Title: Building Blocks and Condom Boxes.
Author: SYNdicate 930.
Summary: AU. Romano, a young kindergarten teacher, is finding it increasingly hard to come up with rent money by the ends of each month now, so he decides getting a roommate to help alleviate the stress of paying for everything himself would be the best solution. However, all he needs now is a solution for handling his new roommate, Antonio, the pornstar. Spamano. Rating will most likely go up at some point.Smutty-fluff.~
Note: Sorry for mistakes!
Chapter 18: Detours Part I
"This is your idea of helping Antonio and Romano get together? This so-called 'idea' of yours is a load of bollocks. I understand you are both looking out for your friend, but what about ours?" Arthur shook his head in disapproval. Teaming up with these two screamed problematic and numerous drawbacks, but he hadn't thought there would have been so many with such little distance between each obstacle. "Do you honestly believe leaving lewd objects—" He motioned to the shelves, decked in packages depicting devices of the phallic sort in varying shapes, colors and, much to Matthew's discomfort, sizes. "—Will help Antonio's chances at a date with Romano?"
"Well, yeah." Answered Gilbert almost immediately. Behind him, Francis, who, had previously busied himself with looking over revealing costumes hung on the wall to his left, stood somewhere in the space behind Gilbert, knocked him lightly in the shoulder with the edge of his curled fingers. "Ow! What was that for?"
"Arthur's right; we need something that will appeal to the both of them. It wouldn't help much if only Antonio gets his way." Finally, Arthur thought, at least one of them is capable of using reason; and good thing he'd not so discreetly picked that one in particular. Pulling into view an object with dual heads, proudly said, "Like this, for instance. They can both use it together."
Speechless and unbearably flustered, Arthur's hands cupped Matthew's ears, sending an irritated glare at the Frenchman's direction; so much for that. "That is not what I meant at all! No wonder Romano finds you both and Antonio, by association, a dodgey bunch. Now, if you'd please, could we take this seriously and, preferably, bloody get out of here! Matthew looks like he's about to faint."
"How about this one? It isn't double-sided, but who knows? Maybe Romano might have a kinky side he's hiding; Antonio can help him us it. It'll get 'Toni really in the mood, y'know?" Gilbert commented, his back, along with Francis's, turned to Arthur and Matthew, chin in hand, looking over the items displayed with disproportionate amounts of thoughtfulness over something so ludicrously lascivious.
"Yeah, but its size might be a bit overwhelming for Romano. Lord knows Antonio could handle this and then some, though." Was Francis's pensive response.
"He's really thoughtful when it comes to prepping us up, though. I'm sure Romano could handle it—Oh! Oh! How about that one? It's red."
"Normally, I make decisions based on color like when we go shopping together; however, pleasure is pleasure, so why does color suddenly matter?"
"Isn't it his favorite color. I'm sure it is. What do you think, huh, Mattie, Arthur?"
The bad touch duo turned, only to find themselves staring at the wall behind them, ears ringing with the noise of wind chimes as the shop door slowly closed.
"Are you still breathing there?"
"I don't know if I'm disappointed with your answer or not." Remarked Romano, with an arm around Antonio. They lock eyes briefly, and Antonio smiles bashfully. "I take it back. I've come to a conclusion, and let's just say I'm not fucking happy about it."
Having made minor complaints during their short drive back about his head, a minute imbalance of his steps as he exited the car betrayed his sustained reassurance. 'I'm fine, it was just a small hit to the head', he'd said, nearly falling despite himself as they stood in the empty parkade, the flickering bulb above them turning Antonio's healthy tan a sickly shade of tinted cream, and Romano shot a hand to grab him hastily, his fingers wrapping around a warm wrist and then pulling. First thing was first; assist the bastard up the stairs and to their suit, and then return for the groceries.
Grabbing his keys from the man's sweaty palms, Romano locked the car and together they had somehow trekked up the stairs and down the hall with little to no misfortune, aside from the uncomfortable physical contact and Antonio's maladroit promenade down the noiseless corridor, and, toeing off their shoes, entered the living room where, with a grunt, Romano tossed Antonio with little regard onto the couch. He made notice of the lack of shoes by the doorway; the troublesome pair, according to Antonio, who had been rather incognizant of his friends' whereabouts, knowing no more than their lack of presence around the suite after awaking from a brief nap upon Francis' half of the shared mattress, had disappeared sometime around noon, possibly for a bite of brunch at Ivan's pub.
Presently, Romano stood off to the side, his slouched position neighboring the sofa's arm where Antonio had rested his head upon, and watched with an almost-sneer as he rearranged himself atop the oblong cushions, glowering at his slipshod comportment; a child in a man's body, he thought to himself, and an obviously stupid one at that.
"Harsh as always, huh, Romano?" Antonio tilted his chin, ascending in the faintest regard, to supply himself with a lowered view of Romano's inverted figure, the hair on his forehead slipping to reveal the expanse between his brunette brows and straightened hairline. He made a move to sit up.
"It's because you're an idiot. Now, lie down and stay in place," Romano commanded, calling over his shoulder as he stepped into the kitchen, grabbing the man's car keys that lay against the cool marble beside the sink, pocketing it. He pulled out a water bottle from the fridge, and then a fair container of pain relievers from their medicine cabinet. He returned to the living room, leaving them on the table and, by request, some of Antonio's candies he'd stored in his room. "Okay, here, I got you your fucking candy—but this is only because I feel bad for what happened. Don't push it. You're going to smarten up and stop eating like a five year old. I'm going back down to get out groceries, so you better not go around and fuck up anything else, okay?"
Romano didn't wait for an answer. He was pulling his shoes back on when he heard Antonio's voice behind him, "Aye aye, sir." He looked over his shoulder to see Antonio saluting him, smiling as he did so, still infuriatingly good-looking, so absurdly magnetic without intention. Romano had to restrain himself, ignoring the temptation to sling Antonio's shoes at the pornstar. How dare he be so fucking charming.
"Arthur, mon cher, where are you going?"
"Mattie, brows—Come back, you two!"
Tugging on his seatbelt, Matthew could see Gilbert and Francis running towards Arthur's car, the albino's army-green colored messenger bag flying in the wind behind him. A chill ran down the length of Arthur's spine, his vertebrae each tingling with alarm as his nerves fired with rapid panic, one after another, foot lifting to floor the gas pedal if it weren't for Gilbert who, with inhuman agility, jumped in front of the presently immobile Corola.
"Arthur, watch out!" Called Matthew, who launched himself from his seat onto Arthur, grabbing his right arm and holding onto him for dear life. The car moved but a mere few inches, barely enough to force Gilbert a step or two backwards. His hands were on the hood of the car, and Francis finally caught up, a tad out of breath, never visiting the gym quite as often as both Gilbert and Antonio.
"What the—Get lost already!" Hollered Arthur out the window of his car. "He seems like a nice fellow—I'm sure he is—but if all you're both looking to do is assist Antonio in getting Romano in bed, then you can bloody forget it! Matthew and I only agreed because we think he and Antonio would make an exquisite, though, in the oddest sense of the word, couple!"
"Don't call me that, frog!" Arthur pressed on the gas pedal, just to scare them, just enough to make them jump back, the sound of the engine roaring with life, but they did not budge; idiots with no sense of danger, the worst type of imbecile.
"Come on, now, we're just as serious as you!" It was Gilbert's turn now.
"Arthur, look at them. They're just thinking about Antonio the same way we're only thinking about Romano; they don't know Romano, we don't know Antonio, don't be mad." Matthew's voice was clear, though timid, collapsing on itself, the decrescendo of his light-tenor prompting Arthur to reach for the key as his grip around the latter's arms loosened considerably. Always patient with others, Matthew's way of thinking was contagious and a reliable voice of reason, even for people like Arthur, on his high horse, who, at the moment, refused any further interaction with the men before him. "Antonio's more e-experienced—" He said, with an embarrassed hush, a grade schooler passing along a secret, amusing Arthur enough to keep his attention, "—so of course they'll think about going to a place like that for him. If we don't do our part and play on Romano's side of things—"
"Who knows what more crap they'll give Romano to complain about—"
"That's not what I meant, but, okay."
The two men outside went silent, as did The Not-So-Bad-Touch duo, Arthur staring at Matthew contemplatively, considering the pros and cons before pulling the keys out and pocketing them. "Fine, whatever." He spoke, loud enough for Gilbert and Francis to hear perfectly. "But let's try thinking of a much, much more reasonable approach. Something tame. We're helping them become a couple, not just two blokes who engage in intercourse habitually."
"Wait—Isn't that what a couple is, though?" Said Gilbert.
"If it is, doesn't that must make us a couple?" Inquired Francis, sending a lavish wink at Arthur through the windshield. Arthur returned the gesture with a scowl as Matthew sunk into the passenger's seat, burying his flushed cheeks into his balmy palms just as, though, possibly more, embarrassed.
Stubbornly, Romano refused to take more than one trip to get the groceries. Somehow mustering the strength in his angular figure to haul all their plastic bags at once, trudging with arms and hands heavy, but ever so grateful to the few times Matthew and Arthur had dragged him by the curl to the gym with guarantees of thanking them later, all of which, of course, Romano denied furiously, his breathing became staggered, chopped sporadically into staccato exhales and accented inhaling through his parted lips. He would never tell them about how those couple of hours spent here and there paid off. His pride would not stand for it.
"Are you sure? That's a lot of stuff."
"Shut up. I can fucking do it."
"I don't know—it looks kinda heavy from here."
"Just stay put, I can handle this."
Knocking himself into the unlocked door, Romano closed the door behind him with a gentle kick, toed off his shoes, and lugged himself into the kitchen. It was a miracle he'd gotten up the stairs, so when Antonio offered his help, still in his place on the couch, feet propped up on the opposite couch arm, remote barely clasped by a slack hand, Romano declined, anticipating how much further he could push his poor luck. He missed a step but, falling forward, used the frightening momentum to help place the bags on the kitchen table, catching himself last second as he used its rounded edge to balance himself carefully.
Sliding his arms from out of the bags, Romano began taking them out of the yellow colored plastic, and into their respective places. He started with the produce first, placing the vegetables into a draw separate from the fruits, and then the tomatoes in its own designated area on the bottom. Antonio wandered into the kitchen despite Romano's orders, and followed suit; grabbing some fruits and veggies, he helped sort them into their drawer carefully. The duo crouched and huddled together at its opened door.
"Why are you doing this?" Inquired Romano. "I don't need your help. Go back to the couch and lie down or something."
Antonio paused to consider his answer, flashes of tranquil memory written across his vitreous features, his eyes wrinkling at their edges as he beamed from ear to ear.
"I've always liked helping put things away after grocery shopping and just helping out in general." Romano stayed silent, recounting moments in which his overly merry disposition lead to unwarranted assistance around the house. From fixing the squeaking door hinges to wiping down the entirety of the suite in fear of the trio's sinful shenanigans tainting the suit completely, and even to quick searches for any working pens, Romano could not recall a time Antonio stood by idly. He always thought of his offers were nothing more than a nuisance, really. "I don't know. I always did everything I could to help mi madre in Madrid until I moved out during college and came here. She and I did a lot around the house together because mi padre was always working overtime to pay bills, put food on the table, and cover whatever my scholarships didn't. I guess she was worried I would be lonely or something because I rarely saw him and I didn't have any siblings. Times were tough, I guess, but it's a matter of opinion. I was never lonely, so I was always okay."
He must have hit a soft spot. Not those bad ones, not the ones that bring people to tears, but the ones of such reminiscent buoyancy, those which float freely, easily forgotten until luckily reminded of their idyllic existence. For once, his rambling left Romano speechless, curious to hear more. Time may have passed, memories are nothing but moments lost, but they hit as hard as they had all those years ago. Antonio is so uncomfortably contagious, and, for a brief second, Romano swore he could feel himself warm at the sight of his sentimental viridescent gaze. His stare was vacant, but he was somewhere. Where he imagined himself, Romano, who, for once, could not read his simple mind, wished he could have a quick glimpse of the things he saw as well. He wondered what his mother looked like, what parts Antonio had inherited from her and which structures were facsimile of his father, how they'd raised such a happy camper from what sounded like a not so happy beginning.
"Hey, what about you?" Antonio turned to him with excitement in his eyes.
"What about me?" Romano haphazardly dropped the rest of the bag of veggies and fruits into the opened drawer. He could always sort that out later, without Antonio's unwanted company and uncomfortable attention; he didn't like talking about himself.
"What was your childhood like?"
He sighed. "It was good. I didn't do much because I was bored all the time, but it was good. Happy?"
"Anything else? What about your parents, what are they like? I bet you look like them. Where are you from?"
Romano frowned; he was getting greedy with his questions. But he saw no harm in answering them. While he had nothing awful to hide, he remained vague in his speech. "My mom and dad are nice, I guess. We weren't close or anything, and I do look like them—more like my mom than my dad. And I was born here, but my parents are from some part of Italy—My mom is from some place in the north, and my dad's from the south. I can't remember the name of either places, though."
"Have you been to Italy before? How was it? Where did you go?"
"Aren't you curious? Shut up and hand me the rest of the groceries." Antonio turned on his knees to pull down carefully the next bag items. He handed Romano a carton of milk, followed by a styrofoam container of eggs, and margarine in a small, rounded bin.
"Come on, tell me! We've been living together for how long, and I don't even know you."
"My name is Romano, my last name is Vargas—"
"—See? I wasn't even sure about that until now—"
"I work as a kindergarten teacher, and I like food. What fucking more could there possibly be to know?"
"I don't know. I know there are a lot of things I don't know about you, but I don't know what I don't know, you know?"
"You sound like a fucking idiot. What the fuck are you even saying? Pass me the cheese and whatever else we need to put in the fridge." The conversation came to a precipitous halt as the contents of the fridge surged in proportion to the decrease of goods atop the glass disk of the table plummeted rapidly. Silently, the duo moved on to filling the vacant cupboards. Having left the television on, the voices of the anchorman's colorless droning, a rusty box cutter lacerating the abdominal cavity of a man having occurred several hours ago in a neighboring city, miles upon miles of desolate road protecting the loveless couple from the crazed madman, who, apparently, was under police surveillance before his disadvantageous trail the following week. Placing the last of their stock in their cabinets, and stuffing the plastic bags within a single one, Romano was unnerved by yet another one of Antonio's social endeavors.
"You're really different." He leaned against the counter parallel to Romano, who answered back, resting the weight of his body by the buttocks against a cabinet with arms crossed. But, feeling playfully complacent, he resolved to entertain him.
"The fuck is that supposed to mean?" Replied Romano. Antonio answered back with a smile.
"You're a strange one."
"I've just never met people like you. It's weird. But I really like it. It's refreshing." Antonio shrugged utilizing only the muscles of his left side bashfully. "I never know how to go about you."
"What are you even saying?" Before Romano could exit the kitchen, evidently becoming bored with conversing more than necessary, Antonio's voice lowered, persuasive, an indefinite pivot of his jaw—the perfect angle, Romano thought, heavy with chagrin—staring with such copious quantities of beguiling allure, leafy hues honest, as he brought into the open the notion of spending the evening together. With Gilbert and Francis away, it was the perfect opportunity to develop and secure some sort of standing, friendship. "Why would I want to do that? I'd rather rest and relax by myself than stress myself out by being around you."
"Please?" That stare. That barely noticeable outward jut of his lower lip. Those eyes. That modest air to him, as though unaware of the power he had over him. Those cheekbones, the structures of his sun-kissed face.
With a gulp, Romano answered with a nod.
In a secluded corner of a local café, the pervasive scent of fresh coffee caught in Arthur's nose, the four men ordered themselves something to drink and thanked their waitress, a young girl in her teen's, blonde hair cut into a chin-length bob, a silk ribbon tied modestly on the right of her head, and demure blue eyes, large and unassuming, her apron a plain, boring white against her all-black uniform. She was the type that reminded Arthur of Matthew; pure-hearted and innocent, the kind of people kept away from those of Gilbert and Francis's kind. Ambling cautiously back to the kitchen area, out of ear shot as she began to work on their drinks, the men sat in silence. Gilbert had terrible posture, Francis's was too much, like a model waiting for his photo to be taken, Matthew seated against the edge of his seat, shoulders sunken nervously, and Arthur with his chin in his hand.
They were at the end of their rope. A mess of a bunch, the car ride was filled with arguments between Arthur and Francis, with Matthew a flustered puddle of stutters and speechlessness towards Gilbert and is profuse, lewd advances. A delinquent hand resting on the inside of his thigh, stroking the seam of Matthew's denim skinny jeans, and, somehow, leaving the button and copper zipper undone in the blink of a wide eye. How they expected to work together when just being in the same vicinity brought on no more than instantaneous disorder and ignored, potent sexual tension was due to the combined force of tenacity and pure will.
"Well, any ideas?" Asked Arthur, first to speak up, piercing the extended pause with an uncertain tone of voice. The glint in Francis's eye as he opened his mouth was combatted with a pointed glare. As always, Arthur won. "Let's try to avoid getting these two in bed with each other. I'm sure that'll happen on its own and without our help when the time is right, so there's no use on focusing on something as paltry as sex."
"First off, why are you talking about chicken? And, secondly, what's wrong with sex? It's a completely normal thing in relationships." Was Gilbert's inane counter.
Arthur swiped the palm of his hand down his face slowly. "I said 'paltry', not 'poultry', you twit, and I'm sure it is, but these two are not in a relationship, so let's focus on that first, shall we? As they say, 'well cross that bridge when we get to it.'"
"Hey, Francis, does he always talk this much?" Gilbert snorted.
"Sometimes. He only ever stops when he busies his mouth with—"
"Here are your orders." A cup of earl grey is placed before a fuming Arthur, hot chocolate in front of Matthew, and obscure cups of coffee in front of Francis and a snickering Gilbert.