He was sixteen when he first met him.
Antonio would never forget the moment when he first laid eyes on him. His amber orbs, his dark brown hair, that frown and visible pout that proved to him that he didn't want to be here. But of course, moving to a new area was a little daunting; Antonio knew that from personal experience. He had moved to California from Spain a year before and if he was going to be honest, it took him a while to adjust and get used to the change. It was scary at first, but his two best friends- Gilbert and Francis- helped him through it. He met them at school and ever since they had been inseparable and that first day they had acted like they had known each other for years.
And that was why Antonio was now walking across the street to the house opposite his own with a bright smile. It was always good to have a friend, right? He approached the other brunette and extended his hand, that smile always remaining and he said, "Hola! I'm Antonio! I live across the street. Welcome to the neighbourhood!"
The other male looked at him with a raised eyebrow, as though he were questioning his kindness. Instead of accepting the offered hand, he crossed his arms over his chest with a huff and turned away. "Whatever..."
Antonio blinked and allowed his hand to fall to his side. Well... that was certainly unexpected... but he wasn't going to give up yet! His smile remained bright and the determination in his eyes never once faltered. He moved forward a little, so he could see the other male better and he continued to speak. "So, where are you from?"
The male glanced at him again, as though he were shocked that the Spaniard hadn't left yet. Antonio's smile remained and he continued to wait patiently for the answer.
"Wh-why should I tell you? Bastard!" the slightly smaller brunette demanded and huffed once again, muttering curses under his breath. Antonio blinked again; he hadn't expected the other to be so rude... but he didn't want to give up.
Something told him that he had to be his friend and he wouldn't give up until that was accomplished.
"Because I'm curious!" Antonio said brightly and moved a bit closer, "So are you going to tell me because I don't recognise your accent."
"Fine, asshole, I'm from Italy. Are you happy now?" the brunette snapped and a small blush appeared on his cheeks when he realised how close the other male had gotten. Antonio didn't notice the blush and he nodded with a bright smile. "Si, I'm happy!"
A call came from the house and the Italian brunette looked over his shoulder. He called back in his native language and then turned back to Antonio, "I have to go." Using that as his farewell, he began to walk away.
"Adios!" Antonio replied and decided to take his leave. He paused after a few steps, unsure if his goal was achieved. He looked back and caught the brunette before he entered his house, "Hey! We're now friends, right?"
The Italian paused and glanced back at the Spaniard. Another call sounded from the house, slightly more demanding this time and with a swift shrug, the brunette replied merely, "whatever!" and hurried into the house, slamming the door behind him. Antonio's smile widened and he crossed the street to return to his own home.
He smiled to himself, thinking that he was half way there. He still didn't know his name.
He had refused to tell him for three days but he finally found out his name was Lovino. Of course, Lovino wasn't happy about this due to the information was spilled by his younger brother Feliciano and had proceeded to chase him around yelling curses for the next ten minutes.
But yes, his name was Lovino. Lovino Vargas. And Antonio loved it.
Getting Lovino to accept his friendship was like trying to get blood out of a stone. The task seemed impossible, no matter how many times Feliciano had told him he would succeed in the end. Antonio had watched the older Italian brother, and saw that he wasn't completely devoid of happiness. He spoke to girls nicely enough, but as soon as a guy entered the scene, he would become nasty and cold and insulting. At first he had decided it was an Italian thing, but then he realised that Feliciano was nice enough to everyone he met. It took a while but Antonio decided that it must just be a Lovino thing.
A thing that refused to leave, apparently.
Antonio had tried his best to be a good friend to the other. He wanted to be there for him if he ever needed him. He found himself wanting to be the person Lovino would turn to if he was ever in trouble or if he ever needed help. He wanted to be the one person he could trust with his secrets and tell him things that no one else knew. He wanted to be that one person he wanted to spend all his time with.
Because to Antonio, that person for him was Lovino.
Antonio wanted to spend all his time with the grumpy Italian. He wanted to tell all his secrets to him. He wanted him to be the person he could turn to whenever he needed help or just a friend to talk to. He wanted Lovino to be all those things.
Gilbert had told him to give up a long time ago. Of course, it was obvious that the Italian was tolerating the happy-go-lucky Spaniard a lot more recently, but he was still cold, he was still insulting and he was still mean. He had also developed the habit of calling Antonio a 'stupid tomato bastard' and that nickname had stuck ever since. Gilbert often questioned why Antonio would want to be friends with someone like that. Antonio had merely said he was happy that he had been given a nickname... even if it was rather insulting.
Francis however, shook his head, "Non, love is a complex thing. No matter how difficult it may seem at first, it will always find a way."
Gilbert had laughed.
"That's stupid," he had snorted and turned to look at his French friend, "Why would anyone wanna like that grumpy Italian bastard? He's just an ass."
Gilbert's words were true, but Antonio didn't want to believe that he was right. He wanted to believe that Lovino could be kind and thoughtful like his brother... but he had decided long ago that he liked the Italian just the way he was.
But love? He had never really thought about it. He knew he liked Lovino. He knew he liked Lovino a lot. They spent a lot of their time together and he was fairly certain that by now they were friends... even if the other was slightly (okay, more than slightly) mean to him.
Antonio blocked out Gilbert and Francis' conversation and allowed himself to get lost within his own thoughts. He thought about Lovino; the way he frowned, the way he huffed, the way his cheeks would light up whenever Antonio said something nice to him or complimented him. He had told himself from the start that he didn't want to give up... and he refused to go back on that.
He let himself ponder on Francis' words.
The summer nights were Antonio's favourite time of year and he wanted nothing more than to spend them with Lovino. After a lot of persuasion the Italian was convinced.
Antonio would make sure that he had a good time, because if Lovino was happy, so was he.
They spent the majority of their time at the beach. Again, it took some persuasion but the Spanish male finally convinced his Italian friend to join him in building sandcastles, searching for crabs in the rock pools and playing on the waters edge. The sun finally began to set and the sky was painted a fiery red. They stood at the shore, both males damp from kicking and splashing water at each other (Antonio knew that Lovino could have fun if he really wanted to). The early evening rays reflected off the waters surface, giving it a mysterious glow. Antonio tore his gaze from the water and looked to the Italian in front of him. He noticed that tiny smile present on Lovino's lips, and he noticed how his cheeks were flushed lightly.
He thought back to Francis' words. Love may not be easy but it will always prevail in the end. Antonio could almost laugh; Lovino had definitely not been easy. He had pushed and shoved away Antonio's attempts of friendship. He had refused his companionship and he had tried to make it clear that he wanted nothing to do with him.
But Antonio was just as stubborn. He kept trying and trying until he had gained his friendship. Until he had gained his trust.
He blinked. Yes, he had gained his trust now, hadn't he? He had acquired his friendship.
But now he wanted more than that. He wanted more with Lovino because he believed that Francis was right. He loved him.
He knew how hard it was just to gain that friendship... and even that felt like it was balancing on the edge. He didn't want to lose that. He didn't want to lose what he already had with Lovino. He couldn't take that risk.
In his mind, he pictured the scene. He would smile and reach forward to take the Italian's hand in his own. He would give it a light squeeze, and when Lovino moved to pull away, he would tighten his grip and shake his head. He would proceed to tell him how he had fallen in love with him over then time they had known each other. He would lean forward and steal a kiss. Then everything would be all right.
In reality, he pushed that thought to the back of his mind. He smiled and reached forward to pat Lovino on the shoulder. The Italian looked up and caught the other's gaze.
"It's getting late, we should go?"
"Yeah, I guess..." Lovino stated and shoved his hands in his pockets as he moved to walk down the beach. Antonio smiled and sighed quietly to himself and followed his friend.
Because that's what they were, weren't they?
Maybe one day he might be brave enough to take the risk.