced up when the sound of the front door snapping shut reached his ears and then moved his eyes thoughtfully to the brilliant bouquet of roses. This could be fun, he thought idly. Or interesting, at the very least.