It was when their father had walked in on Han Seok, moving jaggedly on top of his younger brother, that the decision to send him away was made.
But not Han Seok.
For the sake of the business, for the sake of the image of the Jang family, Han Seok’s obsession had to be placed somewhere else, where the boy couldn’t see him.
So it was decided that he would go to Italy, a country that was as similar to Korea as a horse was to a Mini Cooper, but Han Seo dared not complain.
Not when it meant escaping that nightmare.
Seventeen years old, jaded and not speaking a lick of Italian, Jang Han Seo boarded a plane to Europe.
At first, it was difficult. His father had taken his phone, destroyed it and sent him a new one that had not even a single contact in it- not that he had any friends, but-
Well, it was disheartening to say the least. The only thing he had was his clothing, a tutor that he could barely communicate with and old cook book.
The thing was filled with old Italian recipes, desserts mostly, and Han Seo spent his days between his lessons baking everything he could try.
Though there wasn’t really anyone to appreciate it but himself, and his tutor, a nice man who would occasionally bring over his son - Luca, Han Seo remembered suddenly- over to keep him company.
The villa his father bought for him does nothing to keep him occupied, lonely and far too large for someone living alone.
A thought passed by his head once, and he wondered if his father hoped he would starve here, without anyone to care for him.
But it didn’t matter, Han Seo had always liked cooking anyway. Away from the restricted diets and tailored meals.
It’s a year later while he’s trying his best to make a sauce that isn’t spicy- Luca never could handle the heat-, the TV playing something in Italian he doesn’t care to try to understand, when he hears a thump outside his door.
The sound had him pausing.
He shifted on his feet for a moment, trying to decide if he should check it or not.
His eyes lingered on the pasta sauce for a moment, before he moved to turn the heat all the way down.
The boy didn’t bother untying his apron, not when he would be going right back to the kitchen anyway, and it appeared to be a good choice.
Because when he opens the door a man drops into his arms and smears the thing with blood.
His thoughts were interrupted by a wheeze and he makes the quick decision that the injured man should probably be laid down somewhere.
Han Seo did his best to lay him on the floor gently, and quickly turned back into the hallway.
His sock covered feet slapped against the floor as he ran into his bedroom, making a B-line for his first aid kit.
He almost took a second to admire how long it’s been since he’s had to use it, but then he remembered.
He had a man bleeding on his living room floor.
Han Seo swallowed his fear, the man was injured, and Han Seo would appreciate it someone would help him if he was bleeding out.
He skidded into the living room, a wet towel, a bowl of water and his kit in hand.
The man had barely acknowledged that Han Seo was there, though, when he looked at the bullet wound- honestly, he was starting to wonder if he should have let this man into his home- on his side, he guessed he might not be able to.
Thankfully, Han Seo mused, the man had stopped the bleeding fairly well, which made his job so much easier.
He took care in washing the wound, apologizing when the man flinched every time he passed the towel over it, though he doubted the man would understand Korean anyway.
Han Seo stitched the wound carefully, thanking the universe Han Seok had cut him enough to know how to do this properly, and wrapped the man up.
Peering down at the man now, all the dirt and grime washed carefully from his face, he didn’t look to be much older than himself.
Though, if Han Seo didn’t do this properly, he wouldn’t live to be much older than himself either.
He winced at the thought.
“I should, put him in bed or something.” He mumbled to himself.
The feat proved to be easier said than done, at least when the other party is barely awake enough to assist you.
Han Seo struggled to a guest room, not that there was any shortage of rooms in this house, and tried his best to plop the man gently into the bed.
For a moment he considered that the sheets would most definitely be stained after this. He shrugged.
It wasn’t as if he ever had guests.
As he watched the young man breathe, he sincerely hoped that he would make it through the night, at least until he could tell him his story.
Han Seo ends up staying by the man’s side all night.
He tossed and turned in his own bed, straining his ear for every little noise the man made, just in case he needed assistance.
It got to the point where he simply decided it would be better to be next to him, than miss his cue for help.
At some point, around 1:00 AM, the mans breathing had evened out and he slept peacefully. Han Seo had to change his bandages twice during the night, before passing out at the edge of the bed.
When he opens his eyes, it’s to confused brown eyes staring back at him.
He jumped slightly, stumbling out of his chair to the side table to grab breakfast- a simple couple of pastries, and some hot coffee. One of the many things he struggled to get used to while in Italy.
Turning around, he placed the tray on the chair he was just seated on and padded over to the man in the bed.
The man had clearly attempted to sit up on his own, if the clumsily rearranged pillows were any indication.
“Here, let me.” The man stared at him wearily, but allowed Han Seo to fluff his pillows to a comfortable position before leaning back.
The boy quickly placed the tray on his lap as soon as he was settled.
“ Grazie.” The man mumbled, less than politely, chewing absentmindedly on the baked bread as he stared at Han Seo directly.
Han Seo wanted so badly to ask what had happened to the man, but if there was anything he learned during his 4 year stay with his father, it was etiquette.
So he waited, patiently, while the man finished his breakfast, down to the last drop of his caffè latte, to ask him.
“So, um,” He moved closer to the man in the bed, “would you mind telling me...how you got here?”
The man stared at him for a moment, before setting the cup down in the tray. He wiped his mouth gently with a napkin, and Han Seo could only admire how dignified the man looked.
“I was shot.” The man hummed, placing a hand on his wound. His eyes peered up at Han Seo as if assessing him, “Thank you for the bandages...and the breakfast. It was greatly appreciated.”
The younger flushed, stuttering out an excuse before taking the tray and whisking himself out of the bedroom.
He placed the dishes in the sink, and washed them just as fast.
Han Seo shook his head, he couldn’t believe he just got flustered, over this strange man’s simple thank you.
He groaned at his own behaviour. Hand slapping his forehead when he realized that the man had barely answered his question either.
Han Seo knew that he was shot, he was the one that stitched him up after all.
After Han Seo cleaned the dishes, and the adjacent area, and washed the entire bathroom on the first floor, he finally gained the courage to go back to the room.
He opened the door slowly, poking his head in before walking in completely.
The man stared at him, amused, an eye brow raised at his caution.
Han Seo cleared his throat.
“I know that you were shot, I would like to know why and why you’re, well, here?”
The demand came out slightly less, demanding, than he had intended but it seemed to do the trick as the other sighed gently.
“I was shot by some bad men, which I can’t explain at the moment, and I am here because it was the farthest from the where I was shot.”
The man’s voice melted like butter against his ears and Han Seo found himself getting lost in his words.
He nodded hesitantly, “So, will you stay until the bad men go away?”
The man, tilted his head the boy, “Are you offering me a place to stay? Without even knowing my name?”
Han Seo fell forward at the accusatory tone, clumsily trying to explain that he was just trying to help before he caught the tiny smile on the older’s face.
Han Seo laughed slightly, “I guess I am, but,” he looked up hopefully, “I would like it if you did tell me your name. So I don’t have to keep referring to you as ‘the man’ in my head.”
The man- well, there he went again- gave him a surprisingly sweet smile, “Vincenzo. My name is Vincenzo, sweet stranger.”
Han Seo gaped, face flushing down to his neck and he giggled slightly.
“M-my name is Han Seo.”
The two ended up spending the weekend together. Han Seo had attempted several times to convince Vincenzo, who he found out was only a couple years older than he was, to go the hospital.
He was denied every time and eventually Han Seo decided that it would be best for him to stay with him until his wound was sufficiently healed.
The Italian was mysterious, but not threatening. He kept details out of it, such as his last name and where exactly he lived, but they told each other about their lives.
Han Seo told him about his father sending him to live in Italy because of his cruel brother, though he didn’t mention how cruel exactly.
And in return Vincenzo told Han Seo about the fact that he was adopted by a man in Italy from Korea when he was a young boy.
The reveal had Han Seo asking if he could call him Hyung, only to be turned down immediately.
Though, Vincenzo crumbled fairly quickly at the look of disappointment on his face.
He also learned that though Vincenzo seemed incredibly dignified and perfect, the man had no talent for baking.
“Hyung,” At his giggles the Italian shot him a glare that would’ve have been threatening if he wasn’t covered in muffin batter, “you’re supposed to beat the mixture on low.”
Vincenzo harrumphed, and pouted slightly at the batter, as if it had attacked him. He placed his hand back on the bowl, and reached around the counter to plug the mixer back in, staring cautiously at the machine as it starting spinning, slowly this time.
Han Seo smiled. If it weren’t for the bandages wrapped around his torso, he would have forgotten that the man was shot just days before.
The thought brought a frown to his face and he shook the thought away.
He helped the man scoop batter into the muffins cups, trying his best to keep his face straight when Vincenzo clumsily poured the batter onto the counter.
The older’s face was flushed so red he didn’t have the the heart to laugh at him for it.
Later that afternoon as the two sat on the couch, pretending to watch a sitcom but really poking fun at each other, Han Seo hears the phone ring.
He frowned at the sound, and Vincenzo leaned back with a gesture to go answer it.
The teen untangled their legs carefully, and catches the phone off the hook.
The line lagged for a moment before a gravelly voice spoke up, “ How are you doing, Han Seo? ”
He felt his lip tug in irritation, but schooled his face into a calm, not that the man could see him, “I’m doing well, father.”
At the mention of his father, Han Seo could see Vincenzo perk up, leaning forward now, so much so that Han Seo was tempted to remind him not to reopen his stitches.
The business man hummed, “ Good, I was told by the gardener that there was a ruckus not far from the house. I assume that there haven’t been any issues? "
The younger’s eyes darted to where Vincenzo was sitting on the couch, head tilted curiously, and he shakes his head.
Han Seo wasn’t sure why he found himself lying when he confirmed to his father that, no there’s nothing out of the ordinary , but the smile Vincenzo sends him is well worth it.
The weekday rolled around before either of them could see it coming, and Han Seo felt like the two had gotten exponentially closer.
He could only assume so, really, by the way the injured man had nuzzled his head into his shoulders that morning while he prepared breakfast.
Han Seo turned around to put the man back into his chair several times, only to give up when he’d feel a pair of sleepy arms wrap around his middle again.
“Ah, hyung, my tutor is going to come over soon. So I’m going to have to be in the office for a couple of hours today.”
The older man stiffened slightly, but a gave a relaxed hum.
Han Seo nodded to himself, “I’m only telling you in case you don’t feel like seeing strangers today. I know I don’t like seeing strangers when I’m sick.”
Vincenzo laughed slightly at the use of the word, sick, as if he didn’t have a bullet hole in his side, but nodded regardless.
“I’ll be fine Han Seo.”
A knock at the door interrupted their conversation and the younger man unhooked himself from Vincenzo to go answer it.
He gave the older man one last look over his shoulder, to give him the chance to go back to his room, before he disappeared down the hall.
Han Seo opened the door to Alphonse and Luca’s smiling faces and he felt his heart warm a bit.
He had never truly appreciated learning under his father, always worried about making mistakes and disappointing him, but Alphonse never made him feel like he was stupid.
The tutor ruffled his hair gently, earning a beam from the teenager as he stepped aside to let the two in.
“Ah, I have a guest today, but don’t mind him he doesn’t really do much. He might be in his room already, actually.”
The three walked into the room, and Han Seo greeted Vincenzo cheerfully.
He was about to say something else when he hears someone take in a shuddering breath, he whipped around to see Luca and Alphonse bowing their heads to Vincenzo.
Han Seo frowned at the sight, eyes catching Vincenzo’s, who stared at him with an almost cold air.
“Consigliere.” The two mumbled, and only at Vincenzo’s hum did they rise again.
Han Seo made a confused noise at the title, and as if they finally remembered that he was there, Luca pulls him to his side.
“I’m sorry Consigliere, Han Seo does not know the order of the Cassano family yet. Please forgive his ignorance.”
The silence penetrated the air, and Han Seo shivered slightly.
Vincenzo held his gaze. Han Seo thought he looked a lot more regal like this, compared to when he’s covered in unbaked desserts.
A member of the mafia, he thought to himself, he supposed it would explain the bullet wound, the secrecy.
He’s brought of out his thoughts by Vincenzo sighing, hopping off of the bar stool and making a B-line towards the front door.
Han Seo nearly tripped over himself to follow him, calling his name, much to the absolute horror of his tutor.
The man doesn’t stop however, not until he’s already on the front lawn and Han Seo finally managed to catch an arm in his.
Vincenzo ripped it away harshly though, and Han Seo could see the wince the movement brings.
The rain was starting, and Han Seo couldn’t help but think it was terribly ironic for a moment such as this.
A pout settled on his lips.
“Hyung, you’re going to rip open your-“
“Go back inside, Han Seo.”
The tone took the teen for surprise. He searched Vincenzo’s eyes for a moment, and seeing no hostility he approached again.
“Why would I leave you out here, Hyung?” He grabbed Vincenzo’s hands again, and the older man’s face pinched in frustration, but he allowed the younger to drag him back to the terrace anyway.
Han Seo was absentmindedly aware that Alphonse was probably going nuts right about then, but he planted his butt down on the cool concrete and gestured for Vincenzo to do the same.
When he doesn’t immediately, the younger peers up at him, and the mafioso grunts.
“Why are you upset at me, Hyung?” The question came with such innocence that it made Vincenzo look away.
“I’m not angry-,” He cut himself off.
Vincenzo looked at Han Seo, and Han Seo looked back. His face was open, and he could tell that it disarmed the older man, because he wrapped a hesitant arm around the younger.
“I’m not angry, it’s just,” Han Seo sees his eyes trail elsewhere, “aren’t you afraid?”
The question took him off guard for a moment, and he looked at Vincenzo incredulously, then scoffed.
The sound had Vincenzo looking at him again, and Han Seo full on laughed at the confusion of his face. He grabbed his hands, a smile pulling at his cheeks.
“ Hyung,” He giggles, “I lived with the devil for 4 years, I’ve dealt with too many real monsters to be scared of a man who helps me bake muffins on a Sunday afternoon.”
A smile spreads over Vincenzo’s face at the confession, and he moves his face to hide it.
“I’m consigliere, Han Seo. You don’t get there without blood on your hands.”
Han Seo hummed, “Have you ever beat a man to death with a hockey stick?”
Vincenzo shoots him a look, disturbed, and Han Seo raises his eyebrows as if to say, I told you so.
“What kind of household did you live in?”
“I told you,” Han Seo patted his shoulder, “I lived with the devil. Anything else pales in comparison.”
Vincenzo pulled him in, tucked close under his side, as if to protect him, and Han Seo snuggled in closer.
The two watched the rain as it falls, sharing in each other’s company, and the moment is nice, until Alphonse forgets his fear and starts tugging both of them back in before they catch a cold.
Vincenzo leaves one day, on a sunny afternoon and Han Seo is sad to see him go. The man leaves without a word, just a small kiss to his forehead and a smile that promises a return.
That return, takes months.
In the mean time, Han Seo had finally become completely fluent in Italian. So fluent that he hadn’t truly needed Alphonse to teach him anymore.
That realization eats at Han Seo. Alphonse is there because he’s paid to be there, to teach Han Seo the language and about Italian culture.
It would take a fool to mistake him as a novice at this point.
So, he decided, he would just have to teach them Korean. It was a perfect plan, truly, until he brought it up to Luca.
The older boy gave Han Seo a sad look at the suggestion, while his father gaped.
“Han Seo...” The younger felt the smile slipping from his face.
And for the first time in 2 years, he truly feels stupid.
He laughed off the suggestion quietly, as he tried to quell the burning shame resting on his chest.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me.”
He’s suddenly pulled into a hug and he feels his throat close at the feeling.
“Han Seo,” Alphonse pulled back to stare into the boys eyes, “I don’t have to teach you something, to stay in your company.”
The look on the older mans face demanded a response and he nodded sharply, the heels of his hands coming up to rub at his eyes.
“You are like a son to me, I’ve spent the better part of 3 years taking care of you. Nothing could make me just, “ Alphonse gestured wildly, “up and abandon you.”
He pulled the boy, just 20, and just so broken, to his chest, and motioned for his son to come over as well.
The two held Han Seo through his tears, the force of them giving the poor boy a headache strong enough that Alphonse gives him an aspirin and tucks him into bed.
He’s just shutting the door behind him, when he comes face to face with Vincenzo.
The consigliere looked him up and down. A shiver passed through him at the stare, calculated and withdrawn.
“What are you doing, Vaquer?” The tone was reminiscent of a lion circling its prey.
The tutor swallowed, “I’ve put Han Seo to bed, consigliere.”
The man hums, “And why,” He advanced, “did he need to be put to bed?”
Alphonse could see Luca out of the corner of his eye. The boy looked seconds away from dashing in front of him.
“Han Seo was upset,” The glint in the consigliere’s eyes sharpened, “b-but it was a misunderstanding. He had a headache so I gave him an aspirin so he could sleep it off.”
Vincenzo hummed at the explanation. His eyes trailed over the door and he nodded to himself.
“You may leave.”
Luca opened his mouth to say something, but glance from the corner of Vincenzo’s eye is enough to have him rethink his choices.
The two nodded their respect, before making their leave and Vincenzo was left to stand next to the door.
He brought his hand up to trace over the intricate patterns carved in to the wood. This door, he thinks to himself, is the only thing that separates himself and Han Seo.
A smile made it’s way onto his lips. He tugged the door open.
There’s not much inside, as if the room itself was nearly abandoned.
Vincenzo looked around the spacious room, mostly white and filled with small plants and herbs. A stack of cookbooks lay scattered on his desk, alongside a pair of reading glasses.
He picked them up gently, and tried to picture Han Seo wearing them.
His eyes follow the trail of things, a pair of bear slippers, a mismatched sock, an unopened candy bar, to the lump currently swaddled in blankets on the bed.
Vincenzo approached slowly, watching the moonlight carve out Han Seo’s features from darkness.
He sits delicately on the edge of the bed.
“Hyung?” A small voice reaches out.
He rested a hand on the boy’s cheek, “I heard you were upset today.”
Even sleep induced delirium couldn’t erase the embarrassment of today’s debacle from his mind. Han Seo pulled the blanket over his head at the question.
“I wasn’t...upset, I was just making a suggestion.”
Vincenzo smiled, peeling the blanket away from his face, “Is that so?”
The younger nodded feverishly. His face burned, and he stared resolutely at the windowsill.
“And,” Vincenzo leaned in, “what was your suggestion?”
The younger glanced at him, a pout formed slowly onto his lips.
“I wanted to teach Alphonse and Luca to speak Korean.”
“So they would stay with you.”
Han Seo choked at the frankness of the statement. The earlier embarrassment returned, he couldn’t believe he was so easy to read.
A smooth chuckle graced his ears, and suddenly there was a nose in the juncture of his neck, trailing its cool tip down to his collarbones.
“They won’t leave you, Han Seo. I’ll be sure of it.”
He wanted to ask, to question Vincenzo on what that means, and if it includes him, but he doesn’t.
He doesn’t have to, because Vincenzo presses his lips to his, gently, and, well, that’s all the answers he needs.
Over the next couple of months, Han Seo learns a lot about Vincenzo. Like for one, the fact that his brother just keeps trying to kill him.
Han Seo laughed a little bit when he thought about it one night, at least they had something in common.
It’s a little less funny, when Paolo sends an assassin to their bedroom.
Vincenzo was wrapped around Han Seo when it happened, the older man mouthing silent I love you’s into his skin under the dim moonlight.
The assassin barely had the time to jump over the terrace walls before he was shot down by the consigliere’s quick hands.
Han Seo hid his face in Vincenzo’s shoulder the moment he heard the pistol come out, squeezing his eyes shut to avoid the sight of any bloodshed. He stays that way, even as the guards- that Vincenzo thankfully convinced him to get- drag the body away.
Reasonably enough, the mood is ruined, and though he could feel Vincenzo, pressed hard against him, the older man simply held him through his tremors, until he fell asleep.
That night, was the first night, in a trench of battles that would proclaim Vincenzo as the leader of the Italian mafia.
And when Paolo threatens to rip Han Seo from his side, and parade him around as his prize, Vincenzo kills him in cold blood. As a lesson learned, that he would not have mercy as the new head.
But mostly importantly, that would set forth the warning, that anyone who dared to covet what they couldn’t possibly dream of having, would fall at the hands of the new Don.