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The Art of Deception

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Antonio sat on a small patch of grass facing a stream. He was watching a man with copper colored hair, knee deep in the clear water and singing verses that only a man born in Italy would know.  The man kicked and danced in the water with grace -despite being drunk, throwing flecks of water into the air and sending them pattering back down to the surface. His words slurred and cut often into laughter, and his cheeks were dusted pink, damp hair falling away from his face as he twirled to his tune.

This was a good memory.

Antonio leaned forward on his tucked knees, admiring this sacred side of his friend coming out before his very eyes. Lovino never liked to smile in front of people unless it was someone he trusted (or a beautiful woman) but even so, it was nice when he showed any sign of being happy. Usually it was always a curt nod of his head or a forced grin, however this day, in this memory, Lovino had broke all ties of being stone faced and literal, and showed something that Antonio would cherish forever.

Besides, Lovino had such a wonderful smile. It could brighten up a room if he were to walk into one. It sure brightened up Antonio’s heart.

And from that moment, Antonio tried his very best to make him happy. It had become his mission. There was this spark of excitement that burst from his chest and surged through his body that made it all so addicting.  Seeing this side of Lovino was like striking gold, and he selfishly wanted it all to himself.

“Come on Spain!” Lovino beamed at the dazed Spaniard and kicked the water again, “Get your ass over here!”

“I’ll come in a minute!” Antonio laughed as Lovino turned his back to him and began singing again. Deciding to watch him for a little bit longer, Antonio sighed into his palm. 

“So this is what you dream about.”

Antonio jumped in surprise, alarm rushing through his veins.

He had never heard this voice before. Never in his dreams, never in this memory. A small blond man stood beside him, arms crossed and thick eyebrows arched as he watched the dream play out in front of him.

“I thought you would dream of something…” he tilted his head, “…more exciting.”

“Who are you?” Antonio whispered.

 The man was dressed in a white toga, the bright cloth clinging to his frame loosely but securely up in a knot by his hip and shoulder. A star-headed wand was gripped firmly in his palm and Antonio noticed he spoke with a strange accent. Looking over the peak of his shoulders and his eyes widened with awe. Burrowed tightly behind his back, were huge transparent wings.

Antonio swallowed loudly. Is he…an angel?

“Knowing who I am isn't as important as to why I am here.” The blonde stood in front of him, blocking the view of Lovino now throwing water around with his hands.  “You have been a very hard person to get a hold of you know that? A real pain in my arse.”

Antonio frowned, “I don't understand, what did I do?”

“You've been avoiding fate my dear champ and my boss is pissed because of it.” He folded his arms, “And when my boss is pissed, guess who he unleashes his anger onto?” Antonio stared, confused.

The man sighed and rolled his eyes, “Anyways, I have come to you because you have failed to fulfill your deepest desires. Therefore I must make sure that you do so.”

“And what may that be?” Antonio eyed him anxiously.

“Love. You fail to open your heart to your destined soul mate.”

“Whoa hold on a second! A soul mate?” He stood up, shocked. 

“Yes, a soul mate.”

“But I'm not in love with anyone! I haven't even been out with anyone for the past three months! Also I'm really in no position to settle down with anybody.” Actually not with any human, heaven knows what kind of mess that would create.

“Are you kidding me?” the angel hissed, “Look at what you have been dreaming for the past three years- or rather who!”

“Wait. Are you saying…” Antonio glanced over the angel’s shoulder, to Lovino who had mud now on the side of his cheek. “Lovino. Lovino is my soulmate?”

“Bloody hell- Yes he is your soul mate! And you are his! Congratulations on finding the love of your life, now let’s get onto the official stuff like, oh I don't know…accepting your love!”

Just the thought of it gave him chills. Him and Lovino? He tested the words on his tongue again.

 “Soul mate…”

Antonio furrowed his brows and shook his head.  “So you say that you are the angel of fate and you are appearing in my dream to tell me that I am in love with Lovino? Do you know how crazy that sounds?”

 The last thing he needed was to find out that he was crazy. I mean, yes he can get crazy and he may have had some emotional episodes in his past, but what can a nation do? A country goes through a psychological episode once or twice in his life. Especially that one time France paraded his fleet over Spain’s tomato garden. Now that situation put a new meaning of Spain “tearing a new asshole.” But he digress.

Antonio shook his head, clearing his clustered thoughts and continued. 

“Why am I even listening to you? You're not even real. Just my imagination,” He glared at him. “So why don't you just go away.”

A strong hand balled the front of his shirt and dragged him to come face to face with acid green eyes.

 “Now you listen you to me, you insolent fool. I am a being of high power and grace, and you have no right to be talking to me as if I do not exist. I am Arthur, the angel of fate, and you are just a mere immortal soul bound into a pathetic body. So do not tell me that I am an illusion and do not tell me what to do. It is I who tells you what to do!”

Glaring back at Arthur, Antonio parted his lips to speak but was cut off immediately, “What you are going to do is to accept that you love Lovino Vargas and you are going to tell him how you really feel. Then you shall live your life alongside him.”

Antonio snapped back. “You can't make people do things because you want them to and you will not force me to put Lovino into a situation like that! There is no way in hell I will allow that!”

The Brit cocked an eyebrow.

“Is that so?”

“That’s right.”

Arthur chuckled to himself and craned his neck. “I will seek that this job gets done.” Slowly unraveling his hands away from his shirt, Arthur threw him another unnerving glare.

 “I will be seeing you Mr. Carriedo.”

With that said, Antonio blinked and the angel was gone, along with his dream.


 

A brilliant shade of green shot open as the man wrenched out of his disorienting dream. His eyes zoomed in on cream ceilings as he forced oxygen down his throat. He tried to ease the rise and fall of his breathing, but what came soon after was the lingering sensation of shock.  He had never woken up like this before.

Antonio sighed shakily. It was just a dream. Deep down, he knew he shouldn't be getting so worked up about it, but the dream had been so vivid and so bizarre, it left his head in a whirl.

He assured himself that there was nothing to worry about and that there was no such thing as big browed angels. Well, there was England…but hell, he'd pass as the Devil if you pissed him off the right way.

 The blanket laying over his torso tugged down suddenly, causing Antonio to freeze. Watching the bundle of blankets moving next to him,  the alarms in his mind set off.  At that second he didn’t know if should scream and run to the corner of the room like any logical man would, or stay there and find out who was under his covers. Shakily, he gripped the sheets. His breath hitched.

Oh please let it be anyone but Arthur.

He slid them down a bit and a copper curl poked out from underneath. Antonio relaxed. It was just Lovino.

Wait. Lovino?

As if Lovino felt the same alarm, the covers were thrown off and he lurched up with a gasp.  Lovino’s eyes darted around the room until they landed on Antonio, and as they did, they slowly narrowed with growing suspicion.

 Antonio was suspicious as well. He was certain that Lovino should have been with his brother in Italy. What the hell was he doing in Spain? In Spain and in his bed?  Noticing Lovino’s lips curl into an angry scowl, Antonio quickly sat up and cleared his throat.  

“G-Good Morning Lovi! Fancy meeting you here um, in my bed.”

Lovino squinted his eyes, “Yeah, what the fuck is going on?”

“Well, I thought you could tell me that?" Antonio scratched his cheek, "You're kinda the one in my bed.”

“Me?” Lovino scoffed, “I didn't walk all the way here from my place just to sleep with you, so cut the crap and tell me why you snatched me.”

It was his turn to narrow his eyes, “I didn't snatch you.”

“So what, I just poofed inside your house like magic?”

“I don't know, okay?” Antonio huffed and fell back into his pillows, “Listen, it’s too early for arguing. Let’s just take a deep breath-.”

“Bullshit! If you're not going to tell me why I am here, then I'm going to fix myself some fucking breakfast!” 

Lovino kicked off the rest of the covers with his feet and jumped out of bed. When he felt a painful tug on his wrist and his body lose balance, he did not expect himself to fall over the edge of the mattress. He also did not expect a grown ass man tumbling after him. Lovino’s back hit the hardwood with a loud thud as Antonio’s body crashed over him. A whine slipped from his lips as he struggled against the Spaniard’s weight and blew away at chocolate curls fanning over his cheek. Groaning, Antonio lifted his head and knocked the crown of it against Lovino’s chin.

“Fuck!” Lovino hissed and rubbed his chin, “What the fuck is the matter with you? Get your fat ass off of-”  He stopped in mid-sentence, eyes glued to his hand currently being restrained.

Antonio’s eyes followed and he swallowed loudly, “Is that…?”

Instead of replying he hauled his wrist up, dragging Antonio's with it. Handcuffs.

Antonio rotated the silver cuffs, eyes skimming the detailed etchings marked on them. Antonio blinked. Surely this couldn't be because of that guy in his dreams!? He was just a fragment of his imagination! An angel of fate did not exist and if one did, it wouldn't be that guy.  Trying to figure out the odd scripture, Antonio jumped in surprise at Lovino’s aggravated shout.

“Is this some kind of sick joke? Take this shit off of me!”

Antonio rubbed his forehead with his free hand and tugged at his cuffed one with panic. “I promise I have no idea what is going on! I don't even own a pair of handcuffs!”

“Then how the hell did it end up on our wrists bastard?” Lovino pressed forward challengingly seemingly to forget about personal space. “Is there something you'd like to share with me Spain?”

Those eyes were so piercing it made him a little scared. “I-I have no idea what you are talking about!”

Antonio tried to back away from him but was yanked back down by the chain of their cuffs. A muscle in Lovino’s jaw jumped from clenching his teeth so tight. “There’s something going on here isn't there?”

He sighed. “Believe me there is, but I can't fully explain it to you.”

“Fuck that! I’m cuffed to your ass so I have the right to know what’s going on! Did you piss someone off? Is this someone trying to get back at your lame ass?” Lovino paused and spit again in thought. “Is this payback against me?”

“What? No Lovino this has nothing to do with you!”  

“Then what the fuck is it then? What’s going on?”

“Lovino-”

“I swear to god if France has something to do with this I’ll- I’ll fucking piss on his house! I'll piss in his twenty thousand dollar vase in his prissy ass room!”

“Ah, Lovino that isn't very nice!”

“I am cuffed to you Spain! How do you expect me to react?”

“I don't know at least calm down a litt-”

“TO HELL WITH CALMING DOWN!”

“Ugh you two are so obnoxious!”

Lovino squeaked and jumped, colliding his chin with Antonio’s head again. Groaning and swatting for Antonio to get off of him, he looked up. And really, he didn't expect to see an angel perching over him.

The angel had a scowl on his face and glared, unamused with the previous bantering between the two Latin countries. Lovino didn't like those eyes. They were piercing and they creeped him out the longer he stared into them. Lovino blinked and then did the only reasonable thing anyone would do in his situation.

He tried to run away.

“Lovino!” Antonio tugged him back with the help of the cuffs, swindling his hips and directing him towards the bed. “Lovino relax!”

“Relax? You want me to fucking relax?” Lovino’s broad eyes flickered between the bored angel and Antonio with panic. He yanked on the cuff and squeaked. “What the fuck did you do?!

“I didn't do anything!”

“Am I dead?” Lovino’s eyes bugged out more as he thought over it.

 “Are YOU dead?”

Irritated, Arthur thought it was wise to intervene before the Italian’s head popped off. “Stop being over dramatic. If you were dead, your country would be in the dirt and you'd be mortal.”

Lovino’s cheeks grew red. Of course, how stupid.

Arthur’s eyes softened. “I didn't mean to scare you.”

 Lovino glared. “Well you did a piss poor job of that! What do you want? Who are you?”

 “Honest to heaven…” the blonde glanced to the ceiling for a sign of a higher help and crossed his arms. “Antonio would you be a dear and mind filling in the lamb? I can only explain to one idiot a day.”

Lovino’s eye zeroed and advanced forward to yell in his face, but was stopped by a tan hand.

Antonio bit his lip as he felt Lovino’s questioning gaze on him. “This is Arthur. He’s um, the Angel of Fate.”

“Angel of Fate?” he snorted, “You gotta be fucking kidding me.”

“Come now Lovino let the man finish.” Arthur urged Antonio to continue with a nod of his head.

 He felt his body grow stiff with nerves. “And he is here because he thinks-”

“I know.” Arthur cut him off.

“-that you and I are…are…”

 He did not want to tell him this. He did not want to tell him this. Antonio averted his gaze and swallowed timidly.

“That we’re what?” 

Antonio groaned and hid his face in his palms. Lovino’s patience was wearing thin. “Dammit Antonio just tell me!”

“That we're suppose to be together!” 

Antonio’s cheeks burned in frustration. 

“That we're Soul Mates!”

Lovino’s breath hitched and he swallowed it. The room was tense, as if Antonio’s words amplified the sudden shiver that crawled up the Italian’s spine. Did he hear him correctly? Did he really just say that they were soul mates? Fucking cuddling, sappy, two peas in a pod Soul Mates? Lovino couldn't think. He couldn't even scream at the smug angel smiling at them with amusement. And how he wanted to so badly to punch that bastard in the face.

What…” Lovino seethed.

“May I cut in again?” Arthur twirled his star-headed wand and smirked, “Like the Spaniard says, you are here because your fate, Lovino Vargas, is to be bonded with Antonio. And it has been for quite a while.”

Arthur patted the man’s back and in return Lovino took a step back. “All you need to do is give in. Love each other so that you can complete the bond, and then by doing so I can go on my merry way.”

“There’s the door, why don't you see your way out then?” Lovino bit back.

“Don't worry, I won't be here long.” Arthur's tone tinged with his restraining annoyance.

 “You two will be needing your privacy anyways for when you both stop acting like a bunch of mindless buffoons, give in to your obvious sexual tensions, and just fuck each other!” Arthur huffed near the end of his explosive rant and tried to compose himself again.

“You cannot fight Fate and you cannot escape from Destiny.”

“Fuck you!” Lovino lurched and the chain yanked him back as he snapped at the angel. “If you think you can just come in here and play matchmaker then you better get your head out of your ass! There is no way-”

Before Lovino could finish his sentence, in blink of an eye the angel, in a flurry of feathers, was gone.

Lovino kicked the side of the bed and cursed.

 “Fucking asshole!”

Antonio stayed quiet as Lovino continued on with his cursing rampage. He could not believe this. For one- it was quite random, and two- he recalled the words spoken by the Angel. Destined? Them being together had been destined? That part he really didn't mind. A life without ever meeting, living, and in a sense yes, love Lovino was like he hadn't lived at all. Most of his good memories involved Lovino in them, sometimes even the bad. From that moment Spain had set eyes on both Italy’s so long ago, it was the Southern part- Lovino that impacted his life.

Yes, given he had preferred to have Feliciano for a short moment and for selfish reasons, but it was Lovino that kept him grounded, that brought out a reaction in him, even if it was negative at first. Despite it being so, Lovino had made him feel something that no one ever had. He gave him a motive other than fighting on for his country; he gave him happiness, he taught him how to become a better person, he corrected his distorted ways even.

And it was all because of that sobbing, angry, little boy.

So destined to be together he didn't mind. He was happy that some unknown force had brought them together. However… there was fate. Fate and destiny were two very different things.  At least with destiny, Antonio could make his own choices, he could shape it anyway he wanted to, and still have freedom. Destiny was a push and Antonio was the one who chose what path to take. Fate consisted of orders, of demands, and there was no room for suggestion or free will. Fate was emotionless and detached compared to Destiny that strived on attachment and frankly, Antonio was an emotionally intact individual.

He loved Lovino, but forcing the love that he'd developed for him, and ripping it up and stretching it so it can form the kind of love Arthur wanted was something Antonio was not okay with. He was not going to give into Fate’s wishes, because it was Destiny’s side he was on.

“Lovino.” Antonio calmly said and rose from the dip in the bed.

“I’m going to kill that bastard! I-I’m so angry I just want to-”

“Lovino.” Antonio stopped him by placing a hand on his shoulder, “He’s gone. We should be thinking about what we are going to do now.”

Lovino’s eyes widened, “You're not going to-”

“I’m not,” Antonio smiled softly down at him, “You may do as you wish but I am not going to do what that eyebrowed ass wants me to do. He cannot control me and he cannot control you.”

“I never said he was going to!” Lovino grasped the chain swinging between their arms and raised it to his face. “But this asshole won’t let us go unless we-we you know!” Antonio wanted to laugh at the rush of red that dusted Lovino’s cheeks and patted his shoulder to reassure him.

“I'm pretty sure I know who can help us out with this” Antonio sighed, “I'm not going to like it but what other choice is there, right?”

“I guess…” Lovino breathed, trying to form back his hard demeanor.

“Come on,” Antonio grinned and tugged Lovino’s hand with the chain, “let’s go eat something quick and get dressed. Then I'll call England.”


 

With the lack of space and lack of mobility around the kitchen, both settled down with making a simple egg on toast. Antonio tried to fight a frown at his bland breakfast in front of him. Peeking at Lovino he saw him chew his food with irritation, jaw moving up and down quickly to get the meal down. Both of them loved food too much to simply make a plate that lacked a taste of flavor. Every meal they made was normally seasoned to perfection or was accompanied with a delicious side dish. It was the pleasure of tasting bold flavors and new textures that made them such fantastic cooks, after all. 

And here they were, two talented cooks who wouldn't touch something as bland as England’s food, eating simple bread and eggs.

“This day just gets shittier and shittier…” Lovino mumbled, tossing his bread.

“Sorry.” Antonio gathered both of their plates and motioned Lovino to stand up with him.  “Once we get these cuffs off I’ll cook you something good.”

“Good?” Lovino scoffed. “Better be fucking fantastic.”

“Isn’t my cooking already?” Antonio laughed.

Lovino thought about denying it, but admitted silently to himself that Antonio was in fact, a wonderful cook. 

Instead he rolled his eyes and followed Antonio back upstairs.

Their naked feet pattered up the hardwood staircase, echoing out through the large house. Lovino’s eyes trailed along the chestnut railing, up to Antonio. He was humming, fingers grazing Lovino’s as they climbed the steps together. 

His hair was naturally a mess; chocolate curls swirling in every direction, oily. Observing him further, he realized Antonio had very nice cheekbones, as well as admirable dimples in which popped from seemingly nowhere whenever he laughed hard at something amusing to him. 

He wished he had dimples or nice cheekbones.

Rounding the corner down the hall, Antonio and Lovino returned into the bedroom and shut the door behind them. Suddenly, he felt self conscious and diverted his eyes. Thankfully Antonio hadn't caught him staring and instead moved to look inside his drawers.

Lovino shifted on his legs nervously next to him. How did Antonio expect him to get dressed? Chained together? Hell they've changed in front of each other before, but it was impossible now that they had a linking hand.

“Do you think this will fit you? It’s a little small on me.” A black t-shirt was in his hands, and he pressed it against Lovino’s chest. Antonio bit his lip and measured the fit in his head.

“You don't have anything more fashionable?”

Antonio chuckled, “We're not going out Lovi.”

He shrugged. “A man can still be fashionable in his home, can't he?” Antonio raised an eyebrow. Lovino snatched the clothing from his hands.“You have no sense of style.”

Antonio chose a loose, tan, long sleeve blouse for himself and a pair of dark jeans, throwing some of his smaller pairs at Lovino. Walking back to the bed both nations sat and began to pull on their pants. This part was thankfully not as hard as the shirts would be. When Lovino reached to button his pants however, his hand was jerked away. Lovino fought against it leading to a tug-a-war against him and the chain.

“Spain will you stop tugging!”

“But I need to take my shirt off!”

“Well I need to button my pants!” Antonio tugged and Lovino tugged harder. “Antonio!” he shouted annoyed.  

A huff came from the Spaniard and being not the most patient out of the two, Antonio turned to face Lovino and reached out for his zipper.

“H-Hey!” Lovino gripped his wrists and stared into his eyes flustered, “What the fuck do you think you're doing?”

“Buttoning your pants.” he simply replied and pried his hand off of his. Without missing a beat he pulled the zipper up and fastened the button. “There, now let me take off my shirt.”

Lovino gave him a look but relaxed his hand. Nodding in thanks, Antonio rolled up the end of his shirt and pulled it over his head. When it passed his shoulders, however, the cloth hung around the arm that was chained. Antonio cursed silently as Lovino let out a curt laugh.

“Looks like you're going to have to rip it off!”

Antonio looked at him then back at his shirt. Suddenly he clenched two ends of it and did just that. The tearing of material made Lovino cringe and he watched in horror as the splitten shirt fell to the floor. Antonio looked down at it happily and moved to reach his new article of clothing.

“Holy shit I was just joking about ripping the shirt, why did you do that?”

Antonio shrugged. “It’s just a shirt Lovi.”

“Just a shirt…” Lovino shook his head. “You heartless bastard.”

“Get dressed,” Antonio laughed, however it was cut short. 

“Crap.”

“What?”

“How am I going to put this on if I can’t get my arm into the sleeve?”

It was Lovino’s turn to laugh. “Wow, you should have thought about that before you turned into the incredible hulk and ripped your damn shirt.”

Antonio smiled. “I probably should have huh?”

“Well, looks like you're going to be walking around in an undershirt all day.”

“If it’s just for a little while I guess I can handle being in a tank.” He threw his blouse to the side and eyed Lovino. “But that means you're stuck in what you are wearing too.”

Lovino’s eyes narrowed. “Shit!”

“I’ll call England. The quicker he can meet us the faster when can get out of these cuffs.” Antonio gave him a smile before reaching over him to the nightstand, snatching up the flip phone and scrolling through his contacts.

“You should invest in getting a newer phone Spain.”

“I don't like texting or talking much on these things…” he pressed the speaker to his ear and glanced up to him. “I prefer face to face conversations; it has more meaning and it lasts longer.”

Lovino groaned and fell back into the mattress. “You are such an old geezer.”

“I look good for my age don't I?” he wiggled his eyebrows. “I can work it!”

“Work my ass!”

 Lovino meant to say it as an insult but paused. That came out wrong. “I mean uh, you don’t have to work to look good at all!” Fuck that came out wrong too! Antonio was staring at him with perplexed eyes. “Dammit just- just fuck you!”

“What do you mean by-” the end of the receiver crackled and Antonio straighten up on the bed, “England?”

“Bullocks, it must be Thursday.” The Brit’s accent muttered into the phone groggily and the sounds of rustled clothing followed. “You are the last person I would expect to call me at this ungodly hour.”

“Sorry for have woken you.” Antonio’s eyes moved up then back down to the floor. “I need help.”

“Sorry I'm not a psychologist.”

Antonio frowned. “Why would I need a psychologist?”

“That one just flew over your head didn't it?” England chuckled, and sighed. “What may I be the pleasure of helping you with?”

“Angels.”

England lurched up from his tangled bed, cellphone pressed hard against his ear. His green eyes widened and his voice came out in a whisper, “Come again?”

“Angels! I know it sounds crazy but you deal with a lot of crazy stuff so I thought you would understand what I'm talking about! This guy appeared in my dreams and he was British like you and wore this really weird dress-”

“Spain do me a favor?”

“Um, what?”

He leaned forward on his knees and hissed into the phone, “Can you shut your trap or slow down? I am tired, my head feels like there are bloody gongs going off in my skull, and I cannot understand a single word you are spitting out.”

Antonio scoffed, catching Lovino’s attention. “Hitting the bottle again England? What a surprise.”

“Fucking a prat? What a surprise.” England bit back with the same enthusiasm as Antonio.

“I’m not fucking anyone, you ass.” Lovino shivered. It was rare for Spain to say anything close to the word fuck but hearing him say it…was intriguing.

“Don’t get your panties rustled up Spaniard.” England carried on before their conversation turned to an all out battle, “What was his name?”

“Arthur, he said he was an angel of Fate.”

England fell back into his pillows, “Arthur…oh Arthur! Yes you are screwed.”

Antonio rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I kinda knew that once I woke up in handcuffs.”

“Hmm. Kinky guy isn't he?”

England.”Antonio warned.

“Let me guess, you want me to fly myself over and help you out of your sex cuffs right?” England twirled a strand of his hair absentmindedly as he stared out of his water freckled window.

 “As much as I would love to see you and make a cake and hold hands I'm actually going to be busy all day.”

“Then come tomorrow.”

“Sorry Muppet, no can do.”

Antonio shouted into the phone. “England! I am cuffed and can not do a single thing! I can’t change my clothes, I can’t walk outside, I can barely make a decent meal, and I am tired of you being a jerk to me! All I am asking is for your help!” Antonio ran a hand through his hair and clenched his jaw. “Please, England...”

“Talk about laying down the dramatics! It’s no wonder your dramas are cheeky in your country.” England heard a tense blow of breath on the other end of the line. “Listen, I really wouldn't mind helping you out- which is odd for me to say, but I’ve been in angel shit before and I know it’s not fun.”

“Then come down here and help me!”

“Even if did come down I simply can’t help you. Angel spells are different from the spells and magic I work with; it’s on a higher and more dangerous level that can put even a nation to it’s death bed. And knowing that, if the Angel that happens to be messing around with you is Fate, there is no way to break you out of his bindings. No one can fight against Fate.”

Antonio bit his lip and squeezed his eyes shut. There was that line again. No, he can fight it! Fate didn't decide things around here! It was him and only him that could do that. “There has to be something…”

“I’m sorry,” England sounded sincere.

 “I don’t know what I can do for you.”

Lovino’s hands gripped the loose sheets as he stared at the disgruntled man beside him. His brows were crunched together and his jaw was set stone hard with anger. Lovino thought Antonio appeared kind of attractive when he looked serious, but he didn’t like this look he had now. It just wasn’t Antonio. It wasn't the smiley, beaming Spain that bothered the hell out of him with his laugh or corny jokes.  Antonio’s head bowed over his lap and his eyes were open, jade shadowed eyes dark with both anger and a slight glimpse of worry.

Lovino shook his head and snatched the phone right out of his hands. This needed to fucking stop. Right now.

“Hey eyebrows!” Lovino shouted into the phone. “I know you and sunshine here aren't the best of friends, but the least you can do as a decent person is to help someone out! Or wait, are you just too prideful that you can't swallow it and just fucking do it!”

To say England was surprised was an understatement. “Romano?”

“No, I’m a woodland fairy.”

“Don’t tell me…” England felt a bubble of laughter escape his throat. “Are you handcuffed to Spain?” Lovino didn’t answer him right away and that triggered England to go into a laughing fit. “Holy shit that is grand!” More laughs poured out and the blonde could feel his stomach tighten up at how hard he was laughing. Lovino scowled in silence.

“This Fate business is starting to make sense now! And I thought this was a serious thing!”

“What the fuck? This is a serious thing! I am handcuffed to Spain!”

“No no, but it truly isn't that serious! I mean my condolences for you being cuffed to that sod but you two aren't in any real trouble. If Fate has approached Spain with you alongside him, I'm guessing he is only trying to bond you two together." England muttered, "About time…”

“Yeah, well that’s why we want you to get us out of this mess!”

“What’s going on?” Antonio whispered but was met with Lovino’s finger.

“So does that mean you're coming over?”

“There really is no need for me to. If you don't want to be a lovey dovey couple, then all you two have to do is trick Arthur.”  

“Trick him? Trick him how?”

“With the art of deception!” England smiled sluggishly. “Arthur usually puts a couple through a series of trials, or challenges. One of them for you is the handcuffs, then it can be locking you into a room together or something. I don't know but you get my point. Each trial eventually is completed if you do something that satisfies him or brings you closer to your fate. So, do you get where I am going with this?”

“Trick the Angel and get a get out of jail card?” Lovino dropped his finger and looked at Antonio with a look of hope. “Thanks eyebrows, you helped a lot and when I mean that-you're still an ass.”

“Happy to help, twit.” 

And then the line ended.

Chapter Text

Lovino glared at the flip-phone in his hands. He had been hoping that England would shed some good news but instead had dumped them with a bucket full of bad. If the eyebrowed bastard couldn’t help them out, then that meant they were on their own. England’s advice echoed in his head and Lovino sighed. They had to trick an Angel? It sounded nearly impossible.

Lovino eyed Antonio who was still waiting for him to say something and dropped his eyes. He felt bad for the Spaniard, being tangled up in this angel business. It wasn’t his fault that they were like this, it was Arthur’s, and Lovino wanted nothing more than to punch that guy into next week.

Antonio cleared his throat and twiddled his thumbs over his lap, “So what’s with this tricking thing you were talking about? Do we have to come up with a spell or something?”

"No" Lovino frowned, "I wish it were that easy."

"What do we do? It’s nothing bad is it?"

"Kinda?" Lovino’s hazel eyes leveled with Antonio’s green and he swallowed, "We have to trick him into thinking we really like each other."

"But I do like you." Antonio squinted in confusion, "That’s kinda why I invite you over to my house and we hang out so much."

God way to make this even more embarrassing.

Lovino huffed and balled his fists, “That’s not what I meant! We have to trick him into thinking that we're you know…” panic surfaced behind his diverted eyes, “…together.”

"Oh." Antonio blinked and let it sunk in. "Oh.”

They needed to trick the angel into thinking they were in love. He rubbed the back of his neck and slouched over the mattress. It actually made sense. By Tricking the angel, Arthur would be convinced that their souls were “bonded” and leave them alone. But Lovino had to know that this plan wouldn't work. Arthur wasn't stupid.

Arthur was an angel, a being so powerful that he could smite anyone with a blink of an eye, and he could most definitely tell when someone was lying or not. Then again, Arthur was in such a hurry to get them together that maybe he wouldn't consider to look too deep into details. If that was the case then tricking the angel could happen.

Antonio closed his eyes and let out a long sigh. So this could work and they'd be free, or fail and they'd forever be trapped in these handcuffs. Well there really was no other option. Cut their arms off?

He shook his head. The pain wouldn't be worth it.

"How do we do it?"

"England says Arthur puts couples through a series of tests, like these handcuffs are one of them."Lovino eyed their cuffs and continued, "if we prove that we're ‘falling’ for each other by the end of each test, then we're free. Only I don't know how many there are and what to fucking do."

"There can't be that many" Antonio assure him, more so to himself, "We'd obviously have to do things that couples do." And Lovino knew very much what that was and tensed.

Sensing Lovino’s distress Antonio shook his head and got up from the bed but didn't go far, “There has to be another way. I mean Lovino, this is a bit too much even for me.” He bit his lip and his fingers twitched, “I don't want to do something that makes you uncomfortable or worse, send our relationship down an awkward road.”

Lovino’s shoulders slouched as his imagination stringed together the thought of him being domestic with Spain. Being all cuddly and holding hands, and kissing with him. Lovino’s cheeks burned and his eyes widened on the thought of his lips grazing Antonio’s. It wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing but it was Spain! Spain who was very male and practically the man who raised him. He wasn’t raising him anymore but he was more of Lovino’s best friend than anything! He shouldn’t even be imagining kissing Spain! He should be imagining a busty brunette with lusty green eyes and who maybe wore a red dress- oh yeah that’s who he’d kill to kiss with.

Lovino licked his lips and his eyes lingered up to meet Antonio’s.

Even if this would leave things awkward it would only be at first. They were best friends and Lovino trusted Antonio to do the right thing. It would be hard but they could do this. Besides he’d rather kiss Antonio and be closer to being freed then be stuck with him in chains forever.

Lovino timidly stood up, eyes never leaving the ground as he heaved a deep breath, “It’s fine. I just want to get out of this asshole’s chains and return things back to normal.”

"Are you sure?"

Lovino nodded, “I’m sure.” With another deep breath to compose himself, Lovino held himself more stern and finally met his eyes. “Alright so what do couples do?”

Antonio chuckled, “You mean you don’t know? Of all people, I would think you would have the answers.”

Lovino’s eyes narrowed, “What do you mean?”

"Really?" Antonio raised an eyebrow, "You're Italian Lovi.”

"You’re Spanish, what’s your point."

"Never mind." Antonio chuckled and suggested, "A lot of couples kiss."

Lovino glared at him and then to the chain swinging between them, swallowing, “Yeah they sure do.”

"They also hug and flirt with each other." The Spaniard’s tongue poked through his dry lips as he dug deeper on the topic. He’s been in his share of relationships in the past, so this particularly wasn't too hard, "I don't think you'd be comfortable with walking hand in hand so I'll leave that out."

"On the topic of leaving things out" Lovino interrupted, clenching onto the fabric of his jeans, "There’s one thing we can’t do."

Antonio watched the smaller man swallow nervously, shifting his weight onto his opposite leg. Lovino’s lashes fluttered trying to avoid contact and his cheeks were tinted with embarrassment. If Antonio wasn't concerned with Lovino’s posture, he would have commented on how cute he looked. He was too cute when he blushed.

"Sure, whatever you say."

For a long time Lovino focused breathing in and out, his eyes dancing around the room until finally he could gather the courage to face Antonio. Without a tremor in his voice he demanded,

"Absolutely no sex."

Antonio paled, “Lovino!”

"I know I know!" he snapped and begged him to let him finish, "I just want to make this clear! We can hold hands, act cuddly and k-kiss, but we cannot have sex. Do you understand me?"

"Yes Lovino, I wasn't even going to suggest it!" Antonio was appalled, "Who do you think I am?"

"I’m not accusing you of anything alright!" Lovino grounded his teeth, "Listen, I trust you more than my brother which is a fucking lot, and I know you wouldn't do something without my say-so but I'm also telling you this"

Lovino pressed his chest against Antonio’s challengingly and jabbed a finger, “I will do anything to fucking kick some dirt into that angel’s face because I won't let him walk over us, but I won't do that. That’s all that there is to it. I’m not saying you would suggest it, I’m not saying anything other than what I’m comfortable with.”

Antonio glared down at him but remained silent.

"So are we clear?"

"I think you’ve made your point, yes."

"Good." Lovino nodded to himself and stepped back, "Now that that’s settled, I need to relax and not think about things concerning angels, gay shit, and eyebrows alright?"

"Fine."

Lovino frowned. Antonio’s jaw was tense and his eyes were glassy; the space between them swirling with tension. He wanted to stretch up and smooth the lines underneath his eyes and make him smile again. He liked it when Spain smiled.

Instead he tugged on their linked hands, “Let’s go watch some T.V downstairs.”

Antonio nodded, trailing behind Lovino quietly as he lead them out of the room, and back down the stairs.


"Are you fucking kidding me, can you not see that Bella is fucking cheating on your ass!?" Lovino shouted at the couple on the screen. A tan man in a ridiculous hot pink v-neck was yelling at his fiance, proclaiming that she has been cheating on him with his older brother behind his back.

Awed at the stupidity of the characters Lovino shook his head and cussed under his breath, “You idiota!”

"Wow I didn't know you liked telenovelas." Antonio chuckled next to him.

After watching a few episodes of Ámame hasta la boda -a program that plays in the late morning after the afternoon news comes on- the tension from their previous conversation had faded away. Antonio wasn't the one to hold a grudge anyways, and Lovino never brought up the topic regarding to how they were to trick the angel, so in the end they were back to a content mood. To be honest, Antonio was relieved. He just wanted a moment to pretend none of this “angel business” happened.

When Lovino’s gasped at the screen when the woman named Bella, revealed a twist in the plot, Antonio noted that when this all blew over, he'd like to invite Lovino over to watch more of these shows.

Lovino pulled his legs nestled under his chin and glared at the couple now making out, “I don't watch a lot of T.V, but now I fucking know why. All these people are so dumb it hurts!”

"They're acting, It’s part of the show!"

"Can’t they act smarter?"

"It’s part of their characters." Antonio reached for the remote behind Lovino’s cushion, "Do you want to watch something else?"

"No!" Lovino snatched it from his hand and clenched it closely to his chest, "I have to know if Lorenzo is the one fucking his brother’s wife!"

"Okay, Okay!" Antonio laughed and draped his arm behind Lovino. "A few more episodes and then let’s see if we can try and cook some lunch before taking a siesta, hmm?"

Lovino nodded, not paying attention. His were eyes glued to the screen and focused on the next pair of characters joining the scene.

The terrible dialogue of the Spanish drama occupied the space, leaving Antonio to soak in the comfortable atmosphere, and let his eyes and mind wander.

This morning had been…stressful.

Eventful yes, Interesting? God it was a slap between a dream and a nightmare.

First he finds out that angels really do exist, and they aren't the heavenly singing men with harps, but actually dicks. Then this angel named Arthur- who claims to be Fate- chains him up to his best friend who, by the way, happens to be a grumpy, loveable spark of Italy, and be forced to be bonded with him until they confess their profound love for one another. And not until that very disturbing phone call to England, did he find out that the only way out of this mess was to trick the angel into thinking that they were in love, which had a 50/50 chance of working.

If he'd told this to anyone they'd send him into a nut house for sure. 

Antonio sighed, eyes drifting aimlessly from the moving people on the flat screen, trailing along the burgundy walls until they traveled back to Lovino. The light from the front room windows fanned along Lovino’s face, splaying a soft glow on his tan complexion, running through his chestnut bangs. His long lashes fluttered while his eyes, color like an Autumn sun touching Summer’s grass, widened with curiosity at the ongoing show. A muscle jumped as he clenched his jaw, soft cheeks countering his hard jawline.

Antonio’s heart skipped as he stared. From Lovino's jaw his attention was drawn to his slightly parted lips, thin and pink, and looking so seemingly soft that if someone were to lightly press-

No.

Embarrassed, Antonio ripped away from Lovino to and focused back on the T.V. What was up with him? He had never looked at Lovino like this. Never had he skimmed his eyes over that lovely face and wanted to be closer to it, or to see what expression he’d make if he leaned in and kissed him. Or wondered if his cheeks would grow red if he brushed a thumb along his cheek-

Antonio’s foot slipped from being tucked under his legs and kicked the iron coffee table in front of them. Lovino yelped in surprise, the loud thud of skin on glass sending an uncomfortable shiver to pass through him. He gave Antonio an annoyed look before returning back to his show.

Shit, shit, shit.

Antonio clenched his fists and sat a bit straighter. Where were these thoughts coming from? The Spaniard pushed anything to do with him and kissing Lovino in the farthest part of his mind, blaming the thoughts on the handcuffs.

Yeah it had to be the handcuffs.

After two more episodes of Ámame hasta la boda, a game show muffled in the background as Antonio and Lovino carefully maneuvered around the kitchen. Unlike earlier this morning, both men had found a way to work together.

Lovino’s linked hand followed Antonio’s everywhere it went, lingering close as Antonio squeezed lemon and sprinkled salt on a simmering salmon. Lovino rotated his wrist when Antonio flipped the fish over, revealing a golden cooked face. As Antonio worked on the fish, Lovino was stirring the deep pan of red rice, the mouth watering scent of tomato paste, green peppers and chili making him hum with delight.

"How long has it been since we've cooked together?"

Lovino paused his humming to think about it. The only time he could recall was two years ago at that Christmas party hosted at Belgium’s place. They had made some kick ass roast that year. Was it really that long ago?

"It’s been a while."Lovino responded with a shrug.

Antonio nodded with a big smile, “It has hasn't it? I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed doing these kinds of things with you. It also gets food done faster!”

"Yeah me too." Lovino’s lips twitched and he bit them, "I guess that’s my fault. "I haven't been in the pleasant of moods these days. It’s…nice. Doing this with you."

It honestly was. Lovino felt a lot calmer and comfortable being in the kitchen, and it made it more pleasant to share this feeling with someone who could understand. Antonio loved cooking as much as he did and  even taught him a few things here and there.

With a small huff Lovino glanced to Antonio, who was staring back warmly. Lovino swallowed under the intensity of green gazing back at him, wondering why he'd never told Antonio this before. Sure he wasn't very gushy and always telling people how he felt, but maybe he could open up a little for Antonio.

Faking a cough into his hand, Lovino diverted his eyes, “You know what else is nice?” he shut off the burner and pulled his chained hand towards the wine closet, “A drink.”

Running his eyes over the labels of bottles, deferring the dessert wines from the ones that would be suitable with their meal.

"That one sounds good!" Antonio pointed to an Chardonnay bottle, and Lovino grabbed it, closing the cabinet.

Wine chosen to drink and food cooked to perfection, Antonio and Lovino gathered their needed tableware so they could sit back, relax, and finally enjoy a real cooked meal. Before digging in, Antonio raised his crystal glass into the air towards the Italian, swishing the bubbling alcohol.

"Here’s to hoping we fix everything."

Lovino hesitantly clinked his own glass against the other. Antonio flashed a smile and sipped his drink, sighing against the rich tang on his tongue. Lovino didn't take his sip, but placed his glass back down and stared down at his dish.

As much as he hoped for the very same thing as Antonio, something in the back of his mind was telling him otherwise. It was making his stomach skwirm and Lovino didn't like the feeling. He wanted this. So why wasn't he as hopeful as Antonio?

Brushing the mixed up thoughts in his head, Lovino washed it down with two large gulps of wine, and reached for the bottle to refill again.


What should have been a nice meal that should have left Lovino nice and buzzing with the light of alcohol and warm food, actually turned to the consumption of two bottles of wine, and a feast of loud laughter. Antonio wiped a tear from his eyes after Lovino retold him the story when he had once mistaken Antonio for being a woman because he didn't cut his hair, and had accidently flirted with him.

"You didn’t look half bad if it weren’t for the 5 o’clock shadow." Lovino giggled and drained the last drops of wine by knocking it over with his elbow. The move made him laugh louder, "shit!"

"I thought of keeping it that length actually."
"Thank god you didn’t."

Antonio chuckled, leaning back in his chair as their dirty dishes remained on the table. He would pick it up later. Lovino yawned, stretching his arms over his head and nearly knocking over the wine bottle again as he did. Antonio raised his brows.

"I think it’s time for that siesta." He glanced outside the window, the day seeming to blur past them and laughed, "Or rather time for bed."

"Nah." Lovino grinned goofily, "I’m not tired, I can stay up alllllll day. I bet you a billion euros I can do it.”

"Oh really?" His chair screeched back, and he went over to pull Lovino out of his seat by his arms and in response, the Italian grew limp in his hold. "Come on" He hefted him up to his feet, "up you go!"

"I don't want to go to bed!" he whined, slouching again. "I’m not tired."

Antonio groaned as Lovino yawned again. “Don't make me carry you, you know I can.”

"Can you?" Lovino challenged and dropped his entire weight, forcing Antonio to support him up with all his strength. "It’d like to see you try! You're not macho enough to- holy shit!”

Lovino squealed as he was lifted swiftly up from the tiles, and now being carried over Antonio’s shoulder. He could feel the vibrations of Antonio’s laugh through his chest, and Lovino clenched tightly to the band of his sweats. They were moving back to the stairs, and Lovino was getting dizzy from watching the floorboards blur pass his vision. He shut his eyes tight and held on tighter.

When he opened them up again they were in Antonio’s dimmed bedroom. The dull light causing a drowsy yawn to pass through his lips, and Lovino was more than willing to welcome the mattress and pillows just a few feet away. As swift as he was picked up from the floor, he was dropped back down on the mattress, and he laughed as his back bounced off the bed.

"Alright, now let’s get some rest." Antonio was pulling back the covers for Lovino to squirm under but Lovino pushed them back down again. He placed them back under Lovino’s chin. They were thrown down again. "Lovino you need to sleep." he said, slightly irritated.

"You're a buzz-kill."
"And you're drunk." Antonio pointed out.

Lovino rolled his eyes, “Yeah well you’re…” he paused and stared at Antonio’s unamused face. His stared at those dreamy green eyes, down his warm, tanned cheeks and sharp jaw, landing on his full lips. They looked soft. Lovino propped himself up on his elbows, biting his lower lip, “You're kinda pretty.”

"Lovino can you stop-" Antonio cut off, finally filtering what Lovino just said. "Excuse me, what?"

"You have a pretty face. People would kill to look like you." Lovino stated like it was obvious, eyes raking over his features with envy. "You've got what people call sex appeal."

"Um." Antonio blinked, "Thank you?"

"Like how can you be THAT attractive?" Lovino pouted, "You know what? You suck."

"Yeah you're very drunk." Antonio sighed and reached out to gently push him back, "Let’s go to sleep."

"Ah, you're joining me?" Lovino slurred, actually allowing him to push him back into the pillows and drawing the covers.

"I’m handcuffed to you, Lovino."

"Oh yeah."

They stared at each other.

"God you’re pretty."

"Alright." Antonio snapped, and joined him under the covers, trying his best to face the other way. “Go to bed, Lovi.”

"What no goodnight kiss?"

Antonio tensed, “What?”

Before he could turn his head to see if Lovino was laying down, his mouth was being pressed against surprisingly, soft lips. Antonio’s eyes blew wide and he went stiff as a board, feeling the slight pressure of Lovino dipping his lips on top of his before they were gone.

With a snort Lovino slurred, “They are soft.” and then he collapsed into his pillow with a grinning exhale of breath, falling to sleep.

Antonio laid there, breath caught in his lungs. He didn't feel so tired anymore.

Chapter Text

Lovino knew a lot about mistakes.

His entire life was filled with them. Like that time he fell and tripped over Spain’s bookcase as a little kid, or to getting into a fight with his brother that lead to regrettable, hurtful words; That was the worse for Lovino, but all of those mistakes could be taken back, be made up for, and eventually be forgotten. But this was a mistake he could not forget.

He had kissed Spain.

Last time he checked, friends didn’t do that unless you were one of those overly passionate people (much like his brother or France) and he wasn't. Sure  they've  had their share of platonic kisses on the cheeks and on the forehead, but he had leaned over, and planted a kiss on the Spaniard’s soft lips. Over and over Lovino told himself it was because of the alcohol, that it was just one huge mistake, and once he woke up, he would apologize for it and they'd forget it ever happened.

But it did happen and he found himself not minding it.

Lovino groaned within his dream and pressed his palms into his eyes, shaking his head to make the thought of his friend’s candy apple eyes and the brush of his full pink lips disappear.

“Get yourself together, Lovino.” he squeezed his eyes shut, “Think of something else, think of something else…”

Lovino desperately reached through the crevices of his mind, grasping for that dark velvet thought of desire and brought it out. It was warm and inviting, soothing out the tension in his shoulders and easing the shakiness in his breath. His eyes fluttered open, revealing his new dream.

It was one that tended to replay itself after a stressful day. One that took him away from the annoyance of the world and into a realm of ecstasy. Lovino laid on a maroon bed, the comforter silky and plush underneath his fingertips.The room smelled like lilac, sweet and alluring. In front of him, a curvy woman dressed lavishly in a red gown smiled shyly back at him, her chocolate wavy hair fanning her round face, as her lashes fluttered like feathers. She was inching closer to the foot of the bed, her petite hands splaying over the mattress as it dipped with her weight. Her eyes shined with desire, green and beautiful.

The woman’s friendly gaze felt familiar to Lovino, but he didn't want to look further into why. The woman pulled her lean legs under her as she scooted closer to Lovino, and reached out to touch his hand.

“Hey there.”

“Hey.” Lovino responded kindly, his fingers brushing her skin, “You look beautiful.”

Blushing, she bowed her head with a soft laugh, “Thank you…you’re not bad looking yourself.”

He chuckled, “Comes with being Italian.”

“Cute and funny.” the woman giggled and her hand skimmed upwards to touch his shoulder, “I think… I want to kiss you.”

Lovino smiled, easing closer, “What’s stopping you?”

As she bites her lip, Lovino sees a trace of a smile, and he inches closer to build up her confidence to meet him half-way. Her lashes flutter again and her lip bounces when she releases it from her bite, and then presses forward. The kiss does not send shivers down his spine, it does not make his neck hot or want to press closer into her, and for that reason, Lovino reclines back in shock.

“What’s wrong?” she whispers, her smile falling.

He does not know.

Lovino didn't understand what exactly was going on. He’s had this dream countless of times and they all have played out perfectly. Why was it now not effecting him? Lovino stared back at sad eyes and as soon as the woman had appeared, she disappeared like smoke, traces of her image drifting with the changing background. The dark bedroom walls faded out into a large expanse of green, a bright sun now beating down on Lovino as he kneeled over the damp grass.

“I don’t get it.” Lovino murmured to himself, his fingers clenching into the plush green. “What’s wrong with me?”

The question replayed in his head like a broken record. He loved the idea of women, of caring for them and kissing them, and now it felt like that desire had shifted to a dim light of admiration.

“What the fuck is wrong with me?”

“There’s nothing wrong with you.”

Lovino’s mood switched from being completely concerned to completely pissed off within three seconds of hearing the voice. Lovino raised his head, glaring up at the source of his demise. Arthur wasn't smugly sneering at him like he had expected but instead sympathetic.

Lovino stood, hands balled at his sides.

Arthur scoffed, amused with Lovino’s sour demeanor, “Happy to see me?”

“Thrilled.” Lovino seethed through clenched teeth, taking a step into the other’s personal space.

Arthur placed some distance with a hand, “Relax, I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Oh that’s comforting, because I'm sure going to hurt you.” Arthur rolled his eyes, and Lovino slapped his hand away, “What the fuck do you want?”

“To talk.”

“To talk.” Lovino spat the words back and scowled, “Sure you do.”

“Will you stop with the sarcasm? It’s giving me an aneurysm.” Lovino fumed, hands twitching to strike. Arthur smiled, reaching up to smooth out the creases of Lovino’s shirt, “You want to punch me? Then punch me. Just warning you that you might break your cute little hand.”

A muscle jumped in Lovino’s jaw.

“Also you'll just look like an idiot.” He tilted his chin, “Well it might be a little late for that.”

Lovino’s knuckles slugged the angel’s jaw with a satisfying smack.

The punch had definitely felt more than hitting air and it felt damn good. The angel toppled backward, the impact knocking the breath out of his lungs. Arthur coughed and blinked widely up in surprise. Lovino gave the man a smug smile as the angel glared and rubbed his jaw.

“Well I wasn't expecting that.” he muttered to himself, getting back to his feet, “Do you feel better now?”

“I don't know, I think I can get one more punch in.”

“Alright enough.” Arthur grumbled and patted his shoulder, “We really do need to talk.”

“About what?”

“About why I am here.”

“You've already established that when you cuffed my ass to Antonio.” Lovino snapped, “What the hell else is there to tell?”

“I want to open your eyes a bit, explain and show you that I'm not doing all of this for the sake of being an arsehole.”

“Well you are an asshole.”

“Likewise.” Arthur bit back, crossing his arms.

Lovino didn't say anything and walked past him, ignoring the way the angel trailed behind him. It was bad enough he couldn't wake up but now he had to talk to this guy? To the man who only wanted Lovino to sleep with his best friend so he could get a good praise from his boss? Lovino’s toes seeped into the soil and grass, the moisture licking at his heels.

“You’ve been having some trouble dreaming I've noticed.” Arthur stated, stepping in stride next to him.

Lovino looked away uncomfortably. “I guess.”

“So the usual lusty brunette isn't working for you?” he waved a hand at Lovino’s pants, “You know, it doesn't strike your Big Ben.”

Lovino’s nose wrinkled and he grunted with disgust, “You're fucking gross.”

Arthur ignored him, “You think something is wrong with you when your dream didn't play out like you wanted.” His eyes were shining with excitement, “I think it’s quite the opposite; something is going right, Lovino. You're not desiring the pleasure of that woman because you've realized what you really want.”

Lovino stopped walking. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Arthur pressed forward, “The brown wavy hair, dazzling green eyes, the Spanish accent” Lovino stiffened as Arthur listed off the traits, “My friend” he chuckled and shook his head, “You're practically dreaming of that Spaniard.”

“No.” Lovino set his jaw and jabbed the angel’s chest with a finger, “I know what you're doing. I don't want Antonio, not like that.” His words felt weird on his tongue, like it didn't sit right with what his mind was thinking. Lovino tried again, “He’s my best friend, nothing more than that.”

“You two I swear…” Arthur groaned, “Were you not, attracted to that woman?”

“Yeah she’s gorgeous.” Lovino’s ears warmed red with embarrassment, “What does that have to do with anything? It’s just a stupid dream.”

The blond exhaled deeply, hand sliding off of Lovino’s shoulder as his eyes flickered elsewhere. With a tilt of his head, he spoke again, calmer, “Dreams are the imprint of a person’s inner fears, happiness, desires… everything that the soul wants to face. It’s a very effective way of understanding a person from seeing what they dream. It’s why I stick with approaching my clients while they sleep.”

“Okay…what’s that have to do with me and Antonio?”

A breeze picked up wavering through the Brit’s bangs, and the intensity was back in his eyes as they connected with Lovino's, “You can not lie in dreams, Lovino.” He raised an open palm out in front of him, “It’s time for you to wake up and face the truth.”

Lovino opened his mouth to question what he meant, but with a clamp on his shoulder and the electrifying shock that branched throughout his body, his dream and the angel were gone.


 

When Lovino woke, Antonio was still asleep.

Lovino didn't bother with looking at the time, instead trying to blink away the lingering blur of sleep. Gripping the blankets to cover himself up more, Lovino wiggled onto his side, to face his slumbering friend. A blue light poured through the thin curtains and over the sheets, casting it’s light over the curves of Antonio’s cheeks and closed eyelids. Staring at Antonio and soaking in his presence and warmth from under the sheets, watching the rise and fall of his chest with each breath, Lovino relaxed.

So used to seeing Antonio’s energetic and happy mask all the time, it was oddly satisfying to see the peaceful and exposed face underneath. His laugh lines creased his skin like parentheses, dark lashes like raven feathers rested on his tan cheeks, and tuffs of muddy brown hair crowned the pillow. Lovino scooted closer to further examine this rare opportunity, noticing how Antonio looked older when he slept. A light line of skin from his ear that stretched along halfway under his jaw compelled Lovino to follow it with his finger, feeling the way the texture would turn soft to rough again with Antonio’s morning scruff.

It’s time for you to wake up and face the truth.

Lovino stared at the face of his best friend, of his once guardian and protector. He has watched this face grow and develop into the man of love and overbearing passion he is today, worried over and stuck with this man through devastating times, and now they were thrown into a twisted fate of an angel. Lovino’s palm caressed Antonio’s cheek and he eased closer. No matter what life threw at Lovino, one thing he was sure of was that Antonio was always there, involved or supporting him.

“You jerk.” Lovino laughed softly, stroking his face with his thumb, “You’re gonna make me believe in that angel.”

Something tugged at his heart strings at his confession and slowly he removed his hand with a sad sigh. He was jumping into this too quickly, getting carried away by Arthur’s words. It was probably what the angel wanted. Putting words in his mouth and thoughts in his head to sway him to his will. Lovino pulled the covers off and sat up, away from Antonio. Swallowing loudly and running a hand through his bangs, Lovino cursed under his breath.

What exactly was going on with him and Antonio? And could he trust himself with his emotions?

He doesn't know. And it scares him.

As Lovino presses both hands into his face, he doesn't even react to the fact that he is no longer bounded to Antonio.


Antonio yawns loudly and is awoken by the sound of running water. Smacking his lips and scratching at his exposed stomach, Antonio squints at the clock on his dresser indicating it being 10 AM. With one hand flat on his belly and the other rubbing at his eyes, Antonio takes a few moments to slowly wake up.

It’s when he notices that he can use both hands that he jolts up in bed, wide awake.

“Lovino!” He flips his hands back and forth in front of him, and laughs relieved, “Lovino the handcuffs are off!”

No one answers back , making Antonio conscious of his surroundings, and that Lovino is not in the room. He notices the shower is on and kicks off his sheets and gets out of bed, knocking on the door.

“Lovino?” The water cuts off. “Lovino the handcuffs are off!”

The door opens and Antonio is hit with heat and steam, and with a dripping wet Italian in the doorway. Lovino fixes the towel on his hips and rolls his eyes at his wide eyed friend, “Stating the obvious like always.”

“Why-” Antonio diverts his eyes away from Lovino’s chest and coughs, “Why didn't you wake me up?”

Lovino shrugs and passes him, hips swaying over to Antonio’s dresser, “Didn't feel like it. I’m going to borrow some clothes.”

Antonio mutters a thanks for asking under his breath and joins him, “If we’re free then what does that mean?”

“That we passed a trial.” Lovino picks up a shirt and tosses it aside to find a better one, “God Antonio, I need to take you shopping for some real clothes.”

“How did we pass a trial if we didn't do anything?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care.” Finding a decent shirt, he slams the drawer with more force than needed, and goes to the closet. Antonio jumps, watching Lovino turn away and pull down his cream blouse over his head. The lean muscles in his back are tense, drawn back with tension like a bow about to snap.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Lovino disappears to the closet, but Antonio can hear the stress in his voice.

For a second he looks to the bed, and remembers the mishap that happened last night. Wrestling with an overly happy drunk to bed, the unexpected kiss…

“Lovino, you don’t think what you did-” Antonio pauses, approaching the subject like approaching a bomb, “-what happened, is the reason we’re fr-”

“I don’t know!” Lovino snaps back, a pair of slacks unbuttoned and sagging on his hips. “I don’t know and don’t care! Can't we just be fucking happy that we're uncuffed!?”

“Lovi-”

“I was drunk!” A look of fear flashes his face that concerns Antonio, “I was drunk and wasn't thinking straight! I-” Lovino runs a hand through his wet bangs and panics, “I don't love you!”

Antonio flinches back from the words like a slap in the face. Lovino instantly wants to take it back.

“I don’t love you…like that.” Lovino swallows and his stomach churns with displeasure. “I didn't mean to—I didn't mean it like that.”

“I know.” Antonio inhales a shallow breath and tries to play it off with a smile, “I know, it’s okay.” Lovino inches closer to place a hand on his shoulder, to say something, do something, but Antonio heads the opposite direction of him. “I’ll get breakfast ready.”

The bedroom door shuts and Lovino’s emotions fly open.