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Be My Experiment

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Rule number one of Jean Preparatory Academy: You do not touch the Vargas brothers.

Raised by combination lawyer and CEO of a vast Seafood interprise, both sat on more money than the school itself had been built with, and both knew how to wield the power that came with such wealth.

Feliciano Vargas, the milder of the two, took on the persona of gentle, good-natured friend and drew great crowds of loyal friends from all four grades. Hooked on both arms were always a multitude of girls, and anyone who dared make him cry faced the wrath of his friends, his father, and his brother.

Lovino Vargas, on the other hand, was always known for his attitude problems and extreme arrogance—and if it wasn’t for his money few would put up with him. He tended to remain aloof from the majority of the student body, only opening up to flirt with girls who found his sullen demeanor charming. Still, there was a lot to like about him from a distance; he always dressed in foreign brand clothes that were stylish to a fault, hinting toward city chic even if his jeans were a bit too tight. His face--though like his brothers--was calmer, more contemplative even when darkened by a scowl. Girls died to run their fingers through his hair.

But nowadays, only one girl ran her fingers through Lovino’s hair and got away with it.

“Lovino, are you going to drink your coffee or just sit there all day like some kind of zombie?” Her fingers teased apart the little hairs at the nape of his neck. The other hand rested on a pile of books.

Lovino leaned closer into her, scooting along the padded seat in their enclosed booth. His coffee sat forgotten, virtually untouched; the trail of steam climbing upward had long since dissipated. “I’m getting there, Belle.”

He glanced at her. She truly was beautiful, with a playful bob that curled just beneath delicate ears and eyes that always shined with playful light. There was a fluidity to her body that moved even when she was still, tucking in perfect curves from where her waist dipped in to the full circle of her hips. But…truth told, he was beginning to wonder if his attraction to her was purely aesthetic, and the thought terrified him. Countless people had told him that she was the full package—and she was. Beautiful, smart, witty…and tolerable of Lovino. She’d been voted the best match for Lovino by far, and he knew about the murmured whisper of how gorgeous they were together. To give up something like that because of a little doubt would be reckless. Stupid. And even Lovino Vargas knew that. Still something gnawed at him that he couldn’t place.

“Something is troubling you,” she said. Green eyes dripped sympathy, but the expectant pout in her lips demanded something else. She cocked her head toward him and brushed blond hair behind her ear where she’d stuck a pencil.

But the other just glared at the grain of the table. “L-like hell is something bothering me.” His eyes darted to the next booth over of their own accord, where two guys from his school were leaned in across the table, hands clasped while locked in some intimate conversation. Lovino stiffened when one finally closed the ever decreasing gap between their lips and they kissed, slowly, passionately.

Throat suddenly dry, Lovino swallowed, then jerked his head back toward Belle with a shaky breath. The gnawing inside increased.

Belle had followed his gaze. “Kind of weird that no one has kicked them out for that. That’s downright unnatural.” She rolled her eyes. The only person working at this time in the evening—once the regular crowds had died down and only a few stragglers remained—was a cheerful guy who looked a few years older than Lovino. He did not seem to mind the pair making out, instead removing their empty cups quietly before moving on, then scooping up Belle’s empty cup, pausing to wink at Lovino.

He had gone before Lovino’s cheeks erupted in bright pink.

“Lovino.” Belle hit him with the full force of a fresh pout, which twitched into a mischievous smile as she caught him unaware with a kiss. He stiffed, unprepared, but she pulled him closer and coaxed his mouth open and teased his lips until he finally returned the gesture. They parted gently.

Belle grinned. “We showed them a thing or two.”

They had already left.

Sighing, Belle patted Lovino’s wrist, stood up, and collected her books. “Honey, I have a bit more studying to do tonight and you need to get some rest.” She bent over to kiss his cheek then his lips again, hand caressing down his cheek. “See you tomorrow.”

Once she’d left, the waiter returned and set a fresh cup of coffee in front of Lovino in return for the cold one. “You look like you could use it.” A Spanish lilt teased his syllables.

Lovino blinked. “H-huh? This place is closing, right?”

The waiter shrugged and threw a towel of his shoulder. “Yeah, I guess, though I’m in no hurry to lock up.” He hit Lovino with a dazzling grin, teeth contrasting with his skin like vanilla against sun-warmed milk chocolate.

The other turned, abashed, and wrapped his hands around the coffee while the Spaniard wandered off to wipe down a few tables. With a start, Lovino realized that he’d been ogling his ass as he bent to reach the far edge of the nearby booth. Pink tinged his cheeks darker.

“Y-you’re not from here,” Lovino said. The statement had tumbled out of his mouth before he had time to stop it, but he was desperate to hear the melody-tinted accent and catch more of the Spaniard’s lazy smile. He chided himself in a panic as the other turned, and wanted to slam his head against the table. The hell was he thinking about? If anything, Lovino should be going home and calling his girlfriend, not staring at some (aesthetically pleasing, dammit, but not sexy!) guy. He, Lovino Vargas, had a girlfriend. There was no way he’d want anything else.

“Hmm?”

“I-I mean, your accent.” He wished he could sink into the bottom of his seat into a puddle beneath the table. Most the people in this town were from around the world, as rich students flocked from all over to attend this school. Though this guy didn’t appear to be very wealthy, as none of the kids at school chose to work such menial jobs, and his shirt could certainly use patching.

“Si. I actually moved here a few weeks ago from Spain.” He shrugged but stuck out a hand, the other ruffling through his curly mop of hair. “My name is Antonio, by the way. Antonio Carriedo.”

Though he made a great show of scowling, Lovino accepted the hand and shook. “Lovino. Uh, Vargas.”

He dreamed about Antonio that night.

Chapter Text

“I am not gay,” Lovino told his shampoo. He scrubbed heavily at his head, the suds dripping down onto his shoulder and down with the splatter of water at his feet. A sigh escaped him as he rested his forehead against the tile in front of him and closed his eyes. He prayed that the hot water would pry his tense muscles loose.

“I’m not gay,” he repeated, seizing his washcloth and scrubbing down his body. “He just has a nice ass. So what, I’m a fucking artist. Of course I notice shit like that.” His forehead bumped into the wall again. And again. And again.

He had to rid himself of that image, that dream, but it lingered in his mind like wisps of smoke in a still room.

It had been Antonio and Lovino across that table, and Lovino had thought he’d fall through those vivid green eyes and plummet dangerously down into oblivion. They’d gotten closer and closer, til he was sure he’d be swallowed up, and suddenly their mouths had crashed together and it was a savage battle of teeth and tongue and lips, more feral and electric than anything he’d ever dreamed. Kisses with Belle were tame compared to that, cotton candy butterflies in his chest verses a churning fire twisting deep within his core.

He shuddered. Molten heat had begun to pool into his stomach.

Almost on reflex he wrenched the knob to ice-cold and stood shivering under the torrent of water, teeth chattering. How the hell would he have known what it was like to kiss another guy anyway? Much less that guy.

Fuck it, his mind was just fucking with him.

He had Belle, and Belle was what everyone wanted. Especially Lovino.

“I’m not gay.”

---

Lovino’s father had entered and left the kitchen three different times that morning, each time with something else in tow. He was packing up the car for a business trip, and judging by the two suitcases, the briefcase, and the suit-bags, he would be gone for a few weeks.

The Italian looked up as his brother burst through the front door. It was 8 am on a Saturday, and already the younger Vargas brother was dressed and out and about. He set his backpack into the corner and plopped down a disposable coffee cup in front of Lovino, beaming. “I found you some coffee! Caramel like you like it.”

“The hell were you out so early?” Lovino grumbled. He seized the cup and drank though it burned his tongue.

Feliciano was working on his own cup, slurping down the last of it. “I had a group assignment to work on, remember? Thought we’d get it done first thing so we could enjoy the rest of the weekend.”

“Fucking over-achiever,” Lovino said.

The table shifted as Feli slid into a chair. He waved at his father, who was passing through yet again, then leaned forward to prod Lovino’s arm. “So, I met these really cool people at the coffee shop today!”

“So what.” He took a long sip.

“It’s crazy how many people who move here from other places, though, isn’t it brother?”

Lovino grunted.

“But anyway, there was this guy from SPAIN and he was helping us figure out the literature components of our project!” Feliciano was grinning from ear to ear. “He doesn’t even go to our school, but he was pretty smart when it came to poetry and metaphors and all that silly stuff.”

Dread settled into the pit of Lovi’s chest. “Why would I care?”

“Because you like all that artsy stuff! And he knew a lot of poetry that he could recite in both Spanish and French. Isn’t it crazy that someone is trilingual like that?”

“So what, we’re bilingual. You fucking forget that you’re Italian just because you speak English at school?” Pushing on the table, Lovino stood, taking the coffee with him to the counter. He rifled through several boxes of cereal, then thrust his hand in one and took out a fistful. He began to cram little chocolately bits into his mouth—anything to distract himself.

“He said his boyfriend back in Spain taught him all the poetry he knows. Isn’t that romantic? I wonder if they’re still together like long distance!”

“Feliciano Vargas, it’s best if you don’t hang out with those sorts of people.”

Both brothers froze as their father came rushing through the kitchen, one last bag in hand. He set both of them with a hard glare.

“Deviants like that only hurt society and poison the world around them. Don’t pollute your mind with their presence.” He wrinkled his nose with disdain and continued toward the door. “Anyway, I’m going now. I should be back in time for Christmas if I can work out favourable terms with my client.” He shut the door behind him. The whirring of the engine and the rattling of a shutting garage door announced his departure.

Feliciano merely shrugged. “It wasn’t like I was going to go gay just by talking to him--.”

Lovino stiffened and left the room.