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After darkness, I hope for light

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"All hell breaks loose."

-Unknown

 

Lovino was only good at breaking things.

He had been breaking things even before he learned how to walk. When he was four it was a toy car suddenly snapping to irreparable pieces. He was six when he realized he can't plant or else it'll die  - sure, plants die all the time and it wasn't as if the city was the most ideal place for greenery either, but what are the odds of killing a flower from day one, again and again and again? His parents and brothers hugged it off, saying that he has better talents - he just hasn't discovered them yet.

He was ten when he realized that Feliciano was better at everything than him. His twin was like the sun, while Lovino was the other side of the moon - dark and dry and away from the light. Feli was good at painting. Lovino couldn't even hold a paintbrush. Feli can grow anything, from thyme to tomatoes to animals - Lovino couldn't even hold a living being without killing it. Feli was talented, bright and was friends with everyone. Lovino had troublesome blackouts,dry sarcasm and the appeal of a thorn bush. No wonder he had no friends. Sebastiano couldn’t even pronounce house right, and yet people praised him. Lovino, unluckily, was as good at breaking relationships as he was towards plastic spoon and forks.

Despite his (literally) exploding frustrations and bitter attitude, his family never gave up on him.

“If I’m the day, then you’re the night right? You’re important too, Lovi. I don’t really get it but okay,” was Feliciano’s response when he tried explaining their differences. (He groaned. His twin had never been good at reading the intricacies of social norms).

When he couldn’t grow plants, his father taught him how to cook. When he killed their goldfish, they got a golden retriever they named Tomato, their little brother’s favorite food. When Feliciano had sleepovers that Lovino wasn’t invited to, Feli made him crash despite his incessant whining. He learned that his classmates were intimidated by him, not that they didn’t like him. He then had friends.

Still, his emotions are uncontrollable. Lovino fought with his parents; from yelling to throwing a tantrum to establish how he hated them  and the world (and most importantly, at himself). He sometimes hurt Feliciano and while his twin wasn't pained by it, Lovino would still feel guilty. Then came Sebastiano, and Lovino was afraid that he will break his small, fragile body too (In the later years, he will come to regret it).

“Gentle, Lovino,” Their mother would always remind him.

There were good days and there were bad days. He grew older and didn't bother with the years. If only if he knew what would have happened next, Lovino would have told his family that he loves them, with all his heart.

The world seemed to like him destroying things. So before he finally fainted from fatigue with the vision of his house burning along with their parents and youngest brother, Lovino couldn't help but think that it was his fault, too.

"E-Everythings destroyed, gone," Feliciano whimpered beside him. He was the only one Lovino was able to save before everything set ablaze. "What are we going to do?"

He didn't know if he said or pathetically whispered I'm sorry before everything turned black.

 


 

"You think it was him?" His father, the parent that he inherited his hair from asked with worry.

His mother bit her lip. "I don't know."

"You know what he  did - "

"I don't want to talk about it" Although her stance and tone stood firm, her golden eyes were saying something else. "He's a little angry, that's all."

Lovino knew he wasn't simply'angry' . His classmates don't snap pencils for fun or when their upset so easily, nor do they have chronic blackouts.

"But what if...they.."

"It won't happen, I'm sure."

His father wasn't convinced, but then his face morphed into a middle aged man with a warm smile.

"Of course you are welcome to stay here. I will treat you as my own, you and Feliciano."

"Really?" He asked.

"Really. Come on Lovino, let's go." The man with the aging face invited him and held out his hand. He would've joined him, but...

"Lovino?"

Something was wrong. He was forgetting something.

"Lovino? Come on!"

What was it? It was important, he can't possibly forget.

"Lovino! "

He knew it. It was something like -

 

" LOVINO ! "

 

The nineteen year old jolted awake from his sleep, a loud ringing in his ears and an enormous headache. What the fuck?

"Ah, Lovino, finally!! Why are you so hard to wake up?" A man with copper brown hair parted in the center frowned childishly. In his hands were a spatula and a pan. "Do you know what time is it? No? I don't either! All I know is that its late, late, late!"

He would've said something intelligent, but all he managed to come up with was: "Ughhgguh."

"Get dressed," The man-boy that sounds like him tossed something at his face. A shirt? "And harvest the tomatoes! Ah, wait, are those my pants?" This - idiot - took the blankets, which Lovino shivered. "Eh, no? Then who stole my pants?"

Lovino grabbed back the blankets. "Go away," he ordered as threatening as a grumpy cat.

"Whatever," The sleep destroyer shrugged. "I told you not do it. Did you listen? Noooooo! Is this the only way to cope, eh, Lovino?" He seemed like he was going to say more, from the way his lips was going to open. Lovino shook his head. Like his mind, everything was confusing...

"Listen," his tone suddenly went deeper than normal, but the pitch was still considerably high and scraping to the ears, "I'll cover you for today, so you won't at least get shouted at by Consi. It's horrible, I tell you! But don't worry about it! Focus on making yourself feel better today! Walk! Put on some clothes! Do nothing! A-Anyways I got to go! Ciao! " Then the man that eerily has his face hurriedly left (while tripping on some things on the way), leaving him to his own devices, an awful headache and ruined sleep.

Lovino took this time to survey his surroundings. Where was he? Did he have a blackout again on some place he doesn't know? It was a small, cemented room with a homey atmosphere and strewn objects. It was obvious whoever he was living with was messy as he was, which he found kind of disappointing. There were a few paintings as well, pasta noodle packs everywhere, and a straw hat that appealed to Lovino as his. Hat? Farm? Tomatoes? The boy said something about tomatoes -

Of course.

He smacked himself.

He knows this place. Of course he does. He's been living here for six years, how the fuck could he forget that? After two years on the streets someone pitied them and gave them a home, a shelter, a family, a job and some semblance of a future and now he's here sitting with his stupid headache like the lazy, drunk bastard he is (he doesn't even drink ) instead of being grateful to Don Andolini, he should probably talk to him first thing this mor-

Ah.

He can't talk to him if he's dead.

Lovino immediately regrets waking up, wishes he was drunk again and goes back to sleep.

 


 

 

The Don's funeral was simple. His black coffin was surrounded by dozens of white lilies even in death. Flowers were something special, as the Don planted those himself as a reminder for the women in his life. The farmers whom respected him in death as much as when he was alive insisted lilies as the main flower arrangement, even if the the man's only heir sneered that it was bad luck.

Lovino donned his only black polo and quietly trod beside his brother without the usual bravado. Don Andolini was after all, the kind man that took in two orphans from the streets without a shred of uncertainty. The brothers could only offer their silence.

"Ay, the old man's will is missing," Artuz, a hardened farmer with a limp noted beside Feliciano as the estate's workers stand beside,  "No peace in life, no peace in death."

"My money's on the brat." Finally, there were only a few more relatives paying their last respects before they can all sit down, "Besides," Benito again coughed out, "Who else will have the balls? It has to be him."

Lovino frowned with distaste. He had to admit, that the estate was not only at least a hundred thousand acre wide land crawling with vegetation and poultry that supplies Italy's best restaurants, but it was also a viable land in the heart of Sicily in which resorts and summer houses would fight over in the past. In the end, they all never got a single square (it would've been more profitable, but the Don was more of a sentimental fool than a pragmatic man). If only the old geezer didn't get himself a heart attack and now, Casa Andolini's tenants' and workers' future lies on resident asshole Michael Andolini.

Not to mention, Lovino thought, those land developers would be swarming like flies and Michael won't do a thing, the bastard, He bit his lip, What's going to happen to us?

'As if I would ever abandon this estate,' Vito Andolini in the golden years scoffed when a young boy with once the world in his eyes asked, 'w hat kind of man would I be if I sell out the land of my ancestors?'

"Lovino," A voice brought him back to reality, and Lovino looked around before he realizes that there was no one aside from the Casa's farmers around. "Do you remember Andolini's promise to us when we were children? That when he dies, the land goes to its farmers?"

He does. It reminded him of Sebastiano, he always liked grass. "What's the point?" Lovino crosses his arms when he realized all eyes were on him. "The lawyer mysteriously disappeared. The will is missing. We have no claim."

"Not at all."

He turns to his side. Feliciano? "If we go to the capital, I'm sure we can visit the lawyer's office and find a copy of the will," Feli addresses him, along with everyone else, "if not, we can find someone who can help us!"

"We? Like hell." Lovino doesn't like where this is going, "You thought of this?"

"We all did, while you were out drunk." Constanzia answered. Considering what she did , she has no right to sound so condescending, but he lets her pass. "Okay, why me and Feli then? This makes no sense..."

"Why not? You two have more stamina compared to the old men and women here who can't travel to the next town let alone to Rome. Plus, you have nothing to lose. Michael finds out that you two are gone he'll merely notice it. But if one of us do, he'll suspect something is up. It's the best shot we have." One of the oldest and respected men in the estate, Cariño, stepped forward and explained. The distinguished line from his left eye to his chin was the only mark left of his time with the Camorra. "Plus, you have lived in Rome before, yes? That's more experience than most of us have."

Lovino isn't convinced. There must be another way for the Casa to live without them going back...there. "Still sounds like a plan with a shit ton of holes. Sorry, but we're not leaving and compromise ourselves to save your asses. Feli, let's go." He grabbed his twin's hand and started to run off towards nowhere in particular. A couple of shouts were directed at him -

'You're a coward, Vargas!'

'Fucking bastard!'

"Fratello!" His brother tried to reason, "It's true! We can't leave them behind, we're the only ones that can save the farm! Sooner or later, we'll be kicked out too!"

He glanced at Feliciano, "Listen, I know they brainwashed you and all, but the only people we've got to look out for is ourselves. We're not going to Rome for these people. And as for our new home, well, we'll cross the bridge when we get there. We'll find a new place or something." 

'You better watch your back!'

"But," Feliciano's usual naive and smooth face started to wrinkle like paper, "What about the estate? What about these people? Like I know it's almost impossible to find the will, but..."

Lovino rolled his eyes. "If that woman really believed in that, she'll go to Rome herself. They're just finding an excuse to drive us away - I don't know - maybe so we can't have our portion - "

'Andolini should never have taken a useless shit like you!'

"What are you even saying, Lovi?" Feliciano's eyes widened.

" - I'm not finished yet," He raises up his hand and stopped walking to look Feliciano in the eye. "Andolini's dead, there's no one else, okay? We have to stick out for each other, and if it means dropping some load so we can leave before the ship sinks, then we will."

'You're so damn selfish, Lovino! When will you change?!' Constanza's voice rang out last before it all faded into nothing.

"We're family, Feli, and family always comes first."

Feliciano was silent as he stared into Lovino for a few seconds, as if he was trying to search something in his face. 

After a moment too long, he slapped him.

"What the actual fuck- "

"How could you even say that, Lovi?!" He was shocked, but before he could tackle his stupid brother, he remembers: Gentle, Lovino.

"These people cared for us even when they had nothing! They had nothing to earn and they didn't even have to but they did! There's no portion to steal from because there's no will! And the place where we were happy and our home is going to be nothing - and you're okay with that?! I know you're grieving - " Feliciano was positively shaking "but this?! If you have any ounce of respect for Vito you would preserve what he valued the most because it's the least you can do! Oh, but you won't because you're so prideful and so - selfish!"

Lovino could only glare, "How fucking dare you - after all the things I did for you  -"

"This is family, Lovi! Maybe you never thought of them as family, but they are mine! If you're going to give up on them, I wouldn't! It was my idea, and I already agreed. I'm going to Rome by morning, so go run like what you always do!" And with that Feliciano stormed off to the direction of their hut (opposite to him), and although Lovino wanted to say some nasty things as comebacks or chase after him and apologize, his body was frozen to the spot, speechless.

Instead, in the darkness and in the white plains, Lovino dropped and lied down on the grassy ground. The last time he was this plain pitiful was when they lost everything years ago, and all of a sudden, it's gone yet again. History is repeating itself. Now he's not sure he's even correct. Surely, they must be driving the twins away for something, right? It doesn't feel right. He stops his tears. He can't stay like this. Feli needs him now more than ever. He used his grief as an excuse many times before, but drinking was a mistake. He can't run from this anymore.

Lovino has to stay strong, for the both of them. (He wishes he didn't have to. Lovino wishes that there was someone responsible for both of them, that way he doesn't have to question whether he is doing the right thing.)

Vito Andolini used take up that spot, his backstabbing mind reminded him.

He picks off a white lily beside him, and it crumbles in his hands.

 


 

 

Once Feliciano thought Lovino was asleep, he slipped away silently like a thief in the night.

Or so he thought.

Lovino spent all night thinking since Feliciano refused to even look at him. He wonders if this is karma after doing the exact same thing to their parents. After tinkering with his watch for ten minutes, he decides to go after his twin before the idiot accidentally trips and kills himself. He'll never forgive himself if that happens, but that doesn't mean his brother is right. He's not doing this for the Casa, whatsoever.  He wants to protect him. That's all. In a ridiculous Hawaiian shirt. That's definitely not going to embarrass Feliciano and definitely not a tool of revenge.

"Going somewhere?" a voice hardened like the waves yet calm as the sea called out to him.

With no chance of escape, the dark brown haired man grudgingly stopped. "What do you want, Aldo?"

The old man only smiled at him. His teeth were crooked, his face is full of spots and wrinkles, his hair was falling out, and his ragged clothes and the straw hat of a labourer made him look small and harmless, but Lovino was not one to underestimate people. At least, the twinkle in his eyes said so. Ancient Aldo of the Andolini estate only walked with the crunch of grass and soil beneath his feet until he was almost beside Lovino.

"I'll walk you there." He beckoned. Lovino followed.

It was silent for a moment. Then, he asked, "You've been out of it for days, Roma. What's troubling you?"

"Don't call me that." He huffed. "I said my reason. Their plan is stupid, illogical, impractical and worst of all, Feliciano believes them, the idiot. That's my problem."

Most people would have argued with Lovino and his gruff comments, but Aldo only listened. Let it go, he reminds himself. "It's that... anything can happen to us out there. It's been six years. Things change, you know. I'm not sure I can protect us both... I barely did it before. I don't like feeling...powerless." He glanced at the overgrown lilies that they passed by, "Vito's death... brings a lot of questions. I thought we were okay, that we're secure. We've finally found a home after so long...but we're back to where we begun. I hate it. We're always starting back to square one and I - ARGH. I want our lives to move on and be peaceful, but NO! Something always fucks up, I don't think I'm ready to lose what we built here..."

He remembers his family, their house in Rome, Santino, the tomatoes, the farm and everything his life could've been that was lost to the fire. Lovino stares at his hardened and calloused hands. "I...don't know. Tell them I'm sorry."

Lovino wasn't sure if Aldo understood, but the man simply patted him in the back.

"Romano, one day I know you'll find what you're looking for. You've come a long way, and if Vito were here, he would have said the same." Except he's not here, but they were already near to the gate where Casa Andolini ends, so he keeps his mouth shut. They stopped a few meters before it, and Aldo took his trembling hands in his own which was nowhere near as rough as his. "If you are afraid there would not be any place for you anymore, or that things would not be the same, don't worry. This will always be your home, Lovino. You still have the box? The one Vito gave you?"

"Um. Yes?" He remembers the box. "It is um, well-kept. I polish it every other week to keep it clean and... sellable."

"Good. Take care of it. Open it when you come back," He kissed both cheeks, he smelled of soil, ink and burnt incense. Then, Aldo let him go. "You can't catch up to Feliciano like that. He's fifteen minutes ahead. Go now, quickly. Constanza is waiting for you."

"Did you all predict that I would go after him? That's crazy." Strangely, Lovino's chest feels lighter. He walked towards the giant black gate, where Constanza was playing with her phone.

She gave a toothy grin that fell when she scanned him from head to toe. "...What are you wearing?"

"I've been in Rome, dumbass. I know what to wear." 

"At least I'm not heartless. Everyone thought you were, and now they all owe me money." Constanza smiles smugly.

"You waited until three in the morning with little possibility that I might leave so you can show off you're right?" Lovino deadpanned. "If that's it, I better be going, since I have a certain idiota  to catch."

Constanza stared at him, with the face of a traitor, like the filthy traitor she is. "Listen. I know you're still mad because of M - whatever else." She stopped mid-sentence as she noted the daggers Lovino was sending her way. She sighed. "I mean you can't stay mad at me forever and besides, haven't you forgotten anything else?"

"One: yes I can, two: what, money?" He rolled his eyes. Then she threw him a roll of cash. "Surprising you care about my welfare. Thanks. bye."

"No, Lovino," Constanza tried again, "This is our last option. We've tried the regional government as well as appealing to Michael, but it's no use. He's probably the one who caused all this.  I want to go myself but who'll talk to him? You ? I - "

"Stop. You've said enough. Make sure to close the gate properly," Lovino shuffled his pack along with pocketing the cash, and walked a few steps towards the gate. He paused.

"Why the drama? It's not like you're never going back." She shrugged.

"You don't know that."

His eyes trails the looming mansion at the east, and the tomato farm at the west. He hopes this isn't the last time he sees his home unblemished and not in embers (like something far off in his memory).

Constanza's eyes softened. "Good luck, Lovino." He hears the clank of the gate, and she is gone.

When Lovino stepped foot outside, he somehow can't shake the feeling that something is about to go very, very wrong.