Afraid of Love

Chapter twenty-four

AN- Heyo, my creatures! Okay guys, imma do this shit!

Tino erased some things off his list discreetly. He frowned as he did so. Nope, couldn't buy that, or that, or that. He had to be cheap this week, it wasn't like he was going to have much money left. Since Tino was so wrapped up in calculating his budget, he was unable to stop himself from bumping into a man in front of him. Surprisingly, though, the man did the exact same thing.

He jumped back, apologising immediately. "Oh my God, I'm so sorry! I didn't- oh, hey Feli."

His Italian friend wiped the prickles of moisture from his eyes and smiled. "Tino! Ciao, how are you?"

Tino smiled back at him. "Hi, I'm good. Oh," Tino turned and gestured to Berwald who had just wheeled the trolley up to them. "this is Berwald, my friend."

Feliciano gasped and ran up to the Swede. "Oh, is he the boy you like? Roderick told me all about him!" He peered at him closely, before back peddling quickly before running behind a tall, severe looking man. "Gah! He's so scary!"

Tino's face burned red. "N-no! Don't be weird, Feliciano! I don't like him like that." He cleared his throat. "And he's not scary… once you get to know him."

Feliciano's friend sighed. "I'm sorry about Feliciano, you probably already know he gets frightened easily." He held out his hand. "I'm Ludwig."

Tino eyed his hand nervously and felt his own palm sweat. He tried to force his arm up. "Hi, I'm Tino, Feli's friend from work."

Feliciano frowned and slapped Ludwig's hand down. "Luddy, I already warned you about talking to Tino! I told you that you need to respect his bubble."

Ludwig's face tinged pink and whipped his hand back. "Oh, uh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to intrude-"

Tino shook his head. "It's fine." He quipped. "Don't worry about it. Anyway, it was nice seeing you Feli, I got to get home soon." He brushed past them, his gut churning with humiliation. He heard Berwald wheel the trolley after him.

Feli waved, a little dazed. "Oh, well, see you at work."

Tino sighed and leaned a hand against a rack in the next isle. Berwald, not sure what to do, almost placed a hand on the Finn's shoulder, but thought better of it and drew his hand back at the last second. "Tino, are you okay?"

He sighed and nodded. "Of course, why wouldn't I be?"

Berwald frowned. "It's the touching thing again, isn't it?"

Tino glared at him out of the corner of his eye. "Shut up, Berwald."

Berwald most definably shut up. Thank God Tino's growing rage was interrupted by his phone buzzing. Growling, Tino snatched the phone out of his pocket and read the message.

Hey Tino

Thanks for getting the shopping

Not really I don't really care

:P

Anyway I'm not gonna be home for a bit

I'm out with some 'friends' from work

Idiots how do they not realise I hate them?

Anyway bye thanks

-Eduard

Tino rolled his eyes. "Great, he's not going to be home for a while. Well, at least I won't have to hear about his stupid kids in his stupid class for the rest of the stupid night."

Berwald's eyes widened. Okay, he had better do his best to not act stupidly around Tino for a while.

The drive to Tino's flat was quiet. Tino was sulking and Berwald was too nervous to ask why. Tino didn't really want to know why Berwald already knew where he lived, and didn't bother asking. Some things were better left unknown.

Berwald sighed, unable to take his usually chatty friend's silence. "Tino, please tell me what's wrong."

Tino hissed. "You want me to tell you what's wrong? Fine. I'm sick of being unable to shake hands some times, or give someone a hug, or seeing that same look of pity, confusion and fear in someone's eye! It's not fair, I want to have relationships with people too, b-but I can't!" Tino's voice grew quieter. "I can't."

Berwald shook his head. "Yes you can. You don't need to touch someone to be in love with them. And you're strong Tino, you're much stronger than me. I'm sure that you'll be able to beat this. But so you know, you don't need to be able to hold my hand for me to love you."

Tino stared at him, opened mouthed and shocked at his revelation. "Oh, uh, um." He wasn't sure what to say. What could he say? He decided just to remain silent, but instead of his moodier silence before, he was smiling this time. Too bad his happiness wasn't to last long, he realised as he saw a familiar, beat up black van parked in front of his apartment building.

Flashback

Seventeen-year-old Tino knocked on Ivan's door. It was one of the rare times he had been home in the past couple of months and Tino was going to take full advantage of it.

He heard a tired voice answer him. "Come in, Tino." Of course he knew it was him, as if anyone else would be knocking on the door of a mafia boss.

He entered his room determinedly. He saw his cousin leaning over a stack of papers, reading them each carefully, but also wearily. "Hi, Ivan. You look tired. You haven't been sleeping well, have you?"

Ivan smiled tiredly and chuckled. "Yes, is it that obvious? Anyway, don't worry about me, is there something upsetting you?"

Tino tugged at his sleeve. "It's nothing, I just wanted to tell you I'm gay. That's all." He quickly turned and forced himself to walk at a calm pace out of the door. But just as he stepped through it, he heard Ivan's voice.

"Da."

Tino felt a corner of his mouth twitch. Of course he knew, and of course he had waited for Tino to tell him. At least he was lucky enough to have Ivan as his family, even if he was the second most dangerous man in Finland and Russia put together. The second, as he was counting himself of course.

Tino felt his stomach grow uneasy and his throat constrict. He swallowed a few times and attempted to wet his lips, to no avail. "Uh, thanks Berwald for helping me." He babbled when they rolled to a stop. He could see Berwald peering suspiciously at the van and he hurried to distract him. "Don't worry about bringing them in, I can do that myself!" He threw himself out of the car, snatching the bags with him. Unfortunately, he felt the car been switched off and Berwald climbed out to assist him. As they carried the bags to the door, Berwald nodded towards the van. "That's a strange van. Who does it belong to?"

Tino swallowed. "Uh, I'm not sure, maybe a new resident?"

But before he could escape into the building, he heard a door slam and someone call out (or at least attempt to) his name. "Hey, Vaina-vaina- ugh. Hey Tino!"

Tino froze and hung his head. Berwald looked at him confused. "I think he knows you."

"Yeah, I'm sure he does." Dumping the bags on the path, Tino turned slowly back around and walked up to the man leaning casually against the black van. He glared at him, and his rage only grew as he heard Berwald stop just behind him. "What do you want, Anderson?"

The man folded his arms and looked at him with a cocky smile. "Sup, dog." Tino growled at the derogatory name, and his smile only grew larger. "There's been a change."

Tino's eye twitched. "I do not like change."

Anderson shrugged. "Too bad, dog. Anyway, pay up."

Tino balled his fists. "What?" he hissed.

"My boss wants his money now, and you're the richest… costumer we have at the moment, so pay up."

"Well obviously your other 'costumers' must be homeless because I don't have your stupid money!"

Anderson frowned. "Well, that's not good. I'm sure you don't want any surprise visits from my colleges now would ya?"

Tino gritted his teeth. "No."

Berwald decided he'd had enough of this, and stepped in front of Tino, using his height and expression to his advantage. "Now, I'm not sure what is going on, but I want you to leave Tino alone."

Anderson snorted. "Who the fuck are you? I don't give a shit about you. Listen buddy, you better back down or you're gonna get hurt."

Tino rolled his eyes and shoved Berwald out of the way. "Okay, Anderson? Shut up. I'll pay you're stupid money at the assigned time. Got it?"

The American clicked his tongue and shook his head. "Too bad, I didn't want to hurt ya." Suddenly, his fist was rushing towards Tino's head. Just as suddenly, though, that same fist was broken by Tino's iron grip.

Anderson screamed in pain while Tino looked down upon him coldly. "I told you, Anderson, I do not have the money right now." He swiftly kicked him in the shin, causing him to fall to the ground. Rage fuelling Tino's actions, he stepped lightly on Anderson's wrist, watching in silent fascination as he writhed on the floor.

Berwald yanked Tino back after he had gotten over his initial shock. "Tino, what the hell are you doing!?"

Tino shook his head and looked around wildly, fear clouding his eyes. "I… I, um nothing…." He felt tears spring to his eyes and he looked up at Berwald. "No… he was about to…" he trailed off. Before he could say anything else to defend himself, he was interrupted by the slam of the van door and the screeching of its tires as it drove off recklessly down the street.

Tino found himself unable to look Berwald in the eyes. How could he have lost it like that in front of him!? Now Berwald knew he was a psychopath. "Uh," he cleared his throat. "Berwald, I…"

Berwald shook his head. "It's okay, it was just self-defence, right? I saw him, he was about to punch you."

Tino nodded vigorously. "Right, self-defence!" They stood there awkwardly in silence, before Tino finally excused himself to his apartment and Berwald left.

AN- Sorry its short! The next one will probably be the same length too. Sorry. W-whatever, I had interesting things in this chapter! You can't judge me!