Title: Shades of Innocence
Pairings: Germany/Italy, Spain/Romano, America/England
Feliciano Vargas was just a man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sent down for a crime he didn't commit; Italy meets and falls for a German inmate who is imprisoned for life for an unspeakable crime. An unlikely bond is formed between these two and Italy discovers that there's more to this heartless criminal than meets the eye.
Crippling silence gripped the courtroom as the small Italian cafe owner awaited his fate. Behind him in the stands sat his older brother, hand tightly gasping his Spanish partner's, both barely able to breathe. Time seemed to stand still; it was as if the large clock sat on the wall above the judge's bench was deliberately torturing them, minute hand motionless and still. Feliciano could only hear the pounding of his frightened heart in his ears, his own deep, rapid breathing, almost hyperventilating, as a member of the jury handed a slip of paper to the straight-faced judge.
Such a simple thing. A white square piece of paper with one simple word scrawled onto the centre. It seemed like such an inconsequential act; the handing over of the verdict. Yet the decisive event would have such an impact on the young man's life, guilty or innocent; that was the question. Would this panel of absolute nobody's sympathise for the Italian? Did they believe his story of innocence? There was no more hoping now. A decision was made, and the old man behind the bench was clearing his throat, bringing the slip of paper closer to his spectacled face to read the verdict.
"Feliciano Vargas." the judge said suddenly into the microphone sat on his bench. His voiced echoed loudly throughout the room, and everyone in the stands seemed to tense; the Italian in the dock at the front of the courtroom was on the brink of a panic attack. His rapid breathing halted on a sharp inhale as he awaited his fate. "A verdict has been reached." he continued, slowly placing the paper down on the bench. "In light of the outstanding DNA evidence against you, coupled with the lack of witnesses and evidence to prove your innocence...the jury has ruled that you are in fact guilty of the life-threatening physical assault on Mr Kiku Honda-"
"WHAT!" it was the accused's sibling who had spoken, jumping up from the stands in a blind rage. "That is BULLSHIT!"
"Mr Vargas." the judge spoke harshly, tapping the gavel on the bench. "I will have order in my courtroom."
"My little brother is INNOCENT!" Romano roared, having to be held firmly onto by his boyfriend as he threatened to have a violent reaction.
"Mr Vargas!" the old man yelled, hammering loudly on the bench. "If you do not settle down I will have you removed from this courtroom."
The Italian in the dock couldn't even hear the commotion going on around him. From the moment the word 'guilty' had left the judges lips his heart had sunk like the heaviest stone to the very pit of his stomach. He couldn't even tell if he was breathing or not. It was like he was stuck in the most horrific of realistic nightmares; the months leading up to this court date he'd played out this exact scenario over and over again in his fragile mind...never in his life could he have pictured feeling like this. Body going numb, senses drifting away from him. His older brother continued to scream in the courtroom but it merely sounded like distant echo to him.
Another bang of the gavel suddenly brought him back; Antonio having managed to restrain Romano; the judge was ready to give the sentence. "Feliciano Vargas, this court hereby sentences you to two years in the federal prison for your crime; this sentenced is to be served consecutively and is to commence immediately." he banged the gavel again, sealing the Italian's fate.
"THIS IS BULLSHIT! MY BROTHER IS INNOCENT DO YOU HEAR ME? INNOCENT!" Romano raged; the Spaniard having immense trouble holding onto his boyfriend.
"Lovi please calm down..." Antonio begged, his own mind yet not come to terms with the verdict.
Two prison guards were already making their way to the dock to collect the shaking Italian, taking an arm each they gently escorted him into a room at the front of the court. Feliciano went silently, shoulders trembling beneath the two guards and his hands knotted together with the confinement of the handcuffs he was wearing. His clouded mind still hadn't comprehended what was going on. Was...was he really being taken to prison? For a crime he didn't commit! The last months had gone by so quickly, as if in a dream, but this was actually happening. Feliciano was taken to an empty room; a white prisoner transport vehicle waiting for him just outside.
The prison guards carefully let go of him, one of them holding open the door as the Italian's brother and his partner burst in after him, escorted by a police officer. "Fratello..." Romano ran at Feliciano, flinging his arms around him, holding tight.
Feliciano bit his lip, struggling to cuddle his brother back with the restricted arm movement. "...Lovino."
Antonio held back his tears, wrapping his arms around the both of them. "It'll be okay..." he whispered against the top of their heads.
"I swear..." Romano pulled back slightly, looking at his brother straight in the eyes, tears in his own. "I'll fight for you Feliciano; I'll prove to them that you're innocent and I'll get you out of prison!"
Feliciano nodded slowly, strangely emotionless by the whole situation, body too numb at that moment to feel. "...grazie." he spoke in a small voice; it was all he could manage.
Antonio wiped his eyes, kissing the top of Feliciano's head. "Be safe little guy, be strong..."
"Don't do anything stupid eh?" Romano tried to joke but his quivering lip and shaky voice made the words more sincere than he'd have liked. "Feliciano..." he cried, burrowing into his brother's chest, clinging tightly to the front of his shirt. Feliciano bit his lip, shaking arms holding as much of his brother as he could.
The two of them embraced for at least a full minute before one of the prison guards spoke up. "Okay come on dude it's time to go." the blond said in his strong American accent, unlocking and pushing open the back door to the secure car park.
Romano wouldn't release his brother even as the second guard grabbed Feliciano's shoulder and tried to manoeuvre him out of the Italian's grasp. "Mr Vargas, you've finished saying goodbye your brother needs to come with us now." he said gently in his comforting English accent.
Antonio slid his arms around his partner, gently unlatching him from Feliciano. "Lovi...don't make this harder than it already is."
To his surprise the Italian in his arms didn't protest; he just watched his younger brother being escorted away as tears rolled silently down his face. Feliciano looked back over his shoulder at his family and for the first time since this entire ordeal had occurred; the Spaniard could see the crippling fear in the Italian's eyes as he disappeared from view, the heavy metal door slamming shut behind him.
"Okay here are you threads, get changed into them here and place all of your clothing and anything you have with you onto the table." the American guard said as he pushed a folded up orange prison jump suit into the shaking Italian's hands which had since been un-cuffed. "That's the smallest size we have so it better fit, you're kinda small."
"Comforting as always Alfred." The Brit droned, shifting through a file. "Feliciano Vargas..." he muttered softly, glancing up at the Italian for confirmation, who hadn't moved a muscle. "...you know the clothing is mandatory." he nodded to the jumpsuit in the young man's hands that he had yet to put on.
Feliciano nodded hurriedly, letting the jumpsuit fall from his arms so he could shakingly remove his street clothes. The two prison guards that had escorted him from the courtroom to the prison were a Brit and an American, they had yet to fully introduce themselves to him. The drive over had been deeply unsettling; Feliciano sat all alone, secured in handcuffs in the back of a large white van whilst the guards chatted quietly together in the front. Even through the long ride over the Italian still hadn't come to terms with his emotions. He was a bundle of nerves about his predicament, but realisation had yet to take its toll.
Feliciano finally finished dressing himself into the cold, stiff jumpsuit, fiddling anxiously with the sleeves that were just the tiniest bit too long for him. He placed his street clothes carefully on top of the table where the American slid them over to him, carefully checking all of the pockets on his clothing. "Sure you've not got anything else on you dude?" he asked as he carefully pushed the clothes into a clear plastic bag.
The Italian shook his head, holding up his trembling arms as the Brit went to re-cuff him. The blond tried to give the young man the warmest smile he could, carefully securing the cuffs around his wrists. "By the way; I'm Officer Arthur Kirkland, and this is Officer Alfred Jones." he said, nodding to the American who was fastening some paperwork to the Italian's belongings.
Feliciano nodded slowly, feeling even more uneasy in the prison attire. "...what, what happens now?" he asked softly, knotting his fingers together anxiously.
"Now we've gotta take you to meet one of the prison physicians and get a health check." Alfred said, taking the Italian's things with them he and the Brit led Feliciano out of the changing room into a corridor. There was an office at the end of the narrow corridor beside a large, secure metal door, which the Italian could only assume led to the main prison blocks where the inmates were kept.
However first Feliciano was taken to a small doctor's office; one of the rooms in this long corridor. There was no door to this particular room, just an archway with nothing to cover the entrance. The Italian gingerly stepped into the office; the room was clean and tidy and strikingly white. A young woman in a white apron was busying herself on the desk with some papers; she had long wavy brunette locks that adorned a pale yellow bandana around her head. She turned to face the Italian when she heard him come in and smiled kindly. "Hi sweetie I'm Elizaveta, would you like to take a seat up here?" she asked in her Hungarian accent, indicating to the narrow bed covered in a sheet of paper.
Feliciano slowly turned around, climbing up onto the bed; he had to give it several attempts to jump up as his shaking arms wouldn't support even his small body weight. Once he was up he perched himself on the very edge; Elizaveta collected together some paperwork, scanning through it. "Okay, Feliciano Vargas?" the Italian nodded. "What a cute name...okay honey just to let you know I'm the prison physician for block D, so I'll be dealing with any injuries or illness you encounter in your time here." she said, smiling softly. "So don't be afraid to let any of the guards know if you feel like you need to see me okay?"
Feliciano nodded slowly, fiddling with the chains around his wrists. "...I'm surprised they let such a pretty lady work in a place like this..." he mumbled softly, his chest suddenly starting to ache.
Elizaveta smiled, giggling slightly. "Oh well thank you honey you just made my day!" she said cheerily, beaming at him. "Don't worry about little old me I'm quite safe, that's why we're not allowed to have a door, just in case, and there's always a couple of handsome fellows outside to keep an eye on things." she nodded towards the empty doorframe that led back out into the corridor; the American and British guard were stood just outside on either side. Elizaveta shrugged slightly, smiling at the young man. "Just in case you try anything; there'll be in here in a flash to protect me, but don't worry I know you wouldn't." she said, giggling slightly.
Feliciano forced a tiny smile, not quite able to look at the Hungarian as she went back to the paperwork. "Okay I just have to ask you a few questions about your medical health is that alright?" the Italian gave a feeble nod. "Okay, now do you or have you ever had any form of diabetes?" Feliciano shook his head. "Alright..." Elizaveta took the pen from the side of the clipboard, ticking off the questions. "Any allergies?" another shake of the head. "Do you require any ongoing medical treatment?" again he shook his head. "Are you a carrier of any diseases or viruses?"
"...not that I know of." Feliciano said softly, his voice shaking ever so slightly.
Elizaveta nodded, carrying on filling out the form. "Okay, now do you know your blood type sweetie?" Feliciano was silent for a moment before shaking his head. "Well in that case I'll need to take a blood sample so we can find out okay?" she placed the clipboard down, going into a drawer for a needle and syringe.
Feliciano just nodded numbly. "...why do you need to know that?" he asked shakily.
"It's just a formality, it's unlikely you'll need any kind of blood transfusion whilst you're here but it's just in case you ever do, we can inform the hospital of your blood type or I can perform the transfusion myself if needs be." she said simply, sterilising the needle carefully before approaching the Italian. "Okay can you lift your sleeve for me honey?" she asked.
With a shaking hand Feliciano slowly shifted the orange sleeve of his prison jumpsuit up as far as it would go so the physician could take a sample of blood. The needle was pushed into his arm and a small amount of blood was extracted before it was carefully removed again. Only at that moment did Feliciano fully come to terms with what was going on. He'd been fixed in this numb, emotionless state for months and all of a sudden, in that instant, it was over.
Maybe it was because when that sharp needle pierced through his skin it had broken through the walls the Italian had built up around himself. He was slowly coming back to earth, every sense was heightened and his crumbling emotions bubbled to the surface. Elizaveta took the needle full of blood to a counter and when her back was turned Feliciano broke down; for the first time since he was arrested and charged with the assault the Italian started to cry.
It was miniscule enough to start with, but after that first tear rolled down his face more and more followed until he was sat sobbing on the narrow bed. Elizaveta looked alarmed, spinning around when she heard the soft whimpers coming from the young man. "Oh sweetie, what's wrong?" she went to him immediately with concern, getting him a box of tissues from beside the bed. "It didn't hurt that much did it? Would you like me to get you something to put over it?" she asked, carefully inspecting the tiny dot on the Italian's arm where there was just the tiniest spec of blood.
Feliciano shook his head, letting out another sob as he scrubbed at his eyes. "I-It's not that, it's just..." he whimpered softly, tears pouring down his face. "I-I shouldn't be here! I...I want to go h-home!" he sobbed, burrowing his head into his hands.
Elizaveta bit her lip, her caring nature getting the better of her. "Oh sweetie come here..." the Hungarian held out her arms, letting the young man collapse into her to cry on her shoulder. Elizaveta was aware that she was going against what regulations told her to do. During her training for the position at the prison she'd been told countless times by her mentor to act cold and inhospitable towards the inmates at all times as criminals didn't deserve kindness. But with this frightened young man sobbing right in front of her it broke down any restraint, and she had to comfort him, regardless of what she was taught.
"Is everything alright in there?" Arthur asked from the doorway.
Elizaveta smiled sadly at him. "Yes everything's fine, just a little upset..." she cuddled Italy for a couple of minutes until he'd calmed down; she handed him a tissue when he finally pulled away. "...you poor little thing, are you okay now?"
Feliciano dabbed at his eyes with the tissue, sniffling slightly. "...sì, grazie." he mumbled softly, bunching the tissue up in his hands.
Elizaveta gently patted his arm, helping him down from the bed. "I think I can get the rest of this paperwork filled in, so you go and follow Alfred and Arthur now okay and they'll get you settled in." she said gently, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. "If you ever feel unwell just let them know and you can come and see me okay sweetie?"
Feliciano nodded, feeling incredibly uneasy as Elizaveta let go of his hand, gently manoeuvring him towards the exit. He just wanted to grab onto her and never let go; she may only have been a stranger, but the sweet Hungarian was a much needed caring support at this difficult time. "Thank you Elizaveta." he said softly, still dabbing at his eyes as he was led away by the American prison guard.
Arthur lingered behind as Elizaveta stepped out into the corridor. "'You'll keep an eye on him for me, won't you Arthur?" she said, watching the young man shuffle anxiously down at the corridor after Alfred.
Arthur quirked a bushy brow. "I'll keep an eye on him as much as I do for any of the inmates."
"Oh Arthur you know he's innocent." Elizaveta said quietly, watching Feliciano with sadness.
It was Elizaveta's turn to raise an eyebrow as she looked at the Brit. "Arthur you and I can both tell when somebody's been wrongly convicted, just look at the poor boy..."
Arthur cast a glance down to the end of the corridor where Alfred was conversing with the man in the office, handing him the Italian's belongings and paperwork. Feliciano himself was stood just behind, his body trembling ever so slightly as his eyes shifted around nervously, still damp from tears. The Brit gave a defeated sigh, running a hand through his messy hair. "Okay, I'll look out for him...a kid like that is going to need all the help he can get..." he muttered, hurrying to catch up with the two of them.
"Are you okay Feliciano?" the Brit asked when he reached them, placing a tentative hand on the Italian's shoulder.
Before the young man could answer the American at the office suddenly spoke up. "Oh shit." he said as he stared at the admittance paper he'd just been handed.
"What is it Alfred?" Arthur asked.
Alfred pulled an awkward face, shaking his head. "Damn...look who they've put him with." he held the sheet up for the Brit to see.
Feliciano could have sworn the Brit just paled. "Oh God...Alfred, we can't do that, he's just a kid..." he cast a worried glance at the Italian which made him extremely nervous.
Alfred tapped on the glass screen, attracting the attention of the officer in the office. "Dude are you serious? Have you seen this Feliciano guy? He's not gonna survive with him!"
"W-What is it?" Feliciano asked quietly, anxiety rapidly increasing.
The man in office simply shrugged and said it was final. Alfred sighed, turning back to them. "Sorry dude, we're full up at it is, gotta use any space we have left."
"Couldn't we transfer him to another block?" Arthur suggested.
Alfred shook his head. "Dude that takes forever."
"Well we'll most likely have to do that eventually anyway, if you remember Alfred we've had to transfer the last three guys out of his cell for their own protection."
"W-What's going on?" Feliciano squeaked, cuffs jingling softly as his hands shook.
Arthur tried to mask his concern, sighing deeply. "It's your cellmate, I mean...the guy they've put you with." he said, folding up the admission paper.
Feliciano swallowed slightly, hands knotting together. "...what about him?"
Arthur bit his lip, struggling with his answer. "Let's just say he's...he's not the nicest guy in the world."
Alfred gave a harsh laugh. "Don't sugar coat it Arthur; I mean for God sake he killed one of his cellmates!"
"Alfred." Arthur barked firmly when the Italian gave a yelp of terror. "That man committed suicide, murder was never proven."
"Right whatever, take his side like you always do." Alfred muttered, getting out his large set of keys. "Anyway come on, better get it over with."
"...get what over with?" Feliciano asked softly to the Brit as Alfred went to undo the many locks on the large metal door.
"The introduction, don't worry, I'll keep an eye on you and make sure he doesn't try anything." Arthur said reassuringly, patting the Italian briefly on the shoulder as they watched the American heave open the heavy door, holding it open for them.
Feliciano slowly stepped into the confinement; the door shut behind them, shuddering as it held firmly closed, taking away his freedom. There were two stories of jail cells on either side of the narrow space, jammed together in this stone encased building. A clunky metal staircase stood in the middle to give access to the top floor of this particular block of cells but Feliciano was led past it, staying put on the bottom level.
Tall, narrow metal jail bars surrounded them, and in each and every cell there were two pairs of menacing eyes that were staring out at the Italian. Never in his life had Feliciano been more ashamed of his physique than at that moment. Skinny and frail, not an ounce of muscle on him; he could already feel the other large, burly inmates coming to the conclusion that he was easy pickings. It was broad daylight outside yet the prison was only dimly lit; a few barred windows ran up the walls, letting in very little sunlight, they cast ghastly split shadows on the stone floor.
Feliciano kept close to Arthur's side as he was eventually led all the way down to the other end of the block, to the last cell. Alfred banged loudly on the bars with his nightstick to grab the attention of the man inside; he was lying down on the top bunk of a bunk bed. "Hey Ludwig, we've brought you a new cellmate."
The seemingly unresponsive man suddenly spoke up. "What?" he spat in a harsh sounding German accent, sitting bolt up right on the narrow bed.
Feliciano kept his head lowered, not wanting to see the face of this hateful man; his body trembling uncontrollably. "This is Feliciano Vargas; he's your new cellmate." America said again, getting out his keys to unlock the door.
"I thought I made it clear to you Arschlöcher that I did not want a verdammt cell mate!" the German snarled, intimidating glare fixed on the cowering Italian.
"And I thought I made it clear to you that that was too bad; this place is crowded enough as it is and we have to make use of all the space." Alfred told him calmly, tugging open the cell door.
Arthur gave the Italian a reassuring pat on the back before un-cuffing his wrists. "Well Feliciano...this is Ludwig..."
Feliciano shook his head frantically as the guards gently pushed him into the jail cell, closing the bars behind him. In an instant Ludwig jumped down from the bunk bed and surged towards him. The Italian squealed in alarm, backing up into the bars as the strikingly tall, petrifying blond German man approached, trapping him against the cell bars. Feliciano immediately began to wail apologies for no reason, fearful tears spilling from his eyes.
"Ludwig leave the poor kid alone!" Arthur snapped, banging on the cell bars.
Feliciano sobbed, squeezing his eyes shut as he waited for whatever harsh physical abuse was to come. Ludwig just stared at him, nose wrinkling in confusion. Never in his life had he been able to intimidate someone so easily without even saying a word. He sighed irritably, taking a step back. "Forget it; I can't even be bothered doing anything to someone as pathetic as you." he growled. Feliciano slowly opened his eyes, still shaking with fear. The German suddenly leant in close, dark eyes fixed on the Italian's own. "You are going to be eaten alive in here, kid." he said slowly before taking a step back, climbing up onto his bed without another word.
Feliciano was close to hyperventilating, still stood shaking against the cell bars, knees trembling. Alfred and Arthur made sure the Italian didn't seem to be in any danger before they left. Even though the German had retreated back to his bed the Italian felt immensely unsafe with the guards no longer here to protect him from harm. Feliciano hesitated unsurely by the metal bars, his heart hammering nervously as he could feel the enraged presence of the blond German man in the confined space. He was like an unpredictable carnivore ready to pounce any second on the trembling little Italian, who still hadn't moved an inch.
The young man's uneasiness must have become too much for the German because he suddenly sat up, shooting daggers at the brunette. "Are you just going to stand there you little Scheiße?" he growled.
Feliciano swallowed heavily, fidgeting under the blonds' dark glare. "U-Umm, uhh...n-no...I um..." he stuttered anxiously, feet twitching to move but he wasn't sure what he was supposed to be doing. "...w-what should...I m-mean I don't-"
"Just SIT DOWN!" Ludwig barked suddenly. Feliciano squeaked, hurriedly scrambling into one of the two chairs sat at the small square table in the centre of the cell. The German gave him a disgruntled look, lowering himself back down onto his bunk which gave a slow creak.
Feliciano sat ridged on the chair, hands tightly grasping his knees to stop them from quivering. It had been barely five minutes and this German man already hated his guts; he understood now the reasons for the guard's reactions when they discovered it was him he was to share a cell with. As the Italian sat silently at the table, terrified gaze watching the German closely; he could only hope that his brother was out there somewhere working on a way to get him the hell out of here.
I should really stop starting new stories but damnit I love it
Fratello - Brother
Arschlöcher - Arsehole
Verdammt - Fucking
Scheiße - Shit
Ehhh I really hope this doesn't end up being a comedy, I want to write something serious for a change
Reviews are love :)