Bruno reclined against the dresser and watched as Abbacchio bent over to pick up a box. He licked his lips and sighed, reveling in how Abbacchio's muscles tensed beneath the thin white tank top.
"Are you tired already?" Abbacchio asked. He had stopped and turned around to face him.
"No, not at all, I'm just looking at you." Bruno cocked his head to the side and let his gaze drop downward to his boyfriend’s sizeable bulge.
Abbacchio scoffed and pretended he didn't notice. "Well quit it and focus," he said and walked away.
They were moving. Or rather, he was moving. Abbacchio had already moved to their new place, and now, it was his turn. The task proved to be more difficult, not only because he had a lot of things, but also because Abbacchio looked particularly attractive today.
Perhaps it was the tight blue jeans, or the messy bun at the nape of his neck, or Abbacchio's muscular arms at full display. Either way, Bruno had found himself in a state of want since morning, and by all that was holy, he'd be having sex with Abbacchio tonight.
Or maybe now. What harm was there in taking a short break?
"Alright," Abbacchio said, "I took the rest of the dishes down to the van, but we could try to fit the mattresses in-"
Bruno knew Abbacchio was saying something, but he wasn't listening. He lunged towards him, gripping his tank top and planting a firm kiss on his lips. Abbacchio was surprised, but he didn't move away. He put his hands on Bruno's shoulders, returning the passionate kiss with fever.
"You've had your eye on me all morning," Abbacchio said against his lips.
"We have to load all of your stuff into the van."
They kissed again.
Abbacchio parted with a sigh. “Come on, let’s put everything into the van, and then we can-”
“No.” Bruno was back on him, pushing him into a nearby wall.
He was infatuated, and he needed to act now. Perhaps he had amazing self-control when it came to his ‘professional’ life, but in relationships he had a tendency of being passionate and unreserved. Life was short, and if he could physically show he loved someone, he would.
Besides, he was horny.
Abbacchio did not resist, but he did raise the question of where and how. “There’s no bed, just the mattresses-”
“They’re covered in plastic.”
“I don’t mind the plastic.”
“Fine, I’ll zip it off.”
Bruno sprinted into the bare bedroom and knocked over the plastic-wrapped mattress onto the floor with a resounding thud. All his furniture had been taken out, and the mattress, along with with the in-built closet, were the only things left.
He’d miss the apartment; after all, it was where he brought Abbacchio when he first met him. However, he was mostly glad to let it go, and start a new life somewhere else.
He summoned Sticky Fingers, who deftly removed the plastic covering, unzipping it neatly to its sides so it could be promptly zipped up again.
Then, Abbacchio snuck up behind him, hugging him. “Just once, okay?” he said, licking behind Bruno's ear.
Buno extended his neck and grasped the hair bun at the nape of Abbacchio’s neck, letting his fingers sink in. “Okay," he breathed out.
Bruno lay on the mattress, breathing heavily. Abbacchio had already gotten up, and was busy putting on his pants. “Tired you out, didn’t I?” he asked with a smirk.
Bruno dismissively waved his hand at him. Fine, he had gotten more than he had bargained for, something that was both good and bad, as he needed to muster up the strength to continue with the moving. What was important was that for now, he was sated.
Two hours later, they had shoved everything into the van, and the apartment was finally, truly, empty.
“Hard to believe this took us almost a week.” Abbacchio said, pacing around the bare living room.
“I expected as much. We were busy, and I have more crap than you.”
Abbacchio chuckled. Bruno could tell he was thinking about his own, dingy place, one that he began to frequent less and less ever since they decided to officially date. Abbacchio had needed only half a day to pack up all his belongings, and another half to clean out anything left behind. In the end, he dropped off only three boxes and a small duffel bag at their new home.
But him? His belongings were a whole different story. He had important files, documents, furniture, dishes, silverware, and clothes, all of which were of certain value to him. Maybe it would have been easier to zip up everything into a pocket void and dump it in his new home, but he wanted to undergo the moving process with a certain sense of order.
The only exception to that was his furniture, which ended up being relocated by Sticky Fingers. It had been a wise choice to use the stand; they saved money and could rest assured that nothing had been damaged.
“This will be fun,” Abbacchio said.
“Do you mean leaving this place behind, or moving into my house?”
“I was actually thinking of living with Narancia and Trish.”
It was Bruno’s turn to laugh. They had thought about it long and hard, but in the end they concluded it was the best option. Bruno's family home was big and in a state of dilapidation; they would need help restoring it to its former glory, and two additional pairs of trustworthy hands would be very much needed. He didn't want strangers milling about the house, even if it would have been a qualified renovation team. No, he rather the house be restored imperfectly, so long as it would be restored by family.
Besides, Trish and Narancia would not have to worry about rent, so long as they helped with routine menial tasks, like weeding the garden or painting the walls. They wouldn't have to worry about their education either: there was a good upper secondary school in the area they could attend.
“It will be interesting,” Bruno said, “But I think it’s a wise choice. Narancia was practically living with me anyway.”
“And when he wasn’t with you, he was with me. I don’t know how he slept on my worn out couch, the crazy kid.” Abbacchio paused, and looked at Bruno. “We’re putting them in separate rooms, right?”
“Yes, but I don’t expect that to last long.”
Abbacchio mumbled under his breath, and walked out the room. "Get up and let's go. Who knows what these two are doing right now anyway."
Bruno sighed. He was so comfortable lying on the mattress, but he knew that he couldn't stay on it all day. He sat up with a groan; it took some additional fumbling before he was dressed and on his feet.
After having shaking of the post-sex drowsiness, Bruno found himself working a lot faster. By late afternoon, everything was in the van, and they were driving towards the house.
"You still want to repaint the apartment, right?" Abbacchio asked. He was leaning on the open car window and idly watching the quick-moving landscape go by.
Bruno made a left turn towards the beach. "If I have time, yes. The apartment is mine and I'd like to either rent or give it to someone."
"Give it? To whom even?" There was genuine surprise in Abbacchio's voice. "Mista's with Giorno, and Fugo's probably going to go live with them in Rome…"
Bruno shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe they would like to have a place to stay in when they visit Naples-”
“-We’re all loaded and we can afford any hotel we want.”
“-but maybe they would want a secure and trusted place.”
“-then you’d invite them to your home.”
“-not before it’s renovated.”
Abbacchio let out a hmph. “You won’t rent that apartment to anyone. Instead, you will leave it be, and then put up someone that needs help, free of charge of course.”
Bruno let out an awkward laugh. Abbacchio, of course, was right. That had been his plan all along. Sure, Giorno made for a much better boss than the previous one, but that didn’t mean things suddenly became ideal. New problems came to light, some which extended the borders of Naples, Rome, and even Italy itself. It was a lot, and Bruno couldn’t imagine the pressure Giorno was under, but nevertheless, he was eternally grateful to him that he decided to shoulder it.
It had taken a good few weeks before Giorno took the role as leader. He had pleaded for Bruno to come with him, but he stubbornly refused. “I can take care of Naples for you, but I will do no more.” He was tired, he had had enough, and he wanted to live in peace with his loved ones. It’s what he deserved, it’s what they all deserved, even if peace was a seemingly unattainable goal. He was not naive- he knew there would never be true peace, but he also knew that if he simply strived for it hard enough, he could have a small fraction of it.
So far, so good.
He made a sharp turn onto a bumpy dirt road, and within minutes, the house came into view. Its outline shimmered in the calm evening light, andthe red, worn roof took on a gentle orange hue.
Here, Bruno could truly smell the sea. Of course, one could smell and see the sea from many places in the city, but it was only here that Bruno could truly feel and enjoy the vast body of water. In the distance, he could see his father’s fishing boat dutifully tied to the humble wooden dock. He’d have to restore that boat too; he hadn’t fished in years, and it was about time he took up the activity again.
“Bruno, are you coming?” Abbacchio asked. He had already jumped out of the car.
“Right, right of course I am,” Bruno said, shaking his head. His head was clouded with emotion, a strange mixture of melancholy, guilt and disappointment. Where the sudden mood change came from, he did not know, but he decided to ignore it for the time being. He turned the key in the ignition, pulled the handbrake and popped open the trunk.
They grabbed a box each and approached the front porch, only to be greeted by a serene scene: Trish and Narancia were curled up next to each other on the porch swing, soundly sleeping. It was so cute, and Bruno began to smile.
“Guess the swing is comfortable,” Abbacchio said, and walked into the house, doing his best to make as much noise as possible. Bruno wanted to chastise him, but realized his booming, angry voice would make more noise than Abbacchio ever could.
When he entered the house, he was pleased to see that Trish and Narancia had already done some basic clean-up; for instance, there was no more dust and dirt, the windows had been cleaned, and the wooden furniture had been wiped down with a special furniture emulsion. The old dining table had benefited from that in particular, as it had suddenly gained a healthy, new gleam.
Bruno and Abbacchio put the boxes on the table, agreeing that they’d just unpack what they could today, and that they’d carry on tomorrow.
“You look out of it, all of a sudden.” Abbacchio said. He had walked over to the couch, but didn’t bother sitting. Instead, he propped his arm on the mantle and began to fidget with an embroidered tray cloth.
I don’t recognize that tray cloth Bruno thought. He figured either Trish or Narancia must have brought it and put it on the mantle. He also noticed that the old ashes had been cleaned out of the fireplace, and that its inside has been more or less buffed. Even the poker and shovel had been nicely set in a holder, ready for use. No wonder then that the teens were tired-they had worked hard.
Bruno then realized he hadn’t responded to Abbacchio’s concerns. “I don’t know,” he finally replied. “I guess…I think that suddenly, things got a bit too easy, a bit too good for us. And I feel guilty.”
Abbacchio snorted. “It’d be easier if we both had died.”
Bruno looked at Abbacchio in horror. His lips quivered slightly before he could get a word out. “What the fuck are you saying?” he hissed, trying to keep his voice down. He didn’t want Narancia or Trish to accidentally hear any of this.
Abbacchio seemed unmoved by his outrage. “I don’t mean to say I am not thankful, but think about it. If we died, we’d rest in peace, no longer worried about anything, no longer concerned about the future.”
Had he been any less perceptive, Bruno knew he would have lashed out in anger, and maybe even gotten somewhat physical. It was absurd and terrible to suggest such a thing, and any unknowing eavesdropper would have thought the same. But Bruno was no eavesdropper, and he knew what Abbacchio meant.
They both had suffered greatly, and all the guilt, fear, worry, anger, and horrible memories were ever present, never truly going away. If anything, they simply remained dormant. To make matters worse, there was, of course, the future to worry about: the whole issue with the arrows wasn’t trivial, and in the past weeks they had only begun to find out more. Who knows what would happen? Even though Giorno was the one that was more involved, it’s not like they weren’t. Bruno served as an advisor to Giorno, and additionally oversaw Naples, while Abbacchio became involved with local law enforcement, vowing to weed out corruption. As such, they had not exactly left their old life behind.
Yet as taxing as all that was, there was another layer to Abbacchio’s statement, which Bruno realized would painfully haunt them for the rest of their lives. When he had been fatally injured by King Crimson and then revived by Golden Experience, he realized death was coming. But as it was coming slowly, he readily accepted it, knowing he had enough time to help his team before he passed on. He remembered how he felt during that stormy period: at peace and fulfilled. It was ironic, in a way, but it made perfect sense to him: he’d carry out his duty, he’d leave everyone in Giorno’s hands, he’d pass on, and perhaps he’d be lucky enough to see his father just before he perished completely. Therefore, it came as a huge surprise to him when Golden Experience Requiem managed to fix him within the last few minutes of his life, right when all his senses were shutting down and his soul was getting ready to leave his body. Had the stand iteration appeared a minute later, it would have been too late for him.
He’d carelessly told Abbacchio about it one night. But Abbacchio had surprised him, replying that he had felt the same; he was sure he had been dying on that accursed beach, and so he too began to feel that peace, only to be suddenly resurrected at the last moment by none other than Giorno. Like Bruno, had Giorno been late by a few seconds, Abbacchio would have been properly dead.
The anger faded away, and Bruno moved closer towards the fireplace. “You’re right,” he said softly. “It makes me angry, but you’re right.”
Abbacchio raised his hand and hummed as if to wordlessly say of course I’m right , and resumed his fidgeting with the tray cloth.
“Still, it’s worth staying alive for you, and for the others.” Bruno closed the distance between them, embracing Abbacchio tightly.
“Just because it would have been easier, it doesn’t mean it would have better, you know,” Abbacchio said, kissing his forehead.
Bruno smiled. “Narancia would have missed you so much.”
“Me? He would have missed you more.”
“Definitely,” Abbacchio nodded. “Mista would have missed you more too, as would have Fugo-”
“-I beg to disagree.”
Abbacchio went on, ignoring him. “Not sure about Trish and Giorno. We can ask them one day..”
Bruno glared at Abbacchio. “Never, don’t you dare.”
Instead of being given a solemn ‘yes’, he was laughed at. “In a few years it won’t be a sensitive topic anymore,” Abbacchio said.
Bruno shook his head, and playfully shoved Abbacchio away. “Let’s put all this crap away,” he said, pointing at the table. “You take the kitchen, I’ll take the bedroom.”
“After I kiss you,” Abbacchio said. Bruno wasn’t about to deny him that, so he gave in, reveling in the deep, slow kiss that was being gifted to him. Yes, this was certainly one of the things worth living for.
Somehow, the kiss wasn’t stopping, and then somehow, they ended up on the couch, pressed up tightly against one another. “Not here, not here,” Bruno whispered against Abbacchio’s lips.
“They won’t hear us, they’re fast asleep,” Abbacchio hastily replied before attacking Bruno’s neck with his teeth and lips.
Bruno closed his eyes and stifled a groan. “Fine, but quickly.” He didn’t know why he had even bothered to say as much; Abbacchio was already shoving his hand down his pants. All Bruno could do was throw a blanket over them and hope to God that Trish and Narancia stayed asleep for the next few minutes.
“No, you too. Say hi to Mista and Fugo for me, bye,” Abbacchio said into the phone receiver. “Bye, until Tuesday.”
Bruno opened his eyes. He had fallen asleep on the couch, but luckily, after his and Abbacchio’s quick romantic romp, he had been lucid enough to put his pants back on. Just a few minutes he had whispered, right before sleep overtook him.
“That was Giorno,” Abbacchio said, walking over to him. He had let his hair down, and put on a fresh shirt. “They’re coming by next week.”
Bruno groaned and stretched. He still had objections about that, and he’d call Giorno again and insist they stay at a hotel, but that could wait until later. “Where, where’s Narancia and Trish?” Bruno asked. It was already late evening, and it was almost completely dark outside.
“Well I’m here, and Narancia is upstairs washing up,” Trish’s voice called out from the kitchen.
Bruno sighed, trying to make peace with the fact that they had been noticed, and grabbed his shirt haphazardly thrown over the coffee table. “Trish, are you making food?” he asked.
“Uh-huh!” the girl responded. She was making something meat heavy from what he could smell.
“Let me help you,” he called out. Abbacchio was grinning at him, no doubt pleased he had exhausted his lover to the point of sleep.
“If you’re wondering,” Abbacchio said, “Me and Narancia put everything away, it didn’t really take long.”
“Thank you. Now help me up,” Bruno said, extending his hand.
Abbacchio obliged, pulling him up to a standing position and giving him a quick kiss before he walked into the kitchen. Upon seeing him, Trish smiled and greeted him warmly, and Bruno thanked her for cleaning the house. She waved him off. “I didn’t do that much, I spent more time in the garden. This here was all Narancia.”
“What about the tray cloth?” Bruno asked, sneaking a peek at the pots on the stove. It looked like Trish was making spaghetti.
“Oh that was me, is it alright? It-”
“It’s gorgeous, a little too pretty for a mantle though.” He began to stir the noodles boiling in the water.
Trish shook her head. “It should be there, that’s where it was in my old house anyway.”
Bruno paused. “Alright then, it’s staying there.” He looked at Trish; she was wearing one of Narancia’s shirts, and had her hair tied in a small bun; she had been growing it out, after all, and he personally thought it suited her very well.
She looked happy, and that’s all that mattered. Things perhaps weren’t easy, but they were better, and for the first time in a while, Bruno felt grateful that he was alive. There was no rush; he was still young, they all were, and he would eventually see his father again. For now, he should focus on his current family.
He turned just as Narancia descended the stairs, his black hair curling from the moisture in the shower. “Bucciarati!” he exclaimed, running up to hug him from behind. Bruno spread his arms out so the boy could hug him without having to pause his cooking. He complained about how damp Narancia felt, but the boy didn’t care, hugging him tightly as he began to chatter away about what he and Trish had done throughout the day.
Out of the corner of his eye, Bruno saw Abbacchio look on at them fondly from the doorway, a lit cigarette in his hand. It was a strange family he had, but it was family nonetheless. And more of them would come to visit in a few days.
The future would be hard, but it also would bless them, like it was blessing them now.