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Life is filled with firsts.  First words.  First steps.  First kisses.  First loves.

Emil’s first kiss, unless you count the peck on the cheek he received from Terezka Blažková in second grade after she was dared by the other girls in class to do so, happened during a slumber party of sorts in his hotel room at his first competition abroad.  Looking back, he wasn’t sure if that counted either, as it was a half kiss, shared during a game of spin the bottle.

It had been his rink mate’s idea.  He'd invited everyone in their age bracket to their room and, well, one thing led to another and, the moment Emil puckered up, his eyes tightly closed, the door to their hotel room flew open and he whipped his head around, the nameless competitor catching him by the corner of his lips before pulling back themselves.

Thankfully, it was their own coach that caught them, so they managed to avoid an international incident.  But he and his rink mate were grounded for the duration of the competition and kept under constant surveillance for the next couple years.

His true first kiss would come later, but before that, Emil had another very important first.  The first time he laid eyes on Michele Crispino.

He’d just stepped down from the podium, earning silver for the first time in his junior career, when he saw the Italian figure skater.  He was in a group of other senior competitors, but he stood out from the rest.  There was just something about him.  But it could have also been the girl hanging off of his arm.

“Mickey!” she gushed, giving him a squeeze. “Do your best out there!”

“Of course, Sara.” He turned toward her and combed his fingers through her long hair before placing a kiss on her forehead. “Anything for you.”

Emil stared at the two with wide eyes, blinking owlishly.  He didn’t understand a word they’d said, of course, the two speaking in a foreign language, but he got the gist.  He absently felt someone tap him on his shoulder, asking him something, but the only thing he said in response was, “He’s…so…cool!”

After that, he, his coach, and his rink mates made their way up into the stands to watch the men’s singles competition.  Emil was excited because he was going get to see that man – Mickey, she’d called him – perform.  If his routine was half as cool as he was, he’d win for sure.

“Ah, there he is!” Emil gasped, only to be hushed by his coach, the older man muttering something about fourteen-year-olds knowing better.

“You know him?” the boy on his other side asked, but Emil shook his head. “Oh, I was going to say.” He laughed.  Emil was sure he probably said something else, but he wasn’t paying him any attention.

“Representing Italy, Michele Crispino,” the announcer said and then it happened.  For the first time in his short career, Emil had been moved by another’s performance.  He’d often felt excited or nervous for other competitors, but nothing had ever hit him in such a way as Michele’s performance had.  It was beautiful, flawless, and smooth in a way Emil’s energetic programs never were.  He knew at that moment that he wanted, no, needed to get to know the other man.  To learn from him.

“He’s so cool…” he repeated, leaning his elbow on the armrest and placing his chin in his palm.  “So cool…”


The next year was Emil’s senior debut and, although he hadn’t spoken a word to the older skater since he’d watched his performance the previous season, he was beyond excited to see him again.  He scanned the warm-up area for the Italian skater and spotted him talking to the girl from last time.  A quick internet search after Emil’s first ‘sighting’ had informed him that she was his younger twin sister and a renowned skater in her own right.

The two of them were just so cool!

Emil made his way over, leaving his rink mates behind, his electronic dictionary at the ready.  He’d already memorized his opening line.  After all, he’d been practicing every night, reading it over and over to make sure he said it correctly.

The siblings were away from the other competitors, speaking in hushed tones while Michele stretched, preparing for his performance.  Emil approached them and cleared his throat.  Sara looked at him first, dark brows raised in surprise, but her face open and friendly.  Michele on the other hand…

Che vuoi?” Michele glared down at him, his violet eyes hard and intimidating.

“Um…no…” Emil floundered for a moment before he remembered his line. “È un piacere conoscerla, il mio nome è Emil Nekola. Spero di poter imparare molto da Lei!” he practically shouted, bowing his head.  He’d said it too quickly, but he was certain he’d pronounced it all the right way.

When he heard a snicker, he glanced back up.  Sara was grinning, a dainty hand partially covering her mouth.  Michele had ignored him and gone back to stretching.

“That was pretty good,” she said in English. “But you could have just said, Ciao, sono Emil.” She chuckled. “No need to be so formal.”

“Oh.” Emil’s cheeks burned with embarrassment, but he nodded.

“You’re the skater from the Czech Republic who’s making your senior debut today, right?” she asked, tone friendly.  Emil nodded.  “Ah, it’s good to meet you.” She smiled again. “My name is Sara Crispino and this is my brother, Michele.” She turned toward him. “Mickey, say ‘hello’.”

The older man looked down at him again, saying nothing.  But after Sara elbowed him in the ribs, he rolled his eyes and conceded, grunting out a quick, “Ciao.”

“Mickey,” she admonished, but it was more than enough for Emil.  He opened his mouth to thank him, but his coach called his name. He was disappointed that he had to leave so soon, but he was glad he’d managed to talk to him.

“I’ve got to go,” he said, looking at Michele, though the other avoided eye contact.  He turned his attention on his sister. “It was nice meeting you, Sara.” He beamed and started to run off, but not before waving big and calling over his shoulder, “See you on the ice, Mickey!”  He barely caught the other’s shocked face before his coach was scolding him for wandering off.


The first time Michele congratulated him, Emil thought he’d spontaneously combust on the spot.  He was seventeen and just entering his third senior season when the other man approached him.  Emil now had to look down just a bit, as he was a few centimeters taller than the older man.

“You didn’t suck,” Michele said. “Your jumps had good height." He went on when Emil’s stunned speechlessness forbid him from replying. “Your step sequences are sloppy and your spins need some serious work, but good job.”

“Good…job…” Emil echoed, not believing his ears.

“Yeah.” Michele drew his browns down, his violet eyes flicking from side to side. “Anyway…” he began, taking a step back. “Ben fatto, Emil,” he said awkwardly and then walked away, leaving Emil, still in shock, rooted to his spot.

He wasn’t sure how long he’d stood there, watching Michele’s retreating back until it disappeared from view.  He only came back to himself when someone placed a hand on his shoulder.

Hej, Emil!” his rink mate greeted. “Tak tady jsi! We’ve been looking everywhere.”

“Oh?” He turned toward him, finally in control over his gross motor skills. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” the other replied. “Great job out there, man.”

“Yeah…” Emil looked back in the direction Michele had gone.

“Anyway, let’s head up to the stands to watch the rest,” he suggested and Emil just nodded, following after him, the memory of the Italian skater’s words of congratulations making something warm and pleasant bubble up in his chest.


Emil first realized he’d fallen head over heels for Michele later that season at the European Figure Skating Championships.  He hadn’t earned a spot in the Grand Prix Final, but Michele had and, even though he didn’t make the podium, he’d been a pleasure to watch.  And Emil found himself unable to take his eyes off of the older skater.

On and off the ice.

He wasn’t able to attend the GPF in person, so the next time he saw Michele was at Europeans.  Emil excitedly made his way down the hall of the venue, humming the theme from his short program.  He was definitely looking forward to showing the other man what he’d accomplished during their time apart.

Emil paused when he spotted a familiar head of long, dark hair.  It was Sara!  And where there was one Crispino…

But he faltered just as he was reaching up to wave.  She was by herself.  No Mickey in sight.  But she wasn’t alone.  Three men were standing around her, towering over her shorter form.  Getting a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, Emil approached, his brow furrowed.

“You looked good out there, as usual,” one of the men said, leaning an arm against the wall and getting into Sara’s personal space. “Loved the outfit.”

“My brother helped me pick it out,” she replied cheerily, not seeming to be the least bit intimated by the much larger man.

“Oh, yeah. The Great Mickey Crispino,” he said, finishing with a flourish. “My buddy here beat his short program score.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at one of the other men.

“Well, isn’t that good for you.” Sara faked a smile at the other. “Speaking of Mickey, I should go find him-”

“Not so fast.” The third guy blocked her exit. “What’s your hurry, Principessina?”

“Excuse me,” she said, frowning up at him, but he didn’t move. “Step aside.”

“What’s the magic word?” he teased, flashing a cocky grin.

“Hey, Sara,” the first man interrupted. “If we beat your big brother and make the podium, think we could get a little reward?”

“Yeah.” The man in the middle reached out and grabbed her upper arm. “What’ll you give me if I get gold?”

Emil had seen enough.  He strode over and placed a hand on the man’s shoulder, getting his attention. “It’s not very gentlemanlike to lay your hands on a lady without her consent,” he said.

The other man turned around, releasing Sara and sizing Emil up. “Who the hell are you?”

“A friend of Miss Sara’s, and if you don’t mind-”

“Hey, he’s that Czech skater,” another said with a snort. “Nice fall, cretino.”

Emil’s cheeks burned.  He’d tried a quad he hadn’t quite mastered yet during his short program and ended up eating it on the ice.  It had been embarrassing, but he’d brushed himself off.  He was still learning, after all.

“Yeah, good one.” The current leader rolled his eyes. “Now beat it, stronzo.” He shoved Emil hard in the shoulder. “Can’t you see we’re in the middle of something?”

Emil winced and gripped his shoulder, giving it a roll to make sure the larger man hadn’t dislocated it. “I can see that you’re attempting to woo this young lady, but I must point out that-”

“Shut up, already!” he roared, pushing Emil again. “What the hell is your problem? Can’t you take a hint?”

He glanced back over at Sara who, up until this point, hadn’t looked frightened, but now fear shown in her violet eyes.  She obviously didn’t want their attention.  Couldn’t they take a hint?

The three turned back toward Sara, but Emil spoke, drawing their attention again. “I think,” he began, taking a deep breath and trying to sound braver than he felt. “I think it would be best if you left her alone.”

“And,” the largest of them began, grabbing Emil by his collar and lifting him up and off the ground – impressive, since Emil was over 180 cm – “I think it would be best if you minded your own damn business, frocio.”

“She…” he wheezed, struggling against the other’s hold. “She…doesn’t want…”  Emil didn’t get to finish because suddenly, he was on the ground.  He brought a hand to his throat as he fought to take in gulps of air.

“Mickey!” he heard Sara cry.  He looked up just as Michele drew back his fist, readying a punch.  Emil had never moved so quickly in his life.  He stood up and got between them, pain blossoming in his right cheek as Michele’s fist came in contact with it.

Merda, Emil!” Michele pulled back immediately, his violet eyes wide.

“Let’s get out of here,” he barely registered one of the men saying, his ears still ringing. “That stronzo’s going to get us disqualified.” And then they were gone.  Emil slumped forward, bringing a hand to his cheek.  It hurt like crazy, but he was glad it was him that Michele had hit rather than the others.

“Oh my goodness! Emil, you’re bleeding!” Sara ducked her head down, dabbing his lip with a towel.  She turned toward Michele and glared. “I can’t believe you hit him.”

“I didn’t mean to!” he argued, still cradling his fist to his chest. “I was trying to hit that figlio di puttana!”

“You shouldn’t have been trying to hit anyone,” she reasoned, tilting Emil’s chin up to make sure no blood had dribbled anywhere else.

“I’m fine,” he insisted, though his teeth had sliced into the inside of his cheek pretty badly.

“You’re not fine.” Sara frowned at him. “All you were trying to do was get those guys to leave and then Mickey socked you.”

“It was an accident!” Michele groaned. “I told you. I was trying to hit-”

“What made you think it was okay to hit anyone?” she asked, hands on her hips.

“Those damn hyenas were drooling all over you and then they had the nerve to touch-” Michele’s gaze darted over to Emil for a moment, his cheeks tinting. “I mean, they overstepped and-”

“Enough.” Sara held her hand up. “We need to get Emil to the first aid room for some ice.” She placed a small hand on Emil’s back and guided him forward.  His head ached and the side of his face felt like it had been split open, but Emil couldn’t stop thinking about the little blush Michele had gotten when he’d looked at him.

It was then that he realized he’d happily get punched in the face if it meant Michele would blush like that.  Then again, maybe he’d been hit a little too hard.


The swelling wasn’t bad and, despite his pale skin, the bruise was easy enough to cover with makeup.  His free skate went as well as he’d hoped and, every chance he got, he checked the side of the rink for Michele.  He’d watched the whole thing.  Of course, he was performing right after him and probably needed to be there, but Emil didn’t want to think of it that way.

He stood up from the bench in the kiss and cry and greeted the Italian with a bright smile, though the pain in his cheek caused him to wince a bit. “Ready to one-up me, Mickey?” he asked.

Michele opened his mouth, but then shut it, giving his head a little shake. “Get onto my level and then we can exchange pre-performance banter,” he said and then turned to face Sara, brushing his fingers through her hair and accepting her good luck kiss on the cheek, though she still looked a little miffed.

“Has he even apologized yet?” she asked Emil.

“Sara, I appreciate it, but he doesn’t need to-”

“He punched you in the face!” she exclaimed. “It’s the least he can do.”

“It was obvious that he wasn’t aiming for me,” Emil replied with a small smile, thinking that, if just for a moment, it had been him that Michele was fighting for, rather than Sara’s honor.  Though, that, too, was a noble cause. “I’m just glad I got in the way,” he continued. “Those men seemed like the type to report it and if Mickey got disqualified because of me, I’d never forgive-”

“It would have been his own fault.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Oh!” She gasped, violet eyes going wide. “I just realized. I never properly thanked you.”

“No thanks necessary, Sara.” He held his hands up. “I was just doing what anyone would do if they saw their friend in trouble.”

“Still-” she began, but was cutoff when the crowd erupted in applause.  They both turned just in time to see Michele complete his combination, finishing with a triple, which he landed perfectly.  Emil sighed and rested his elbows on the side of the rink, watching as the other man moved with such fluidity. Such grace! He was a pleasure to watch.

Sara said something he didn’t quite catch and then elbowed him in the arm.  He turned to face her and just caught her smirk before she faced the ice again.  He shrugged and followed suit, unable to wipe the smile off of his face as Michele spun again.


Emil waited for Sara and Michele beside the kiss and cry.  He was supposed to meet back up with his coach later, but Sara told him to wait and so he did.  They embraced when Michele’s score was announced, once again several whole numbers higher than Emil’s.  He’d have to keep up his training if he was ever going to touch the Italian’s scores.

There were a few more performances left before they announced who made the podium and Michele was currently in second place.  He had a good chance.  But of course he did.  He was amazing.

Suddenly, the Crispino twins were approaching him, Sara looking rather smug and Michele, embarrassed. “Well,” Sara began, flipping some of her hair over her shoulder. “I’ll catch up with you two later.”

“Sara, if you think for a moment that I’m letting you walk around without a chaperone after what happened-”

“Mickey,” she said, eyes hard and jaw set. “First of all, I’m meeting up with Mila,” she explained. “Secondly, I believe you have something else you need to do right now.” Her gaze flicked over to Emil and then back to her older brother. “I’ll meet back up with you after the awards.”

Michele opened his mouth to retort, but Sara was gone, already through the curtain and off to find her friend and rival, leaving them in an uncomfortable silence, broken only when the next competitor’s free skate music began to play.

“So,” Emil began, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. 

“Not here,” Michele replied, grabbing his wrist and leading him out of the arena.  They made their way down the long hallway, past the television screens and toward a much less populated area of the venue.  It was then that Michele released him, the older man taking a deep breath. “I owe you an apology.”

“Mickey, I already told Sara-”

“If I hadn’t left her side, none of this would have happened,” he interjected with a frown. “Because of my negligence, you got hurt.”

Emil wanted to argue that it was because of Michele’s fist, but he dared not bring that up.  Instead, he changed the subject slightly. “I was wondering why Sara was by herself,” he said, clearing his throat. “You’re normally glued to her side.”

If that phrasing insulted the older man, his face didn’t show it.  He just sighed, his frown deepening. “I only left her for a moment,” he answered, shaking his head. “I can’t even go to the bathroom without hyenas swarming,” he cursed.

“You can’t protect her all the time,” Emil offered, but pursed his lips at the glare he received.

“And why not?” Michele countered, gaze smoldering.

“I mean, that is,” Emil floundered. “Anyway,” he quickly recovered. “I’m glad it was me that you hit.” Michele flinched at that. “No, I mean…did you see how big that guy was?” He barked out a laugh. “I think we know who would win in that fight.” His laughter petered out when Michele remained silent, his teeth coming out to worry at his bottom lip. “Mickey?”

“I’m sorry, Emil.” He reached a hand up and gingerly touched Emil’s cheek, the tips of his fingers amazingly warm against his skin. “And thank you for being there for Sara when I couldn’t.” He lowered his hand to his side and closed his eyes. “We should head back.” He began to walk off, but stopped when he noticed Emil wasn’t following him.

Emil was still stunned.  Michele had never touched him before.  Not like that.  Not with such gentleness and warmth.  He blinked and smiled, rushing over to catch up.

“I was happy to help,” he replied jovially. “And thanks for stepping in to save me from those bullies.” He beamed and Michele’s face flushed.

“Yes, well…I normally only stand up for women, so,” he coughed into his fist. “You’re on your own next time.”

Emil thought that he would never get tired of Michele’s blushing face.  His heart fluttered and stomach did a little flip, but he did his best to ignore it, lest his mind begin to wander.  Instead, he slung an arm over Michele’s shoulders and flashed what he hoped was his most dazzling smile. “Sure thing, Mickey!”


They didn’t see each other again until the following season.  Emil worked hard training and readying his new program.  He was sure he’d make it to Barcelona with this routine.  He wanted so badly to get into the GPF and stand on the podium beside Michele.

Again, for the thousandth time since they’d been apart, Emil remembered Michele’s blushing face.  The way the rosy hue dusted the older man’s tan cheeks and made his violet eyes shine like amethysts.  He was eighteen years old now and well aware of his feelings for the Italian skater.

He’d denied it at first, of course, thinking it was just because Michele was older and cooler and everything Emil wasn’t.  But he knew the moment Michele’s fingers gently touched his injured cheek, that he was undoubtedly head over heels for the other man – never mind the fact that it was Michele’s fault that he was injured in the first place.  Details.

Emil tried to act normally when he saw the Crispinos at the Rostelecom Cup.  Of course, that was easier said than done when he saw Michele getting into the elevator behind his sister, looking flawless and gorgeous and cooler than ever.  He swallowed and caught up to them, barely making it through the doors before they closed.

“Made it,” he panted.

“Emil!” Sara exclaimed, face brightening as she recognized him. “It’s so good to see you.”

“You, too,” he greeted, avoiding eye contact with Michele.  He’d been so excited, but now he couldn’t even face him.  What if he looked up and Michele knew?  Like, the fact that he was in love with the older skater was written all over his face or something?

“Congratulations on getting third at Skate Canada,” Sara went on, seemingly oblivious to his internal battle. “You’ve really improved.” She stepped forward and gave him a hug.

“Oh.” His cheeks tinted. “Thank you, Sara, I-” But then he caught sight of Michele and, boy, did the other man look furious. “Mickey, what’s-”

“Hands off!” he shouted, tearing Sara away from him and pulling her toward his chest. “You think just because you helped her out last time that you can touch her whenever you want?”

Emil’s brows rose to his hairline as he blinked, unable to formulate a response.  Sara frowned up at her brother. “Mickey, it’s just Emil-”

“I don’t care,” he growled, violet gaze dangerous. “I’ll protect you from every man here, if I have to.”  Apparently, Michele had not quite gotten over what had happened at Europeans. “And you,” he stared at Emil, pinning him against the opposite wall of the elevator. “If you want to date my little sister-”

Just then, the elevator doors opened, revealing the ever-stoic Seung-gil.  Sara quickly pulled away from Michele to greet him, but she was immediately spurned.  So, thankfully, Michele’s rage was directed at the other man and it gave Emil a second to breathe.

Well, that was not how he'd expected their reunion to go.


Later, much later, after Mickey placed third and narrowly missed making the GPF, Emil heard a horrified shriek coming from the hallway and, after years of hearing that particular voice shouting – oftentimes at him – he recognized it immediately.  He rushed over and poked his head out, fearing the worst.

“Was that Mickey screaming?” he asked, hoping he wasn’t too late.  He nearly had the wind knocked out of him when Yuuri Katsuki embraced him.  He hugged back out of habit, though it went on a bit longer than was socially acceptable.  Then, as soon as it’d started, the hug was over and the Japanese skater was off, leaving everyone in shocked silence.

Michele nearly fainted, but Emil had caught him just in time, slinging one of the other man’s arms over his shoulder to support him.

“Touched me…” Michele croaked, eyes still closed.  Emil glanced down at him, wondering if he was talking in his sleep. “Disgusting…”

“Mickey, are you okay?” Sara asked, ducking her head down.

“Don’t…touch me…” he mumbled and Emil made to let go, though he wasn’t sure if Michele was steady enough to stand on his own two feet.  However, before he was able to release him, the Italian skater grabbed his wrist. “Not you, Emil,” he said, still sounding out of it.  He shook his head before letting it rest heavily on Emil’s shoulder. “Never you…”

Warmth bloomed in his chest, spreading up his neck and causing his cheeks to burn.  He looked over at the others, but they were still staring after Yuuri’s retreating, zombie-like form.  A second later, they dispersed, going about their business.

“Think you can handle him?” Sara asked Emil, glancing down at her semi-conscious brother. “I promised I’d meet Mila for dinner.” She reached into her purse and pulled out a keycard. “Here.” She pressed it into his free hand. “We’re in room 628,” she said and then smiled. “I think he could use a nap.”

Emil opened his mouth to reply, but Sara was gone, off to find her friend.  A weird sense of déjà vu washed over him, but he shook his head, choosing instead to focus on the man in his arms.

They were out of the venue and a few blocks away from the hotel by the time Michele was able to walk on his own.  His face rivaled a tomato when he came to, pressing both his hands against Emil’s chest as he looked anywhere, but at him.

“S-Sorry about that,” he managed, studying the cracks in the sidewalk.

“No problem.” Emil shrugged, missing the warmth of the other man beside him, but not daring to say a word about it. “What are friends for?”

Michele looked up at him, violet eyes more vulnerable than Emil had ever seen them.  But that vulnerability was replaced in an instant, the other’s gaze hardening as he turned his head.  They continued walking in silence until they reached the hotel lobby.

“Thanks, Emil.” Michele stuffed his hands into his pockets and then his eyes widened. “Merda, I forgot my room key,” he groaned and hung his head. “And Sara’s out with Mila…”

Emil had almost forgotten that Sara had given him the key, until he reached into his own pocket. “Oh, actually, Mickey, I have-”

“You’re staying by yourself, right?” Michele asked, suddenly very close. “Do you mind if I go up to your room?” he implored and Emil’s face heated.  He released the keycard and took his hand out of his pocket. “Just until Sara comes back?” Michele added. “If that’s alright.”

Emil thought about that.  Having Michele all to himself for the next hour or so.  Alone.  In his hotel room.

“That’s perfectly fine,” he managed, his voice cracking only a little bit.

Bene.” He looked relieved. “Thank you, Emil.”

They didn’t speak as they rode the elevator up to the sixth floor.  Emil thought it was only slightly less uncomfortable than when Michele had been screaming at him about dating Sara in the same lift the day before.  When the doors opened, they walked out, Michele surprising Emil by taking his hand.  The taller man swallowed and led the way.

Michele released his hand so he could unlock and open the door.  Then he strode inside, taking a seat on Emil’s bed.  Clearing his throat as the mood shifted, Emil removed his jacket and stood across from the other, feeling like a storm was about to hit.

“Sara’s dating Mila,” Michele said simply, not looking the least bit upset.

Emil blinked, glanced from side to side, and then nodded. “Okay-”

“So, you can’t date her,” he interrupted. “She’s dating Mila. That’s why you can’t date her.”

More silence followed.  Emil had spent the last few months thinking about what it would be like to see Michele again.  To maybe ask him out for a cup of coffee and subtly hint that he was interested in deepening their relationship.  So, being shouted at in an elevator, clung to, and then being told flat out that he couldn’t date the other’s sister really threw him for a loop.


“I’m sorry,” Michele went on. “I…” He looked down at his interlaced fingers, his elbows resting on his knees. “I know how you feel about her.”



So, that’s the type of conversation they were having.

“Mickey,” Emil began again, unable to hide his smile. “I think you’ve got it all wrong.”

“She was happy you came to her rescue, even though she constantly reminds me that she could have handled it herself, if you hadn’t shown.” He wrung his hands, his face pained. “But she doesn’t see you that way, so-”

“Mickey.” Emil walked forward, finally getting the other to look at him. “Could you please stop turning me down on your sister’s behalf?” He shook his head, still smiling.

“Right. Sorry.” Michele sighed. “You probably want to hear it from her-”

“I’m telling you, Mickey. You’ve got it all wrong.” He knelt between the other’s legs, placing his hands on his knees and looking into those gorgeous violet eyes of his. “There is a Crispino twin that I’m completely in love with, but…it’s not Sara.”

Slowly it dawned on the other man.  Emil watched with barely contained glee as Michele’s cheeks tinted, the flush spreading down his neck. “You…you mean that you-”

“Yeah.” Emil reached a hand up and cupped Michele’s cheek. “I’m in love with you, Mickey.” Then he realized he’d done things out of order.  He should have asked Michele out properly first, saving the confession for after a late night walk after dinner.  He made to remove his hand from the other’s cheek. “Of course, you probably don’t want to hear that from-”

Michele slapped his hand over Emil’s, keeping it right where it was. “Don’t you dare pull away,” he said, brows drawn down. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been holding myself back?”

Emil blinked. “What?”

“First it was for Sara because, you know, I had to make sure she was taken care of,” he explained. “And then you swooped in to save her the one time I left her alone and I thought…” He worried at his lower lip. “But when I saw that guy threatening you, I…I saw red.”


“And then I ended up hitting you.” He grimaced. “I still feel bad about that, by the way.”

“Mickey, it was an accident,” he said and then paused. “Wait. So…you like me?”

Michele rolled his eyes. “Dio, don’t ask me why.” Then he smiled softly. “But, yes, I do. For a long time, Emil.” He licked his lips and Emil found his eyes drawn to the movement of the other's tongue. “I just…thought you liked Sara.”

“Don’t get me wrong, Sara is a lovely young lady,” Emil said, still staring at Michele’s lips. “But you’re the coolest, most beautiful person I’ve ever met.”

Michele buried his burning face in his hands and groaned. “Emil, that’s so embarrassing.”

“But it’s true!” he argued. “And,” he gripped Michele’s wrists, pulling his hands away from his face. “I’ve been thinking of how to tell you.”

“Emil…” Michele slumped forward, resting his forehead against Emil’s.  He swallowed before taking a deep breath. “So, now what?”

“If it’s alright with you,” Emil began, drawing back and cradling Michele’s face. “Could I kiss you?”

Stupido,” he snorted, leaning closer so their lips brushed as he spoke. “You don’t have to ask.”

And that was how Emil got his first kiss.  His first real kiss.  And his second, third, fourth, fifth, and, well…needless to say, it wasn’t his last.