Acrylic Painted Smiles
"Lovino," shouted Antonio. He pounded on the door with his fist, trying to at least irritate the Italian into a response. "Lovino, open the door."
There was still no response.
Maybe he was asleep? With his injuries, it wouldn't have been a surprise. Antonio had made sure to hit the Italian square in the chest, but he was also immensely sure that he missed anything major. That was the problem with blank cartridges. No bullet, but plenty of explosive powder. The damage would have spread out, decreasing direct damage, but what Antonio was worried about were the burns left behind. Feeling defeated, Antonio slumped against the door, sitting with his back against it.
"Hey," he said slowly. "If you're awake, I just want you to listen, okay? You don't have to say anything. In fact, that might be easier for me." He looked down at his feet guiltily. "I don't know what you've heard, but I don't want to lie to you, either." He paused to take a breath and close his eyes. The silence was calm and comforting in a way. "My name is Antonio Fernandez Carriedo. I was born in La Jonquera, España. I think I started out like you, in a way. I was the heir to my family's branch of 'business.'
"I guess that all changed when your father came to the region. I remember everyone making such a fuss about his arrival. I didn't exactly know what to do, so I stayed out of the way. My father and your father got to talking quickly. Nobody knew what had been said that day, but all I know is that we began working for the Vargas back in Italy. By doing so, we gained land and opportunity right back at home. Rival families suddenly seemed to drop like flies, leaving us with all the goods.
"I was there, you know, when my family was murdered. My mother forced me to hide in the closet. She gave me a gun and told me to shoot if the doors opened. If it was her, she would say that it was before she came to get me. She kissed me on the forehead before locking me in. I waited the whole night for her to get me, but she never came back. All I could hear was gunfire.
"The police found me two days later. I think I shot at one of them out of surprise," he chuckled darkly. "It was an accident of course, but they dragged me to the station like I was the culprit responsible. When everything was cleared up, they told me that only the servants survived. They had been released shortly before the shooting began. My mother and father, however… Their bodies were nowhere to be found. They believed without a doubt that they were dead.
"I searched for years before I found one of the shooters. Boy, did I lose it. I served time for beating him to death. Your father found me in jail a month after. He pulled some strings, I think, to get me out of there. He told me the truth about what happened that night. He seemed genuinely sorry. I didn't believe him, at first.
"He gave me clothes, a place to live, and then he offered me a job." Antonio paused. "I used to babysit you, do you remember? You were five, I think. Boy, were you a feisty brat." Antonio chuckled to himself, finding a happier memory. "I think it was because of you I promised never to have kids…
"Anyways, your father told me one day that there was going to be a huge celebration due to recent success for the business in Russia and China, but I noticed that he wasn't quite himself. He started to talk all low and in whispers. The last thing he said to me was to take care of you, by whatever means necessary. It sorted sounded like his last Will and Testament. That night, the villa was attacked, and I suddenly knew why your father had chosen me of all people.
"I don't know where you were at the time, but I was pretty sure you felt the same way I did when my family was killed. I lost myself for a while. It wasn't pretty. The moment I knew you were safe, I asked your grandfather to send me overseas for training. When I came back, he shipped us both off to Spain. Italian's rarely ever go to Spain for a vacation, so I figured something was up. I did some digging.
"Corsica contacted me about a week after we left Italy. He told me he was one of the shooters that killed my family, and I recognized him, too, from the police lineup. He told me how they were hired by the Vargas and everything. I was angry, don't get me wrong, but it was information I already knew. He tried to convince me to join him. I suppose you think I did, which was a part of the plan. The more you were convinced that I was against you, the safer you were.
"I told Rome, of course. We orchestrated an escape using Milan as a cover. They won't be looking for you for a while, maybe forever, as long as you stay out of the way."
The door to his bedroom creaked open slowly, a pouting Italian face peering out. Antonio stood up, trying to look Romano in the eyes. He didn't say anything, afraid to have the door slammed in his face.
"I don't want to hear your life story, asshole," Romano mumbled. His eyes were cast to the floor.
They stood like that for a moment longer, trying to sense what to do next.
"Would you…" began Antonio softly. "Would you like something eat?"
"Something to drink?"
"I'm fine," sighed Romano, exhausted. "I just want to sleep now."
"Then I should change your bandages before you do."
Antonio let himself in, but Romano didn't seem to argue. He went and sat down on the bed's edge, bare feet on the cold floor. The Spaniard shuffled through a drawer of the bedside table until he found some fresh bandages. "I'm going to need you to take off your shirt," he said sheepishly.
Romano looked down at the floor, suddenly feeling his face heat up in embarrassment. With slow movements, he struggled to pull the piece of clothing over his head. The soreness seemed to have spread to his arm, hampering his attempt to take it off. Antonio hesitantly aided him, slipping the t-shirt over his shoulders and then head.
Romano shifted uneasily when he felt Antonio's hands gently peeled away the soiled bandages around his chest, feeling the warmth of his skin upon his own. Antonio inspected the blooming purple bruise across the young man's chest. The plastic bullet that he had shot earlier instead of a live round still did enough damage to pierce through the skin and cause bleeding. It was the impact that knocked Romano out.
"Quit staring, bastard," mumbled the Italian.
"Ah, right, sorry." Antonio began re-wrapping the bandages. His hands lingered for a moment, but he stood up quickly, allowing Romano to put his shirt back on. "I'll be back later with dinner."
"Whatever," muttered Romano. He slipped under the blankets, turning onto his side before closing his eyes.
"I'll be right outside if you need me."
Gilbert had been talking on the phone for the past hour, studiously taking down notes in a small ledger that he had. Antonio sat next to him at the table, trying his best not to eavesdrop.
"Yes, I did," the silver-haired man frowned. "Neine. That's not the point, Roderich. They wanted out… Ja. That's what I said, but it's not up to me, now is it? You'll be here when?" Gilbert glanced down at the watch around his wrist. "Fine. Ja." And then a moment later, "Ich liebe dich." There was a cheeky grin on his face. Roderich on the other end of the phone started yelling through the receiver, prompting Gilbert to hang up with an amused chuckle.
"Who was that?" questioned Antonio innocently.
"And what did he say?"
"He wasn't exactly happy that we brought them to his home, but I took the wrap for you. He'll be back in around two hours."
"Where'd he go?"
"He was finishing up a deal in Serbia."
"Without you? Isn't that dangerous? They aren't exactly friendly towards Austrians."
"He was rather insistent, that aristocratic pain in the ass. He said I'd make a scene."
"I think he may have been right."
Antonio shrugged with a smile.
"So what have you been up to?" asked Gilbert, putting away the notebook.
"Fall in love yet?"
Antonio coughed, caught off guard. "W-what?"
"Did you meet any cute girls while you were in Spain?"
The Spaniard sighed in relief. "No. No I didn't."
"Shame. Spanish girls have nice asses and know how to cook."
"Yeah, well… Don't you bat for the other team?"
"Shut up." Gilbert punched him in the shoulder.
"Antonio?" whispered a small voice.
Antonio looked over his shoulder and saw Romano poking his head around the edge of the door frame. He stood up immediately, walking over. The little Italian looked wobbly on his feet.
"What is it?" he asked, concerned. "Are you okay?"
"I was thirsty."
"You could have just called me," sighed Antonio. He hurried over to a cupboard and took a glass. He filled it with the water from a nearby kettle on the kitchen counter before handing it to him.
"I did call you, bastard. You just didn't hear me."
"I'm sorry. I'll take you back to your room," he offered, but was shrugged off.
"It's okay. I can get there by myself."
When the little Italian left, Antonio followed him to the door, just to make sure he didn't have trouble getting back up the stairs.
"What the fuck was that?" frowned Gilbert.
"You're smitten. I can tell."
"W-what? No. Not at all."
"I've never seen you pay that much attention to a principal."
"He's injured. I need to pay attention to him."
"Not that much. Holy cow! Congrats man. You bagged a good one."
"I didn't bag anyone, Gil. Callate."
"Why're you so red? Meine Gott, I'm so proud, dude!"
"I'm not going to justify any of that with a response," sighed Antonio.
And yet his heart went thump, thump, thump, eager to answer.
It ain't over yet. I'm going to be viciously cruel. And I won't regret a thing.