No. No. No. This is all wrong.
Rewind. Reshoot. As a matter of fact, let's rewrite their whole history from the moment Nico killed his mother. Accidentally, of course, but it doesn't change the fact that she died because of him. His parents had tried to persuade him that it must have been a coincidence, that it had nothing to do with his 'condition', but it did happen on the same day he revived his cat so... He had been been glad they moved away a week later, even though he'd never been able to forget Martino's teary face - not that he was faring much better - and bone crushing hug when they parted ways.
"We'll see each other again, right? This is not a goodbye." He had asked, sniffling and trying as hard as he could to put on a brave face for Nico's sake. Marti knew he didn't like to see him sad, and shared the sentiment.
"Nope, it's not. It will never be, as long we keep these on." He had said, as he took two bracelets he had made out of the strongest red thread he could find, and placed one around his best friend's wrist. Waiting until Martino had done the same, before he'd walked back to his parents and left Rome for more than a decade.
He was supposed to walk into this new bakery that had just opened, asking for recommendation on which pie he should choose. Nico would recognise him straight away. Probably Marti would too, but neither of them was going to mention it... Silently challenging the other, to see who would break first. Martino would be the first customer to actually go for his experiment of the week, instead of being persuaded by Maddi that mango and passion fruit would be a much better choice. Or strawberry. Raspberry. Apricot. Apple, if he's an old fashioned soul. Anything other than whatever Niccolò was suggesting, really.
She wouldn't get to mumble "I'll never understand why you'd want customers to think you can't cook...", with Marti. He'd take a bite, pretend to like it and hoping that the taste would improve as he went on. Niccolò would be take pity on him, then, and offer his long-lost friend a refund or a free slice from you each pie in the shop. So that Martino would already know what's his favourite, next time.
They were supposed to take that chance to reconnect, and Nico would have found out if his childhood crush had always been one-sided or not.
Their reunion shouldn't have happened in a morgue, while Niccolò was working on a case with Luai. Who was now a homicide detective, specialised in hate crimes. He was pretty sure that his victim had been killed by homophobes, but with no witnesses he had hoped that Nico could get help him get something from the guy himself.
"Well, thank you for everything. I know it must have unpleasant to dig up those memories. Now that I've got a lead, I promise I won't rest until they will all get to pay for what they've done to you..." Luai had said, solemnly. His usual prompt for Nico to step in, and send the dead back to their eternal sleep.
"Ni? Is that you? Guess our good luck charm did work out, after all." Marti smiled up at him, sitting up to show him the red thread he had tattooed on his ankle. "I didn't feel right to wear it around my wrist, after watching Red Bracelets, you know... Plus, the yarn was breaking, so... Where's yours?"
"Nico? I'm sorry this is your Martino, but..." Luai had insisted, growing frantic. It was understandable. Nico had been playing with fire, with his recklessness and his refusal to lay a finger on Marti. "I can't, Lu. I am sorry. Please, forgive me. Both of you."
Unexpectedly, they did.
Luai came looking for him, that same evening, and told Niccolò that he couldn't resent him for what went down in that morgue. He was well aware of how much Martino meant to Nico, and it was to be expected that he'd rather ran away than lose him forever. Even if that meant putting his life at risk.
Marti, back then, thought he was guilty of keeping only a piece of the red thread, in his wallet. Next to the condoms. Not exactly the most romantic place, was it?
Is Martino going be as understanding, now that he has found out he had been lied to for years?
Ever since his mother had that stroke?
It's hard to say.
"I didn't think you'd heard." He hadn't known Martino had been standing there, outside Luai's office, listening to this latter rant about Nico's need to come clean with the man he loved. He couldn't have him thinking that he had done something wrong, to justify his inability to touch him.
"I heard enough." Enough for him to pretend he wasn't home, to turn down his calls. It had took being invited to the party of a mutual friend - Sana's - and locked into a room by their friends, to get a shot at asking for forgiveness.
"What exactly did you hear?" Nico writes on a page he's just tore out of a notebook, sure that all of those busybodies are out there eavesdropping on their conversation.
"That you killed my mother to save your cat, apparently... And then made someone pay with their life to bring me back. I was never in a witness protection program, was I? It was just a ruse to keep me out of sight until you guys had something else to pin on those fuckers who had killed me. Then you made sure nobody knew I was dead. Am I right?" Marti writes back, opting for crumple the sheet into a paper ball rather than opting for an airplane like Nico did.
"Marti, I am so-" He pleads, on the verge of breaking down and cry.
"Ni, please. Just tell me if I'm right." Martino sighs, sounding weary rather than mad.
They stare at each other, unsure of what their next move should be.
It's Martino who takes the matter into his own hands, this time, and sends a dozen texts to Nico's prehistoric phone.
I wish I could hate you, that I could tell you that I want you out of my life...
and instead, despite of it all, I still can't see a future without you in it.
I mean, I'm pretty sure you didn't know what would happen to my mom...
and we can't even know for sure it's really connected to that, with all the living things that die everyday.
I talked to Luai, and I agree with him when he says that your gift must be linked to the law of mutual exchange, or something like that.
and well, I like to think that my mom's life was worth a bit more than your pet's. No offense.
It still means that someone took my place, and I'll have to live with that... But if it were me, I would have done the same.
I wouldn't have left you there, if I had the power to bring you back.
"I don't even care that I'll never get to hold your hand without wearing gloves, or that we'll have to come up with creative ways to be together. And since none of this is going to make sense to ALL YOU PEOPLE STILL EAVESDROPPING, I want you to hear it, Ni. Never lie to me, never hide anything from me again... and I guess we're good." Marti whispers, placing the sheet of a paper in front of their lips and then leaning in to kiss him.
Is the universe on Nico's side, for once? Even though he doesn't deserve it at all?
He laughs through the tears, hit by the irony of the situation. He sure isn't going to question it.
Marti still wants to be with him, and nothing else matters.