“That poor bastard is gonna end up like barbecue. Just come back to bed Toni.”
“Not now Lovi…I have to at least try.”
Lovino Vargas was a spoiled Italian man who always managed to have his way. Whenever Antonio denied him what he wanted, there was sure for a temper tantrum to ensue until he got exactly what he wanted. Antonio could feel the pressure building hotter than oil sizzling in a frying pan. This was the fifth time that Lovino had asked him to stop his paperwork on Arthur’s case and come to bed and he could just smell the trouble ready to come if he didn’t finish up soon.
Growling slowly, Lovino scuttled forward and reached out with his leg, pressing his foot against the back of Antonio’s head. “I’m losing my patience man…” he groaned. “I’m giving you 5 minutes. Every minute after that is gonna be one day where you’re going to have to make love with your mano solo.” He said with a mischievous grin. “No VargASSfor you.”
Antonio weeped internally, trying to write as fast as he could with Lovino bouncing his leg on the back of his head. He really was masochistic to be in love with such a man but then again, he was masochistic to be friends with someone as self destructive as Arthur as well. Perhaps he found himself simply being attracted to stressful people and the drama they brought or, more likely, he was simply just a pendejo.
Just then, the house phone rang. Right when Antonio glanced at it in consideration, Lovino darted forward to snatch it right up. “No.” He said, his voice sounding almost like a warning. “I got this, you hurry the hell up.”
“Are you feeling lonely?” asked Antonio with a gentle smile.
Lovino scowled and laid back on the bed, ignoring Antonio to give him a taste of his own foul medicine. “Yo, Wassup? Whattaya want?” he barked into the phone.
"Oh! Hello Lovino! Aw you sound so cranky, how adorable! Don’t tell me Antonio isn’t spoiling you like he should?” purred the voice on the other end. Lovino’s eyes widened and he sat up straighter, grinning.
“Shit, Francis!” he exclaimed. “Oh damn, tell me about it, this evil bastard is letting me freeze to death on this bed all alone.” Antonio leaned back and reached for the phone and Lovino sprang back with a hiss, holding it close to his chest. “Antonio, mind your fucking business and get back to work.
“Lovino come on I-”
“No! Shut the hell up and go do your crap since it’s so important right?” said Lovino with a twisted, triumphant smirk.
Francis couldn’t help but chuckle at the commotion he heard going on on the other side of the phone. “Well, actually Lovino, after we’re done catching up it would be wonderful if I could talk to Antonio.”
“Sure, but he’s busy right now.” Said Lovino without missing a beat. Now he had to keep Antonio at bay by shoving his foot in the other’s face. “Ooh, now you wanna come here huh? Nnngh keep away!” he whined, gasping in effort. He pressed the phone to his ear again. “He’s doing paperwork for that jackass Arthur, but you can tell me whatever the hell is going on right now.”
Francis wanted to redirect that question right back to Lovino. He could only imagine how “busy” Antonio was right now, since he was struggling for a chance to talk to Francis right away. Francis felt almost guilty that he was taking time away from Arthur’s case just because he wanted to have a little chat with his long-time friend. The problem with Antonio was that he cared too much. The Spanish man’s passion was a gift and a curse.
Francis took a deep breath that sounded more like a forlorn sigh. “Well it’s…I’m not even sure where to begin…” Lovino considered Francis for a moment, clicking his tongue.
“Aaah….okay, here’s what I’m gonna- AAAAAh Are you licking me? Fuck! You nasty fucker! “ There was a thunk as the phone was dropped and all Francis could hear was mumbled incoherent yelling in Spanish and Italian.
Finally, Francis heard panting on the other end and an exasperated “Hola”. He smiled, he could only imagine how hard Antonio had to fight to gain control of the phone. “Hey Francis, Can you hear me? I put you on speaker.”
“Mmhm, I can hear you fine.” Said Francis softly.
“How you doing, Francis?” asked Antonio earnestly.
Francis smiled awkwardly, switching the phone from one ear to the other to get more comfortable. “Aah, well I’m-…” he stammered, not liking the uncertainty that was obvious in his voice.
Lovino snickered in the background. “It’s that bad ah?” he interjected.
“Ooh- no not bad it’s-”
“It’s so bad, it’s like hell unleashed up in that shit right?’
“And imagine, they’re probably still putting on a show to impress you or something, you probably haven’t seen any of the real fury yet.”
“Oh man, tell me, what’s worse? Living in the street or living with that-”
“CARAMBA Lovino!” snapped Antonio. “Are you going to let the man talk?”
Lovino snorted and rolled his eyes, granting that Antonio did have a point without giving him the credit. “Shiiiit fine. Okay Francis, start at the beginning, no no. What’s going on with you and Arthur? Did you give him a good bitch smack yet? I keep telling Toni he needs one.”
“That, I don’t argue with you.” Added Antonio.
Francis paused in case they were going to start rioting with each other again. He bit his lip, trying to think of a delicate way to put it without outright lying. “No…nothing like that but I can admit it’s rather hard for him to deal with.” Said Francis. “He did end up overdoing it again.”
Antonio pounded his fist against the wall and snarled in disgust, ruffling his hands into his hair. “Why do I bother!” he exclaimed with frustration.
“No no no no!” said Francis quickly. “Antonio I don’t think that he really got ah…wasted wasted. I think he only had about…one beer and a half? I think if I wasn’t here he would have downed a whole six pack, because I had to keep him out of the refrigerator so much. I just didn’t expect him to get drunk so quickly.”
“That bitch is lighter than cotton.” Said Lovino with a nod. “But nah that’s actually sorta better than how much he normally pushes it. I mean I barely get buzzed with two but whatever.”
Antonio shook his head. “You know, I just don’t understand…”
“That’s right, it’s not so simple Antonio.” Said Francis with a frown. “You’re too busy thinking in law again.”
“I have to.” Said Antonio. “If I don’t he’s doomed.” Antonio shook his head as well. “I don’t have time to be his friend and his lawyer at the same time.”
“Easy man…” said Lovino gently, rubbing Antonio’s arm. “Don’t stress out so much.”
“I’m sorry.” Said Francis weakly. “I didn’t mean anything by that.”
“It’s cool.” Said Lovino. “Listen, just let him finish Arthur’s papers okay? What you think about his kids? Alfred gave you a bunch of shit right?”
“Why does everyone keep acting like he’s some sort of daredevil? They both seem sweet.” Said Francis in confusion.
“Eh, those kids are both weird if you ask me.” Said Lovino. “Alfred really is a fat ass, but it’s kinda cute you know? One time Antonio brought some leftovers to their house and he called begging for me to make more.” Bragged Lovino, snickering.
“But you don’t think he’s…too big do you?” asked Francis nervously.
“I mean he’s definitely no model.” Snorted Lovino with a shrug. “Yeah he could do good with a summer without ice cream, know what I mean?”
“Well, what about Matthew? He seems to have a really strange attachment to that water bottle and half the time it’s almost as though he’s not on this planet.”
“Oh, well he’s the kinda kid to blend in with the wallpaper, so I dunno. But I heard he’s some kinda smart guy. Maybe he’s one of those artsy types.”
“Hmm?” Francis lit up a bit. “I never thought to ask either of them about that. I certainly hope so.”
“Ahh, okay I’m done.” Said Antonio at last a sigh escaping from him as he arranged the papers into a folder, making sure everything was in order before standing up. “Gimme the phone.” He said, shedding his shirt and throwing it to the floor, starting to take off his pants to get comfortable for bed. Lovino smirked at Antonio for a moment, his eyes scanning and going down, staring hungrily at that form but still keeping the phone to his pants. With a sigh, Antonio kicked off his pants and crawled forward, socks and underwear still on. “Lovi…come on…”
Lovino snickered and tried to roll away, but shrieked with laughter when Antonio hooked an arm around his waist and dragged him close. “Noooooo, you stupid bastard!” he whined gleefully as he was spooned against his lover’s chest. Antonio snatched the phone up from him while he was distracted, resting his head on Lovino’s shoulder.
“Okay, I’m here.” He said with a chuckle as Lovino squirmed against him, entangling their legs together. “So, How are you doing Francis?”
Francis smiled thinly. He could just feel the heaps of love and affection being shared on the other end, the soft coos from Lovino and the bubbly happiness in Antonio’s voice. Francis suddenly felt as though an icy shawl was being draped around him as his stomach sank lower and lower in desolate longing. He nodded gently. “I’m fine.” He said quietly. “I…really want to thank you for doing this for me.”
“Si.” Replied Antonio immediately. “Anything to get you back on your feet. But tell me what’s wrong?”
Francis was unable to keep this stone wall as absolute as it was with Arthur. He knew Antonio for far too long in that respect. Antonio had been the pole that Francis was able to grab onto when the winds of turmoil and suffering threatened to toss him into the nothingness. Antonio had been the life preserver that threw himself to Francis when he was in peril. For Francis to keep a secret from Antonio: feelings, dreams, desires, would be a crime that he would be unable to repent for no matter how many good deeds he did. Yet his voice wouldn’t bubble out from his throat, as though his lungs had refused to stop working at this very moment of truth. He didn’t know where to start.
“You’re not feeling alone anymore are you?” asked Antonio.
Francis was vaguely reminded of Arthur’s actions from earlier and how he had tried to play a guessing game to find out what was wrong with Francis. He felt his face heat up as he swallowed. “Ah, No…” he said softly.
“I know you can do this.” Said Antonio. “Especially there, Princess Street is such a good neighborhood, much better than Canal I was always so worried about you.”
“Ugh. I was fine.” Huffed Francis in annoyance. “Even if someone did try to share their love with me, my pencils are always nice and sharp.”
“Listen, at least you don’t have to worry about something like that anymore at all right?” said Antonio. “If anyone can help my friend, it’s you. I believe in you Francis. I think you can be the best thing to happen to Arthur. You know that right? You’re like a…a…what do you call it? Like a Saint. Saint Francis. A guardian angel.”
Francis couldn’t help but laugh weakly. “Really? An Angel on Princess Street? That sound’s like last minute title for some kid’s tearjerker novel.”
“Well, it’s the best story you’re writing.” Encouraged Antonio. “And I know it’s going to have a happy ending right? I want you to do whatever you can to get Arthur back to his senses. I think he’s gone loca without his love, but I think…”
“His wife left him, didn’t she?” asked Francis. “I mean…was he always like this?”
“Oh no no no no, nothing like this.” Said Antonio, shifting to get a better grip on hugging Lovino, who was dozing lightly in his arms. Antonio lowered his voice so as to not disturb the other. “Arthur was so much nicer. He was the best gentleman you could know. He was great with me, with his kids. And Hana, his wife. She was such a good woman.”
“It sounds like she meant the world to him.” Said Francis with a sigh.
“She was his whole universe.” Agreed Antonio. “He even bought a house in America so they could have their family together. They came back here….I think a year before Hana left. Then…everything just changed and everyone changed. Arthur still won’t tell me the details, just that she took off and left them. And all she left behind was a note. And he’s so angry, it’s scary. Like a witch’s wrath.”
Francis nodded. “He’s angry…but so sad.”
“Si.” Said Antonio. “Like you were.”
Francis was quiet for a moment, before he echoed. “Like I am.”
“But it’s going to change for both of you, I trust you.”
Francis took a deep breath. “I already feel so attached to Alfred and Matthew and…well, even if he is an idiot, I’m worried about Arthur.”
“You’re so kind.” Said Antonio in praise.
“I think…” said Francis. “I’m going to try my hardest to fix this mess.”
“I know how much this means to you.” Said Antonio.
“I can’t…let this happen again. I can let these poor kids end up like me.” Said Francis shakily.
“Sssshhh….” Cooed Antonio.” Go and make miracles, Angel.”