Lovino couldn't remember or imagine a life outside the tomato garden. Well, that wasn't entirely true- he could remember a bubbly brother that he'd once had, but the last time he'd seen Feliciano was years ago, and by now he could barely remember the other's face. But he didn't allow himself to dwell on that, and instead focused on the present. Don't look behind, don't look ahead. Keep your mind on the present. Tackle each day as it comes. That was the rule to surviving for him. Being just over five inches tall certainly didn't help in that endeavor, but he'd managed so far.
The little Italian (they'd come from Italy, both him and his brother) lived in the farthest corner of a rather large tomato garden that belonged to a cheerful Spaniard. Lovino had only ever spotted him from a distance, and there was no way he'd ever let himself be seen. He didn't think the human would take kindly to what he would probably think of as a rat having lived in his garden for so long, no matter how much Lovino had helped. He would tend to the garden at night or whenever the human was gone, snapping off dying leaves and bad tomatoes, and scaring off the odd squirrel or small bird. Plus he took one or two small tomatoes for himself so he could live.
But still, he didn't think the Spaniard would appreciate it, so he stayed hidden. It all worked out very well for him until one night, when there was a violent storm. Lovino was woken in the middle of the night by it, and he raced out of his little leaf and twig and mud home to check on the plants.
There was already some damage done by the wind and rain, and he darted about doing his best to fix whatever he could, strengthening the bottom of the stems of the plants by packing more dirt, anything. He almost got blown away a few times, just managing to save himself by hanging on for dear life to a stem or leaf. But he tired quickly as well, and about fifteen minutes after he started he didn't notice where he was going and plunged into a raging river of water (in reality it was a small stream going around the edge of the garden).
The cold water woke him up and he cried out, but of course there was no one there to hear him. He swallowed the muddy water a few times and, coughing, found himself losing consciousness. Lovino panicked and thrashed around more, eventually coming to a bank at around the middle of the front of the garden. He hung on as tight as he could and eventually managed to pull himself up a bit. His legs were still in the water, but not deep enough for the current to pull him away. He collapsed in the dirt and blacked out moments later.
The next morning the Spaniard woke to the smell of rain and headed to the window, rubbing his eyes. As soon as he looked through it, he froze in place for a moment before quickly sprinting down the stairs- he even forgot that he was only in boxers. That tomato garden was the most important thing to the Spanish man- Antonio, his name was. He had started growing tomatoes since he was a child. It was his livelihood, his profession, and his hobby, and if there had been a storm he had to check that they were all alright.
So he flung the door open and froze once more as a block of what felt like solid ice but was really just air hit his body. Pushing through it and ignoring his goosebumps (Antonio hated the cold), the man gritted his teeth and went to check on the closest patch, collecting his bag of tools along the way. It only took a minute to check and rigorously clean each plant, and he moved along quickly. One, fine, two, fine, three, fine, four, fine - wait.
Antonio blinked as he looked down at the form he had almost stepped over. It was covered in mud, so you could hardly blame him, but there was a small amount of skin showing. In fact, it looked like a tiny human. Antonio chuckled to himself at the thought- a tiny human, how adorable!- but there was no denying what was there. And perhaps it wasn't real, but if it was...
The Spaniard looked between the tiny human and the tomatoes almost desperately for a few moments, but living beings were more important so he scooped the small man up and took him inside, laying him out on the kitchen table and oh so carefully wiping the mud off him. He saw the small man's chest rising- the little thing was breathing. Antonio stood for a moment, unsure what else to do, what else he could do without hurting it, before rushing and cutting off a small square from an old t-shirt and laying it over the smaller one, then lighting a candle to place near, and then simply watching and waiting and hoping the poor thing wouldn't catch a cold.
About a half hour later, Lovino started to wake. His breathing became more jagged and he suddenly turned onto his side, coughing and even retching some of the muddy water out. He clutched onto the fabric over him for dear life, before suddenly freezing.
There was fabric, foreign fabric over him. He was warm, and on a hard surface. Shit, had he been discovered? He started trembling slightly and didn't dare open his eyes or move. Shit, shit, this was so bad. He only prayed that the Spaniard wasn't around anywhere.
"Are you okay?" The voice came quickly, a little hushed lest it disturb the small human too much, and worried.
Lovino jumped slightly and then stiffened, still not daring to turn around. He mentally exploded into cursing again and curled up a bit more.
"Hey, what is it? I-I can get you a drink if you like? Or some food..." Antonio came closer, his eyes growing worried now as he tilted his head at the figure.
Shit, this guy wasn't going to leave him alone, was he? Lovino cracked his eyes open and glanced around. There was nothing he could use as a weapon, damnit. He slowly, oh so slowly turned his head around, and froze as he made eye contact with the bright green eyes- brightest he'd ever seen. "J-Just go away!" he managed to find his voice after a few moments.
Antonio broke into a smile as he looked as he met Lovino's eyes, but his face soon dropped back into worry. "But you're hurt! And besides, this is my house..."
...The human had a point. "Then let me go!" Lovino raised his voice a bit, putting as much authority into it as he could muster- and as much as he dared. "I'm fine!"
"You might catch a cold." Antonio said, shaking his head. "At least stay and heal up a little first- you could die if you go back so soon."
"I've managed on my own for this long, I don't need your help." Lovino muttered, scooting back a bit to put some more distance between them. "...Why did you help me?"
Antonio blinked. "Because you could have been hurt. You were covered in mud and were out in the storm, I couldn't leave you there..."
At this, Lovino went silent for a while. "...You're not wanting to sell me or experiment on me?" he asked, still suspicious. But he lowered the piece of fabric down a little and slowly got into a more comfortable sitting position.
"Why would I want to do that?" Antonio frowned slightly, then shook his head. "I just don't want you to get ill."
"You're a human." Lovino snapped. "That's what humans do. And I wouldn't get ill." Of course that was the very moment he had to sneeze.
Antonio chuckled softly at the noise, moving closer to nudge the candle a little nearer to the smaller man. "Well not all humans do that."
"Most do!" Lovino immediately moved back again. "And I've survived this long! You didn't even notice me bef-" He snapped his mouth shut and looked away. Shit.
Noticing his movement Antonio quickly pulled away, not wanting to frighten the poor Italian. "Well not me. ...So how long have you been here...?" The Spaniard tilted his head curiously.
"What does it matter to you? A long time." And it looked like he'd have to leave soon... That was if this damned human would let him go.
"Really? And I never noticed you here..."
"You weren't supposed to. You're not supposed to know I exist." Lovino sighed quietly and stood up on shaky legs. "Let me go." He took a step forward and almost collapsed again, so he sat back down.
"No, no, lo siento, ah, sorry! But you need to get better first..." Antonio's eyes widened and he rushed forward for a second in case the Italian fell.
"Don't touch me!" Lovino jerked back again. "At least give me that..." He'd just have to wait until the human left to make his escape, then.
"Ah, sorry..." Antonio sat back again, watching the other. "...Como te llamas?"
It took a moment for Lovino to process this and while he still wasn't sure what exactly the human was asking, he got a fair gist. "You're asking my name?"
"Sí! You have one, right?" Antonio grinned at him.
Lovino was caught off guard by the smile, though in hindsight should have expected it. This guy was always so damn cheery. "...Lovino. My name is Lovino."
"Lovino...it's nice." Antonio's smile softened as he said it, but then his eyes widened and he realized something. "Ah! I'm Antonio!"
"Fucking nice to meet you." Lovino muttered. At least he had a name to the face. But it was a nice name, he supposed, and it suited the human.
Smile growing again at the Italian's words, Antonio nodded. "Sí, you too!"
"...Are you always this cheerful? And don't you have a tomato garden to tend? The plants in the back got the worst of it, I think one or two of them might have been snapped by the wind. I tried-" Lovino suddenly stopped himself again. He couldn't be friendly! "Yeah go check up on your shitty tomatoes."
"Eh? But I don't want to leave you... What if something happens?" Antonio bit his lip- he was eager to check on his beloved tomatoes, but he couldn't leave Lovino alone.
"I'll be fine!" Lovino insisted. Luckily the human- Antonio- didn't seem to realize that he knew a lot more about his garden than he should.
"But you have a cold!" Antonio shifted slightly, giving Lovino a worried look. "I don't want you to get worse..."
"I won't, damnit!" Lovino replied with a glare. "I told you, I managed this long!" Plus it was disconcerting having this human giving him that look. As if he cared so so much for Lovino's health and safety.
"I know, but still..." Antonio glanced down slightly and gave a tiny sigh.
"Still what?" Lovino frowned.
Antonio stayed silent for a moment before suddenly looking up with a grin. "I can go out and check on all the tomatoes and then bring one back in for you! I don't know if you've ever had one, but I'm sure you'll really like it, and it'll be good for you!"
Oh Dio... "I've had tomatoes before, idiot!"
"Really?!' Antonio's face softened. "And you like them, sí?"
"They're all I've been able to eat, so yeah, I'd say I like them."
"Heh." Antonio chuckled to himself. "I noticed. I could always offer you something else if you prefer though...?"
Lovino suddenly went pale. "Y-You noticed? Noticed what?"
"I know when a tomato goes missing from my garden, Lovi." Antonio stood and headed to the taps, finding a small bowl and filling it with water. "I just put it down to being an accident or an animal, but I guess that was you, huh?" Coming back to the table, he placed the bowl near Lovino. "It'll be good for you to drink something."
Lovino's cheeks burned red. "Don't call me Lovi." He didn't make a move for the water, preferring to lower his head instead.
"Oh, you don't like it?" Antonio cocked his head. "What is it?"
"Nothing." After a few moments, Lovino slowly stood again and approached the bowl. So he wasn't as invisible as he thought...
"Okay." Antonio watched him with curiosity for a moment. "...I hope you don't mind me asking, but what exactly are you?"
"I don't know. I'm just small." Lovino drank a bit and then sat back. "Look, just leave already. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure...?" Antonio hesitated slightly, but stood.
"Yes." Lovino scrambled back some more as Antonio rose, looking away from the expanse of skin and stomach presented to him.
"...All right..." Antonio threw one last worried look at Lovino before turning and leaving.
Lovino waited a few minutes once he was gone to make his move. Walking over to the edge of the table, he peered down it nervously. The ground was so far away... But there was a slid-out chair nearby where Antonio had been sitting. The Italian made his way over to it and slowly worked up his courage to jump. It took a few minutes, but then he slipped off the edge.
It was a slightly jarring impact that knocked the breath from him, but he wasn't seriously hurt. He had fallen from taller tomato plants, but the ground outside was obviously a bit softer. After collecting himself, Lovino made his way to the edge of the chair. It was a bit of a larger drop, but not by much. He leapt off and landed in a heap.
"Fucking humans..." Lovino muttered to himself as he stood. This perspective was frightening, he decided as he looked around. He estimated that his time to get down had probably been around ten or fifteen minutes, which meant he still had some time to hide.
Lovino ran from the kitchen, out of breath by the time he crossed the floor, and he looked around again. There was always the living room, which he could see right across the hall, but that was probably one of the first places Antonio would look. In the hallway there was a low table, a shoe rack, and the door. Making up his mind, he ran and hid behind the leg of the table nearest the rack and the door.
Admittedly, Antonio rushed in the garden a little, eager to get back to the Italian in the kitchen. When he got back, however, Lovino wasn't there. "...Lovino?" Antonio called, looking around. Had he fallen somewhere? Antonio quickly looked down, making sure he wasn't stepping on the other. "Lovino? I-I brought a tomato..."
Lovino shook his head. Like hell he was coming out so easily.
After checking the kitchen, Antonio hurried to the living room, looking around, under the table and sofa and oh dear god where was he? Antonio froze. What if the cat got him? "Lovino?! Lovino, are you okay?!"
Lovino started snickering a bit. Of course he was fine. Then he heard a small whump from the direction of the stairs and he froze. Slowly turning his head in that direction, his legs started trembling. There was a cat. There was a fucking cat. It must have been sleeping upstairs and woken by the stupid human's commotion.
It tilted its head when it noticed the small man, first one way, then the other. Then, it suddenly bounded down the steps towards the Italian.
Lovino screamed and ran out from his hiding place, running to the living room and the safety that Antonio provided. Well, it was safer than the fucking cat. "Antonio!" he yelled, practically crashing into the man's foot and holding on tightly to his ankle.
Antonio blinked and quickly stooped to pick the Italian up, as gently as possible. "Lovino! Are you alright?"
"N-No I'm not fucking all right, you've got a fucking CAT!" Lovino let out another cry as he was picked up, and curled into a ball.
"I-I said you should stay!" Antonio quickly carried him over to the living room table, muttering to himself. "Estupido..."
"Did you really think I was going to? You're a fucking human!" Lovino heard the mutter though, and lowered his head. "Just let me go."
"Stupid... I'm so stupid, I'm sorry, Lovino, I should have warned you!" Antonio set him down. "Please don't go just because of that... I-I promise I'll make you better first, please accept that. Por favor?"
"Make me better?" Lovino backed away from him. "You've already touched me enough!"
"Ah..." Antonio pulled his busy hands to his sides. "Lo siento... But I won't have to touch you. I can bring you food and water, and give you a warm blanket, at least until your cold goes away. I want to make it up to you..."
Lovino looked up at him and some of his anger melted away at Antonio's face. "I- ...Fine. I'll stay this one night. But! I'm leaving tomorrow morning, and you're keeping that cat away from me."
"Sí, of course!" Antonio quickly brightened and nodded. "I'll make sure you're better by then!"
"Fine." Lovino looked around. "Where is the bastard?"
On cue, the cat strolled in to the living room, sat down, and gave a meow, watching Lovino.
"Arlo, stay away, sí?" Antonio pleaded.
"You stay the fuck away from me." Lovino spat at it.
"Hey, he doesn't mean harm." Antonio said quietly. "You're safe with me, don't worry."
"Well, safer with you." Lovino muttered, sitting down on the tabletop.
"As safe as you can be. I promise you, you're safer here than out there right now."
Lovino looked up at him critically.
"You what?" The Italian looked away. "...I'm a bit hungry..."
"Ah, sí, I'll get you something!" Antonio said, quickly standing. "Is there anything you want or...?"
N-No tomatoes." Lovino jumped at the speed of his rising. "I'd like to try something new."
"Vale... How about tortilla de patatas?" The Spaniard replied, moving to the kitchen to retrieve his utensils.
"What is that?" Lovino called after him.
"Ah, potato omelet. It's made with eggs." Antonio poked his head round the door, and his brows rose as he noticed the cat. He rushed in to pick Arlo up, bringing him back to the kitchen to keep an eye on him. Arlo meowed sadly.
Lovino breathed a small sigh of relief once the cat was gone. "What's an omelet?"
Antonio glanced up again. "...You can come watch, if you want."
The little Italian hesitated, but then shook his head. "No."
"All right." Antonio said with a shrug, starting on the omelet. "You just beat some eggs. You can add other things to it if you like; I usually add potatoes, herbs, cheese..."
Lovino sat silently and listened to him.
"Anyway, it only takes about twenty minutes, including the potato!"
"Isn't that fucking great." Lovino muttered to himself, stretching out on the table and closing his eyes.
"Hm? I can use cooked potatoes, that only takes ten minutes..."
As promised, within ten minutes, Antonio finished the food, and he set a small portion in front of Lovino with a flourish.
Lovino looked at it in surprise. It looked- and smelled so good. "Thanks."
"De nada! Ah, I don't have very small cutlery, so should I cut it up for you?" Antonio sat down for his own portion- he didn't want to waste the rest.
"That's fine." Lovino couldn't take his eyes off the food.
Antonio smiled and cut the food up into smaller pieces for the Italian. "Do you want any sauce?"
"Sauce? What kind of sauce?" Lovino was unable to keep from scooting a bit closer to him out of curiosity.
"Well there's ketchup- ah, that's made with tomato- mayonnaise- that's egg- and I think there's some barbeque, but I don't think that would go too well. Ah! There is also salsa, which is a little spicy but muy deliciosa!"
"The tomato one."
"Vale! Una segunda!" Antonio quickly dashed off, returning moments later with some of his own tomato ketchup and pouring a little onto the plate. "Comer bien!"
"Umm, come again?" Lovino blinked up at him, confused.
"Hm? Que?" Antonio's returning look mirrored Lovino's confusion.
"What did you say? The last bit."
"Oh, no Spanish?" Antonio's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Eat well!"
Lovino shook his head. "Italian. But thanks, I guess."
"Ah, I see! Well you are very welcome!"
"Yeah..." Lovino had to look away from that bright smile before he started feeling too guilty. He quickly ate all that he could- which was two whole bites- and then turned away. "It was good."
Antonio's smile grew even further. "Really?! Ah, I'm so glad you liked it, Lovi!"
"Don't call me Lovi. Don't you have other things to do?"
"Ah, lo siento, I forgot... And I have some free time." Antonio shrugged.
"Wonderful... Can you find something to do?"
"Oh... Sí, I can..." Antonio thought for a moment, before heading up the stairs, returning with an acoustic guitar and settling on the extremely comfortable sofa.
"What are you doing?" Lovino turned again and watched him with a raised eyebrow.
Lovino rolled his eyes and lay down again, letting his eyelids slip shut.
After a small chuckle, Antonio focused on his guitar, starting up the song and singing softly along with it. His fingers played with the strings masterfully, his voice layering and harmonizing with the sounds, and his face grew soft.
After a few seconds of it, Lovino sat up again and his eyes snapped open. His mouth fell into a small 'o' and he stared up at the Spaniard.
Antonio leaned back as he finished the song before glancing at Lovino and blinking as he realized Lovino was looking back at him. "...Que?"
"O-Oh." Lovino coughed and looked away. "You play that thing well. And you have a nice voice."
"You think so?" Antonio gave Lovino a soft smile. "Gracias."
God that fucking smile... "Don't mention it." Lovino turned a bit red again and lay back down.
Antonio simply chuckled and continued playing.
Lovino huffed a bit at him but continued listening. Antonio played more songs and the time slipped by and before either of them realized it was evening. Lovino was startled. He'd never been so relaxed for so long before. He wanted to blame the Spaniard for doing this to him, for lulling him into such a sense of security, but he couldn't. Antonio had kept his word about the safety, so Lovino had nothing to yell at him for.
Antonio blinked and turned to the Italian. "Sí?"
"It's late. I'm hungry again, and could I have that warm blanket?"
"Of course!" Antonio gave him the scrap of material, then went to the kitchen. "Do you want something new, or tortilla de patatas again?"
"Just anything. But something quick." Lovino curled up around the fabric, reveling in its warmth.
"I have some stuff left over from last night..." Antonio said thoughtfully, then going to the kitchen and bringing out the food in a bowl. "Patatas bravas! And chorizo!" he announced cheerfully, cutting off a small amount to give to Lovino.
"Go ahead and try it!"
Lovino hesitantly took some and ate it. "It's all right." he said, nodding and taking more.
"I'm glad you like it!" the Spaniard replied, grinning in relief as he settled down to finish what he'd left himself.
"Yeah, I do." Lovino smiled a tiny bit. "It's good food, thanks for it."
Antonio's eyes and smile both widened as he watched Lovino- and his adorable smile. "Sí! You're welcome! I'll give you some any time, really."
"No." The smile vanished and Lovino shook his head. "You won't see me once I'm gone."
"Not at all?" Antonio's face fell a little.
"No. You can't see me. You shouldn't have seen me."
"But- Now I have, so it doesn't matter, right?"
"It does matter!" Lovino yelled up at him suddenly. "It matters and it has to stop and you're a fucking idiot if you thought we could be friends or something! So just go, okay. I appreciate the concern and hospitality but it isn't needed."
"I-" Antonio looked down and nodded his head slightly. "I see. Lo siento, Lovino." he said quietly, standing. "Ah... Goodnight, then."
Lovino shut his eyes tight so he wouldn't have to see the look on his face and curled up. "Good night."
Antonio left for his room. Just before he started up the stairs, however, he glanced back at the shape on his table. "...Buenos noches, Lovi." he whispered to himself. And then he vanished, quickly followed by Arlo.
Lovino curled up tighter, not even knowing why he felt so terrible, and drifted off to sleep.
When the sun rose the next morning, Antonio woke and immediately bumbled down the stairs to check on Lovino. He hadn't left, had he? Had anything happened? What if he wasn't there?
No, Lovino was still there, and he was woken by the sounds of Antonio's movements. He sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes, looking up just as the Spaniard came in.
Coming to a halt, a gentle smile came across Antonio's face. "Buenos dias." he said quietly.
"...Hi there." Lovino lowered his gaze and shifted awkwardly. Should he just go now? Ask for breakfast? Wait until Antonio had done his gardening for the day?
"Ah, would you like some churros?" Antonio asked after a moment of watching, striding over to the kitchen to start making some.
"What are churros?" Lovino called after him, picking up his makeshift blanket and moving so he could see a little bit into the kitchen.
"Delicioso! They're sticks of fried, uh, dough. Covered in cinnamon! And I have some dolche de leche left, I think- it's a sweet cream."
"Sounds good." Lovino mumbled, burying his face in the fabric. He'd miss this food, so he shouldn't indulge...
"Sí!" Minutes later, Antonio took a slice off the end of a stick, dusted it with cinnamon, then put a dab of the cream on the side for Lovino to try, before bringing it in to the Italian.
Lovino ate it slowly. After the first swallow he nodded. "It's good." Really good, actually. "Can I have water?"
"Of course!" Antonio nodded, bringing him the water in the small bowl from yesterday.
"Thanks." The Italian took a quick drink and then looked up at him. "I should go."
"Right now?" Antonio tilted his head a little. "...Do you feel better?"
"Yes, I'm fine." Lovino struggled to hold his gaze and after a few moments lowered his head.
"Ah, that's good! I'm glad I could help, even a little..." Antonio flashed the other a bright smile. "So I suppose it's okay for you to go back, then..."
Lovino couldn't help quirking his lips up in response, though he quickly pulled his face back into its neutral expression. "Yes. If you could just go and open the door..." He stood and then hopped down from the table onto the ground.
Antonio nodded and headed to the door, opening it and then looking back at Lovino. "...Are you sure you won't stay?"
"I'm sure. I can't stay." Lovino slowly made his way across the floor, occasionally looking around for Arlo.
"I-I can at least take you back?" Antonio gave him a small, sad smile.
Oh fuck oh fuck oh- "Fine. But only to the edge of the garden." Fuck this man's smile to high hell. "And don't grab me."
Antonio nodded and stooped to hold a hand out in front of the Italian.
Taking a shaky breath, Lovino slowly stepped on. He looked around for a moment, and then quickly sat down in the middle of Antonio's palm.
After a small chuckle Antonio headed off, pausing to hush and pet a crying Arlo before leading Lovino to the edge of his garden and setting his hand down.
Lovino didn't get off at first. He sat there and slowly patted the darker skin beneath him. "Thanks for taking care of me and shit." he muttered, raising his head to look at Antonio for a moment.
Antonio blinked, then gently smiled. "De nada. Will you be alright the rest of the way?"
"Yeah, thanks." Lovino stood up and stepped off, quickly running for one of the tomato plants. He paused when he reached the stem and looked back for a moment. "Bye, Antonio." he called, and then vanished into the depths of the garden.
The Spaniard's smile grew, and he waved after the small man. "Goodbye! Hasta luego!" he called, then added quietly, "Safe journey." He'd see the Italian again, he was sure. "Shh, Arlo, shh." he said as he passed the cat, stepping back into the house and taking a deep sigh.
It took Lovino about ten minutes to navigate the garden, though he didn't walk very quickly. He was slightly nervous as he approached the corner where his home was, and his fears were well founded. There was nothing there.
Lovino froze. Everything had either been washed away by the storm or cleared out by Antonio that morning. The corner was empty, and the little man didn't have any trace of his home left. He wanted to cry, but bit his lip harshly until he tasted blood and stayed silent and dry-eyed.
Slowly moving forward again, he examined the whole area before his shoulders slumped in defeat. Then he allowed himself to curl up and cry, sobbing silently for a long time. Finally, when there was nothing left, he stood and slowly, oh so slowly, made his way back across the garden.
He could leave, he supposed. Find a new garden, build a new home. But it was a lot of work, and there was no guarantee he'd survive or find a new place that was close by. And there had been something in Antonio's eyes...
He steeled himself and set off across the lawn. It took him the better part of an hour, and then another half to climb up the deck stairs. Looking around, he spotted a flower box hanging from the railing and decided to climb up, a task that also took him a while. But the grooves in the wood aided him, and by mid-afternoon he was settled in his perch amongst the flowers while he waited for Antonio to next walk past.
It was only half an hour later that Antonio came out for his siesta, sighing as he rested his arms over the railing and looked out onto the garden.
Lovino slowly crept out from the flower box and approached him. "Antonio?" he asked quietly.
Antonio jumped very slightly and he looked towards the sound, unsure if he really heard it. When he realized that he had, his eyes widened. "Lovino? What is it, is something wrong?"
"I-" Lovino looked down. "Is the- Is the offer-" His throat closed and he couldn't say anymore, and his hands clenched into fists as he looked down at his feet.
"The offer?" Antonio frowned as he thought, but then smiled slightly. Not completely, in case he misunderstood, but he couldn't fully keep his smile at bay. "You want to stay?" he asked quietly.
"If I could..." Lovino mumbled, not looking at him.
A wide smile broke across Antonio's face, and he laughed gladly. "Of course!" he replied cheerfully, placing his open hand by Lovino. He only wished he could hug the little Italian.
Lovino looked up at him strangely. Why was he so happy? But still, he walked forward and settled in Antonio's palm again. "Thanks."
"Of course!" Antonio took him to the living room table, setting him down there and looking at him. He couldn't stop grinning. "So what made you change your mind? My winning Spanish charm?" he asked with a playful wink.
"Wh-" Lovino turned red. "Fuck you, of course not!" His hands clenched again. "My home's gone..."
"I suppose my Spanish charm is the same as every other Spanish man's Spanish charm..." Antonio said, then sighed and crouched so his eyes were level with Lovino's. The poor man really did want to go home... "I'm sorry to hear that, Lovino. If you like, I can try and help you build a new one... Though it probably is easier to stay here with me. But I don't mind."
"Your so called charm is stupid." Lovino declared. "But...I suppose it worked a bit." He stepped forward and lightly placed a hand on Antonio's nose. "Yeah, it would be easier. I can really stay?"
Antonio's eyes flicked between Lovino's hand and his face, and he blinked before a soft, caring smile came across his face. "Of course."
Lovino gave his nose a small squeeze before stepping away and coughing. "But if you expect me to sleep down here every night you're mistaken. It's uncomfortable!" he huffed weakly.
"Ah, don't worry, you can sleep with me!" Antonio declared. "I mean, I have a pillow, and I can make some blankets for you!"
Lovino absolutely did not get red at the first part. "That will work. But Antonio- you can't tell anyone about me, understand? Not your friends, not your girlfriend or whatever, not a soul."
Antonio nodded. "I won't tell anybody, I swear."
"Okay. Good." Lovino glanced around. "So where's the cat?"
"He'll be wandering around somewhere... Oh, I could bring him in! That way you'll get used to each other a little!"
"...He won't hurt me?" Lovino backed away a little, looking up at the Spaniard with some apprehension.
"I'll make sure of it." Antonio said seriously. "He's a friendly cat, but, sí, he's a little energetic."
Lovino snorted. "Sounds like you."
"Aww, Lovi, you think I'm friendly?" Antonio lit up.
"What did I say about the name? And yeah yeah, I think you're friendly. You've been nice to me, right?"
"Ahh, but it suits you- Gracias!"
Lovino sighed, knowing he wouldn't win this. "Fine. You can call me Lovi if you really want."
"Really?! Sí, I do want to!" Antonio nodded happily.
"Okay." Lovino couldn't help smiling a bit again. "You were going to get the cat? Arlo, was it?" he prodded.
"Ah, sí!"Antonio stood again. "Uno momento." Within a few seconds, he was back, holding Arlo. As soon as the cat saw Lovino, however, he squirmed out of Antonio's arms and dashed towards the small human. "A-Arlo- no, wait-" Antonio called, chasing after the cat.
"H-Hey!" Lovino turned and ran, jumping from the table to the couch in hopes of putting more space between himself and the feline.
But Arlo just jumped the distance, knocking the Italian gently to the cushions and curling around him, rubbing his cheek against Lovino.
"A-Ack-" Lovino went down with a whump, limbs flailing. When he came up again he found himself in a sea of fur with a faceful of cat rubbing against him. "Stupid cat." he muttered, though shakily reached out and patted Arlo's nose.
"I- I think he likes you." Antonio chucked sheepishly, and as if to prove it, Arlo began to purr.
"No shit." Lovino relaxed a little bit and petted Arlo more. At least the cat didn't want to eat him or anything.
Arlo simply rubbed against the Italian more as Antonio laughed. "Well, I guess that's you acquainted then."
After a few moments though, Lovino lightly tried to shove his face away. "All right, cat, that's enough. Get off me, you giant furball."
Arlo stood with an indignant meow, nudging Lovino with his nose.
"Oi!" Lovino shoved back. "That's enough for now!"
"Come on." Antonio said, picking Arlo up (which induced another meow) and moving him away.
"Thank you." Lovino said with a small huff, falling back onto the couch and staring up at the ceiling.
"De nada..." Antonio moved over, taking the seat next to Lovino. "So where did you come from?" he asked out of curiosity.
"Italy." Lovino managed to get out before he suddenly found himself sliding down the small dip Antonio's body created and crashing against the Spaniard's leg. "On a- ship."
Looking down at the sudden pressure, Antonio smiled. "Ah I see. Are there others like you? You must have come from somewhere..."
"I had a brother, once." Lovino said quietly, trying to get back up and pushing against Antonio's thigh. "Dunno where he is now. Probably dead. And dunno if there are others either."
"Oh..." Antonio breathed, and after a brief moment of hesitation, scooped the Italian up and set him in his lap. "I'm sorry about that... Did he stay in Italy?"
"Wh-" Lovino started when he was moved, though he quickly settled down. "No, he came here with me. Then we got separated about six or so years ago? Haven't seen him since."
"Ah... Well maybe he's still here, then! You never know!"
"Maybe." Lovino shrugged. "So how old are you?" he asked lamely, trying to change the subject.
"Twenty-five." Antonio replied. "You?"
"Twenty-three." Lovino's stomach suddenly growled and he quickly hugged himself to try and quiet it.
"Oh?" Antonio blinked, then chuckled. "You're hungry?"
"Yeah, well I did just have to cross your entire backyard." Lovino lightly prodded him.
"Heh, all right, I'll make some lunch. Do you want to try something new, or something you had yesterday?"
"Something new." Lovino looked up at him. "And can I watch this time?" he asked lowly.
"Sí, of course!" Antonio held his hand out, grinning happily at the Italian.
Becoming slowly familiar with the movements, Lovino quickly darted on and relaxed in the center of it. "This isn't so bad, I think..."
"It isn't?" Antonio asked cheerfully. "I'm glad you think so, Lovi."
"Yeah. A-And... You're not so bad, either."
"Really?!" Antonio lit up like a child at Christmas, his eyes widening with his enjoyment. "So we can be friends?"
"Friends?" Lovino looked up at him. "Yeah, I guess."
"Sí! Amigos! Gracias, Lovi!"
"Why are you thanking me?"
"Because I really wanted to be friends with you, and I'm glad I got to meet you! Though, I am sorry about the storm..."
Lovino stared at him in shock. "You wanted to be friends with me? And it's fine..."
"Sí, of course!" Antonio drew closer, leaning his head on the counter to grin at the other.
"Hold still." Lovino said, and quickly ran over to hug his nose, hiding his pleased red face against Antonio's skin.
Antonio blinked down, before pressing gently back and closing his eyes, and a hand came up to softly touch Lovino's side. "Lovi..." he murmured quietly to himself.
"What is it?" Lovino opened an eye and glanced at him, leaning into the hand.
"This is nice." Antonio continued quietly.
"You think so?" Lovino smiled to himself.
"Sí..." Antonio sighed happily.
The warm breath whistled around Lovino, bathing him even more in Antonio's scent. Not that he minded. "It is quite nice, I guess."
Antonio smiled softly at this. "Mmm..."
"O-Okay, anyway, food?" Lovino let his arms drop to his sides.
"Ah, of course!" Antonio moved away to start cooking, starting with the fish.
Mourning slightly at the loss of warmth, Lovino looked away for all the gruesome bits, but then watched attentively for the rest of it.
Soon enough Antonio had a paella cooking, and he took a deep, satisfied sniff of the smell wafting from the pan.
"Is it good?" Lovino took a few steps closer, looking up at him with curiosity.
"Sí! Well, I hope it is..." After a moment Antonio dished it up, placing the plate on the table.
"I'm sure it is." Lovino stepped up to the edge of the counter and waited for Antonio to bring his hand near.
Antonio smiled as he held his hand out for Lovino.
"You smile so much." Lovino shook his head as he climbed on.
"I have a lot to be happy for."
Antonio shrugged. "I have a good house, a nice job, good friends..." he said, placing Lovino on the table and grinning down at him. "And you!"
"Me?" Lovino asked softly. He shook his head. "So what do you do?" he asked as he walked over to the plate.
"Sí!" Antonio answered brightly. "Ah, well I sell the tomatoes, of course!"
"Oh. Makes sense why the garden's so damn big." Lovino leaned over the edge of the plate and scooped some of the paella into his hands. "Mmm, it's good." he practically moaned when he tasted it.
"I'm glad you like it!"
Nodding, Lovino ate as much as he could stuff down. When he was full, he backed away and sprawled out on the tabletop. "Oh Dio, I could use a nap right about now..."
"Ah! Well when I'm done, I can take you up to the bedroom?"
"If you wouldn't mind."
"Of course I don't!" Antonio quickly shoveled down the rest of his food, before holding his hand out to the Italian.
"If it would save time, I guess you could just grab me." Lovino told him. "Just be careful." Nonetheless, he stepped on.
Antonio chuckled and held Lovino close to his chest, taking him up to the bedroom and setting him down on the bed.
Lovino had clung to the fabric of his shirt for the duration of the ride, though then he hopped off and clambered over to the pillow. "Arlo?" he called, wanting some warmth while he slept.
And of course the feline had followed them up the stairs, happily jumping to the bed next to Lovino when he was called.
"Hey, save some room for me." Antonio called with a chuckle.
"Are you staying too?" Lovino looked up at him with slight eagerness in his eyes.
"Sí, it's my siesta after all." Antonio replied. "I can do whatever I like!"
Lovino patted the center of the pillow and then backed up. "Come on, then."
Humming happily, Antonio clambered into the bed, then smiled down at Lovino.
Cheeks reddening a bit again at that smile, Lovino looked back up at him. "What are you smiling at now? Go to sleep."
"I'm smiling at you." the Spaniard replied cheerfully, settling down and waiting for Lovino.
"Because I like you."
"You- You like me? What?" Lovino frowned.
"Sí, I like you. I like being with you, so I'm happy."
"Oh come off it, you've known me for what, a day?" Lovino shook his head.
"I still like you, Lovino." Antonio said quietly, his eyes watching the Italian.
"That sounds suggestive, idiot." Lovino muttered. He lay down and curled up so his back was to Antonio. His face was effectively hidden and he closed his eyes.
"Wha- how?" Antonio said with a small whine. "I do..."
"It does!" Lovino sat up again and looked at him. "'I like you'. That could mean many things, you have to specify!" Of course, it could only mean one thing for him. "You have to say, 'Oh, I like you, you're a good friend'." He huffed again and plopped back down, his arms curling around one of Arlo's paws in a hug.
Antonio blinked. "I was just wanting to say."
"I know. Sleep well and shit." Lovino curled up a bit more and closed his eyes again.
"Mm, you too, Lovi!" Antonio replied, shuffling closer.
Feeling the tremors, Lovino wriggled a bit. "Oh just come here already! And you could put your hand over me if you want, it'll be warmer." Just for the warmth, Lovino, just for the warmth. The Italian let go of Arlo and moved a bit closer to Antonio as well.
Gladly shuffling over more, Antonio rested his hand over Lovino, humming happily.
Lovino relaxed into this new position, curling his hand around one of Antonio's fingers. "Sleep well." he muttered and then drifted off.
Usually Antonio would sleep during his siestas, but he couldn't help but lie awake watching Lovino with a soft smile on his face.
The Italian would stir occasionally, and sometimes he gripped the finger more tightly. It was about an hour and a half later when he started to wake.
"...Hola." Antonio whispered as he noticed, tilting his head with a quieted chuckle.
"Mmm?" Lovino blinked heavily and then looked up at him. "How long were you awake? You could have gone down, you know."
Antonio shook his head gently. "It's okay."
"What's okay? Did you even sleep?"
"What were you doing, then?" Lovino frowned and tugged a bit on his shirt, pulling it down.
Lovino jumped a bit. "You sound creepy." He lowered his head though, slightly self-conscious, and squirmed out from under Antonio's hand.
"Really? You just looked cute!" Antonio exclaimed.
"That's no excuse! Friends don't stare at each other when they sleep!" Lovino huffed and made his way to Arlo, stroking the cat's cheek and settling down against his neck.
"I wasn't staring! You just looked cute, so I was looking..." Antonio looked down at the pillow as Arlo started to purr.
"Looking for what? Like an hour?" Lovino softened, though, when he noticed the Spaniard's face. "...Sorry."
"Hm? What for?" Antonio asked, eyes flicking back up to the Italian.
Lovino shrugged and buried himself deeper into Arlo's fur. "Don't you have things to do?" he asked, trying to make it sound as least rude as possible.
Antonio hummed. "Well, it's a Friday and I've already tended to the garden, so... Not in particular."
"Oh." Lovino looked down and carded his fingers through the fur. "Well you don't have to keep me company, so if there's anything you want to do, go ahead."
"I like keeping you company." Antonio said with a shrug.
"Why? It's boring, I don't do shit- I can't do shit." Lovino tugged insistently on Arlo's ear, trying to get the cat's attention.
"I'm sure there's lots you can do!" Antonio said, watching as Arlo nudged the Italian gently.
"Yeah, right. Look at me." Lovino shifted closer to the cat's face and petted him fiercely.
Arlo rubbed back against the Italian's hand. "Sí, and? Just because you're small, it doesn't mean you can't do anything!"
"Yeah, we'll see." Lovino smiled softly down at the cat and petted him with even more vigor. "You're kind of cute..." he muttered to it.
In return Arlo let out a happy meow, looking up at Lovino with green eyes.
Lovino smiled more at that and rested his cheek against Arlo's nose, wrapping his arms around the cat's face. It was easier than he expected, cuddling to him.
"...I'll just, uh...go play guitar." Antonio announced, looking away from the two cuddling on his bed to search for his guitar.
"Wh-" Lovino frowned, but then shook his head. "Didn't you leave it downstairs from last time?" He pulled away from Arlo and took a step towards him.
"Ah, sí, maybe..."
"Antonio...?" Lovino took another step forward.
Antonio blinked and looked at Lovino, flashing him a small smile. "Sí?"
"Could you play in here?" Lovino asked, wringing his hands together. "I want to listen to you again."
"Of course!" Antonio replied, brightening. "I'll be back in a second, then!"
Lovino was happy to see him smile again, and he smiled brightly too. "Okay. I'll be here."
Antonio's smile somehow grew even further at Lovino's reaction, and he dashed downstairs and was back in an instant.
Lovino leaned back into Arlo, stroking the cat as he waited.
Antonio gently flopped down on the bed, making sure he didn't dislodge the other two, and looked over at Lovino. "...I don't suppose you have any requests?"
Still bouncing a tiny bit at the impact, Lovino shrugged. "I don't know any songs and I doubt the cat does either."
"Well, is there any kind of song you want?"
"Slow. And nice. And pretty."
So Antonio played a slow and nice and pretty song.
And Antonio played many more songs for him that evening, and in fact throughout the long months of fall and winter as they slowly got adjusted to living with each other. Antonio was always sunny and cheerful and optimistic, as usual, and Lovino slowly got used to everything. Around December he even started riding atop Arlo's back as faster transportation.
But the months flew by and the little Italian was happy. He grew closer and closer to Antonio and every few days thanked God that he'd decided to stay in the Spaniard's garden. Soon enough then it was February, and Lovino faced a small problem.
February 12th was Antonio's birthday. Lovino desperately wanted to give him something, but for the longest time he was stuck. Then, around the 4th of the month, he got an idea and started making the present whenever Antonio wasn't in the house. He suspected Antonio was a bit suspicious, but he always avoided any conversations on the topic and the Spaniard didn't bring it up all that often. He had almost finished it by the 12th, but luckily he had that day to work on it too since Antonio went out with some friends who were visiting.
It was about just after six when Lovino finished it. The gift was made of long stems of dried grass, intricately tied and knotted together to spell Antonio's first name. He even found a brave little daisy poking out of the ground since the weather had been so nice that he added to the frame surrounding the letters. In his moments of doubt he felt the gift was meager, but he tried to force those thoughts away.
"Hey Arlo." He held the assortment up for the cat's approval. "What do you think?"
Arlo looked at it, giving it a few sniffs, then meowed up at the Italian.
Lovino looked from him back to the present and his face fell. "You're right, it's shit." he muttered, pushing it under the pillow.
Seconds later, Antonio came through the door, followed by raucous laughter. "Uh, uno momento. Just make yourselves comfortable." he said to Francis and Gilbert, his two best friends, before dashing upstairs. "Lovi?" he whispered as he entered the bedroom.
Lovino squeaked in surprise and shoved the present farther under the pillow. "Hello, Toni." He smiled up at him, though it was a bit pained. "How was your day out?"
Antonio broke into a soft smile at the sight of the Italian, and he leaned down closer. "It was bueno! Though I missed you... How are you, Lovito?"
"You missed me?" Lovino stepped closer to him, though he glanced at the pillow. "I'm...fine."
"Mhm!" Antonio frowned slightly though. "...You hesitated."
Lovino shook his head. "Happy Birthday, Antonio. I wish I could give you something better than-" He suddenly coughed. "Wish I could give you something."
"...Better than what?"
"Nothing!" Lovino yelled up at him, voice coming out a bit squeaky. His face flushed red again and he fled to the safety of Arlo's fur.
"Lovi..." Antonio blinked after him, his eyes pleading. "What is it? Please tell me..."
"Imadeyouapresentbutit'sshitsoforgetaboutit." Lovino mumbled.
"W-What? Lovino, I'm sorry, I can't hear you..."
"I made you something!" Lovino turned around and yelled up at him, though he quickly froze and turned redder. "But forget about it, it's bad..."
Antonio blinked in surprise, but then a small smile came to his face. "You did? I'm sure it isn't, Lovi- Can... Can I see?"
Lovino looked up at his face, but he knew it was a mistake; the moment he met Antonio's eyes, he couldn't refuse. "...Fine. But close your eyes until I say." he muttered, shifting towards the pillow.
"Vale!" Antonio nodded and covered his eyes, waiting in anticipation.
Lovino quickly got out the knotted grass, his face falling slightly when he saw the flower had wilted and the last letter was a bit fatter than it was before from being bent out of shape. Nonetheless he dragged it over in front of Antonio and then stepped away. "Okay, you can look." he said quietly.
The Spaniard removed his hand, and his eyes widened as he saw the present, a grin slowly forming on his face. He looked at it for a while before his eyes flitted to Lovino. "...You made this?" he asked, his voice quiet.
Lovino nodded. "I know it's not that good..."
"It's wonderful, mi corazón." Antonio whispered, reaching out to lightly stroke Lovino's cheek with a finger. "Thank you..."
"Really?" Lovino closed his eyes for a moment and leaned into the touch, his hands wrapping around Antonio's fingertip. "It's nothing compared to what your friends got you..."
"It's everything." Antonio smiled a happy, loving smile and simply watched the little Italian.
Lovino's breath stopped for a moment, and he opened his eyes again to look up at him with a small smile in return.
The moment was ruined though moments later when Gilbert burst in. "Hey, Toni, we're getting bored down ther-" He paused when he saw Antonio bent over the bed. "What are you doing?"
Antonio jumped, quickly trying to cover Lovino. "Ah, n-nothing! I'll be down soon, okay?"
Gilbert just strode into the room. "Are you playing with something? A sex toy or something?" He jumped onto the other end of the bed, the movement dislodging Lovino more and bringing him into view. "What the- Is that a doll?" The next moment, the Prussian had leaned forward and snatched him up.
"Hey, put me down, bastard!" Lovino yelled at him.
"Whoa..." Gilbert moved away. "What the fuck? Toni, what?" He loosened his grip a little and cocked his head at Antonio.
"U-Uh..." Antonio's eyes flicked between Gilbert and Lovino, his mouth open and unsure what to do or say. "He- P-Put him down..."
"Why? I won't hurt him, and he's a little cutie." Gilbert snickered over Lovino's shouted 'Fuck you!' and ever so gently tossed the little man a few inches up in the air.
"Gilbert!" Antonio moved forwards a little and bit his lip, not wanting to try and grab Lovino in case he hurt him.
"Calm down, Toni, I got him." Gilbert held up his palm, Lovino sitting on top of it.
The little Italian looked pissed off, though there was also a healthy dose of fear in his eyes. He didn't like this stranger touching him, was afraid of what could happen. "Help..." he mouthed.
And with that, Antonio's jaw clenched. He couldn't stand seeing Lovino like that. "Put him down, Gil." he said, his voice low.
"One sec. Don't worry, Antonio." Gilbert brought Lovino up to his cheek and rubbed against him, causing Lovino to wince a bit at the sudden contact.
Antonio reached his hand out, quickly grabbing the Prussian's wrist. "Don't piss me off, Gilbert. Now put him down, you- you- tetilla tonto!" Antonio's voice had as much venom as he could muster as he threw this insult at Gilbert (though this was only in comparison to usual), and he glared at the other.
Gilbert froze, slowly lowering the hand with Lovino down. "Gott, sorry." He placed the Italian in Antonio's free hand and backed out of the room.
"Are you okay?" Antonio asked hurriedly, bringing Lovino up to his face. "Dios, lo siento, I am so, so sorry, Lovi..."
Lovino pressed against his cheek, hugging it as best he could and nodding into him. "I'm fine."
"Okay..." Antonio breathed a small sigh of relief, closing his eyes to lean into the touch. "I'm so sorry, Lovino..."
"You said before." Lovino said lowly, shifting a bit and looking up at him. He lightly patted Antonio's cheek. "It's fine, isn't it? Your asshole friend didn't hurt me."
Antonio nodded, giving Lovino a sheepish smile, before he blinked and froze. "...I called him a silly nipple. I just called one of my best friends a silly nipple." He was talking to himself more than Lovino, and the realization hit him suddenly.
Lovino looked up at him before shaking his head and bursting out laughing. "You really- You really can be such a massive idiot sometimes." he managed to get out between his bursts of mirth.
"What? He deserved it!" Antonio said, pouting playfully though he quickly grinned at the Italian, glad to see Lovino in high spirits.
"Still!" Lovino's laughter slowly subsided. "So stupid." He shook his head and leaned forward to gently press a small kiss to Antonio's cheek. "But uhh, thanks for getting me out of there and shit." he muttered, going a bit red.
Antonio blinked, staring at Lovino, before a smile slowly grew on his face and a small chuckle left his lips. It had only been a small fluttering on his cheek, but the kiss had left Antonio indescribably happy. "Sí! De nada!"
Lovino had grown a bit redder at the staring, and he nodded. "You should get back to your friends. Make sure they don't tell anyone."
"Sí, of course..." Antonio looked at Lovino a moment, not wanting to leave him. "...You don't want to come with me? I can introduce you, properly. And I won't let them touch you."
"Well... I guess I could." Lovino looked up at him and pressed himself deeper into Antonio's hand.
"That would be nice." Antonio said with a soft smile.
"Okay, so let's go." Lovino stiffened a bit at the prospect of seeing the Prussian again, not to mention the other friend, but Antonio was there so he would be fine. "Can Arlo come too?"
"Of course!" Antonio said, and started off down the stairs, whistling for Arlo along the way. He poked his head around the corner at first to see Francis and Gilbert in his living room. "U-Uh, guys..?"
Gilbert glanced up and grinned easily. "Oh hey there. Done with your little friend?"
"Uh, sí, well I mean... Sí, I'm here now."
"Gil's been saying some interesting things, mon ami." Francis said, raising a brow.
"Sí, well, uh..." Antonio took a deep breath before walking into the room, the Italian held in his outstretched palm. "This is Lovino."
Gilbert grinned and waved to him.
Lovino just shot him a dark look and clutched Antonio's thumb tightly. He directed his gaze to the third man and nodded slightly to him. "Hi."
Francis' eyebrows rose further, and he looked quickly between Antonio and Lovino. "Well... Bonjour. I don't know if you are familiar with the concept of handshaking?" he said, taking a tentative step closer and holding a finger out to the Italian.
"I am." Lovino said defensively, reaching out and grabbing hold of the fingertip. "I'm not stupid."
"I never thought you were." the Frenchman politely continued. He regarded Lovino carefully, then chuckled. "So you are the reason Toni's been desperate to get back each time-"
Antonio hurriedly shushed him, turning a little red.
Lovino raised an eyebrow. "He has?" He shot a glance at the Spaniard.
Antonio turned even redder, and Francis simply laughed. "Well he's certainly been eager to get home. Ah, Lovino, was it? I'm Francis."
"Nice to meet you." Lovino drew back closer to Antonio, clinging to the Spaniard's shirt.
"Heeey there." Gilbert came up as well, though he paused when he saw the look on Lovino's face. "Geez, Ludwig's little friend doesn't mind it." he grumbled.
"What? Ludwig?" Antonio glanced down at Lovino and gently stroked his head for a moment, before frowning up at Gilbert questioningly.
"Oh, Ludwig's got a little guy too." Gilbert leaned forward a bit. "Heh, they actually look kinda similar. Maybe it's a trait? But anyway, yeah he apparently latched onto me one time when I was getting home from visiting you and presto. Luddy was really awkward and intense at first, but now they get along great." The Prussian shrugged.
"Ludwig does?! And you didn't tell me?" Antonio whined.
"Never came up."
Lovino though, was pale. "F-Fratello?" he whispered.
Antonio blinked down at Lovino. "W-Wait what did he look like? What's his name?"
Gilbert looked down at Lovino and tilted his head. "Similar, but a bit smaller and he had light brown hair. Reaaaally cheerful and loves to cook. Name's Feli- Well there's more but that's all I ever call him so I've forgotten the rest."
"Feliciano." Lovino called up, voice cracking. He cleared his throat and looked up. "His name's Feliciano."
"Lovi! See, I told you he was still alive!" Antonio cried, grinning down at the Italian as he brought him up to his chest for a gentle hug.
"Y-Yeah, he is..." Lovino turned around and hugged Antonio back as much as he could.
Gilbert's grin softened a bit. "Next time I visit I can bring him."
"Sí, please do," Antonio said with a nod, stroking Lovino's head.
Lovino tugged on Antonio's fingertip. "Take me back upstairs."
Antonio looked down at him. "Sí, of course..." he said, before glancing back up at the others. "Ah, obviously you can't tell anybody..."
Francis nodded, then looked over at Gilbert.
"I'm sorry, did you know about Feliciano?" Gilbert smirked. "Nope. Don't worry, your secret's safe with me."
"Nice meeting you." Lovino muttered to them both and then hid more in Antonio's hand.
"See ya, pipsqueak." Gilbert called and went back over to the sofa.
Smiling, Antonio nodded quickly to them before heading back to his bedroom with Lovino.
"You can still go down if you want. I'll be fine up here." The moment the mattress was close enough, Lovino hopped down and wandered onto the pillow.
"Are you sure?" Antonio asked, tilting his head at the little man.
Lovino smiled a bit at him. "Yeah. Go be with your friends. Arlo!"
"You're my friend too, you know." Antonio said with a small smile. "...All right, I'll be an hour, at the most." And then Arlo was curling around Lovino to keep him company as Antonio headed for the door.
"Okay." Lovino hid his face in Arlo's fur and waited for Antonio to return.
As promised, fifty-three minutes later Antonio returned, immediately smiling down at Lovino. "Hola!"
"Oh, hello." Lovino looked up. "They're gone?" He moved and sat down beside the tangle of grass.
"Sí! It's just us now." Antonio said, crouching beside Lovino.
Blushing softly at the connotations, Lovino nodded. "Here, get this thing out of the way. So it doesn't get messed up..." He lightly kicked at his present.
"Ah..." Antonio moved to picked it up, tilting his head and smiling as he looked at it and then moved it to his desk- he'd hang it up somewhere later. Then he climbed back onto the bed, moving close to Lovino with a small smirk. "I realize I haven't thanked you properly yet..."
"O-Oh?" Shit, what the hell was he trying?! Lovino scooted back from him with a squeak.
Antonio slowly reached down, and then pulled something up. "I made you churros!" he cheerfully announced, holding the toy tea set bowl up with tiny sticks of churros in.
"Churros?" Lovino brightened a bit and stepped towards the bowl. "They're so small..."
"Mhm! For mi corazón." Antonio said softly.
Lovino tilted his head. "What does that mean?" he asked, looking up at him.
"A-Ah..." Antonio's eyes widened. He hadn't been expecting that. "For... My little one!" he said quickly.
"Little one?" Lovino huffed at him. "I'm not that little!" He took one of the churros and shoved it in his mouth.
"Well- only compared to me!" Antonio insisted, glad Lovino didn't realize what he had really meant.
The Italian huffed more and continued stuffing his face.
"What? It's true!" Antonio whined.
"Fine, fine, forget it." Lovino rolled his eyes and ate some more before pushing the bowl away. "Thanks for the churros." he said, then slowly approached Antonio's chest.
Antonio shook his head, smiling softly at Lovino and reaching a finger out to stroke his cheek. "I should be the one saying thank you. Gracias for the present, Lovino." he said quietly.
"Y-Yeah, well it was your birthday." Lovino muttered, leaning into him.
"You still didn't need to get me anything." Antonio chuckled.
"Yeah I did! We're friends, right? Friends get each other gifts." Lovino moved closer to him and placed his hands on Antonio's fingertip.
"Heh, I guess that's true." Antonio's smile grew as he looked lovingly at the smaller man. "But still, gracias."
"No problem." Lovino gave him a small smile in return and moved forward more, so he was against his chest, holding on to the fabric of Antonio's shirt. "Sleep now?"
"Sí, come on then." Antonio murmured, placing his hand gently over Lovino.
"How are we going to sleep? Like positions?"
The Spaniard turned over onto his back, making sure Lovino came up with him, and held the Italian to his chest. "Like this." Antonio grinned.
"R-Really?" Lovino looked up at him and leaned against his fingers.
Antonio cocked his head. "You don't like it?"
"No, I do." Lovino gave him a small smile. I like it a lot...
"Mm, bueno..." Antonio returned the smile gladly.
"Okay, so night." Lovino curled up on his chest. "Will you keep your hand over me the whole night?"
Nodding, Lovino closed his eyes. "Good night, then. Happy Birthday, Antonio."
Antonio smiled softly and paused before moving down to give Lovino a small and gentle kiss. "Good night, Lovino."
Lovino's eyes fluttered open in shock. "T-Toni?" Then he shook his head and burrowed deeper into Antonio's hand, unable to keep a small smile off his face.