"Oh, what's this 'Tello? A painting? It's very pretty!" Exclaimed a brunet caretaker.

These were the first words Lovino heard when he walked through the doors of the day care, impatient to take his younger brother back home so that they could finally eat. Lovino had no clue as to why his grandfather thought it was a good idea to have him pick up his younger brother; nonno knew he loathed the daycare - not to mention his chronic lethargy, his inability to not complain about everything, and his automatic response to the little monsters was to cuss them out. Lovino was surprised he could stand his brothers as much as he disliked children.

Well, he didn't hate all children; just the brats who had also enrolled at Lovino's youngest brother's daycare.

His younger siblings who were, to quote his grandfather, 'all laughter and smiles and sunshine itself' - Lovino could gag at how wholeheartedly his grandfather believed his youngest grandchildren to be perfect in every aspect ever. They were, also, not like their older brother. Lovino was the epitome of a bad attitude; if anyone in the Vargas family were to be accused of extortion, murder, or even being in the goddamned mafia, the accused would, without a doubt, land on him every time.

(Of course Lovino had never done anything illegal in his life - except maybe speed a few times but that's only because everyone else was slower than his grandmother, may she rest in peace - nor did he have the confidence needed to even do any of those things; but no one was going to point their fingers at innocent Feliciano or Martello. It also didn't help that he was the only one capable of doing any of those things, but Lovino wouldn't put it passed his grandfather to do at least one of them.)

Lovino cleared his throat, already so done with the entire trip, and waited until the caretaker took notice and saw him. It was always the same one, every time, yet he couldn't remember his name for the life of him. Still, that didn't stop the pang of quiet guilt he got whenever he pulled the other man away from the children; unlike Lovino, the caretaker was at home surrounded by the swarm of children. Lovino shook himself out of his reverie just in time to see the brunet man glance at him, a smile lighting up the gold in his deep brown eyes, his long fingers wiggling out a hello.

The Italian man flushed, a bright red spreading across his high cheekbones and down the back of his neck. He thanked his tan skin for hiding the color and cursed his blood for spiking at practically every boy who looked at him twice. Most boys went for his Belgian friend Bella or, which made him twitch every time, for his younger brother Feliciano. Yeah, Lovino said he had gotten over it, but he never did exactly get over his long-since-ex-crush on Antonio, a Spaniard who had followed after his brother for the longest time yet paid him very little attention.

But, strangely, he had never gotten that feeling from the nameless caretaker who always made him feel special with just a simple look. Maybe he was just being pleasant to the older brother of one of the happiest kids in the world, or maybe he was just pleasant to people in general.

Still, Lovino gulped, his blush still strong, as the caretaker got closer, Martello in hand. Well, there was only one way to know, he supposed - and the best time was the present. Besides, Martello and Feliciano both would die of happiness if Lovino finally found someone to date. So, with one final intake of air, Lovino plunged forward into the horrible place that was his emotions.

However, he didn't get all that far.

Martello seemed to sense that this was the most opportune time to rip his hand free of the caretaker's and rush right into Lovino's awaiting arms. The eldest Vargas brother grunted when he was suddenly attacked by 30 pounds of pure little boy weight, his bravado wrenched free and into the wind the moment his younger brother made contact. Lovino sighed, the corners of his mouth pulled into his signature frown, but refrained from saying anything as Martello chirped, "Big brother, big brother! I missed you today!"

Almost immediately there was a change in Lovino's countenance; his mouth now a gentle curve that could almost be called a smile, his eyes a soft grass green instead of their usual sharp emerald, and his entire posture relaxed into loose muscles that held Martello almost elegantly unlike his familiar rigidness. The caretaker, who had seen nothing else of Lovino until then, stopped a few feet away from the two brothers, and blinked.

Yao, who never actually met the eldest in the newest Vargas generation, knew so much more than he cared to admit. Martello liked to ramble on and on about his older brothers, but he had a soft spot for Lovino especially. Everyday he would come in with something new about his older brother and they could range from 'Lovino was a gardener' to 'Lovino had promised to teach him to shoot a gun when he was older'; the last one definitely concerned Yao far more than the former. Yet, whenever said older brother came to pick up Martello, Yao couldn't see these extraordinary qualities - all he could see was a grumpy twenty-something who hated the responsibility of his younger sibling.

Now, however, Lovino seemed to have changed into a completely different person right before Yao's eyes. It seemed that the phrase "I missed you" struck a deep cord with Lovino Vargas and Yao made sure to keep that piece of information locked tightly away. The Chinese man opened his mouth to wish Martello a happy weekend, but he was struck silent by the Italian Lovino murmured into the auburn hair of his youngest brother. It almost seemed too private, this display of rare brotherly affection, and Yao was apprehensive to interrupt it.

Still, the long haired man had a job to do, even if he didn't care for it at times. Yao cleared his throat and clapped his hands, "Hello again, Mr. Vargas! Martello had a wonderful time today, like always, and I hope to see you again next - !"

Strangely enough, Martello talked right over his caretaker, tugging on Lovino's darker hair, "Fratello, fratello, I almost forgot to tell you something really, really, really important!"

Lovino glanced back and forth between Yao and Martello, but eventually settled on his brother's pleading face, "Ah, well Martello, what is it?"

His younger brother grinned, "Mister Yao and I were talking and I wanted to ask you somethin'!"

The eldest of the two rolled his eyes, unaware of Yao's sudden blanch, "And that is?"

Martello proudly proclaimed, "Are you in love with Mister Yao, big brother!?"

Lovino whipped his head back to Yao, his hair covering his eyes while his earlier flush returned. Yao, in turn, had turned to look at anything that wasn't Lovino and was so white he almost looked like a ghost - and would have taken being dead at that very moment then have to deal with the rage of the oldest Vargas sibling. While Lovino never dared to curse in front of the children, Yao wasn't so sure he wouldn't beat the crap out of him right then and there.

Which is why Yao was surprised when he heard a strong, but hesitant, "I wouldn't call it love, Martello, but I do like him, yes."

Yao turned to stare agape at Lovino, whose face now reminded Yao of the fireworks that called out the Chinese New Year - or a tomato; he couldn't be sure which one was more appropriate for the situation. Between the three of them, it seemed that Martello was the only one on board with this answer, "Oh, that's good! Because Mister Yao is super nice and you're my big brother, so you should love someone super nice!"

Lovino slowly turned to Yao, one as pale as could be and one nearly spouting steam from his ears, and the both of them tried to smile at one another. While Yao couldn't say the same for Lovino, he was pretty sure that the stories Martello had told him weren't just tall-tales.

'Fuck it,' the both of them thought, 'what's the worst that could happen?'