“You know what?”
Aldo rolled his eyes and let his head loll backward, still refusing to look at him.
“I thought I’d told you to shut the hell up.”
“I’m starting to like it. The scar, I mean. It adds….character. Charm, in a way.”
Aldo couldn’t hold back the scoff that left his lips.
“Of course not, but the fact that you thought so is very amusing.”
“Never said I agree.”
“Mhmm. You didn’t say you don’t either! That’s good enough for me, Apache.”
Hans was looking around the room, walking with both hands clasped behind his back, a stupid grin on his ugly face-
“Where did you get this- this….what is it, a snow globe?”
Aldo was so close to snapping the bastard’s neck, tired of his constant chit chat and his nonchalant attitude.
“It is a snow globe, dumbass.”
“Why is there no liquid inside, then?”
Hans had stopped walking in circles to grab said object, holding it in his hand and looking at it inquisitively.
Before Aldo could look up and cuss at him, he shook the sphere and nothing happened, just a few flakes of fake snow flew around weakly.
Aldo, who felt like his head was about to explode, finally looked up from the papers he was writing to give a snarly look at the infamous Jew Hunter.
He had to admit that when he first heard the stories about the SS Colonel Hans Landa, the image of him that had formed into Aldo’s mind was a lot less similar to the real deal: he’d imagined a tall, blonde, scary-looking german colonel, with broad shoulders and a deep, frightening voice that could’ve made even the Bear Jew shiver.
Instead, he got a short, blue-eyed, silver-haired, and overall very average man in what looked like thirty or so kilos of leather.
He had to admit, though, that when he put on his Colonel facade, Hans Landa truly did make for a scary opponent.
The first time they’d actually met, of course, Landa wasn’t aware of who he had in front of him.
Or maybe he did and pretended not to.
Regardless, Aldo had immediately spotted him leaning on the railing, a glass of champagne in his hand, and when they locked eyes and the colonel had started to walk towards them, he admitted to feeling his heart speed up just slightly.
Landa, on the other hand, had decided to approach the - clearly a foreigner - mysterious man in white that was whispering something to the mademoiselle Von Hammersmark.
“Aldo, are you listening to me?”
Hans tilted his head a bit and gave him that raised-eyebrows look that was his standard for either “I am about to murder your entire family” or “I could really go for a slice of strudel”.
Aldo sighed deeply and turned his chair to look at him.
Hans scoffed and straightened his back, shaking his head.
“Didn’t your mother teach you that it’s rude to let your mind wander off when someone’s talking to you?”
Aldo stood up instantly, looming over his desk and glaring at the shorter man, who flinched and instantly dropped his grin.
“Don’t you fucking dare mention my momma, you cock-sucklin’ jew-killing’ bastard.”
Aldo mentally kicked himself for mentioning her, someone so special to him, and revealing a vulnerability to someone who was born to find weak spots.
Hans blinked a few times before quickly regaining his cat-like composure, a corner of his mouth rising in a lopsided smirk.
“I apologize. Still, I’d like to receive an answer to my question. Where did you acquire this snow globe, or, erhm- has somebody gifted this to you?”
He held out the globe and gently shook it from side to side, his free arm bent behind his back.
Aldo took a deep breath in and then let it out loudly, straightening his back once more.
“I don’t remember who gave it to me, t’was uhh….a long time ago. Don’ remember where it came from either.”
He waved his hand in the air aimlessly while looking at his wristwatch.
Hans wasn’t satisfied with the other’s answer and, to be completely truthful, didn’t believe him in the slightest.
He cocked his head to the side and stared at the globe a few more seconds before his eyes widened in realization.
Aldo wasn’t quick enough to speak up before Hans, who looked at him expectantly and smiled.
“I think I know where this globe is from!”
“I really don’t care-“
Hans took a couple of steps forwards, which was all it took to cross the Lieutenant’s demoralizingly small office, and then stood in all of his 5’5’’ glory, and pointed an index finger towards the ceiling.
“So, you say you don’t remember who gave this to you, and yet I have a feeling you just don’t want to tell me. Don’t worry, I am not mad at you! I enjoy these games very much.”
Aldo pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head while slowly picking his papers and piling them as neatly as possible on his messy desk.
“Let’s start from the obvious details: the small building complex within this sphere.
I can clearly see that some of these are not possibly this close to each other in real life, simply because they are too big.
Ah, well, I can’t resist. I know what city it is, I didn’t have to waste so much time trying to make myself look smart!
We both know I am-“
Aldo didn’t stop his tidying but he felt a tiny grin pull at his lips.
Hans closed his mouth mid-inhale and glared at him for two seconds before resuming as if nothing had happened.
“-I am. Besides, I can clearly see the Roman Colosseum in the middle, so this comes from Italy, more specifically, Rome.
The bigger question remains, though. Who gifted this to you?”
Aldo was almost done when he planted both of his hands firmly against the hard wooden surface and sighed for what felt like the two-hundred fifty-fourth time in under an hour.
“Why’re you so fuckin’ interested in my fuckin’ business…”
Hans seemed to contemplate an answer for a brief moment before flashing an all-teeth, squinty smile that made Aldo’s brain want to commit suicide and made his heart skip a beat.
“Well, my dear Apache, because I am a detective, of course! Besides, the first part of this test was rather easy. Shush now.”
Aldo wanted to reply but chose against it in order to finish fixing the damn lamp that had been on the edge of breaking for about two weeks now.
Hans continued talking, undisturbed, and started pacing around the small ambient, still holding the globe.
“Italy then. Interesting. I can tell it wasn’t bought by you, because unlike you, whoever bought this actually seems to have a sense of style and….design. So perhaps a female relative? Or a lover….”
The word hit Aldo differently, and he didn’t know if it was Hans’ sudden shift in tones, from playful to more focused, or because he knew he was right.
The lamp was suffering for his rising anxiety, squeaking under the large man’s clumsy and - was he shaking slightly? - heavy hands.
The Colonel didn’t stop.
“Ah yes, I see….a lover then! How exciting! I’m getting closer, Aldo?”
The Lieutenant looked up and abandoned the lamp in favor of glaring across the room, sucking in his lower lip unconsciously.
Landa didn’t seem to notice that he was getting more and more uncomfortable, or better yet, he didn’t care.
“No, obviously not. So where were we….ah, yes! A lover. Let’s see….I am going to assume that this was bought as a parting gift, for a very simple reason.”
Aldo’s heart was beating faster, almost trying to tell him to sock the ex-nazi square in the face.
Hans was still walking in circles around the room, like a shark cornering his prey, and he knew that the rising tension would only help him find the solution sooner.
“What would you give to someone for them to remember you, that’s casual enough to become invisible in an office, but that holds enough sentimental value to make you keep it for enough time that the liquid inside has dried out?”
Hans was standing behind him now, and his grin just widened each passing second.
Aldo’s shoulders were tense, and he was about to snap.
“I’m warning you, cut the shit right now, or….”
“I am also relatively sure that you still have feelings for said person, otherwise you wouldn’t have kept it in a place where, from your seat, it’s basically impossible to miss every time you look up….”
Hans was right next to him, standing on his tip-toes to lurch over Aldo’s shoulder.
“Tell me Apache….how much did you love him?”
Hans had no time to react as he suddenly found himself being sandwiched between Aldo’s much, much bigger frame and the wall, the other man effortlessly pinning him against the cold surface with an arm pressing on his windpipe and the other drawn back, a punch formed and ready to land on his face.
“With all due respect, sir, I don’t-“
“I do not care about what you think, Raine! I have assigned this man to be under your supervision, for a very obvious reason: you know him better than anyone else here, and you’re the most suitable to keep him under control.”
Aldo looked to the floor, a few feet to his right foot, which was tapping nervously on the dusty carpet, and tried to unclench his jaw.
His superior took a deep breath and sighed.
“I know you don’t want this, Aldo. Neither do I. You know how much I’d like to strangle the bastard with my own two hands, but the orders came from above, and you have to accept that.
Besides, count this as me chewing you out for shooting that other nazi fuck.”
Aldo opened his mouth in surprise and stuttered, opening his arms as his shoulders raised in a tense shrug.
His superior lifted a finger and Aldo closed his mouth, letting him continue.
“Hey, don’t look at me like that! We could’ve used that guy as leverage to get Landa to tell us more….”
Aldo shook his head lightly and looked outside of his boss’ office window, the birds chirping on an almost naked tree, a grim reminder of the winter season approaching.
Aldo hated the cold weather in NYC, he was used to the mild temperatures of Maryville, where he’d grown up.
His boss sat back down and ran a hand through his few remaining hair, picking a folder with a few papers sticking out and holding it out for Aldo to take.
The Apache wordlessly leaned forwards to grab it but he felt the other’s resistance when he tried to retrieve it.
As he looked into his superior’s eyes, the other spoke, his tone much lower than earlier during their bickering.
“I know this must be tough for you, Aldo. Try to make the best of it and just ignore him, and it’ll be over soon, boy.”
“Sure thing boss.”
He lied, he wasn’t sure at all about this.
Having to babysit a former nazi for three months to keep an eye on him?
Aldo left the office and closed the door behind himself, refusing to immediately look to his left, where a tiny-framed man had been sitting and chatting with two officers.
Eventually, Hans noticed Aldo’s presence and he flashed one of his ugly smiles at him, his shoulders seemingly relaxing and raising at the same time.
“Aldo Raine, the Apache! It’s so nice to see you! You look….full! So, are we ready to go?”
Aldo looked at him in order to glare at the shorter man, trying to ignore the comment about his weight - how the hell did he even notice just by taking one look at his body?? - a betraying look of surprise and disbelief on his face.
“Wait wait wait….you knew?? Why’d they tell you before they told me? Oh, motherf-“
Hans thanked the two officers and stood up, hands clasped behind his back.
“I’m fine, thank you for asking.”
Aldo glared at him again and grunted, taking a good look at the other man after almost a year of not having had to deal with his entitled, egoistical, maniacal ass.
He had to admit, Hans looked even smaller without the heavy leather coat on.
He was currently dressed like a normal human being would, instead of wearing his ridiculous nazi outfit, and for once Aldo thought that, if he squinted, he’d look somewhat good.
His eyes moved to Hans’ forehead and fixed on the strands of hair that had fallen down, partially covering his scars.
Hans noticed his eyes and his mouth twitched, making him move his head randomly just to divert Aldo’s attention from it.
The trick didn’t work, and Aldo’s half-open mouth turned into an evil grin when he confirmed that Hans does, in fact, feel insecure about the scars.
At least, he had something to tease the smaller man with.
“Well, are we going, Aldo? I am getting impatient.”
Without saying anything else, Aldo clicked with his tongue and rolled his eyes, walking down the corridor.
He heard the other’s steps following him and like that, they were out under the cold, muted sun that managed to peek through the heavy clouds.
Aldo was simply snarling at him, hair flying over his face as his fist trembled in an attempt to hold back.
Despite his rage, the expression of pure terror on Han’s face reminded him so much of that day in the woods, when he surrendered and Aldo marked him forever with a set of scars in the shape of a swastika.
Several seconds passed between enraged eyes and terrified ones, and this time, Hans was aware of just how serious Aldo was when he threatened someone.
He feared that what happened that inglorious day in the woods, when Aldo explained so plainly just how much he was repulsed by Hans’ actions, could have reached a breaking point.
That time, Hans was scared for his life, the very real blade carving into his skin enough proof that Aldo was a simple but efficient man and that, if he hadn’t made that deal with his superiors, the American would’ve gladly scalped him and killed him, maybe slowly, just to unleash the anger that he had been forced to repress.
This time, however, Hans was more afraid that this odd relationship that he and the Lieutenant had formed over the past few weeks was gone, thrown out of the window, just because he couldn’t hold his silver tongue back.
Hans said nothing, his parted lips letting out a little too much air and his nose not inhaling enough to breathe normally, and he was so close to Aldo’s face that if he really wanted to try and get mauled, he could’ve easily kissed the tip of the Apache’s nose.
Aldo was still fuming, feeling a sting in his chest, not quite where his heart was, but close enough to make him feel weak, vulnerable, ashamed.
Hans, who was starting to see black corners from his peripheral vision, gently placed his fingers over Aldo’s arm, patting him to try and get him to move.
“Aldo, I am not- not breathing too well, do you- do you mind…?”
Aldo just pressed harder, making Landa’s eyes widen as a heavy sigh left his already struggling throat.
His fingers pressed just a tiny bit harder on Aldo’s arm but the other didn’t even notice, still snarling at his face.
“Listen up, you nazi fuck. I ain’t got the patience or the will to deal with your entitled ass for three months, so before I accidentally run you over, cut the bullshit and mind your goddamn business, aight?”
Hans swallowed, hard, but his throat and mouth were as dry as the Grand Canyon during summer.
He managed a small nod, his bright blue eyes still wide with, and he hated admitting it, actual fear.
After what felt like hours, Aldo lowered his fist and released the pressure on Hans’ neck just enough to let him take a big gulp of air, a wheezy laugh replacing the struggling gasps.
He bent over, hands on his knees as he forced too much air into his lungs, taking a second too long to recompose himself before stealing a quick glance upwards, seeing Aldo’s back heave as he recollected his own breath.
Hans was the first to speak up - would you have guessed it - and he cleared his throat four, five times before taking a small step sideways, trying to look at Aldo’s reddened face.
“I uhm….I guess an apology is due-“
“Fuckin’ right it is.”
Aldo muttered not-so-quietly, hands on his hips, still refusing to look at him as he paced the room.
There was something about Aldo, something that drove Hans mad since the first time they’d met, and it was his apparent lack of expressions that his face could muster.
He had a signature bottom-lip movement, where it curled inwards making him look disappointed and vaguely annoyed, and Hans’ attention fixated on it, making it impossible not to stare at his lips every now and then.
Other than that, though, he was pretty much emotionless, or at least he acted like he was.
A few dashing smiles, all teeth and wrinkles near his eyes - and Hans could’ve sworn he’d seen a dimple on his cheek, once - that made the Colonel’s heart do funny things.
There was no point in lying to himself, Aldo was a remarkably handsome man.
Buff, tall and sarcastic, just like Hans liked men.
Admittedly, he hadn’t had that much experience with them, with anyone really, after getting enlisted at eighteen by his overcompensating father, pushed into a completely different reality than his quiet hometown, he at least found solace in being able to express his sixth sense and truly admirable detective skills.
Hans shook himself out of his thoughts and took another step forwards, which was enough to find himself standing a couple of feet away from the man that had just attempted to kill him.
“I appreciate that you held back, I’m sure it must’ve taken a lot…”
Hans attempted to be humorous, but Aldo’s response made his heart hurt a little bit.
“Damn right. Just like that day in the woods, you bastard. You just can’t keep your mouth shut, can you?”
Aldo looked at him, and really looked, and Hans suddenly felt like the entire energy of the room had shifted, the prey became the predator and he felt trapped and vulnerable.
His icy gaze went right through Hans and the german man subconsciously looked away, chuckling nervously.
“Let’s just go, Landa. I’m tired, I need to sleep and forget about you for a few hours.”
With that, he grabbed his bomber jacket and walked out, turning the lights off before Hans could take his own coat.
Once in the car, the air kept growing thicker and thicker with awkwardness and palpable tension.
Hans, who was usually the one generating said tension, did not like it at all.
Aldo, on the other hand, had already forgotten his anger, replaced by a feeling of pride he’d only felt when he got the chance to lecture nazis before killing them.
Hans was trying to keep all of his limbs under control and close to his body as to not disturb the other, who was driving quietly as ever.
The drive only lasted twenty minutes, but to Hans felt so much longer, and after an eternity of waiting he spoke up.
“I read the name under the base of the snowball.”
Aldo’s brows furrowed and he stole a quick glance at Hans, whose expression was blank, still on the verge of uneasiness, but somewhat closer to his regular bitch-resting face, and he let a smile slip through.
The sight filled Hans’ heart with hope that maybe he hadn’t fucked up too badly.
“I couldn’t possibly decipher your reactions well enough without asking direct questions. While I was talking, and you weren’t listening….”
The slightly accusatory tone made Aldo grunt and Hans raised his hands in surrender.
“I am kidding, Aldo. Anyway, I read the name and it was no doubt a masculine one. May I ask who Alberto is?”
Hans’ voice trailed off as he waited for an answer.
Hans closed his mouth and resumed his staring right ahead, eyes on the road.
Aldo simply kept driving.
Once at the house, Hans was fidgeting, restless and still somewhat uneasy after Aldo’s anger burst just a few hours prior.
They’d stopped to pick up food on their way home, and Aldo spoke to him just to ask if he wanted sides with his cheeseburger, to which Hans replied ‘I would like a refund, for the inevitable heart diseases that this oily, unhealthy food will cause me.’ while also pouting and mumbling.
Aldo hid his face behind his hand and chuckled quietly as he paid and winked at the redhead that handed him the food and blushed.
His house wasn’t stellar, it didn’t have a hundred rooms like all standard American houses seemed to have, and it barely had two floors to separate the living area and the two bedrooms and bathroom.
Hans liked it, it reminded him of houses in Germany, although he hadn’t lived there in almost forty years in order to follow the Fürher’s orders.
Once Aldo had set out the table, Hans walked to the table and sat opposite to him.
Now, on a regular table that could easily fit four people around it, they would’ve had the space to move freely, but in Aldo’s apartment the biggest table was squared and uncomfortably fit two people.
If Hans had reached forward, he could’ve poked Aldo in the eyes.
You know, in case he wanted to die like that.
As he sat down, his knees brushed against Aldo’s and the American grunted, making Hans move his chair a few inches backward.
They ate in silence, Aldo’s eyes looking up and to Hans’ left, where a small television screen was hung on a wall.
Hans, as a good European, despised watching television while eating, and the fact that he couldn’t see it even if he wanted to was just outrageous.
Besides, Aldo’s attention was always focused on something else happening behind him, which annoyed the attention-seeking Landa even more.
“You know, it would be nice to talk when we eat sometimes.”
Aldo didn’t even flinch, much to Hans’ dismay, and just kept chewing his fries and listening to the news.
Hans couldn’t really do much other than giving him a dramatically shocked face, his mouth opening and closing multiple times as he tried to reply and sting Aldo, but the other was quicker.
“‘Gonna catch flies with that open mouth.”
He smirked while chewing and leaned back in his chair - which didn’t make that big of a difference considering the small space they were confined in.
Hans’s head snapped and he looked down at his plate angrily, grabbing a handful of fries and stuffing his face with them to keep quiet.
Aldo secretly loved the small childish gestures that Hans was apparently a dispenser of, and he fondly memorized them all.
If he were to be honest, the forced domesticity of the odd partnership they formed was….unusual, for one, but not as unwelcome as Aldo had predicted.
If at first he’d been ready to kill Hans at the slightest threat, now he more than just tolerated him, actually - not that he would ever admit it, of course - starting to appreciate the company of the European man.
When Hans wasn’t being a dick he was actually a pretty good company to have, and slowly, the idea of the Nazi Colonel that Aldo had in his mind started to detach itself to how he saw Hans now, a shrewd and cunning man, a detective who took the wrong opportunity to make a living and, to be fair, made the best out of it.
Aldo had tried to remain stoic and detached from him and this entire situation, but Hans had a charming way of nudging his way into someone’s life, and his ability to understand and seize every situation to his advantage was, in Aldo’s eyes, a virtue that deserved to be praised, and that inevitably lead to Hans’ interest in him beginning to turn against the Lieutenant, who felt attracted to the smaller man, so different than him, so much more complex, but also much more sensitive than him, and somehow Aldo found that ‘flaw’ - Hans’ own words when Aldo confronted him about it, once - most sweet.
Knowing that he was probably one of the very few - most likely, the only one - to have known this side of Hans Landa and to have survived long enough to think back to it made the knowledge that much more treasurable.
Not as a weapon, or a possible threat against Hans, but as a fact to hold deep within his heart and to protect.
Since when has he started feeling the need to protect Hans?
“Look at you, got mustard all over your chin like a damn child….”
Before Hans could react, Aldo shook his head slightly and leaned forwad, reaching out with a free hand.
Hans felt some invisible force push him towards the hand, lips parted slightly and eyes unfocused.
Aldo’s fingers molded themselves around his face, the rough, calloused digits making Hans shiver a bit.
The American man was now completely focused on him, eyes half-lidded and staring at his mouth while he cupped his chin with his index finger as his thumb swept the barbecue droplet that laid on Hans’ face.
Hans looked up and found that his heart was doing something stupid, flipping around as he looked at Aldo.
The uncharacteristically kind gesture was both unexpected and hugely welcomed as Hans suddenly found himself wanting more and more contact from those rough hands.
He wondered if Aldo felt the same way, at least in that moment.
Aldo felt Hans’ stare burning through his head and he quickly glanced up to stare back, before dropping his gaze and pulling his hand back slowly.
Why did he do that?
And why was it suddenly hard to breathe?
Hans looked off and his face twitched as he blushed bright pink, a color that Aldo found oh so endearing on him.
He muttered a ‘thank you’ before picking up his glass and taking a few sips of his beer, Aldo smiling a bit and doing the same.
Maybe he wasn’t so mad, after all.
As they finished eating, Hans stood up first, taking his plate and Aldo’s, a gesture that caused the American man to raise his eyebrows and give Hans an incredulous smile.
Hans’s eyebrows knit together and he looked between the plate and Aldo.
“What? Oh, did you want to eat the plate as well?”
Aldo chuckled - goddamnit, he couldn’t help it after a long day - and kept looking at him, head tilted backwards as he turned his body around to keep Hans in his field of view from any point of the kitchen.
“Nah, just weird to see you do anything useful. That was actually, and don’t make me regret saying this, a nice gesture of you.”
Hans rolled his eyes and walked to the sink, gently placing the plates in and turning the water on.
“Nonsense, Apache. I am very helpful. I keep you company, I push you to be a better man everyday, I-“
“-snoop around my stuff and make me absolutely furious by invading my privacy?”
Hans jumped, Aldo’s voice suddenly very close to his ear and very low, almost a drawl, his thick southern accent making all of the bones in Hans’ smaller body temporary turn to jelly before re-solidifying, and his eyes darted to look at him.
Aldo was leaning against the counter, head tilted to better look at Hans’ face with a lopsided smile.
Hans felt incredibly vulnerable in that moment, hands wet and cornered by Aldo’s massive body.
“Aldo, what’s two plus two?”
Aldo thought that he was joking at first, but Hans’ completely straight face forced his tired brain to work.
Hans opened his mouth in a silent ‘ah’ and resumed washing the cheap porcelain.
Aldo was confused.
“May I know why you asked me that?”
“I wanted to test if you were in your right mind.”
Aldo chuckled again.
“And I am?”
“Oh, I’m afraid not. The right answer from you would’ve been ‘why the fuck you askin’ me that for’, so you are obviously about to die by some unknown illness.”
In any other circumstance, Aldo would’ve gotten mad or have punched him, but with Hans’ nonchalant tone and the tiniest smile crawling on his face, he couldn’t hold back the booming laughter that left his body.
Hans stopped his scrubbing to look at him in awe, mouth hanging open.
Even with the dim, yellow-is light and the overall crappy surroundings, Aldo looked like a greek God to Hans.
If he thought that his smiles were precious, his laughter is melted honey on french toast, and Hans instantly got addicted to it and wanted more.
Aldo grabbed his belly and stopped laughing, feeling a bit too cheery for the situation.
He walked back to the table and grabbed the remaining glasses and cutlery, then approaching the sink again and dropping them in the warm water.
They finished cleaning in a comfortable silence, the only sounds coming from the water and the broom scooping up the fallen food crumbs.
As Hans dried his hands, Aldo placed the broom back against the wall, and they turned to look at each other awkwardly.
Aldo sighed and scratched the back of his head, his neck giving a satisfying crack when he bent his head sideways.
“Imma go watch a bit of tv, uh….”
Hans was quick to reply, maybe too quick.
“I’ll be right there!”
Then, after hesitating a moment.
“…if you want me to be, otherwise I can just go to bed, yeah I- I should go, you….you might want to relax, and-“
“Shut up. If you wanna come, the couch’s big enough for two. Otherwise, g’night.”
He grabbed a beer from the fridge and gave him an informal salute gesture as he walked to the couch and plopped down on it, pulling one leg over the other’s knee and turning the larger tv on.
Hans was left alone in the kitchen, staring at the empty spot Aldo was just in, and it took several seconds - and a few heart flutters - to shake himself out of the trance he fell in.
Why was it suddenly hard to breathe?
Why did he feel so warm and fuzzy all of a sudden?
He wordlessly grabbed a beer for himself as well and walked to the couch, looking at it and then at Aldo, like a dog asking for permission, before Aldo looked up at him with those sweet, deep blue eyes and sighed.
“Whatcha doin’? You’re in front of the screen.”
He gestured towards it with a finger while holding the beer and Hans quickly sat down, trying to appear as calm and collected as ever, betraying himself with twitchy movements and unusual stiffness.
Aldo just smiled to himself and sipped his beer.
After a while the sun had set down, and the movie had progressively gotten more and more boring for Aldo.
Hans, on the other hand, was focused on the screen like a child watching cartoons, so Aldo felt bad and didn’t switch channels.
“Why’dy’like this movie so much, ‘nyways?”
Hans shrugged and sighed, eyes still wide and focused.
“I think I’ve seen it once, when I was younger. My father used never let me watch movies, but my mother loved them and when he wasn’t home we’d watch as many as we could. It’s an Italian movie, you should like it.”
“Yeah, but why this one? ’S just an old romantic movie….plot’s not even that good.”
Hans sighed again and leaned forwards, holding his face up on one palm as his elbow was held up on his knee.
“I think it is a beautiful story, Aldo. An American man moves to Europe, broke, lonely and with just a name to his account, and meets a young Italian boy named Luca who helps him get a job and find a girlfriend. Turns out, she’s the daughter of a rich Italian duchess and they get married. He overcomes his struggles, finds a friend and marries a lovely woman.”
Aldo didn’t reply, just watched as the black and white figures on screen moved to the sound of music.
He recognized the protagonist, some average-looking guy with an Italian name he didn’t recognize, and a younger, much younger boy walking around him like a puppy.
They were talking about something, but since the movie hadn’t been dubbed in english, Aldo understood very little of the original Italian version.
Hans continued, undisturbed.
“The director was, allegedly, forced to change the script mid-way through the original shooting, because the protagonist refused to kiss another man.”
Aldo was actually surprised to hear that.
“Wow, homophobic much?”
Hans let out a dry chuckle.
“Very. They changed half of the cast and the director ended up changing the plot, too. What a waste.”
Aldo tried taking another sip of his beer but noticed he’d finished it earlier.
He looked at Hans and worried briefly before the other man spoke up again.
“Would’ve been much more memorable if they’d keep the original script. It would have been a shock to that society, of course, but I think that it would’ve greatly helped to reduce the stigma around homosexual relationships back then….”
Aldo hummed and nodded along.
Somewhere in his chest, those words found a door and unlocked it.
They made much more sense than what Hans had intended them to have, at least to Aldo.
“A true waste.”
If you asked Aldo what his favorite flavor was, he’d say that a fine aged whiskey has all the taste he needs.
Right now, though, he wouldn’t even let you finish the question before answering that it was Hans’ mouth on his own.
It would’ve been impossible, and quite unfair to ask who moved first, because once they locked eyes - Hans’ trailing softly from the couch to his chest, then up where he met Aldo’s - they both sprung into action, bodies moving on their own accord but in perfect sync, as if they’d agreed on it without telling their brains.
Aldo’s forgotten beer can now rolled gently on the wooden floor as his hands moved to support Hans’ waist and pull him close, while Hans’ hands flew right to Aldo’s handsome face, cupping his cheeks to better tilt his head into their kiss.
At first - like all first kisses - they were stiff and a bit awkward, the angle not comfortable for either of them, their tired bodies complaining at the sudden movement and twisted positions, but soon enough Hans melted into Aldo’s grasp with a long sigh which allowed Aldo to move his bottom towards the edge of the couch, hands caressing the expanse of Hans’ back and shoulders until one hand tentatively trailed up on his neck, making Hans shiver - god, Aldo was going to lose it - as it rose up and ran through his silver-blonde hair, making the smaller man gasp and break the kiss, panting slightly.
Aldo opened his eyes first, taking in the beautiful sight before him, even in the dim light that came from the screen: Hans was, for a lack of a better word, beautiful.
He kept petting his hair and Hans all but mewled, catching himself just in time and covering his mouth with one hand, shyly.
He slowly opened his eyes, keeping them half-lidded, and looked at Aldo.
“What does this mean, Aldo?”
His voice was so low Aldo almost leaned forwards to ask him to repeat it again.
“What do you want it to mean?”
Hans seemed to ponder for a moment before lifting one of Aldo’s hands and kissing his palm, eyes closed.
Aldo moved the hand that was previously in his hair to his neck, stopping to cup the side of it and thumb at Hans’ jugular, feeling his pulse beat faster than a bunny’s.
“I don’t want this to be a one-night-standing, Aldo.”
The Lieutenant grinned.
“It’s just ‘one-night-stand’, not ‘standing’, buttercup.”
Hans gasped and blushed brightly, covering his face with both hands.
“Oh, I- are you sure? Oh, I feel silly now….”
Aldo felt like his heart might explode - he was so cute.
Aldo gently took Hans’ hands in his and moved them away from his face, which Hans tried to hide by lowering his head.
Aldo, whose hands were busy, leaned forwards until their foreheads touched and he could feel the irregular patch of skin there.
Hans stilled and Aldo felt guilty, not much for the scar, but for possibly ruining a moment so tender and intimate.
Since he wasn’t sure on what would’ve been best, he just followed Hans’ movements.
After steadying his breath, though, the smaller man didn’t pull away.
“Does it still hurt?”
“….a little bit, but not that much. Mostly psychologically. I’ve made peace with it, not that I’m happy about it….but- but I understand why you did it. I mean- not really….but the feeling be- behind it, there, that I can….sort of, uh-“
Aldo gently brushed a stray strand of hair from Hans’ forehead and slowly, so slow that it felt like he was moving in slow-motion, he placed a soft kiss on the scars.
Hans stilled once more and stopped rambling in favor of quietly sniffling.
Aldo stayed there, unsure on what to do.
He had spent so much time thinking about that day, how disappointed he’d been that he hadn’t been able to kill him, of how angry he still was at Hans for what his actions caused, and how much Aldo hated him, that he’d never really wanted to know how he felt.
Hans wasn’t a saint, but neither was Aldo.
Their actions could be compared and come out as equal.
From Aldo’s perspective, Hans was an egotistical maniac.
From Hans’ perspective, Aldo was a ruthless murderer.
To the rest of the world….they were two damaged victims of a war fought by innocents and financed by tyrants, with countless lives wasted on both sides.
Aldo, in that moment, couldn’t find it in his heart to hate Hans, couldn’t really connect that SS uniform to the trembling, crying man in his arms, just like Hans couldn’t be scared of the Apache, when his hands were holding him with such care that he truly believed he was worth saving.
“You okay, buttercup?”
Hans sniffled and hid his face deeper into Aldo’s shoulder where it’d fallen minutes prior.
“I….I don’t really know, Aldo.”
“How can I make it better?”
Hans chuckled, but it wasn’t a happy laughter.
It was pained, like it came from somewhere inside of Hans that still felt guilty, that still dreaded facing the world, facing the truth.
“I don’t deserve that, you know very well….”
He choked up on a few words, but who cared at that point?
Aldo’s heart shrunk even more within his chest.
“You deserve to be loved, like anyone else. Even me.”
“You didn’t kill hundreds of jews, Aldo….”
“Neither did you!”
Hans pulled back and placed his hands on Aldo’s shoulders, sniffling once more.
Aldo noted, to his grimace, that Hans wouldn’t look at him.
“Please, Aldo. We both know what horrible death they all went towards, all because of me….”
“You think I’m a saint then, huh? That I haven’t killed my fair share of people, huh?”
Hans shook his head and murmured something but Aldo stopped him.
“I don’t give a damn how many people died because of you. I thought you didn’t deserve a nice future, a home, a partner…”
Hans broke again, sobbing and covering his mouth.
“….but now I see that I said those things because I was jealous that I would have never been able to get them either. I wanted to get past that goddamn war so badly, I just wanted it to end. And guess who did that, you beautiful idiot….”
Aldo gave a weak smile and caressed Hans’ face, wiping his tears with his thumbs.
One of Hans’ hands came up to wrap around his wrist, just holding him there.
“We may be assholes, murderers, and a lot more, but you ended the war, and I made sure that could happen. That don’t make us good, mind you….but what’s better- to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?”
Hans thought about it for a while before deciding.
He wiped his face with a sleeve and then sat there and looked around.
“I feel like such a child, crying at my age….”
“You ain’t stupid, buttercup. Anything but. The fact that you’re crying shows me how much you’ve changed, and that’s everything I need to know, Hans.”
He cupped the shorter man’s chin, tilting it up gently to get him to look at his face, but Hans put up a bit of a fight.
Aldo smiled and cooed at him.
“C’mooon Hans, look at me, sweetheart….”
Aldo thought that the pet names would’ve made him feel weird, but in reality they felt appropriate to the new found feelings that he’d discovered while spending time with Hans.
Hans’ heart flipped at the pet names and he caved in, stealing quick glances at Aldo.
They stayed like that, just sitting and looking at each other, fingers stroking what ever skin they could find, until Hans spoke up.
“Se potessi donarti la luna, affronterei l’universo per portartela.”
Aldo frowned and raised one of his eyebrows inquisitively.
“M’sorry, but as you probably noticed, I don’t really speak italian….”
Hans smiled and leaned on his chest, forcing him to lay back on the couch.
“It means ‘I love you’, Aldo.”
Aldo smiled, and felt like he was on top of the moon.