He doesn't notice it when he wakes up. When he crawls out of bed and struggles to free himself from the tangle mess of blankets that begged him to stay. Or when he made his way stumbling towards the bathroom sink, vision blurry, and mouth dryer than he remembered it to be. He had notice a dot of red on the table from the corners of his eyes but paid it no mind. His only concern at that moment was which toothbrush belonged to him.
They were identical. From their design to their condition, Lovino couldn't figure them out. For a moment he cursed at himself for letting his boyfriend persuade him to buy matching toothbrushes. One of those couple things that he wasn't too enthusiastic about but his boyfriend was completely into. In all honesty, Lovino didn't find it "cute". It was annoying at times. Like right now, when he was glaring at the toothbrushes that stood close to one another before deciding "fuck it" and picked up one of them to use.
Lovino brushed vigorously, making a mental note to himself to get Antonio to mark them next time. That man was probably the only one that could tell them apart. With a final rinse and a quick piss in the toilet, he walked to the kitchen hoping Antonio had already made breakfast for him. Of course, Antonio always did. Except he always got the coffee wrong. Lovino liked his coffee with cream and a lot of milk, but with little sugar. The Spaniard always managed to put more sugar in than Lovino liked, but he drinks it anyways. "Would be a damn waste" he'll always tell himself.
The Italian let out a yawn, lazily rubbing his stomach before he ate. The fork clicked against the plate at a rhythm only he was familiar with. Slow, but steady. Loud in the silence but not alarming. At that time, he still hasn't noticed it.
It wasn't until he was washing his dishes that his cellphone rang, alerting him that someone has texted him. He left the plate to dry, walking to their bedroom to see who it was from and only then did he noticed it. A small box sat next to his phone. It was a forest green, velvet box wrapped in a red ribbon. Lovino quietly reached for it, carefully removing the bow and slowly opened the box. He didn't expect this, or maybe he should've. But there it was, resting comfortably on its black cushion, watching his every move. A note was attached to it in the handwriting that Lovino could identity in any language and at any time of the day.
It read, "in place of the ring I couldn't give you 10 years ago". He read those words and read them again and again and again until he felt himself grow dizzy and had to sit down. His phone rang again with another message and he grabbed for it quickly. And speak of the devil, the messages were from Antonio himself. Except they weren't just a few messages, they were a stream of messages he had missed since early morning.
A: Good morning, Lovi! Have you woken up yet? You probably haven't (7:45am)
A: Gee, I'm sorry I had to leave early today, the boss changed our schedule again. (7:50am)
A: Oh! I should have texted you this first. Happy birthday Lovino! <|:D
A: See that? I made a party hat for the face! I hope you woke up as happy as the face is! (7:54am)
A: I want to tell you something, but I think it'll be better if I do it in person. You'll have to wait, but be patient with me Lovi (7:55am)
A: I love you, honey I have to get back to work now! (7:58 am)
A: It's so cold today, make sure to bundle up if you're going outside, Lovi (9:45am)
A: I'm going to the bakery after work, which cake do you want me to buy? I had one in mind but I thought it would be better to ask you what you wanted instead. (9:50am)
A: Wow, there's so much traffic today. Haha, maybe everyone is trying to make it to your birthday (11:30am)
A: I know I would want to make it on time to your birthday! (11:35am)
A: I'm sorry, Lovi, I might not make it back on time…the traffic is so slow today (12pm)
A: Oh but how was your breakfast? I know it's your day off so you probably haven't woken up yet, but I hope the food didn't go bad. (12:05pm)
The stream of messages ended there. They were nothing new, Antonio always likes to send him them when they don't have the same day off and couldn't see each other in the morning. Taking another glance at the box and taking a deep breath, he texted Antonio back.
L: You could've spared me the sugar in that coffee. (1:15pm)
A: Lovi! You're awake, good morning! or maybe good afternoon? (1:16pm)
A: Good timing though, I'm at the bakery and I'm not the sure what to get you… (1:16pm)
L: Just get the tiramisu one, you know I fucking love that one. (1:18pm)
L: But Antonio (1:18pm)
A: Hahaha, I know! (^7^ )/ I was just making sure (1:19pm)
A: Yes, Lovi? (1:19pm)
L: This ring…what is this about, what the heck do you mean '10 yrs ago'? (1:19pm)
A: Oh that! Well, I was planning to tell you once I got home but I guess I can tell you a part of it now. (1:20pm)
A: Remember when I first asked you out? and your grandpa wouldn't let me date you because of…well, you know because of why. And I was devastated knowing that I couldn't openly love you. So remembered when we would meet in secret until you had to move? I've always wanted to give you something to remember me by. I didn't want you to leave with no memories to keep. So I had planned to buy you a promise ring (1:25pm)
A: But before I could, I found out Mama needed the money and I couldn't let her overwork herself for it when I had what she needed. So I gave her the money and gave you a paper ring instead. I felt bad that I couldn't give you something that would last…so I thought, now that I have the money for it I could finally get you the real thing. (1:30pm)
A: I know it might not matter anymore, and it might be a little silly now that I think about it, but either way, you deserve something better than a paper ring, Lovino. Now that I think about it, it is silly isn't it? haha (1:32pm)
There was a pause on Lovino's side. One that drummed through his veins and waited for the right moment to flood his eyes. It took him awhile before he could answered.
A: Lovino? (1:40pm)
L: It's…it's not silly, idiot. (1:41pm)
L: I can't believe you actually went through this. God…come home (1:41pm)
A: What? but the cake (1:41pm)
L: I don't care about the fucking cake, just come home, Antonio. Right now. (1:42pm)
A: But I want to get you a cake (1:42pm)
L: Goddamnit it Antonio, we can get the cake later, just come home right now. I…have something to show you, okay? (1:43pm)
A: …okay, I'll be home as soon as I can. But I'm still getting you that cake.(1:43pm)
L: I know, just get home already, you dork. I'm not going to wait forever. (1:43pm)
A: Yes sir! I love you. (1:44pm)
L: Yeah, love you too (1:45pm)
Once their conversation had ended, Lovino returned his attention to the ring. He took it out of its box and carefully turned it around in his hands. There was an engraving inside of it it, and when he looked closer, he saw that it was of his and Antonio's name. He let out a little laugh and wiped at his eyes. Antonio probably thought it was another cute couple thing to have their names together like that. And maybe he did too.
Finally, he slid the ring onto his finger and grinned at how perfectly it fitted him. Leave it to Antonio to know his ring size. Closing the case, he moved over to where he store his art supplies and dug out an old shoebox that he had kept with him for God knows how long. Opening it, he removed several layers of paper before finding what he was looking for. Lovino took it out and caress it in his hands. It was old, torn and taped over several times because he was afraid it would fall apart before he could meet Antonio again. He slid it onto the same finger that had the new ring on it and looked at them next to each other. It was old indeed. But age could not erase the memories that it held for him. And with both on, he waited for Antonio to come home.