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 Feliciano discovers that there's more to this heartless criminal than meets the eye.
Feliciano blinked slowly, lifting a hand to rub at the sleep accumulating in the corners of his eyes. He yawned, allowing his tired body to shift himself into a slight upright position. Still rubbing open his eyes; the Italian stretched a hand across to the other side of the bed and felt the soft, empty space where there should have been another sleeping body. Feliciano's eyes sprang open and he stared at where his hand was sat, splayed out against the white sheets with no person beneath it. He slowly sat up further and took a moment to examine the room; the Italian held his breath, listening out for the sounds of shuffling feet, water running from a tap or the sound of a toilet flush. There came none. Only silence greeted him back, that, along with the peaceful chirps and tweets of wildlife from outside the confines of the cosy cabin. But this seemingly relaxing, serene atmosphere only seemed to heighten the intense rush of fear that engulfed Feliciano in an instant when he realised he was completely alone.
"Ludwig?" Feliciano's voice croaked with morning tiredness as he whipped the sheets right off his body. Not bothering to put any proper clothes on the young man clambered out of the double bed and stumbled over to the bathroom in his night clothes. He poked his head inside but the room was empty, the showerhead dripped silently into the bottom of the tub.
Panic increasing, Feliciano dived back into the bedroom and threw himself out of the doorway into the main living area of their tiny home. The kitchen area was deserted, as was the sitting area and, through the window, Feliciano could see their balcony was void of any people, and the sandy beach that stretched beyond had only one or two dots in the distance wandering around, but neither were the German.
"Ludwig!?" Feliciano bleated, his eyes had already sprung a leek, tears starting to trickle slowly down his face. The Italian whimpered softly, pacing back and forth through the cabin like he was in fast forward mode. His heart was going a mile a minute, could they really have taken him so silently? But why wasn't everything out of place? Didn't he struggle? Wait, was the sofa always in that position or had it moved? Feliciano clutched the top of his head, shaking it rapidly from side to side. "Ludwig..." he moaned, his voice catching in the back of his throat.
"Feli what are you doing?"
Feliciano gasped out loud and almost recoiled in shock from the sudden intrusion. Ludwig was standing in the front door, having just arrived back, fully dressed and carrying a basket filled to the brim, he was staring at the Italian with an utterly bewildered look upon his face.
"Ludwig!" Feliciano cried, flinging himself into the man, he clutched at the man's shirt -which was one of the Italian's own- and sobbed, his shoulders trembling with the force of his tears.
Ludwig looked incredibly taken aback, he gently placed the basket on the floor beside them and wound his arms around the sobbing man, soothing him quietly. "Shhh it's okay...what's wrong Feli?" he murmured, his eyes creasing with concern.
Feliciano sniffed heavily, slowly raising his head and scrubbing his eyes on the back of his hand. "I-I woke up and you weren't here..." he stammered, biting his lip. "...and I thought, I thought..."
"You thought someone had taken me?" Ludwig finished gently, smiling warmly, with just the tiniest hint of amusement. Feliciano nodded into the man's shoulder, his breath shuddering in his chest. Ludwig gently kissed the top of his head, manoeuvring them carefully into the cabin so he could shut the door behind them. "I'm sorry Feli, you poor thing..."
Feliciano pulled away from the German, his eyes narrowing slightly with irritation. "Ludwig where did you go? I thought we agreed we were going to stay here for the first couple of months before leaving so we don't seem suspicious!"
Ludwig sighed. "I know I know, I'm sorry, I just couldn't stand another day eating mangos that we pick from the tree outside." he muttered, bending over to retrieve his basket. "So I went down to the main town and had a look around, I got fish." he presented his gatherings to the Italian, it was full to the brim with fish, various fruits and bottled drinks.
"Ludwig where did you get the money for this?" Feliciano asked in astonishment, taking the large basket from the German.
"They were given to me, I told the locals we were new to the island and everyone contributed something as a kind of welcome gift." Ludwig told him with a smile. "The people around here are very friendly."
Feliciano heaved the basket up onto the kitchen counter, slowly starting to remove the items one by one. "They weren't suspicious?" he asked anxiously.
Ludwig rolled his eyes. "Feli they've got no reason to be, they don't know who we are and they won't..." he came up behind the man, gently hugging him around the waist. "...and I even asked about jobs and a man in one of the restaurants said they were looking for staff."
"Ja, I thought you could cook and I could work the bar." Ludwig smiled, kissing the side of Feliciano's head.
Feliciano smiled in relief, allowing himself to lean backwards into the man. Things had been very on edge for the last three weeks for them. Being with an escaped convict wasn't easy, everything put Feliciano into a panic, whenever Ludwig wasn't in his sight he would freak out, start speculating mad ideas. If Ludwig stepped outside their cabin for even a moment, Feliciano would worry that the police had tracked them down and arrested him, after all it's not as if they'd stopped looking...and now that Feliciano was missing too there was no doubt that they would increase their efforts back home to find them, and he was getting increasingly worried as the days went by that one day, they would.
The two of them had had quite an ordeal at first, flying with a man they'd only just met to an unknown location whilst a thunderstorm was brewing in the sky. It had been a bumpy ride and there were moments when Feliciano genuinely thought they were going to die. He couldn't recall how long they'd flown for as he managed to fall asleep on Ludwig. The Italian had awoken on landing on a shockingly bright, sunny day in a strange, unfamiliar place; Francis landed the plane neatly on a small runway and let them out to finally get a look at where they had been taken. According to the Frenchman, they were on one of the islands of Seychelles. One of the scarcely populated, non-tourist islands in which Francis appeared to be dating one of the locals, a nice young woman who lived there and who greeted them cheerfully when they were introduced.
Despite being a stranger, Feliciano and Ludwig were left rather anxious by Francis's departure shortly after their arrival, he had left them in the hands of his pretty, young girlfriend who showed them around the island. The town was very small and secluded and the beach was always visible from anywhere on the island, it surrounded them. She showed them one of the small, sweet cabins on the beach that was empty and she handed over the keys no questions asked. They had seen Francis conversing with her when they had landed, they weren't sure if she was fully aware of their situation back home, but she seemed pleasantly content with giving them a place to stay and asked no awkward questions or seemed to care about why they had suddenly migrated over to the island in the middle of the night in the back of an aeroplane that usually delivered goods to the restaurant she owned with her father.
Since moving in, the couple had chosen to stay very elusive for the time being, unaware of whether or not the locals would have heard about the prison breakout back home; Ludwig was convinced that the news wouldn't have reached this corner of the globe, but Feliciano couldn't help but be cautious, he really didn't know what he'd do if Ludwig was found. Even though the island wasn't open to tourists, he pictured himself and Ludwig out in the open in the town one day and a rogue visitor spotting them and recognising Ludwig from the news and calling the police to arrest him. It was doubtful, but it was better to be safe under the circumstances.
"So no one recognised you?" Feliciano asked quietly.
"Of course not, but just to be sure I told them my name was Gilbert." Ludwig muttered, gently releasing him.
Feliciano turned around in Ludwig's arms to smile sadly at him. "...that's a good idea, what about me, what name should I have?"
"Anything, as long as it's not Lovino." Ludwig told him with a smirk, he leant down for a kiss but was hampered by a knock at their door. The German felt Feliciano's hand stiffen around his wrist and he gave the Italian a reassuring smile before he stepped back over to their cabin door and cautiously pulled it open. He smiled to see it was the friendly face of Francis's girlfriend, with her long brunette pigtails and clutching her own basket full of fish. "Hallo, we weren't expecting visitors anytime soon." Ludwig said with a smile, holding out his hand.
She beamed at the German, shaking his hand. "Hello! I know, I just wanted to check how you were doing and drop off a delivery." she said kindly.
Ludwig nodded, looking a little confused. "Ja, ja everything's fine, very nice of you to um...delivery?" he asked, perplexed.
The woman nodded, she reached into her basket and behind the fish she pulled out a slightly damp, thick letter. "That's good! Sorry it's a little wet, Francis dropped this off this morning." she spoke the Frenchman's name dreamily as she handed the envelope over.
Ludwig took the letter curiously. "Oh right, well danke."
She smiled. "I hope to see you both in the restaurant soon! My father wants to arrange a trial run with you." she leant past Ludwig to smile at Feliciano who was still hidden inside the cabin. "Your partner tells me what a good cook you are! I hope you can bring your talents to our kitchen."
Feliciano smiled weakly. "Grazie."
The woman smiled, standing back up. "I'll see you soon, let me know if you want to write Francis a reply letter, I can give it to him for you." she turned to leave, skipping down the balcony to the sand on their doorstep, waving behind to them as she left.
Ludwig retreated into the cabin and slowly shut the door. He stared down at the letter in his hand, his brows furrowed. It had F & L scrawled across the front. The German peeled it open and into his hand fell two slips of paper, one a letter, and one a newspaper cutting. Behind him Feliciano wasn't really paying attention, he was arranging the food Ludwig had brought home onto the counter and trying to work out what to cook with them.
The Italian sighed, leaning into the counter he gazed out of the window across the sunny beach that beamed back at him, it was so beautiful and perfect, it was like they'd stuck a giant postcard up on the wall. This island was paradise, so wonderful and like something out of a fantasy...yet he couldn't fully bring himself to enjoy it, not knowing what was waiting for them.
"They'll find us one day." Feliciano said suddenly. "We can't hide forever, even if it takes years...they'll find us."
"Ve?" Feliciano glanced up, Ludwig was staring intently at the papers in his hands. "What are those?"
The German held them out towards him. "Take a look."
Feliciano came out from behind the counter and took the letter and newspaper cutting from the German. He looked down and was startled to see Ludwig's mug shot and a rather old photo of himself sat beside one another on the front of the newspaper cutting above a story. The Italian bit his lip, carefully unfolding the article.
Yesterday the official search for escaped convict, Ludwig (no last name given), came to an end when it was announced by prisoner officer Arthur Kirkland, who had been put in charge of the search, that the inmate had died.
Convicted six years ago for a brutal murder, Ludwig escaped the prison -and his life sentence- three weeks ago when a riot broke out between the inmates and the guards, resulting in four deaths and many subsequent injuries to a number of convicted prisoners. A nation wide search was conducted immediately and officers from all over the country were flown in to assist in the search for this incredibly dangerous man. Ludwig was believed to have escaped from the prison with the intent of searching for a man who had once been an inmate, who he was said to be romantically involved with whilst they had shared a prison cell.
Feliciano Vargas, falsely convicted for serious assault and released from his sentence last year, was a well-known visitor to the prison and had been incredibly close to the escaped convict. Prisoner witnesses to their relationship over the past year have even stated that the two men planned to be married. It has since been confirmed that Ludwig's escape was an attempt at consenting to this promise, and that he planned to find and elope with Vargas once he was out of prison.
'They were inseparable.' a close friend of Vargas, partner to the man's brother and cafe owner Antonio Fernandez Carriedo told our reporter. 'They were in love and would stop at nothing to be together.'
It has recently transpired that Ludwig showed up at the Vargas's household the night of the breakout, and that he and Vargas stole Mr Fernandez's car and fled together. 'They went crazy, I could do nothing to stop them, Ludwig even knocked out my partner Lovi, they just got in my car and left.'
Police officers Arthur Kirkland and Alfred Jones soon arrived at the household, knowing of the escapee's relationship with Vargas, only to discover that the man had been and gone, and taken Vargas with him. 'I told the officers that they took my car and went, but I had no idea where they'd gone.'
One week into the search and no trace of the pair had been found. It seemed that the two really had disappeared off the face of the earth without a trace. But last night there came a shocking discovery; officer Kirkland had taken their search into the sea, believing that the two may have fled by boat, and it was there, at the bottom of a cliff that officials discovered the remains of Mr Fernandez Carriedo's stolen car.
'There's no question about it.' officer Kirkland stated at the scene of the crime. 'We found remains of one of our prison jumpsuits inside the wreckage of the car, and DNA testing has confirmed that they belonged to Ludwig.'
'They must have driven over the edge of the cliff.' officer Jones reported. 'A double suicide, like a Romeo and Juliet thing, you know?'
'I was devastated when I heard, so was Feliciano's brother.' Mr Fernandez Carriedo said tearfully to our reporters. 'But it doesn't surprise me, they knew they could never truly be together whilst on the run from the law...only in death could they be together in peace.'
Officers from the prison and private investigators have called off the search following these recent developments and it has been confirmed that both Ludwig and Mr Vargas perished at the bottom of the cliff. Whilst no bodies were found, no doubt swept out to sea, both have been declared officially dead and our hearts go out to Mr Vargas's family at this difficult time. An innocent life taken once again by a heartless killer.
Feliciano stared at the cutting, his mouth hanging open with complete disbelief. Ludwig was reading it over his shoulder, looking both shocked but also confused. He nudged his partner gently to read the next paper, a hand written letter that was addressed to the both of them.
Dear Feliciano & Ludwig,
How have you been guys!? Seriously I can't believe everything worked out! Okay, I know you guys are probably seriously confused and worried about everything happening over here so first let me put your minds at rest and say that everything has worked out. Francis told me you guys got there safely, see? Told you to trust me didn't I? I used to love doing deliveries to Seychelles, it's such a pretty place and Francis's girlfriend is so lovely, they met whilst we were working, isn't that sweet? Anyway, sorry I haven't been able to get in touch sooner, everything's been a bit crazy over here, let me explain...
Okay, so when you guys left I had to act fast. I knew that the police would show up at our house at some point so I needed to get back before they arrived and found Lovi (because we all know he wouldn't have kept quiet), but when I was driving I came up with this idea, it was crazy, but I thought it might work. So basically, I pushed my car off a cliff. Crazy I know, but it worked! I pushed it off, got a taxi back home and got to work on my plan. Some police showed up about ten minutes after I got home, but it was that couple! The American and British one you used to see all the time at the prison Feli whilst you were visiting. I was so glad it was them because I knew they liked you, and that I could trust them. I told them what had happened to you, I told them the truth (but I left out where exactly you'd been taken, just in case) and asked if they could help with the plan.
The plan was to make everyone think you'd both committed suicide so that they'd stop searching for you, and it worked! I can't believe it worked! Alfred and Arthur were up for it straight away, and helped convincing the rest of the force to search the sea and find my car, and I managed to keep Lovi quiet too. He was really angry with me, especially since I won't tell him where you are, but he's calmed down a bit now, and I'm sure once he realises you guys did this for love he'll understand, and then in a couple of years we'll come down to visit you and everything will be fine.
Sorry about the article by the way, I know it makes you seem in a bad light, Ludwig, but I couldn't make it seem like I approved of you, so not to arouse suspicion. But now that this thing has died down we can all stop worrying, nobodies talking about it anymore, well, we still get the odd regular customer who comes in and tells me and Lovi they're sorry for our loss, but Lovi just glares at them and says Feli isn't lost and they don't mention it again. I hope you guys are happy over there, and you're looking out for each other, Arthur and Alfred send their best wishes, oh yeah and that doctor lady who works there, Elizaveta I think she's called. Apparently she was so upset to hear you'd died Arthur had to tell her what really happened, but he assured me she won't tell anyone and she was very happy to hear you're still alive.
So just thought I'd let you know that everything's okay, Lovi and I will be over to see you one day, if you want to send letters just send them with Francis and he'll drop them off. Oh yeah, and Arthur wanted me to tell you that he's sorry you guys can't make it to the wedding, he's marrying Alfred, isn't that cute? I'm going, Lovi doesn't want to but I'll try and make him, and I'll send you guys some pictures.
Anyway, good luck with everything guys, hope to hear from you soon, look after each other and enjoy life, you're free.
PS. Arthur is the one who decaled you guys officially dead, he says you're welcome
Feliciano and Ludwig released a simultaneous breath when they had reached the end of the letter. The Italian found the German's hand beside him and he clung to it. He hadn't realised he'd started crying until he felt one of Ludwig's hands on his cheek wiping away the tears. Feliciano let out a shuddering breath, leaning backwards into the man's broad chest. "So...everything's going to be okay?" he whispered shakily, slowly looking up at the man above him.
Ludwig smiled deeply, their were tears in his eyes too. "Ja, everything is going to be fine." he let out a soft chuckle. "I'm really going to have to earn some money now..."
He smirked slightly. "I'll need to pay Antonio back for the car." Ludwig muttered softly.
Feliciano smiled weakly, he felt strangely numb, his mind had emptied itself. He shook his head, carefully folding the letter and the newspaper cutting together. "...so...now what do we do?" Feliciano asked softly, his heart racing wildly at the prospect of such a question.
Ludwig placed a soft kiss on his lips. "...now, we live Feli...we live out the rest of our lives together, here."
Feliciano felt his knees go weak and he turned to clutch at the man's arms. "...I love you, Ludwig."
Ludwig held him close, brushing their noses delicately together. "I love you too Feli..." he shook his head, letting out a choked laugh that sounded almost like a sob. "...you have no idea." he whispered, his hands were trembling.
Feliciano smiled in disbelief, taking the man's hands in his own; the German's fingers twitched on some kind of natural impulse, and Feliciano found his own fingers being tugged into the gaps in between Ludwig's, they slotted so perfectly together, locking into place.
"Somehow, I think I do."
Yeah, awesome ending is awesome!
I can't believe I finished this! Seriously, I thought I'd never reach the end...I'd just like to thank everyone who took the time to read and/or review this story (and remained patient with me through the long time it took to update...) seriously thank you so much for the wonderful encouragement.
I had the idea for this fic a long time ago but kept putting off writing it because I didn't feel I was a skilled enough writer to be able to write something like this and make it seem believable or create the right effect that I wanted, now that I have written it though I'm really glad because all of the wonderful feedback I've received makes me know I've done a good job and I'm really proud of it :)
I hope you all enjoyed reading and I hope the ending lived up to its expectations; I'm currently in a stage of my life where everything is very hectic and busy so I think, for now at least, my fanfic writing days are over. But I believe no writer should ever abandon a story and so that's why I've found the time to finish this one.
Many of you have commented saying that this reads like a proper novel and that's just awesome to hear because I may one day consider turning this storyline into a book and try to get it published :) so to all of you lovely readers thank you for reading and/or reviewing, I don't know when I'll post a story again so until next time, hasta la pasta!
Reviews are love :)