The two story house loomed over Antonio.
It was beautifully decorated with pots filled with flowers in every window. It had an obvious Italian influence, wood contrasting with a soft beige wall. It was a beautiful family home. Tragically, though, it no longer fit its current owners. With a deep sigh, he walked up to the front door and rang the bell.
Small steps ran inside the house, "Feliciano, remember the chain!" A young man's voice called from the top floor. "Si, fratello!" Replied a child's voice as the door opened. A small child peeked through the door which was held mostly shut by a chain lock. His face was apple shaped and he had wide honeyed eyes. Reddish brown bangs framed his face and an unruly curl popped up from the left side of his head. "Si? Who is it?"
Antonio couldn't help but smile, this child was adorable and, so far, well educated. What a shame he had just lost both his parents. "Hola! I'm sorry is this the Vargas house? I'm Antonio Carreido and-"
Heavy steps came down the stairs "Feli, who is it?"
The child turned around into the house, "It's a very fancy man, Lovi. And handsome too!"
A chuckle got caught in Antonio's throat and he coughed behind his hand to hide it. A flustered young man appeared behind the child and closed the door to quickly open it without the chain lock.
He had sharp, olive eyes and chocolate bangs split on the side, a high curl like his brother's on the right of his head. "Hi, I'm sorry, he's a bit... Er... A child... Anyway, you must be Mr. Carreido, from Child Services. Nice to meet you, I'm Romano Vargas, please come in." The young man said as he shook Antonio's hand. "Call me Antonio, please. What a beautiful house you have here, Romano."
A shadow fell over the young man's face, "Yeah. We're moving, though, we can't afford it right now... Please come this way, we'll talk in the living room."
Antonio couldn't help but feel sorry as he saw moving boxes through the entire house. It had surely been beautifully decorated and warm once, but it was now mostly empty.
The little kid, who Antonio figured was Feliciano, came out of the kitchen and held his brother's hand, looking wide-eyed at the stranger.
"Lovi, who is he?" Romano smiled softly at his brother, "He's here to help us. I have to talk to him alone for a bit, though. You can go and watch TV for a bit, si?"
Feliciano pouted but a stern look from his brother sent him to the TV room. "This way please" Romano said, as he walked past the kitchen to the living room.
Antonio sat down and looked at the full boxes around him."How is Feliciano taking it?" He asked as he accepted the glass of lemonade Romano offered him. The young man sighed, "He's… not happy. He doesn't want to leave at all, this place remind him of them. He's afraid that if we leave, we'll forget them."
"You're very young, Romano, 21, if I'm not mistaken. Are you sure you can handle taking care of your brother?" Antonio asked looking at his papers then up at him. Romano closed his eyes, and he passed his hand through his hair. " I'm 22, my birthday was the day before yesterday."
Antonio felt horrible for this young man. Having to deal with his parents' deaths just a week before his birthday wouldn't be easy to overcome. "It still is a pretty tight spot." Antonio insisted, wanting to hear the others real thoughts on this. "Feliciano is my brother. His happiness means everything to me and I will do whatever I have to do to help him get through this the most pain-free way I can find." Romano said, holding on to the cross hanging from his neck with both his hands so tightly that his knuckles went white.
Antonio felt horrible for what he had to say, but it was his job. "Would you? Even if it meant having to send him away?" Antonio asked, watching him carefully. Romano's face turned red and then white, his jaw tightly clenched. "I know you have a cousin who would take care of him…" Antonio said, looking down at his papers "Francis Bonnefoy has a stable income and a house ready to welcome little Felici-"
Romano interrupted him, standing up from his place, his face twisted in anger "Francis?! HA! I'd rather DIE than let that PERVERT take care of my fratello! NEVER!"
Antonio was slightly taken back. Up to now, the Vargas brothers had been very civil and calm, he hadn't thought either of them would have it in them to get angry or curse in the volume or speed the older Vargas brother was now cursing.
Small feet ran up to the room and, before Antonio could say anything, Feliciano was hugging his brother's waist, causing him to immediately stop and look down.
The small child had tears running down his face, "I don't want to be separated from Lovi! I can't be without him! Please, please, nice sir, I'll do anything, but I want to stay with my big brother!"
Romano's expression went from extreme anger to confusion to deep sadness and understanding. "You were listening, weren't you Feli?" he muttered as he bent down and picked up the child in his arms. Feliciano nodded and buried his face in his brother's shoulder. Romano sighed and sat down again, hugging his brother close to him. "I'm sorry for that, but it's absolutely out of the question. I'm taking Feliciano with me." He said as he looked with honest eyes at Antonio.
He looked at them for a bit and then nodded, understanding. "Very well, but we'll have to work together to make Feliciano's life as normal and happy from now on. I'll visit often to revise your progress. Is that okay, Romano?"
Romano nodded and Feliciano looked up at him "My life won't be normal or happy unless Lovi is with me." He said with a stuffed nose and a tear streaked face. Romano smiled softly and cleaned his brother's face with a tissue. Antonio looked quietly and then asked Romano, "Who's Lovi?" he asked in a soft voice. "It's my nickname. Grandmama used to call me Lovino and it got stuck on Feliciano." He explained smiling softly at his younger brother who refused to let go of him.
Antonio stood up from his place across the table and sat down next to Romano to look at little Feliciano. "Don't worry, Feliciano, I will do everything so you and your brother can stay together." Antonio assured him as he patted his head. Feliciano nodded and smiled very shily.
"Is it okay if Feliciano stays here for the rest of the interview?" Romano asked him as he held his brother to him. The child was still a little shaken and he was understandably clingy with his brother. Antonio nodded and then turned to look at Romano, who was now a lot closer. "So, where will you be moving to?"
Romano slightly shifted; taking a notebook that had been to his left and then opened it for Antonio to look at it. It looked like some sort of agenda, with pictures and notes and prices. Romano pointed at a picture of an apartment building with a clean look. "A friend of mine owns this building and an apartment just opened. They normally ask for rent every 15 days, but I negotiated with him for a monthly payment. We'll have two rooms, a dining and living room and a fully equipped kitchen." He explained, showing several pictures of the apartment both from the outside and of the inside.
"Uncle Herakles has a tooon of cats and they're really nice to play with!" Feliciano chimed in with a smile, pointing at a picture of Romano with another man, with curly hair and aqua eyes and a lot of cats. A LOT of cats. Antonio made an note to check the sanitation of the place. He inwardly hopped it would be okay, because the apartments were in a very family-oriented part of town and it would be close to many schools were Feliciano could enroll.
"So, Feliciano is 6 years old… He should be enrolling into Elementary School this August, right?" he asked looking at Romano, who nodded. The older Vargas turned the page of the agenda, now showing three pictures of different schools. "Mama and Papa were thinking of these three schools. We'll check them over again and see what's within budget and what's not. We'll work on it as soon as we finish with all the moving. One thing at a time."
Antonio nodded and fell silent for a moment, checking his notes.
Feliciano looked up at his older brother "Lovi are we having pasta tonight?" he murmured softly, not wanting to interrupt Antonio. Romano thought for a second, tapping his chin.
"What would you like today?" he asked softly back.
"Rotini" Feli answered still quietly and smiling as if planning some kind of mischief "With meatballs."
Romano gasped silently and covered his mouth, "Rotini with meatballs?" he asked dramatically. "And… white sauce!" Feliciano added while raising his arms trying not to giggle to loud.
Romano fake fainted, only making Feliciano laugh a bit louder. "Oh, you monster… You monster! Pasta-blasphemy!" Romano exclaimed smiling widely as he tickled his little brother which made him burst out in pearls of laughter.
Antonio watched endeared. He had seen many cases during his career with Child Services. He'd seen everything from older brothers who would abandon his siblings to small children who had nowhere to go and no one who would accept them. He was happy to see two brothers who obviously loved each other that much.
Feliciano, noticing the stare, looked directly at Antonio's green eyes. "Stay with us for dinner, Mr. Spain!" he exclaimed between laughs. Antonio blinked surprised and Romano looked at Feliciano questioningly.
"He has a flag from Spain there and he talks like cousin's Francis friends from Spain!" Feliciano explained pointing at Antonio's portfolio where his keychain was hanging out with, just like Feliciano said, a Spanish flag. Antonio smiled and nodded "I am from Spain, but you can call me Antonio, Feliciano." Feliciano smiled "Okay, Mr. Spain!" Antonio laughed, accepting his nickname.
Romano's expression turned back to his business face, "I'm guessing this interview is not over, so you might as well stay over for dinner, it is a bit late already." He said, looking over at the clock.
Antonio nodded, he wanted to see them interact with each other a bit more and he still had a lot of questions before he could be done. Besides, a true Italian dinner would beat the heck out of the cold TV dinner that waited for him back home. "If that's okay with you, I'll stay over for dinner." Antonio agreed, smiling at him.
Romano stayed still for a moment and then frowned, walking towards the kitchen quickly. Antonio hesitated for a moment, perhaps he didn't want him to stay and only invited him hoping he would refuse.
However, Feliciano had another idea, and Antonio found himself being dragged by a small hand towards the kitchen. "Lovi makes the best pasta dishes ever. And I mean it! EVER! Once, Ludwig came over and he said he didn't like pasta and I said 'It's just 'cause you haven't tasted my brother's pasta!' He didn't believe me but he really loved it once he tried it. He actually hasn't tried any other pasta dishes besides my brother's 'cause it's THAT good!"
Italians are notorious for speaking as fast as they drive and Feliciano was definitely not the exception.
"Who is Ludwig?" Antonio asked the small child as he was dragged into the breakfast table inside the huge kitchen. "He is my bestest friend. We met in the park because he has three really cute dogs."
Feliciano continued talking, but Antonio couldn't help but admire the kitchen. It was warm and cozy but very very big.
Spices hung over one corner and several spice racks covered the wall. It smelled like tomato, onion and freshly baked bread. Antonio inhaled deeply and smiled sadly. He could easily see Mrs. Vargas going back and forth between the oven and the countertop while her husband taught little Feliciano to slice tomatoes and Romano would be setting up the table. It was a beautiful and perfect scene, which only made it that much worse that both of them were gone, leaving their sons alone.
However, it seemed that this kitchen still had some life in it, as Romano easily sliced up some celery and threw some pasta into a pot of boiling water. Feliciano was now silent and followed his brother with his eyes."Mama used to say Romano had been blessed by the kitchen angel. I think so too." He said with a small smile.
Antonio looked at the child carefully, he had to interview him too, but children were always a lot trickier than adults, although they were more honest. "Was your mommy a really nice lady?" he asked softly. Feliciano nodded quickly.
"She was always nice with everyone. Except with Papa 'cause he was a dummy sometimes." He said absentmindedly.
"How so?" Antonio asked fearing the Vargas had not been in good terms.
"Oh, like, Papa painted a lot and sometimes he'd get something dirty with paint and Mama would chase him with a pillow until he cleaned it! It was very funny! Papa would hide behind Lovi and Mama would call him a coward and Lovi would try to run away, so now Papa chased Lovi while Mama chased Papa! I'd bring more pillows for Mama to throw at Papa and he'd call me a traitor and go after me and tickle me! It's super fun! And-"
Antonio looked up from his notes to see why he had stopped and felt his heart drop when he realized that Feliciano was crying. "… And then we'd all kiss and hug and throw pillows at each other and… a-and…. We all l-loved each other v-v-very much… and I miss them and…" Feliciano's voice was so broken he could no longer talk.
Romano, who had been hearing them, quickly lowered the fire on the stove and walked to his brother who had raised his arms to be held. He picked Feliciano up and held the shaking child close. "I m-miss them Lovi! Tell them to come back!"
Antonio wanted to say he was sorry but Romano wouldn't even look at him, he just shushed and hummed softly for Feliciano, cradling him close. Something beeped on the oven and Romano walked up to it, with Feliciano still in his arms, and turned it off.
"I know it's hard, amore, but you have to answer everything Mr. Spain asks you, okay?" Antonio heard Romano murmur to his crying brother.
"… I'm sorry, fratello, I will…"
"It's okay, Feli, you didn't do anything wrong."
Carefully, Romano placed Feliciano back on his feet and kissed his forehead and cheeks, cleaning his face with his sleeve. "It'll be okay, Feli. We'll have dessert too, si?" Feliciano nodded enthusiastically and walked back to sit in front of Antonio.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Spain. I'm better now." Feliciano said smiling sweetly, although fresh tears still fell from his eyes. Antonio patted Feliciano's head, "You're a very brave boy, Feliciano. Now…" he looked down at his notes.
The next question was 'Is(Are) the eldest sibling(s) caring?' and with a small smile, Antonio checked it.
A.N.: Hey, guys! I hope you liked it! This is the first chapter, though I'll probably throw an epilogue here sooner or later. I wasn't originally going to upload it, and it just started as sketches in my notebook but it was too adorable to keep it to myself. If you really liked it either fav or review, it means the world to me! Thanks again!
P.d.: If you have any requests for this story tell me and I might consider it! I'm open to suggestions!
P.d.2: For some reason Fanfiction erases whenever I write "Mr. Spain" without the space, idk what's wrong with it... so yeah, sorry about that x'3