Chapter 11: Brother's Bullet
There was an echo to the sound of Sadiq's gun. Then, everything went deathly quiet. The masked man let out a few gasping laughs, and Feliciano lay on the floor in shock, unaware of what had just happened. The impact of his fall had jarred him. The first thing he assessed was that he had not, in fact, been hit- at least not by a bullet. Lovino lay beside him, panting, and in his older brother's hand, Feliciano saw the detective's gun.
Sadiq staggered over to lean against an armchair, his hand clutching the spot on his blood-soaked shirt. His mask fell from his face in the underboss' attempt at a smile, but his expression was obviously laced with pain.
"You...damn brat," he spat at Lovino. "Shame...to your family. Only good- for controlling that monster. Still a coward."
"This coward just beat you," Lovino growled back. "Leave my family the fuck alone."
With that, he fired another shot, which sent Sadiq tumbling to the ground. His enemy collapsed with a thud, staining the Vargas' carpet with blood and choking out his last breath. Lovino panted, staring at the fallen underboss. The threat to their house and Feliciano was over. After everything that had happened, after all they had been through, the underboss who had terrorized them and taken control of the Family was dead. However, Lovino, as he soon discovered, was not out of danger yet. Just as he let out a small, exasperated sigh of relief, the gun was snatched out of his tired hand and pressed straight against his head as a heavy weight forced the older Vargas brother onto his back. Lovino's eyes widened as his Feliciano suddenly hovered over him, glaring down at him and sitting on Lovino's stomach to pin him to the floor.
"F-feli-?! W-what the fuck are you doing?!"
"Shut up!" the younger brother spat. "I want answers! This whole time, you've all been using me, and I want to know why! What did he mean by 'controlling'? What are you going to do to me?!"
"Feliciano, stop!" Ludwig shouted, but didn't dare move closer. The crazed man's finger was still on the trigger.
"You stay back," Feliciano warned the others. "This is between me and him!"
"Feli…" Lovino choked, tears leaking from his eyes as he looked up at his brother. "Please…"
"TALK!" the other demanded.
The older brother swallowed thickly, looking up at Feliciano's matching curl.
"I-it's that hair, dammit," he grunted. "That's what makes you...this way. Y-you forget yourself. Turn into someone else. That's- your power." He groaned, having difficulty breathing with the way Feliciano was pressing down on him. "M-mine is- to stop you. Anyone...can trigger you, but- But only I can-"
There was a thumping noise down the hall and a new duo burst in, clad in police uniforms. Upon seeing them, Feliciano jumped in surprise, whipping his head in their direction.
"Freeze!" one of the officers shouted, but Feliciano had no intention of doing any such thing. He pulled up on Lovino's collar, thinking to use him as a hostage. However, his plans were sabotaged by the hand that flew up to hit his weapon. The ringing of the shot that followed startled everyone present. Feliciano glared down at his brother, who was now wrestling him for the gun.
Feliciano struck Lovino hard across the face, but his older brother didn't give up. Red with fury and frustration, he attempted to tear the gun out of Feliciano's grip as the newcomers watched in shock.
"Lovino!" Antonio's voice rang out across the room.
Lovino flinched, giving Feliciano the opportunity he was looking for. He moved a knee forward and pinned Lovino's hand down with all his weight. The other shouted in pain and attempted to roll over and throw his brother off of him. Feliciano only threw a hand down next to Lovino's head, effectively keeping his balance and trapping some of Lovino's hair under his fingers. Lovino jerked his head away and then...went very quiet.
Everything around them seemed to stop. The police officers, the detective, Ludwig- they all disappeared. It was only Lovino and Feliciano, in their own private time and space. Feliciano frowned down in confusion as his brother stopped struggling. Lovino didn't say anything, only stared up at him for a moment before closing his eyes and giving a resigned sigh. "Alright, Feli. I'm not going to fight you any more," he told him. "I came here...to save you, but if you- if you're happier this way, then, I guess you don't really need me anymore. I only wanted to bring you home and tell you that the old man is alive."
Feliciano's eyes widened, but he still pointed the gun at his brother shakily. "Are you- Are you trying to trick me? You think I fucking believe that?"
"I doesn't matter what I think," Lovino replied gently. "As long as you hear it. I'm sure he'd like to see you again, so after this is over, at least make sure you go find him, okay?"
"What the hell is wrong with you?!" Feliciano demanded. "You're acting fucking weird! This isn't...like you." His face sobered for a moment as he attempted to make sense of his brother's new approach to calming him. There was something holding Feliciano back now. His desire to kill was waning…
"Feli," Lovino mumbled. "Feli, if you're in there, please come back…"
Feliciano leaned closer, shifting his weight off of Lovino's arm, but still wavering. Doubt clouded his mind, and he didn't know what to think anymore. It was as if two voices were shouting at him at once, causing Feliciano to hold his throbbing head in pain. Kill him! No! He's your brother! Your BROTHER!
He slammed his hand down next to Lovino's head again. Then, suddenly, reality came rushing back at them and Feliciano felt himself tumbling to one side. His brother, who had been completely docile only a moment ago, now rolled over on top of him with new aggression. The younger brother gave an angry shout, but Lovino already had a hold of his hair curl and didn't hesitate to give it a strong jerk.
"OW!" Feliciano whined, tears forming in his eyes. "Lovino, that hurt!"
The older brother knocked the gun away from Feliciano's limp hand and slowly moved off of him.
"Feli? Are you...yourself again?"
"Myself? Yes, I'm me!" Feliciano cried. "And you're...Lovino- what happened?" He frowned in confusion, tears streaming down his face. "I had a dream that I went crazy...Tried to hurt you...and then, you- you tricked me-"
Lovino sighed, shaking his head.
"It wasn't a dream, Feli. But it's alright now. Everything's going to be okay."
The older brother gave a pained grunt as Feliciano hugged him fiercely, oblivious to the bandages that covered his shoulder wound.
"O-ow, fuck! Stop! That fucking hurts, you dumbass!"
"It is you! It's really you!"
"Yes, dammit! Now let GO of me!"
His half-hearted attempts to peel his younger brother off of him failed until suddenly, they were approached by the two police officers.
"Lovino, Feliciano...You're going to need to come with us," Antonio told them.
Feliciano let out a small shriek and hid behind his brother.
"I don't want to go to jail! I'm innocent!"
"H-hey! Everything that happened here was self-defense!" Lovino blurted out, glaring at the cops and leaning back against Feliciano.
"Relax," the second cop told them. "We're not taking you to jail."
"Francis is right," Antonio reassured them. "You're under our custody and protection until the trial's over and the organization's successfully shut down! Those were the conditions your father agreed to."
"Ja," another voice chimed in. "Though I don't think Mr. Don would be too happy with the way his brats almost got their brains blown out."
The smirking detective came to stand beside the police officers, leaving a very dumbfounded Ludwig staring behind him.
"Gilbert! I can't believe you're here!" Francis groaned. "You were supposed to stay away from the Vargas house."
"Couldn't help myself, Franny," Gilbert replied with a shrug. "Not once I saw there was so much action going on down here! Kesese…"
"GILBERT!" Ludwig shouted suddenly. "Are you telling me you've been working with these officers the entire time?!"
The detective flinched slightly at the sound of the angry voice behind him, but soon turned to face his brother.
"Ja...Sorry, West. It was all top secret- I couldn't tell anyone, not even you."
"If you knew what I had to put up with while you were gone...I thought you had disappeared!"
Gilbert sighed, walking back towards the other and leaning against his shoulder.
"You can't get rid of me that easy. Tell you what, next time I go undercover, I'll book you a vacation wherever you want! Then you won't even have to think about your big brother until you get back. How does that sound?"
"I think you're missing the point of this entirely!"
They continued to argue in the background as Antonio went over to examine Sadiq's body. Meanwhile, Francis started to call for backup. Feliciano was still in panic, but as for Lovino, the older brother was just trying to process everything that had happened and what the future held for them.
"So this is it," he told Feliciano. "No more mob. The old man's alive, but he'll probably spend the rest of his life in the slammer. And you and me? Fuck, I don't know what the hell is going to happen to us. I'm so damn sick of everything being decided for us. I just want to get the hell out of here."
"B-but Lovi," his younger brother whined. "This is our home! I don't want to leave this place!"
"Is it really home if he's not here?" Lovino asked him quietly. "Even with you...this house is just gonna be too damn quiet and weird. I don't want to stay somewhere like that."
Feliciano sat silently, his arms wrapped tight around his brother, seeking comfort. Lovino was right. This house and everything in it- nothing would be the same if their family was separated. It was strange to think that their father would not be coming home. The Don had given up his freedom to make sure his sons would be safe...Feliciano could understand that. What he didn't want was to lose the only family he had left.
"My home's wherever you are, Lovi," he said finally. "If you want to leave, I'll follow you."
Lovino didn't answer, but gradually, his lips formed into a smile, and he gave a small nod. The two of them were a team and always would be. He had been so afraid of losing Feliciano that he hadn't given much thought of what would happen after he had found him. Now they had finally been reunited, and without the Family to control them, the future of the Vargas brothers held a great deal more possibilities. Lovino rose to his feet, helping Feliciano up, too.
"Come on. Let's go have a talk with the old man."
A/N: So at long last, this fic finally comes to an end. I don't usually leave stories as open-ended as this, but in this case, it just felt right. The brothers are back together- that's the most important part! I liked leaving their future a little more mysterious.
I want to thank everyone who's been sticking with this story so far. I appreciate your patience and hope that you enjoyed every bit of this! I made the decision to remove Francis' accent since he was the only character that had one, and after a while, it started to get awkward to write. I'll be editing his lines from Chapter 9, too. Sorry about that! Even after writing for so many years, I'm still learning new things all the time, and I hope I'll be able to contribute a lot more in the future. I love these characters and this series; it was a pleasure to write something for the Italy brothers in particular. The story decided it wanted to focus on platonic relationships, and I am totally okay with that! I hope you liked it, too. Thanks again for reading!