The bags of cash sit under their bed, without Antonio's suspicion.

Lovino bites his lip and rubs his head. That idiot- the stupid officer is in love with a robber like me, thinks Lovino as he shakes his head. But then again, Lovino didn't tell him about his fallacious deeds . . . so Lovino really is a bad guy, huh? Well, the cash is leaving tomorrow. He's sending it to his grandpa so Feliciano can stay in his university. And then, he'll steal a little more so he can send money for his grandpa's medicine. And then, he won't need to think about it for another month.

He leans against the rails of their apartment's balcony. The cool wind surrounds him gently, and he shivers. He looks at the tomato plan that he and Antonio bought, and smiles a little to himself. It's a lovely plant- and he hopes it grows soon. Antonio will be happy once it sprouts some tomatoes. He thinks about Antonio for a little while; the bright green eyes, the curly brown hair, the way he smiles . . .

What Antonio doesn't know, won't hurt him.


His gut churns uneasily.

Tonight, he has to steal about eight-thousand euros. Two nights ago, he stole a little over three thousand euros from the casino. And that isn't enough for Feliciano's stupid dormitory in Berlin. So now he needs to get eight-thousand euros. Fucking damn it. He hopes that Feliciano is actually studying and doing well in the university instead of fucking around.

Luckily enough, his younger brother is a gifted one- exceptional in art (and in pretty much everything if he puts his idiotic mind to it), which is perhaps the main reason why Nonno favors him over Lovino. Though Lovino doesn't mind- not anymore, at least. Antonio's here now, and he doesn't want anyone else's attention but the dumb Spaniard's.

He checks his watch and sighs. Time to go to the casino.

He usually takes the late shifts so that he can eat with Antonio during dinner- but Antonio said that he'll be late tonight, due to some meeting. Oh well, thinks Lovino while he moves back inside the apartment. He slides the balcony door close. I hope he likes the paella I made.

"Carriedo," his boss snaps him out of his daze.

"Uh, yes, senor?" Antonio bites the inside of his cheek while he stares at a profile of someone he holds dear.

"You have to arrest him, do you understand?" Arthur Kirkland, an Englishman in his early-thirties- perhaps just as old as Antonio, repeats. His green eyes stare deeply into Antonio's, trying to make the Spaniard cop understand something he can't voice out. "Work on it."

"Yes, sir," Antonio replies, taking the profile underneath his arm. He struggles to look back at his boss, afraid to betray his inner turmoil.

"You are dismissed," Arthur leans back on his seat, arms folded across his chest while he watches Antonio place his uniform hat back on his head and stride out of his office.

Criminals make him sick, and Antonio feels his heart tear in two when he thinks about his Lovino being a criminal. He exits the police department with a foggy mind, keeping a firm hold on the documents he holds underneath his arm, and slings his bag over his shoulder. He can't understand- or maybe he doesn't want to understand- this. Why is Lovino's face and name on the documents he's given?

There's no way Lovino steals from the casino he's working at. He usually has enough for the two of them, and his brother's education-

There's no way.

He stops in front of his friend's apartment a couple of minutes later, and knocks tiredly. He can't bring himself to go back to his apartment- even though he knows that Lovi has already left for work.

"Hey, Toni!" Gilbert's loud greeting makes him smile weakly. His pale face is suddenly shoved near his and the red-eyed German stares at him curiously. "You look sick. Want some beer? Lovi's not home?"

"He's at work," Antonio replies, letting Gilbert pull him inside his apartment. He drops on the couch, bag and documents on his lap while he stares at them almost helplessly.

"Hey," Gilbert sits beside him, pinching his shoulder while he dips down his eyebrows. "What's up? You look really bummed. Did you get fired or something?"

Antonio swallows. He looks at the documents and contemplates whether or not he should let Gilbert see. Arthur is harsh; he knows that he lives with Lovino, doesn't he? He knows that and yet- here he is . . . assigning such a difficult and impossible task to the Spanish cop. But from a different perspective, Arthur is being considerate by only letting Antonio handle this- and not someone else- Dio, this is not good.

"Here- just- this is my next assignment," he tells Gilbert, all but pushing the neat documents into his pale hands. "Tell me I'm dreaming- tell me it's not who I think it is. Tell me."

Confused and worried, Gilbert opens the folder and his red eyes widen. Antonio watches before he covers his face and digs his elbows into his thighs, bile rising up in his throat. The self-proclaimed Prussian reads through the documents, though there aren't much. He lets out a breath when he closes the folder and gives it back to Antonio. He doesn't look at Antonio- instead, he stares at his hands.

"What do I do?" Antonio cries. "I have to bring him to jail. The evidence here is enough to bring him behind the bars." He slides a hand into his hair and tugs at it. "Sure, it's not completely solid evidence- but-"

"What does he do with the money?" asks Gilbert. He's always known that Lovino is unpleasant- but to steal? From a casino? He's crazy. "It doesn't look like he spends it on you-"

"He sends it to his little brother," Antonio interjects, mind clicking. He knows that Gilbert and Lovino don't get along well, and he doesn't want his friend to think badly about his lover (though how can't he when Lovino stole big amounts of money?). "That's the reason he moved to London," he says.

"And he temporarily lived in the other countries of the EU," Gilbert adds. He rubs his head. Damn. Damn. He looks at his friend, who is running his fingers through his dark hair in agony.

Oh dio, did that mean that Lovino stole from those casinos, too? I don't like staying in the same country for too long, Lovino had told him once, it gets too boring.

Gilbert tosses his pack of his cigarettes to his friend and stands up. "Come on. Let's drink out in the balcony," he tells him. Antonio looks at the cigarette pack sitting next to him, and pushes his bag and assignment to the floor. He picks up the cigarette and follows Gilbert to the balcony.

The night wears on, and when his shift finally ends at midnight, Lovino hurries home with another bag of cash in his backpack.

Antonio should be asleep by the time he gets to the apartment, though there are times when he isn't (especially when he's working on one of the harder cases assigned to him and his team). Lovino hopes he's asleep.

But when the pushes the door open and sees only darkness, his stomach churns uneasily again.

Antonio always leaves the bathroom light on- and there's none tonight. He gulps and heads to the kitchen after locking the door. He checks the microwave. The paella is untouched, left like he did when he went to work a couple of hours ago. That means that Antonio didn't go home. The bastard always, always ate what Lovino cooked for him- no matter how tired he was from work.

Lovino walks around the apartment and turns on some lights, not putting his bag down- because Antonio did not go home. This has only happened once in the eight months they spent together, and that was when Antonio was shipped overnight to a different area, one hundred and sixty fucking kilometers away, for some other police crisis. He was home four nights later, with a bandaged arm and leg.

His heart thuds loudly in his chest and he rushes to their room, dropping his bag on the bed while grabbing his phone. He keeps Antonio on speed dial, much to the Spaniard's delight, and paces around the room worriedly.

Fucking damn it, why does he have to fall in love with the damned officer? Because of Antonio, he overstayed his welcome in London, and his sojourn is nearing a year. He has already stayed in London for eight months; already two months over his typical stays- and it's all because of Antonio.

The bastard doesn't even answer his fucking phone! Lovino tries again, and receives no answer. "Goddamn it," he growls, throwing his phone on the bed. He stares at his bag without seeing it. All he can think about is Antonio, and how precarious his situation can be at the moment. He sits down on the bed and runs his hands over his face, breathing deeply.

Okay, just calm the fuck down.

Think a little reasonably, he reprimands himself, the jerk trained for things like this. He should be well-prepared since he passed the training. That's right, that's definitely fucking right. Lovino rubs his face in exhaustion and stares at the bag next to him. "Don't worry too much," he tells himself aloud.

Not everything went according to his plan tonight. He's short by two thousand euros, only getting six thousand instead of eight. He wants to tell Nonno that he can't keep providing for them like this, but loves them too much to say anything. Particularly his dumb fratello. He loves that stupid twerp too much; and their grandpa is getting old. The old man can't keep overworking, especially now that he has to take extra care of his health.

Really, he invests too much in his brother's future- but it's because Lovino can't see anything in his.

His phone vibrates against the bed, and he reaches out to look at the caller ID. Antonio! He sighs in relief as he swipes his thumb across the screen.

"Lovi," Antonio breathes from the other end of the line. "Oh, Lovi."

"Antonio- you bastard," though Lovino doesn't mean anything by it, and Antonio understands- but his laugh sounds choked, "you didn't come home? Where are you? Not in the city?"

"I'm- I'll be home soon," he replies. He sounds . . . Lovino doesn't know. There's something weird going on, and he doesn't like it- not one bit. "I was just drinking with Gilbert."

"Oh," relief floods through his voice and his body, "okay. I'll see you then." Maybe there's some kind of celebration? But won't Antonio let him know first? Even if Lovino was at work, that didn't stop Antonio from draining half the battery of his phone through short and redundant text messages when he got promoted to his current position.

"Okay," Antonio swallows. Lovino frowns. "I'll see you soon," and then he hangs up.

Lovino looks at his phone in bewilderment. Antonio- he didn't say his usual te amo. He laughs, though he feels his chest ache a little dully. He's probably just drunk, and he forgot to say it.

Though he knows, deep down, that there's something wrong. Something incredibly wrong.

The new bag of cash is carefully hidden underneath the bed again, and Lovino is already brushing his teeth when he hears the door click and shut. He quickly spits and gargles, wiping his mouth on his face towel before striding out to meet his lover.

Lovino leaves the room and meets Antonio halfway, amber eyes soft and frown barely there. He stands before Antonio, and the Spaniard looks at him and then averts his gaze. The officer looks haggard, as if he saw a ghost or something terrifying, and Lovino watches- wondering what happened. There is a different atmosphere around them, suffocating him and Antonio- and it isn't good.

"I made paella. Do you want me to heat it up?" the Italian asks, already heading into the kitchen because he knows that Antonio will eat it. I promise to eat everything you cook for me, Antonio told him a few months into their relationship. Lovino didn't believe him at first, but Antonio was good to his word.

"Maybe later," Antonio says with a soft sigh. But he follows Lovino into the kitchen, and everything feels right and wrong at the same time. He wants to hug him, to bury his face into his neck and kiss him, and make love to him on the counter- but Lovino's a criminal. He's a criminal for god's sake, and he's probably been one the moment he stepped out of Italy almost five years ago.

"Antonio," Lovino suddenly says, eyebrows knitted and lips pressed together. He steps closer, and then he moves back when he sees Antonio clutch the folder tighter in his hand. He exhales after a moment, and Antonio sinks into one of the seats around their dining table. "What's wrong? You can tell me, you know." He follows in suit, sitting down across from Antonio.

"Were you a card dealer," starts Antonio, and Lovino's eyes harden, "when you lived in the other countries?"

Lovino eyes the folder that Antonio placed on the table, he eyes it with a gaze filled with abhorrence and revulsion and- and- fear. And then he looks at Antonio, amber eyes shining with- tears? He quickly looks down and clears his throat. "Yes."

Antonio puts his elbows on the table and pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes; his head is cloudy and hurting- beer is never a good solution for problems. The problems don't disappear. "Oh, Dio."

The Italian takes in a deep, shaky breath. "You know, don't you?" When Antonio doesn't say anything, Lovino slams a fist on the table, making them flinch. "Damn it- you know, don't you?" he repeats, more stronger this time.

"Of course I know!" Antonio finally yells, green eyes wide with anguish. He brings his hands on the table, curls his right hand in a fist and pushes the folder towards Lovino- towards the criminal. "I'm assigned to arrest you! They want me to bring you to jail! Me!"

Lovino leans back and looks at the folder again- the folder that sometimes appears in his dreams, the folder that never caught him because he always left before the officials took notice of his deeds. He opens it, hoping- wishing- that this is some prank that Gilbert thought of- but it isn't. His name is clear on the paper, along with the countries he's lived in. He swallows and Antonio watches him, because he doesn't know what to do- what can he do?

An idea brings a meager light into his mind, and he asks, "Lovino. Do you still have the money with you?"

Lovino frowns. But he nods anyway, because what's the point in lying to this bastard?

With a rather hysterical smile on his face, the Spaniard says, "Why don't you just give it back to the casino? I'm sure they'll-"

"No," growls Lovino, shaking his head and wrapping his arms around himself. His fratello needs it. His nonno needs it. They're too financially unstable- he can't give it back. If he does, then what? Lovino will be behind the bars while his nonno kills himself working to pay for all the money he stole- and his fratello will drop out from his program even if he's so close to finishing. "No."

"But I'll have to arrest you- and Lovi- Lovi, please," the smile slips away, and Antonio is back to pulling at his hair and rubbing his face, "por favor, Lovi. I don't want to arrest you."

"You don't have to," Lovino says, voice soft and eyes empty. "I just need to leave. I need to go to a different country."

"But Lovi- this isn't right- what you're doing isn't right," Antonio shakes his head, trying to catch his gaze. But Lovino won't look at him. He won't look at anything but the folder between them.

"I'm leaving," Lovino continues, blinking rapidly while he rubs at his eyes. "Don't stop me."

"But Lovi-" Antonio tries again, but Lovino is shaking his head and leaving the table. "Lovino- por favor, please- don't-"

"Tell your boss that I never went home after work," Lovino says over his shoulder. He doesn't want Antonio to lose his job because of what he did. And if Antonio pretended that Lovino left before he came home, his boss won't be able to put that against Antonio.

God, he just goes around ruining everyone's lives, doesn't he?

Lovino goes back into their room and pulls out his worn traveling bag from deep within their closet. He brings out the money from under the bed and shoves them inside his bag, pulling out his clothes and shoving them, only bringing three coats and a couple of t-shirts and jeans. Two pairs of shoes will do, too.

Tears start to blur his vision, and he wipes at his eyes furiously. Fucking damn it, his chest hurts. Stupid fucking Antonio. Stupid fucking- ugh. He cries while he zips up his bag, and he goes back into the closet to grab a new t-shirt and another pair of jeans to wear. Where the fuck is he going now? He should stray away from the UK, since there's a possibility that he'll be tracked down in the closer countries. He's not going back to France or Spain, or Portugal. It's way too fucking close to UK.

Fuck, what other countries are in the EU? Netherlands- damn, that's too close. Um, Greece? Is Greece in the EU? He racks his brain, and decides that it's probably in the EU if it's a little close to Italy, and decides that yes, he's going to Greece when he goes to the airport. But where in Greece? Athens? Cyprus- is that even part of Greece? Surely, Athens would have some casinos- right?

He buttons up his jeans, and suddenly feels another set of hands on top of his. He looks behind him, and Antonio is already pressing himself against his back, kissing his lips, and undoing his jeans. He grinds his hips against his- Lovino sucks in a sharp breath.

"A-Antonio," Lovino breathes when the Spaniard moves his lips down behind his ear. Lovino lets out a little moan and feels one of his hands slide inside his jeans, gripping his semi-erection. "Antonio- stop, Antoni-ohh," the Italian moans, feeling his lover's hand run up and down his groin sensually. He takes Antonio's hand and slips it out of his jeans, chest heaving visibly as he turns around to face the cop. "Antonio, I need to leave. Now."

He weakly pushes Antonio away and buttons up his jeans again. Lovino doesn't look at him while he sits down on their bed and pulls out his phone. His hands are cold, but his cheeks are warm. "You can throw away my clothes if you want. I won't need them."

Antonio swallows when Lovi hurriedly fumbles with his phone. His fingers are shaking, but his eyes are focused. He knows what he's doing- he's been doing this for nearly five years.

And so, Antonio lets everything sink in for the first time.

His Lovi is a criminal.

And Antonio's assigned to capture him and bring him to jail.

So now . . . Lovi's leaving.

He swallows again, and he feels his heart thud dully in his chest. He sits beside Lovino on their bed, and watches, helplessly, as Lovino pulls out his sim card and puts it inside his jean pocket. "Where are you going?" Antonio finally asks. Lovino notes that his voice is hoarse and miserable, and he takes it out on himself, because this is all his fault. He doesn't dare look at the Spaniard.

"I can't tell you," Lovino forces a smirk on his lips. He pulls out his sim card from his pocket and places it on Antonio's lap. "You can do whatever you want with that." He doesn't put in nonno's and Feliciano's phone numbers in any of his sim cards. He doesn't want anyone tailing them if he ever gets in trouble. He finally stands up, and Antonio imitates him. "Well, this is it."

"Is it?" murmurs Antonio. He watches as Lovino avoids his eyes and he pulls him in a tight hug- a very, very tight hug. "I hope we see each other again, querido."

"Take care of the tomato plant, bastard," his voice cracks and presses his face into Antonio's bare chest, not fast enough to catch his tears from falling.

"Te amo," Antonio pulls away and takes his face in his hands, staring at him intently. Oh, Lovi. His lovely and beautiful Lovi. He kisses him, lips a little swollen from earlier, and then Lovino is pulling away, holding back his tears.

"Ti amo," Lovino hiccups, and he's moving- grabbing his bag and kissing Antonio one last time- out of the room, out of the apartment, and out of Antonio's grasp.

That's the first time Lovino told him he loves him. Antonio wishes that it isn't the last.

The fuss about the stealing from the casino quickly died down a month later, since more money has been acquired to replace the amount that the mysterious card dealer stole.

His boss didn't put it against him, and even seemed like he didn't care whether or not Lovino left the country. Though, he did give him sympathetic looks- which was a little unnerving, but he brushed them off. Arthur acted the same way he'd always been, receiving cases and handing them out to the officers.

Everyone simply moved on.

Antonio, however, is far from forgetting the whole affair with Lovino Vargas.

He waters the tomato plant on the windowsill (he moved it inside the house since the weather cooled), remembering how he almost dropped the pot and Lovi nearly killed him. "I hope he's doing well," Antonio tells the plant. He tenderly rubs the top of the tomato that had finally sprouted after a couple of weeks. The London weather truly sucks. "Lovi would be so happy if he saw you," he sighs.

Yesterday, when he got home from work, he finally got around to cleaning his apartment, and found the sim card that Lovino gave him. It took him the rest of the night to figure out how to remove and insert the sim card into his own phone, and when he inserted Lovino's sim card into his phone, he nearly cried.

Lovi has a few pictures of the two of them (he doesn't really like photos), and they're the ones that Antonio doesn't have on his phone! The Italian even has a few videos, like the one when they created a contest as to who can eat the most tomatoes in ten minutes (Antonio pretended that he couldn't eat anymore because he didn't want Lovi to get sick after eating too many tomatoes), and one when Antonio was showing Lovino how to make paella ("I need this instructional video, you jerk!").

Antonio rubs his head. Today is his day-off, and he usually spends them with Lovi- but now that he isn't here . . .

A knock interrupts his thoughts, and then he hears Gilbert and Francis by his door. He pours the rest of the water down the sink and places the plastic cup beside the tomato plant. A louder knock echoes in his apartment, and Antonio hurries to unlock it.

"Hola, amigos," Antonio greets with a practiced smile- though his two best friends can see right past through it. They don't comment on it. Yet. "What's up?"

"We're going on vacation," Francis announces with a bright smile, and Gilbert pushes himself in front of the Frenchman.

"We're going to help you find your little Italian!" Gilbert says, grin wide and mischievous.

"W- but-" Antonio steps back as his friends settle inside his apartment. They have their travel bags with them, Francis placing his carefully on the floor. Antonio watches them with wide, surprised eyes. "What are you talking about?"

"I know it's sudden," Francis starts, "but for the sake of l'amour, we need to do this."

"What are you talking about?" repeats Antonio. Are they insane? They're thirty-year-olds with jobs, and they can't just waste their money like this, unless- where did they get the money? Oh dio, don't tell him- "Please don't tell me that you stole money from a bank or the casino or something."

Gilbert laughs- that's right, laughs- and Antonio furrows his eyebrows. "We're not like your boyfriend," he laughs some more, and Francis roughly shoves his elbow in his chest.

"What he meant to say is-"

Antonio slumps his shoulders and sighs tiredly, shakes his head and smiles a little. "It's okay, Francis. I've accepted that he's a criminal," he tells them. Running his fingers through his hair, he eyes his friends. "But you actually have money?"

"Well, the awesome me won a couple of thousand euros last night at the casino!" Gilbert grinned, proudly pounding his chest with his fist. "So I told Franny that we should go look for your boyfriend! Of course, I was kind of drunk, but I didn't think Franny would take it seriously!" He gets hit again. "I'm glad he took the awesome-me seriously!"

"No cheating?"

"I don't play cards," Gilbert rolls his red eyes. "C'mon, go pack up! Francis already booked a flight to Sicily, Italy for tonight."

"But I have to talk to my boss-" Antonio starts while Francis sighs hugely and pushes Antonio to his room.

"I've already taken care of Arthur. He's more than happy to let you have a month-"

"A month? Francis- you didn't- you didn't sleep with Arthur, did you?" Antonio exclaims, pulling out his backpack (he doesn't travel a lot like Lovi and these two) from the closet.

"God, no. We're friends, but without benefits. I think he's serious with this American he met during one of the cases he worked on two years ago," Francis laughs heartily. "And I don't like being tied down, remember?"

"Why Sicily?" Antonio asks next, putting random clothes inside his bag. A few jackets, lots of t-shirts, and just three pairs of jeans. One pair of running shoes is all he needs for this trip.

"I figured that because he swears so much, he'd be from Sicily," Francis explains, eyeing Antonio's clothes with a look of disdain. But he doesn't say anything and waits for the Spaniard to finish up. "Done?" the Frenchman asks.

Antonio nods, and the two head out of his room, to find Gilbert chowing down some of his snack bars.

"You have no food," Gilbert tells him. "When we get back, and if we have leftover money, we're buying groceries."

"Come on, mon amis, we have a plane to catch," sings Francis, following Gilbert and Antonio out of the small and empty apartment, in hopes of finding the Italian soon.

Athens is a lovely city. Greece itself is a lovely country, what with a good majority of people having a laidback attitude and whatnot.

Though, Lovino finds himself lonely.

It's been a month since he left the UK, since he left Antonio. And still, it bothers him how the damn bastard is doing. Lovino wrote his number down on the same notebook he wrote Feliciano's, Nonno's, and Emma's phone numbers- so that bastard better consider himself lucky because he'll contact him someday.

Lovino lies down on his bed and stares up at the blank ceiling, mind moving like oiled gears. Feliciano only has five months of university left, so he won't overstay his welcome here in Athens either. His brother has recently told him that he lives out of the dorms now- sharing an apartment with his friend (the dumb idiot giggled every time he said friend, leading Lovino to think that the friend is not just a friend), which is cheaper than living in the dormitories.

That dumb idiota could've just picked this option before making me do all of this, Lovino thinks exhaustedly. At least the money he'll be stealing won't be big amounts anymore. Well, if he steals the same amount of money he stole from the other casinos, he'll surely be able to come home by the end of this month. He sighs again, thinking back to the last time he saw his brother.

"I want you to study too, fratello!" Feliciano told him before he left for Germany four years ago. "I want you to be happy."

"I'll be happy when you fucking graduate," Lovino had told him, after gently smacking his head. "And I need to take care of Nonno anyway. Just make us proud, idiota."

"I will! Make sure that you and Nonno are at my graduation!" Feliciano exclaimed. Lovino felt tears in his eyes then, and he pinched Feliciano's cheek.

"Yeah, yeah," Lovino had said. "Go to church," he called after him.

"Ve~ I will, fratello!" Feliciano had laughed.

Lovino brings a hand to his face. He doesn't even go to church anymore- not since he began stealing from casinos. Oh dio, he's a terrible person. A terrible, terrible person. He moves on his bed and buries his face into the pillow. If Antonio found him like this, that idiot would've tickled him mercilessly or showed him how "great and lovely" Lovino is. Ugh.

With not a single soul to talk to, Lovino glares at the empty space in front of him. He's not even going to try and talk to people- he's not going to try and socialize. What if he gets attached again? Dio, he should've learned when he met his good friend Emma. He should've learned not to get too close.

But he didn't, and so he met stupid Antonio.

Stupid Antonio and his stupid antics. He remembers the day when they met: Antonio was grocery shopping with his friends (the French pervert and the red-eyed potato) when a tomato accidentally hit the back of his head. He remembers being so annoyed with Antonio, but then the stupid Spaniard paid for his groceries, and then took him out for a 'Lo Siento' dinner, and they just- clicked?

Lovino moves around his bed again, trying not to think of his . . . boyfriend? He stops, and continues to stare into space.

They haven't officially broken it off- but they aren't seeing each other, so they're . . . not together? Lovino shuts his eyes tightly, burying his face into his pillow again.

Whatever. They won't see each other again anyway. He might as well pretend that the relationship never existed.

The "vacation" is exhausting.

Three weeks- they've traveled for three weeks, hitting five countries that Lovino could have stayed at. Italy, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland and Bulgaria. None. At least, not in the cities they've visited- and they've only visited one city in each of the previously listed countries, spending only a few days within the foreign lands.

"How about Greece?" asks France. He looks exhausted, like Gilbert and Antonio, but he seems to be enjoying traveling 'in search of l'amour' too much to care. "Does Athens sound good?" he asks, looking at Gilbert and Antonio. "I mean, it's right below Bulgaria . . ."

Antonio exhales tiredly and folds his arms over his stomach, lying down on the bed he shares with Francis (Gilbert kicks in his sleep). "I think we should stop this," he says in exhaustion.

"But Antonio-"

"We're wasting money," he shakes his head, "and time. And energy. Come on amigos, look at us," the Spaniard gestures to their bodies, nearly tired out if not because of the whole-day rests they do. "This- we should stop."

"But Lovino," argues Francis, and Antonio's chest aches a little.

Antonio's somewhat used to it- to the dull ache that Lovino left him with; it hurts, it really does, but time will certainly heal it. That's what his mother always said. And that's what Francis says too! "I'll be fine," he tells them. "After this trip, I'm sure I'll be fine. We've traveled to so many places! And, plus, you guys are my amigos," Antonio says. "You guys won't let me feel this way forever!"

Gilbert laughs and hops onto Francis and Antonio's bed, "Hell yeah, we won't!"

"So what now? We have a few more thousand of euros to spend," Francis tells them with a small smile, though he gives Antonio another look- asking if this is what he truly wanted- and Antonio shrugs.

"I want to go pay my bruder a visit in Berlin, but it's almost his graduation," Gilbert says. "I don't want him to be bothered by my awesomeness. I'm going to his graduation, anyway."

"How's Luddy doing?" asks Francis while he looks through the web for their next (and perhaps final) destination.

"Awesome! He has a boyfriend, I think," Gilbert shrugs with a mischievous grin. "I don't know. He won't talk about his boyfriend- or girlfriend."

"It's because you're a terrible big brother!"

"What-? I'm totally awesome, and you know it, French fry," Gilbert proceeds to tackle Francis on the ground.

"You can't keep secrets- remember when he got really mad at you because you told us about his potato underwear?"

"I bought him that, so I have the right to tell my best friends about it," Gilbert remarks with a laugh, remembering his blushing brother. "I bet he looks manlier now. His voice sounds deeper!"

"When was the last time you saw him?" Antonio asks curiously, lying down on the bed as he watches his friends bicker.

"Two years ago- or three," Gilbert shrugs. "He's really busy. Becoming an engineer sounds tough- but my bruder can definitely handle that!"

"So where are we going again?" Francis asks, crawling away from Gilbert while protecting his laptop. "Venice? Rome?"

"You seem to really like Italy," Gilbert says suspiciously, having an inkling that perhaps Francis still has hopes that they'll find Lovino. Francis glances at him- Aha, Gilbert thinks. He looks back at Antonio, who's busily staring at the ceiling, and then back at Francis who's giving him weird expressions. "Let's go to Rome," Gilbert says slowly. "Luddy says that he wanted to visit it. Let's make sure it's safe."

"Perfect!" Francis claps his hands as he books the next flight. "We'll stay there for a couple of days and then head back to London."

"Oh really?" Feliciano asks in surprise. He smiles happily as he looks at his thesis. "That's good, fratello."

"If you need more money, just let me know," Lovino huffs on the other end of the line.

"Ve~ I don't need that much anymore! I can definitely graduate with this much," Feliciano tells him. He waves at Ludwig, his boyfriend, as he enters the room. Ludwig nods to him with an invisible smile, and he continues, "And you remember that I work, right?"

There's a pause, and Lovino asks, "But you're going to graduate, right?"

Feliciano almost rolls his eyes, but he laughs and nods to his phone. "Yes, fratello. I'm going to graduate in a little over four months. I'm really, almost done!"

"Mio dio," breathes Lovino, and then Feliciano suddenly hears some sniffling, and his eyes widen.

"L-Lovi? Are you crying?"

"No, fuck off, idiota," Lovino cries. Feliciano puts his pencil down and slowly brings his legs to his chest, pressing his forehead against his knees. He rests his folded legs against his desk.

"I'm really excited to see you," Feliciano says softly, closing his eyes while he wills his tears away. "Nonno will be so happy that you're back home."

"I'm excited to see you too. I really hope that you're not fucking around," Lovi accuses weakly.

"I'm not," Feliciano laughs. "Ve~ have you told Nonno that you're coming home by the end of the week?"

"I will after this," Lovino says. "I'll see you soon. And good luck, idiota."

"Si, grazie fratello," Feliciano says. Unfolding his legs, he picks up his pencil again and twirls it around his fingers.

"Yeah, yeah," mumbles Lovino, and Feliciano smiles even after his brother ended the call. "That was Lovi again," sings Feliciano to Ludwig. "He says he's coming home to Rome by the end of the week."

"That's great," Ludwig comments, brushing his teeth.

"I know right!" Feliciano exclaims. "Nonno will be so excited and happy! Oh! And I made pasta if you want to eat," he tells him. "I'll just finish my thesis," the Italian adds, and with a determined expression, continues to edit his paper. He'll make his family proud! Especially his fratello!

The "vacation" is finally coming to an end. Later, they fly back to the UK and resume their daily lives.

Everything feels like a dream to Antonio- especially Lovino. It's like his imagination simply made the Italian up, though there's still pain that resounds in his chest. He feels it every time he thinks of him, and it- no, Antonio thinks. He has to move on. If forgetting Lovino is the only way- then . . . should he?

They walk into a small, rundown shop. An old burly Italian is reading a newspaper as he waits for customers to enter. It's a small souvenir shop, and the Italian man smiles charmingly at them. He puts out his cigarette and greets them. "Ciao!"

"Hola," Antonio greets with less enthusiasm, thoughts slightly consuming his mood. Francis and Gilbert smile at the old man.

"Why, aren't you three handsome!" he exclaims, pushing himself out of the chair. "I'm sure you all have lovers back in your own town, eh?" he teases. "Why don't you go look around for necklaces? Have you visited Venice? It's great there!"

"I knew we should've visited Venice," sighs Francis, and the old man laughs, dark hair- the same color as Lovi's- streaked with a couple of grey hairs here and there.

"But I must let you all know that I am closing early tonight because I'm picking up my grandson from the airport," he tells them excitedly, amber eyes bright and happy. "I haven't seen him since he left Italy!" he laughs, rubbing his light beard.

Francis continues to smile politely, but Gilbert has clearly lost his interest while Antonio is still stuck in his thoughts. The man continues to talk about his grandsons- one in Berlin, studying architecture, and one somewhere in the EU, providing him and his brother money- until the Bad Touch Trio (Francis made the dumb name up, but it stuck) leaves the shop with keychains.

"He's quite handsome for an old man," Francis says.

"Ew, French fry, you go for old men now?" Gilbert teases. The three are heading back to their hotel to grab their things; they need to be out in the highway because traffic takes forever to move.

"No, I just appreciate beauty," Francis sticks out his tongue for good measure, and Antonio smiles.

It's been two months since Lovi left, and so far- he's doing well. As long as his friends are here, then he'll be fine in no time!

Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.

Lovino breathes deeply. Five years- he hasn't been home in five years. How crazy is that? He walks past the baggage claim (he only has one bag, and it's a carry-on), pulling his phone out of jeans. He looks around, stomach grumbling. The place is buzzing as usual; crowded with tourists and businessmen. He eyes some men in the suits, imagining his little fratello in that suit. He chuckles to himself- the brat would probably feel uncomfortable in those.

"Nonno," Lovino says into the phone. "I'll be out soon. Where are you?"

"Oh Lovi! I'm stuck in traffic. But I'll be there in ten minutes!" Nonno exclaims. He smiles to himself, missing the old man's voice. He doesn't talk to him as regularly as he does with Feli.

"Do you want me to wait outside the airport?"

"Wait for me inside the airport, and then I'll call you when I'm there, okay?" Nonno tells him. Lovino continues to smile softly and nods his head.

"Okay, Nonno. I'll wait outside," Lovino agrees, seeing Terrazza-Roma- the shopping and food court of the airport. He contemplates if he should take a peek- but decides against it and continues to make his way through the people inside the airport.

Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.

"All airports in the cities are crowded, huh," Francis frowns as he bumps into another traveler.

"Yeah," Antonio hums. Gilbert elbows his way through the crowd.

"Gil!" reprimands Francis when the German accidentally steps on the back of his boots.

"Okay, sorry!" Gilbert sighs, and Antonio smiles again.

"Hey, look!"

Gilbert and Antonio look to Francis, who's pointing at something. "Terrazza-Roma?" Antonio says slowly. "You're hungry?"

"No, shopping," Francis stresses. "I can't get enough of these souvenirs."

"Well, I'm hungry. I don't know if I can stomach pastas though," Gilbert says as they make their way to the escalator, oblivious to the Italian who's exiting the airport as they ride the escalators to the second floor of Terrazza-Roma.

Three months passed; four months passed; and now, the fifth month is about to pass.

"I can't go to Luddy's graduation," Antonio says. "Just as I was about to talk to Arthur about a leave, he gives me another case to do."

"Franciiis," Gilbert whines, and looks to their blonde friend, "can you do something about it?"

"I've already done something about it," Francis pouts. He bites into the churro that Antonio made for him. He makes a face, and grabs his wine. "This is too sweet, Antonio."

"You don't like it?" Antonio asks. He thinks of Lovi again, but then pushes the thought away. Lovi loves his churros. "I forgot how to make them. I think I accidentally put too much sugar," he chuckles- though they all know that it's because he's used to accommodating Lovi's tastes. Dio, he's still not over Lovino.

"But it's not going to be awesome!"

"I'm sure it will be, Gil," Antonio tells him with a small smile. "And you can't take Gilbird with you, so I'll take care of him," he adds. Gilbird is Gilbert's pet bird, resulting from the leftover money that they had from the trip.

"Oh that's right! Mein Gott, thanks man!" Gilbert reaches over and claps his hand on Antonio's back, who laughs slightly. "I'll bring Luddy back with me and Franny, so you'll see him soon."

"I better. I helped you guys raise him," Antonio jokes, and the other two laugh loudly at that.

They never mention Lovino's name anymore.

"I'm moving to Canada after Feli's graduation," Lovino tells Nonno while they file into an airplane at Leonardo da Vinci International Airport. Feliciano's graduation is tomorrow, and they'll be seeing the youngest Vargas tonight before they head to the hotel room Lovino booked. "You want to come with me?"

"Why so far, Lovi?" asks his grandpa. He peers at his grandson curiously, and watches him avert his eyes. They find their seats in silence; Lovino gives his window seat to his grandpa, knowing that he hasn't traveled in ages.

"I'm looking for something," Lovino replies, and then he thinks of Antonio, who's probably better off without him anyway. He frowns a little. Hopefully, the bastard didn't get fired.

Nonno exhales, and Lovino looks up. "You've grown up so fast, Lovi; ever since your parents passed. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you all the time," he apologizes sadly. Lovino finds it hard to swallow and blinks rapidly. "I want you to know that I'm very, very proud of you."

He bites his lip, and refuses to cry. Fucking damn it, of course Nonno would say something like that when they're in public! Old man doesn't know when and where to say things like these! He swallows around the lump in his throat. Guilt ebbs away inside him, because of all those wrong things he's done . . .

But he's really, really happy.

He's been waiting to hear these words for a long time- and now, finally, he's hearing them- and the words are directed to him. Yes, he stole money. Yes, he's an asshole. But he has reasons (maybe not for being an asshole- he's just, sort of, born with it) for the things he does. He gives his Nonno a genuine smile. "Thanks, Nonno," he says softly.

His grandpa smiles, just as tearful as he is, and pulls him in a one-arm hug. "No, thank you," he tells him and presses his chapped lips on the top of his head. Lovino grabs the front of his grandpa's shirt and lets a few tears fall.

He'll definitely miss this old man.

Graduation comes, and things get a little hectic.

"You're his boyfriend," Lovino states, as soon as he Ludwig- gah, another potato bastard, thinks Lovino- greets his grandpa and he. The graduation is being held in the university's auditorium- thank Dio, because it's a little too hot outside at this time. The ceremony is about to start, but Feliciano insisted that they meet his boyfriend.

"You must be Lovi," Ludwig extends a hand, and Lovino gets the urge to headbutt this son of a bitch because what do you think you're doing with your hand around my brother's fucking waist-

"Ve~ Loviii," whines Feliciano, and so Lovino uncrosses his arms and softens his glare- and he squeezes the blonde's hand just a little too tight, making Lovi smirk and the potato bastard to smile stiffly. "Don't worry, Luddy. Lovi's always like that to strangers. He's actually nice right now," Feliciano smiles, happy that his brother is being 'nice' to his German boyfriend.

"Well, congratulations to you two," Nonno grins. He opens his arms and hugs both students. "If you hear any sobbing," he starts, and then lets them go to jerk his thumb towards Lovino, "it's probably your brother."

"Not gonna happen!" Lovino exclaims.

He opens his mouth again, this time, to briefly list off what the German cannot do with his brother-


Lovino holds his breath and his thoughts slip away with ease. That voice sounds familiar.


That sounds familiar, too.

"Ah, this is my brother," Ludwig sighs, not noticing the way Francis gapes at Lovino, while he is ferociously tackled by a red-eyed German Lovino knows too well. The blonde Frenchman is too surprised to say anything at first, but when the students leave to file in line for the ceremony, Gilbert and Francis quickly take hold of Lovi's arms and excuse themselves from the familiar-looking man. Had they met him before?

"Hey, weren't you that man from the souvenir shop in Rome?" asks Gilbert, raising his eyebrows in surprise. He pulls out the keychain he bought a few months ago. Francis stares in surprise- again.

His grandpa blinks and turns towards the two strangers, and stares at them for a moment. He catches the souvenir in Gilbert's hand. "Oh yes, yes! That day, I was picking up Lovi! Are you, uh," he gestures to how familiar the two handled Lovino, "friends?"

"Close friends," Francis chirps, nodding his head. Gilbert grins mischievously and puts the keychain back in his pocket, eyebrows dipped down, while Lovino can't seem to reply. If these two are here, then Antonio shouldn't be far away-!

"That's nice," Nonno smiles. "He finally has some close friends, eh?"

Lovino snaps out of his astonishment. He shrugs them off, but considers following where they'll take him. Maybe to Antonio? His heart hopes, but his mind shoots it down. "Not really," Lovi says as he pushes his hands into his pockets. He looks at the two familiar faces. "If you want to talk to me, wait until the ceremony's over. I want to see my brother graduate." With that, he whips around and finds seats for himself and his grandpa.

Surely enough, when Feliciano steps on the stage a couple of minutes later, both Lovino and Nonno break down in (manly) tears while the youngest Vargas receives his degree in architecture. They clap the loudest, perhaps louder than Gilbert and Francis, and Feliciano waves enthusiastically at them from his seat. Ludwig, on the other hand, tries not to be fazed by his brother's embarrassing antics and Francis' humiliating expressions (he keeps sending Ludwig kissy faces, as if the he's a baby!).

Francis smiles when Ludwig gives them a subtle glance, and then he peeks at Lovino's crying face- how cute, thinks Francis in amusement- before tapping Gilbert's shoulder. "I'm gonna talk to Lovi," Francis tells him over the slight noise.

Gilbert pouts a little, "You're not waiting until the end of the ceremony?"

"I don't know when Lovino's leaving," Francis replies as he stands up. "This is for Antonio's sake."

"Is it really? Or are you just doing this because of that l'amour shit?" frowns Gilbert. He crosses his arms over his chest and gives Francis a marginally hard stare.

"You saw Antonio," Francis purses his lips, staring back with a hint of exasperation, "I just want them to talk about this. I'll call Antonio-"

"Fine, fine," Gilbert cuts, but he shakes his head as he pushes Francis towards the Vargas, who were sitting a few seats away from them. "But if Antonio gets worse because of this," he doesn't finish his sentence and sends a glare to the back of Lovino's head. Francis smiles a little, and hopes for the best as he makes his way towards the dark-haired Italian.

He taps his shoulder, and Lovino turns his head. He eyes Francis, and the Frenchman smiles.

"Let's talk now?"

Lovino looks to his grandfather, and when the older Italian nods at him, he follows Francis out of the auditorium and into the wide, empty hallway of the university. His hands are inside his pockets again while he stares the Frenchman down, who only continues to smile.

"So how are you?" Francis starts.

"What do you want to talk about?" the Italian asks, straight to the point.

"It's about Antonio," the Frenchman says solemnly, losing the smile he put on earlier. He secretly waits for the reaction he's hoping for.

Lovino swallows tightly. Why does Francis sound like that? It's weird- and it sounds bad- and he hates it. "W-why- what happened to that bastard?" He clears his throat, heart twisting painfully in his chest. The scenarios he imagined back then resurface in his head: Antonio with a gunshot wound, Antonio injured for the rest of his life, Antoino without anyone to take care of him- "Not that I care! I'm just- curious," he adds while he crosses his arms restlessly. Francis tries not to smile while he pulls out his phone, and the Italian growls, "What are you doing?"

"I'm calling him right now," Francis says.

Lovino pales, and his hands grow cold. Francis gently takes his arm, uncurls his fist, and presses the phone into Lovino's hand. He stares at the caller ID. Antonio's contact name is so dumb that Lovino almost laughs, but he doesn't because Antonio answers and he puts the phone to his ear and-

"Hola! What's up, Francis?"

His timbre voice makes Lovino's stomach flip. He holds his breath and Francis watches in anticipation. Come on, ma petite italienne, he thinks, say something!

"Francis?" Antonio asks. His pulse increases, and his mind spins. Antonio is on the other end of the line- talking. When's the last time he heard his damn voice? Lovino hears some rustling, hears Antonio heave himself up, and then Antonio continues, "Francis? Hellooo? Amigo? Are you okay?"

Francis stares at Lovino in exasperation and reaches over to gently slap his cheek.

"What the fuck, Francis?" Lovino hisses- and then everything goes silent for a few moments. Neither Francis nor Lovino move, both waiting for some kind of response from Antonio. The Italian can hear the pulse in his ears, and he brings an unsteady hand towards his head, running his fingers through his hair.

He hears Antonio swallow loudly. "Lovi," Antonio finally says softly. His breath gets caught in his throat, and he just can't breathe. "Oh dio, is that you Lovi?"

Lovino turns away, and Francis steps back to let them have their privacy. He crosses his fingers behind his back, and wishes them the best.

"Yeah, it's me," Lovi's voice cracks, but he clears his throat to keep himself together. They fall silent again. Despite the desire to fill the quiet gap, neither speak- and instead of apologizing to him or thanking Antonio (like Lovino really wants to), he asks, "How are you?"

Antonio laughs hollowly. "Honestly?" Lovi stays silent, dreading his answer, and the Spaniard takes that as a yes. "I've been terrible since you left." Another laugh. "How are you, querido?"

Lovino grips his hair and bites the inside of his cheek, his longing for Antonio bubbling inside. Why, why is life like this? Why can't the two of them move on? Why can't they forget each other? "Not good."

Antonio takes a shaky breath. "I miss you haha," he tells Lovino, and Lovi brings his hand down to wipe at his eyes. "I miss you everyday."

"I miss you, too," Lovino replies without a second thought. He rubs his eyes again, sniffling. "I miss you so much." The Spaniard doesn't reply for a long time, and so Lovino starts again- heart aching, hurting, rejoicing. "Can you believe that my brother's boyfriend is Gilbert's brother?" Lovino grumbles in an attempt to lighten the mood, a small smirk appearing on his face.

"Eh? Luddy?" And then he laughs- the surprised, amused laugh that Lovino would hear whenever he does or says something that would do exactly that: surprise and amuse Antonio. "So that's how they found you."

"Found me?" echoes Lovino. He glances at Francis, who's checking his watch. Francis smiles at him and gestures that he should talk more to Antonio.

Antonio lets out a choked laugh as he reminisces. "A month after you left, Gilbert and Francis tried to help me find you. But you left no trace- nada- so we were just blindly guessing where you could've gone haha," he explains. Lovino imagines Antonio rubbing his face tiredly. "I could've seen you if I tried harder."

"You wouldn't have found me anyway," Lovino tells him softly. Suddenly, loud applause is heard from the auditorium and Lovino wraps his arm around his waist, eyes staring down on his shoes. Don't fucking cry, he thinks to himself. "I need to go soon."

"Wait- Lovi," the Spaniard pauses, "Will we ever see each other again?"

"I don't know," Lovino admits slowly. "I'm leaving Europe soon. By the end of next week or something," he says, clearly not enthusiastic. The applause and cheers get louder, and Lovino fears that this will be the last time he hears of Antonio. "I'm going to Canada," Lovino brings himself to say- and it isn't as difficult as he imagined.


Lovino can't hear Antonio as clearly as he had a second ago, because college graduates and families begin to fill up the hallway. He and Francis stand by the wall, waiting for their friends and family to come out of the graduation venue.

"Look, I need to go now. I can't hear you," Lovi raises his voice and presses the phone harder to his ear. He swallows around the small lump around his throat. Goddamn it, he cried too many times these past two days! He's not crying again! Not in front of a massive crowd- and definitely not in front of Francis!


"What," Lovino asks, almost sighs, but then Antonio does it- the habit he acquired when they started dating.

"Te amo, Lovi," Antonio hums. "I hope we see each other again."

"Yeah, yeah," Lovino allows a gentle- albeit sad- smile on his face. "Ti amo, Antonio." And then he hangs up without another word and shoves the hot phone towards Francis, who pretends not to have heard the whole thing.

Antonio clutches his phone to his chest that day, calling in sick because all he wants to do is curl up into a ball dream about his Lovino. He should've tried harder, really. He should've tried to tell Arthur that attending Gilbert's brother's graduation is something he is obligated to do. But he didn't say any of that- instead, he accepted another case in hopes of distracting his mind from Lovino.

Of course, that never happens. (But he still manages to get his work done- with some difficulty.)

He calls Francis again, asking about Lovino- but Francis tells him that Lovino has already left, fifteen minutes ago, for the airport.

"I tried to make him give you one last call," Francis says sympathetically.

Antonio places his face in his hand. "It's okay," he exhales another dull laugh. "He's always been stubborn like that-"

"He told me that he'll contact you when he's in Canada," Francis adds, smile obvious in his voice. "Your little Italian is obviously still in love with you."

That, perhaps, is the idea that let Antonio fall asleep with a smile on his face.

Yet more months passed without Lovino contacting Antonio.

On the bright side, the Spaniard finally met Lovi's brother- Feliciano. He resembles his brother quite a lot- in looks, that is. Otherwise, without the consideration of their appearances, they're completely different. Unlike Feliciano, Lovino isn't honest with his feelings (unless he feels the need to express them). Lovino is stubborn, more aggressive, and cannot stop swearing. He frowns a lot, scowls a lot, and is always grumpy.

But Antonio knows that deep down, very deep down, that Lovino's a softie. He remembers pointing it out one time- a long, long time ago- to Lovi, and the Italian doesn't hesitate to punch him in the face. Who's a softie, Lovino had growled at him, though his cheeks were bright red and he tossed him an ice pack five minutes later.

Anyway, Feliciano calls Antonio a lot- he even calls him big brother! How cute is that! The younger Vargas often sends him, Francis, and Gilbert postcards of Germany, or simply pictures (that he took of Ludwig) that will make the Bad Touch Trio laugh until tears leak out of their eyes.

The Spaniard jumps when his phone rings in his hand. Oh, it's Feli again! Seriously, without Feli and his friends, he'd probably be a depressing little puta, haha. Okay, maybe sometimes he is one . . . "Hola, Feli! What's up?"

"Big brother Toni!" Feliciano greets. "I'm just cooking some pasta," he sings. "I think Ludwig is sick of pasta, but he eats it anyway. He's so sweet, ve~!"

"That's Luddy for you," Antonio laughs easily, standing up from his couch to head to his kitchen. Maybe he'll make some paella. He's quite hungry. He takes out his ingredients, putting Feliciano on speaker while placing his phone on top of his counter.

"Fratello called," Feliciano hums, "he said he might contact you soon."

Ah, seriously, Lovino always brings his hopes up. Feliciano told him this three months ago, too. "Can I know where he is?" He tried getting Lovino's contact information from Feliciano, but the young Vargas is as stubborn- perhaps more so- than Lovino. Lovino probably only gives in to Antonio because Lovi adores him.

"Nope," Feliciano immediately replies, "I promised him that I won't say where he's at. He said he'll contact you."

He sighs unintentionally, and is surprised when Feliciano starts rambling worriedly.

"Don't be mad at Lovi," Feli starts, "he's just trying to figure things out, and he doesn't want to bother you." Before Antonio can say anything to interject, Feliciano continues on, "He really cares about you, and he really loves you, and he's just doing what he thinks is best, so please don't get mad at fratello! Lovi's really sweet, and he's just-"

"Don't worry," Antonio laughs again, leaning on the counter next to his phone. "I know how he is, too. I'm just- I really want to see him again. And it's almost Christmas- I've never spent Christmas with him."

"Ve~ You'll see him soon," Feliciano tells him confidently. "He talks about you a lot, too, and asks about you. He's doing just fine in O- in Canada. Oh, I'll call again soon! Don't want the pasta to burn! Ciao, Antonio!" the Italian quickly hangs up. Antonio laughs a little again. Feliciano almost slipped the city name in! Oh well. Antonio can wait.

If it's for Lovi, he can do anything- especially now that he knows Lovino still cares about him.

"You are kidding me," Gilbert yells in shock a week later. He scrolls up his phone, and then down, and then up again. "Mein gott, you are shitting me." He jumps from his couch and runs to the kitchen, surprising his friend. "Franny- look!" He shoves the phone to Francis' face, finger pointing at the picture of his cousin with-

"Is that Lovino?" Francis asks, taking the phone and clicking on the picture. He taps it twice, zooming on the face of Antonio's beloved, smirking next to his cousin- Matthew.

"I don't know! You tell me!" Gilbert rubs his head. "No, you should tell Antonio. Poor idiot's been waiting for this jerk's phone call. And look, he's probably fucking Mattie behind his back!"

Francis makes a face. "Gil, I think you drank too much beer," he shakes his head. "And anyway, Antonio's coming over any time."

"You're right," he pauses, "Do you know what this tells the awesome me," Gilbert says, hiding his grin, red eyes bright with excitement.

"Mon Dieu, what is it telling you, Gilbert," Francis sighs and hands the phone back to Gilbert. Turning back around to finish making their holiday dinner, he prepares himself for another (dumb) idea from his German friend.

"We have to fly to Ottawa!" Gilbert announces. "Come on, don't we have extra money? We're pretty close to Canada anyway!"

"Let's talk about this with An-"

Gilbert grins wider when they hear a knock on the door. "Speak of the devil, kesesese," he laughs and hurries to the door. He quickly pulls Antonio into the apartment, taking the basket of Spanish goods from the bewildered Spaniard.

"Um?" Antonio hums, looking between his friends, "W-what are you guys doing?" He's still wrapped in his cozy coat and thick scarf, feeling the Navidad spirit somehow shrinking away as his friends exchange mischievous looks.

"We found your little Italian again," Francis sings, laughing his special laugh, "ohonhonhon!"

His eyes widen even more, and his gaze darts between his friends. "You mean-"

"Yep," Gilbert proudly nods his head, trying to stifle his giggles. "You remember Mattie? Franny's cousin from Canada?"

Antonio furrows his eyebrows. Mattie? Who's that? He doesn't remember meeting any of Francis' cousins . . . Francis sighs while Gilbert rubs his face with feigned annoyance.

"Why doesn't anyone remember that kid?" Gilbert comments, but shakes his head. "Anyway, Lovino's with Mattie right now!"

The Spaniard feels his heart drop into his stomach. Wait- Lovino- with Francis' cousin (who's probably just as handsome as Francis)? Is that why Lovino hasn't contacted him yet- or-?

Francis pushes Gilbert aside. "Not in a romantic sense," he adds. "They're just friends."

Antonio blinks, not entirely understanding what the hell is going on. "Okay . . ." he says uncertainly, slowly. "Okay?"

"That's all you have to say?" Gilbert asks, and Francis hits the German instead of the overly-dense Spaniard.

"Yeah? I mean, what am I supposed to say?" asks Antonio while he looks between his friends again. He pushes his fingers through his dark locks. "Guys, I'm not understanding anything, and my head is hurting like crazy-"

"Dear god, Antonio," Francis sighs hugely, frustration slightly ebbing at his features, "If Lovino's with Matthew right now, then that means that Lovino's in Ottawa."

Antonio blankly stares at him, and Francis nearly throws up his hands, but then the Spaniard raises his eyebrows and drops his jaw- because finally, finally, he knows where Lovi is! "Y-you're kidding me?" he squeaks.

"Look, look," Gilbert turns his phone on again and puts it close to Antonio's face. "That's your Italian, isn't it?"

Antonio doesn't close his mouth, unable to say any other words as he stares at Lovi's smirking face with Francis' cousin.

"So, do you want to go to Canada tomorrow?" Francis asks.

"Say yes," Gilbert steps closer and pinches his cheek, laughing. "Even if you say no, French fry and I'll book a flight for tomorrow morning anyway."

Antonio closes his lips and presses them tightly together. He swallows dryly. "But if Lovino didn't contact me, then-"

"That's ridiculous," Francis interjects, "just- do what you have to do to make you happy." His tone is serious, reprimanding even, and his blue eyes watch Antonio squirm. "When's the last time you've been happy? Truly happy, Antonio?"

"I-" Antonio stops. When? The last time he made churros? The last time he talked to Feli about Lovino? Or the last time he held Lovino in his arms? Dio, he doesn't remember. He doesn't even think he remembers how to feel happy anymore! He-

"Franny, dinner's burnt," Gilbert interrupts casually, grabbing another bottle of beer from the fridge. Francis mutters curses under his breath while he tends to their ruined dinner.

"Well, there's no arguments. We're going to Ottawa tomorrow," Francis announces. "Instead of going skiing in the Netherlands, let's just go to Ottawa. They have skiing resorts there, too." The plan for the week was to fly to Netherlands two days from now, and stay there for a few days, and finally fly back here to the UK. (They all like to match up their vacation-leaves so that they can party and whatsoever.)

"Yeah, no biggie," Gilbert drinks half of the bottle in one gulp, "let's just cancel our tickets and get new ones. I can't wait to see Mattie! He's all grown up," the German laughs.

"He's only a year younger- he practically grew up with us." Francis rolls his eyes as he replaces his soiled pot with a clean one. "And you boys should pack up. Please don't forget to bring socks."

"Yes, Mom," responds Gilbert, avoiding the hard stare that Francis playfully gives him. The idea of going to Canada tomorrow to see Matthew excited the two light-haired individuals; but the thought of going to Canada tomorrow to see Lovino terrified Antonio. A year has passed, and he worries that perhaps- certainly- Lovino isn't the same person he used to be. Does that mean that his feelings towards the Spaniard changed?


It's a thought that never fails to scare him, never fails to break his heart into tiny little pieces every single time the notion crosses his mind. Antonio anxiously fiddles with his fingers, deep in thought, until Gilbert slings a sweater-covered arm around his lean shoulders.

"Go pack your things, Toni," Gilbert urges him. Francis nods his head, "I'll have dinner ready by then."

"I'll be back," Antonio finally agrees and slips out of the apartment to pack for the Canada trip.

The next day, Lovino wakes up on his couch, and groans loudly. His head is literally killing him, and he hasn't called to greet Feli and his nonno for Christmas, and- ah, fuck this. He sits up, noticing the furry blanket that Matthew must've tucked around him before he left the apartment. Celebrating Christmas with someone else is fun; he hasn't done that in years! Although . . . he wishes he could've celebrated it with Antonio . . .

He sighs and checks the clock. Twelve o'clock noon? Already? Thank god he doesn't have to go to work today. He lies back down on the couch, pulling the covers up to his neck since Canada is such a fucking cold bitch during the winter.

Summer in Canada has been nice, though the sights quickly bored him after a few weeks of roaming around. He had moved between two cities within the first two months of his life in Canada, before finally settling in Ottawa nearly four months ago. He has thought of contacting Antonio- multiple times, actually- but his gut would always churn, and his fingers would slip, and his mind would blank, and he just wouldn't . . . he couldn't do anything each time he tried to call Antonio.

He'll contact him though. Eventually. Maybe in four days, since New Year's coming up.

The idea is rather cheesy, but Lovino decides that he should contact the bastard on New Year's, for the sake of starting anew. Or something like that. (New Year's goal?)

He starts to enter dreamland a couple of minutes later, until some obnoxious knocking began by the front door. Lovino curses and shuts his eyes. Maybe the people outside will disperse once they realize that everyone is still sleeping. But the knocking continues, and they're hurting Lovi's head, so he sits up angrily with the intention to unleash his Italian swear words. With a scowl on his face, Lovino swings the door open- and freezes.

Not because of the fucking cold (though he was freezing underneath that stupid blanket)- but because, fucking hell, Antonio's at the doorstep. His lips part in surprise, and Antonio finds his green eyes widening.

Soon, suddenly, Antonio takes a huge step into his apartment and wraps Lovino tightly in his arms. He buries his face into Lovino's hair, presses his nose against the dark brown locks that he missed, tightens his arms protectively around Lovino while the two of them lose their balance and almost fall on the floor.

"Oh, Lovi, Lovi," Antonio repeats his name a million times. Lovino's heart thuds rapidly in his chest- oh how he missed his voice. It sent chills down his spine, produced the goosebumps that litter his skin. The Italian instinctively wraps his arms around Antonio's back, fingers gripping the back of his jacket firmly. The familiar smell of sun and Spanish spices and Antonio fills his senses, and he presses his face against the cold surface of Antonio's jacket.

Antonio slightly pulls away to look at the Italian, gently caressing his face with his chilly hands. Antonio rubs his thumbs on the corners of his eyes, catching the tears that fell from his amber eyes. He slides a hand down to cup his chin, thumb rubbing his bottom lip while Antonio's eyes look at him intensely. Before he can say anything else, Lovino grabs his face and pushes his lips against his, more tears leaking from his eyes.

The kiss is hot and cold, of desperate and of longing, and Lovino feels his knees buckle as Antonio wraps a steady arm around his waist. The Spaniard pulls away first, leaving them both breathless, and then he presses his forehead against Lovino's, green eyes bright with an emotion Lovino hasn't seen in a while.

"What are you doing here?" Lovino breathes, asking softly. He doesn't know how they managed to get in a position- with his back against the door he didn't know he closed, and Antonio leaning over him- but he doesn't mind. He can stay in this position forever, if it meant that Antonio's going to be with him forever.

"Lovi," his name rolls of Antonio's tongue nicely, and Lovino watches his lips move, "I miss you." He leans closer, eyes watching Lovi while the latter stares at him. "Lovino-"

"I love you," Lovino suddenly cuts in softly, briefly glancing up at him. He looks down, and his eyes fill up again. "I miss you too, and I'm sorry if I-" he sucks in a shaky breath, "if I made you feel as if I d-don't." He becomes quiet again, thinking of what he's going to say next. He didn't expect to see Antonio so soon! If he did, he would've prepared a thoroughly edited speech so that he wouldn't have to sound like an idiot when he faced the stupid Spaniard! But here he is, contemplating on his words, on his actions- on his everything- because Antonio just showed up, and he's hugging him and caressing his face and ugh!

The green-eyed man watches, infinitely pleased and surprised that his mind temporarily turns blank. He can't speak, and instead, listens to Lovi fumble for words to explain his actions. Antonio slides a hand down his cheek, resting it on the juncture between his neck and shoulder, and then he pulls Lovino into another kiss- this time, softer and not hurried- but Lovino pulls away, placing his hands on Antonio's broad shoulders.

His amber eyes are shining rather determinedly, stopping Antonio from recapturing his lips. The Italian licks his lips, and hesitantly starts, "I'm- I need to- ugh, fuck," Lovino looks down and brings one hand through his bed-hair, running his fingers nervously. How did he imagine his reunion with Antonio again? Surely, he's imagined it multiple times- with him apologizing to Antonio and calling him bastard and Antonio laughing and kissing him senseless. And then he'd say ti amo to Antonio and get married and hopefully live together in Canada.

But this is far from his fantasies.

He isn't supposed to see Antonio the day after fucking Christmas Eve; he isn't supposed to see Antonio until he became a permanent resident (in other words, an immigrant) in Canada! He just needs one more month! Everything is simply out of control, and it's really-

"Need to what?" Antonio urges gently, reminding Lovino of all those times when the Spaniard patiently stayed by him whenever he tried to express his feelings- and then, suddenly, Lovino can't stop the tears from falling.

He bends his head down and cries, shoulders shaking while Antonio startles. The older individual quickly tucks Lovi's head under his chin, pulling him close while he feels his own tears threatening to fall. He's crying, his mind registers while he rubs tender circles on his back and hums to calm Lovino. "It's alright, Lovino," he tells him quietly, "I'm right here."

With that, Lovino cries harder and fists his jacket to pull him closer and bury his face into his chest. "It's not," Lovi hiccups- which Antonio finds oddly endearing, "It's n-not alright." Lovino cries more, sobs wrecking his body as he tries his best to bury himself into Antonio's embrace.

He finally calms down a few minutes later when Antonio was running his fingers soothingly through Lovi's hair and pressing his lips on the top of his head repeatedly.

"I'm sorry," Lovino tells him silently, pulling away to wipe at his eyes. He glances briefly at Antonio, and looks down on his chest again. His eyes are red, like the apples of his cheeks and his nose, and his hair is rather messy, and he looks a little pale and sick- yet Antonio thinks that he's still the most beautiful human being he's ever seen. Antonio stays silent, letting Lovi continue. "For everything- I," he pauses and chews his lip, "I didn't want to leave- but I had to or else you'd lose your job," Lovino explains. "A-and I'm a criminal, right?" A ghost of a sardonic smile is seen on his chapped lips, and then Antonio feels his heart clench. "B-but I'm doing good here- no criminal . . . acts," he quickly adds.

"I was going to call you, you know?" Lovino continues, gaze stuck on Antonio's chest. "And then ask you to live with me here- a-after I get everything right." He bows his head some more. "I w-wanted to take care of you this time . . ."

Antonio watches. He can't stop his hands from touching Lovi, and the latter seems like he doesn't want Antonio to stop. The Spaniard's silence makes Lovino fidget, but Antonio says three words that immediately got rid of Lovino's worries, "I love you."

Lovino stares, and Antonio smiles, and soon, Lovino is hugging him tightly and curling his fingers in Antonio's hair and Antonio is whispering lovely words that made his Italian heart thud uncontrollably.

"Resigning?" Arthur Kirkland asks in surprise, two months later. He looks up at Antonio, who nods his head with a smile he can't contain. When Antonio came back from his holiday break, his aura appears to have gone back to its initial brightness, and he doesn't put on that forced smile anymore. It's quite clear that something good must've happened to the Spanish cop.

"Yes," Antonio nods his head. His uniform is folded neatly in his lap, hat resting haphazardly on top.

"Is it the wages? The cases? What is it, Carriedo?" Arthur asks, furrowing his thick eyebrows. Despite the cop's tendency of being an airheaded fool, Antonio's one of the best he's had. The cop is rather sharp, and is- no doubt- a brave soul. Any police force would be lucky to have this man under their wing.

"It's-" Antonio pauses, carefully molding the words with his tongue. He doesn't want Arthur to find out that he's going to live with Lovi and marry him soon- what if the Englishman sends another officer to bring Lovi back in the EU so that he can be arrested? "It's something else. You won't understand."

Arthur observes him for a long moment, before sighing and leaning back into his chair- defeated. But perhaps . . . he cocks an eyebrow at the Spaniard. "Is it because of him?"

Blinking in surprise and bewilderment, Antonio parts his lips. He doesn't say anything for a while, and then, "What?"

Arthur sits up again, leaning his elbows on the surface of his desk, eyes glinting mischievously at the Spaniard. "You know who I'm talking about," he says shrewdly, hiding his amused smirk behind his locked fingers. He watches as Antonio curls his hands into fists on top of his uniform, eyebrows dipping down. The Englishman rolls his eyes.

"Well, it was nice working with you, Carriedo," he tells him.

For a full minute, Antonio simply sits there, wondering if Arthur was referring to Lovino, and wondering if he was too obvious, and wondering if officers were barging into Lovino's flat-

"You don't have to look at me like that," he laughs, shaking his head, "I'm not sending anyone out to look for him."

Immediately, Antonio replies, "Why? N-not that I'm complaining!"

At this, Arthur averts his gaze, subconsciously staring at his phone on the edge of his desk. He gives him a half-smile. "I've had my own share of rule-bending," he admits quietly, turning his eyes back to the Spaniard. "I hope you two the best."

"Gracias," Antonio answers slowly. He stands up and places his uniform on Arthur's desk, briefly peering down at him. "I w-wish you the best, too."

Arthur grins and leans back on his chair, kicking his feet on his desk after he takes his phone in his hands. He waits for Antonio to leave before he calls his own little thief.

"Hey Eyebrows! What's up?"

He sighs, but his smile doesn't leave his face. "That's not a proper way of greeting your lover, is it, Amelia?"

"Stop blabbing, you didn't get me anything for Valentine's Day!" the American woman pouts on the other end. "Really, I'm going back to my old ways if you don't do anything about it!" Arthur chuckles and rubs his temples.

"I'm visiting you next week, aren't I?"

"I swear," Lovi growls while Antonio wraps his arms around his waist, "that your friends will never leave you alone!" He crosses his arms over his chest, cringing when he hears Gilbert and Francis laugh their stupid drunk asses in their living room. "How come they haven't lost their jobs yet?" he sighs. "It's ridiculous how they're always visiting!"

"It's only for the weekend," Antonio tries to lean in for a kiss, but Lovino presses the palm of his hand on his eager lips.

He glares. "You said that three weekends ago. And last weekend, we had fratello and his stupid potato with him."

"Well," Antonio starts again, "they just want to be a big part of the wedding process, s'all." He leans in again, but pauses to dwell on his thoughts. "Now that I think about it . . . our wedding is really close- and I'm the first one of the Bad Touch Trio-"

"That's a stupid fucking name."

"-to marry, so it makes sense that they want to spend more time with us."

"With you, you mean," Lovi rolls his eyes. He smiles a little, and then reaches up to pull Antonio's lips against his. "Whatever, I guess," he says after the brief kiss. He straightens his shirt, cheeks a little pink. "I'll have you for the rest of my life anyway." He slips away from Antonio with a burning face, biting his lip to prevent the broad smile from appearing. He moves to their bathroom and shuts the door, to keep Antonio from teasing him.

Antonio stands there and chuckles. "Te amo!" he shouts to the door, and Lovino brings his fist to his smiling lips while he mumbles his own response. "Ti amo, stupid."

constructive criticism is welcomed! thanks to evieechan for ALLLLL of the help (dude i so fucking love you oh my god you perfect being youuuu ILYSM!)! thanks for reading! :-)