“Luca,” Valentino’s tone is one that Luca has heard before, and doesn’t like. “Could you come and help me with something?”
Luca doesn’t really want to move from the pile of blankets he’s formed on the bed of his brother’s motorhome, where he had been taking a nice nap, but he supposes he doesn’t have much of a choice.
When he enters the kitchen, Valentino is stood over the stove, an old steel pan full of a bubbling clear liquid giving off swirling, purple steam. There’s a ragged looking book next to him on the counter, and Luca recognises it as one of his mother’s old potion books. Valentino beams up at him as he enters.
“Ah, Luca.” He takes a ladle of the potion and pours it carefully into a cup. “Take a sip.”
Luca eyes the cup suspiciously. “What is it?”
“It’s just an energizing potion.” Valentino says impatiently. “Give you a boost after the race.”
It sounds promising, but as Luca raises the cup to his lips, he notices the almost too carefully casual look on his brother’s face and lowers it slightly.
“Why don’t you try it too?”
Valentino tuts. “I have, I just want to see if it has the same effect on you.”
Fuck it, Luca thinks; whatever it is, he can tell his mother if it goes badly and hope she curses his brother with a painful hex or two. He downs the viscous liquid and waits. He feels nothing for a moment, and then an odd, relaxing sensation within him. Whatever the potion was meant to do, it clearly hasn’t, because he doesn’t feel energized whatsoever.
“I don’t think it’s worked, Vale.” Luca says.
Valentino has a shrewd look on his face now.
“Who did you lose your virginity to?”
“Giulia Pozzi.” The name leaves Luca’s mouth without his permission, almost as though his tongue forced it out of him. He nearly chokes on the words, completely thrown by the feeling. It felt as though he couldn’t even try and hold himself back.
Valentino flat out cackles as Luca narrows his eyes.
“What the fuck was that?” He throws the cup at his brother, who dodges and the sound of it smashing somewhere behind him echoes through the motorhome. “What the fuck did you make me drink, Vale?”
“Calm down,” Valentino says. Easy for you to say, Luca thinks. “It’s a simple truth potion; it’ll wear off in a few hours. I want to give some to the little bastard tomorrow before the press conference. I can’t wait to hear the things he’ll have to say.”
There’s a horribly salacious look on Valentino’s face and Luca chooses to ignore the comment about Marquez. He clenches his fists, trying to stop himself from punching Valentino in the face, lest the other use some more complicated, horrible form of magic on him.
“I hate you.” He hisses. “Asshole.”
Valentino doesn’t look bothered in the slightest. “You love me really, don’t you, Luca?”
The word “yes” leaves his lips again as though forced out and Luca absolutely despises his brother in that moment for testing out his more evil branches of magic on him. When he was younger, it was always exciting to go along with Valentino and try out new magic, listen as his brother taught him to control light with his bare hands, their family speciality. Now, he just wants to strangle him.
“Excellent.” Valentino clasps his hands together. “Maybe you should go back to having a nap, you wouldn’t want any other little secrets slipping out.”
Luca stalks back to the bedroom, throwing a “I hope you crash tomorrow!” over his shoulder as he does and bringing the tips of his fingers together, drawing all the light from the motorhome into the palm of his hand. He knows Valentino will return the light back into the bulbs in a heartbeat, but Luca needs to do something to punish his brother, no matter how petty.
“I love you, too.” Valentino’s voice is tinged with laughter, so Luca doesn’t feel too bad about slamming the bedroom door so hard that the whole motorhome shakes. Who knows, maybe his brother’s stupid potion will spill, just like Luca’s secrets.
The morning comes and Luca still feels slightly shaken from yesterday, but relieved that the nightmare of a situation is over now.
He meets his brother, who gives him a wink which he doesn’t return, Uccio, and Pecco for breakfast. Pecco looks up at him expectantly when he arrives, swirling his finger in the air and making his spoon stir his coffee. Luca has always been rather jealous of his team mate’s family power, the ability to move things without touching them, although he is very fond of his own ability to control light.
“Do you think I should shave my head?” He asks.
Can’t look any worse than it does now is what Luca thinks, and, just like yesterday, the words end up flowing out of his mouth. Pecco looks very offended, but Luca doesn’t have time for that.
“You said it would wear off after a couple of hours.” He hisses at his brother. “Vale, what the hell?”
Valentino gives him an uncomfortable look. “Oops?”
Uccio cuts across Luca’s furious retort, eyes darting between the brothers.
“What the hell is going on?”
Luca points at Valentino. “He made me try some fucking truth potion he made to give to Marquez and now I keep saying everything I think.”
Uccio turns on Valentino, who cowers in his seat.
“Vale, what the fuck is the matter with you?” Uccio says. “What recipe did you follow?”
“It was from my mother’s old potion book.”
Uccio gestures towards Valentino’s motorhome.
“Go and get the book.”
They sit there in awkward silence for a few moments until Valentino returns, book in hand, which Uccio snatches off of him the second he sits down. Uccio scans the page of the recipe, running his finger across the various warnings and notes that the author has clearly made.
“Vale,” Uccio says, finger hovering over a small note at the bottom. “Did you read any of the warnings?”
Vale shrugs. “I may have, you know, glanced over them.”
Uccio hits Valentino over the head with the book.
“What the fuck?” Both Valentino and Pecco exclaim, the older holding his hands over his head in case of further attack.
“You idiot.” Uccio snaps. “You do realise that this is a really powerful truth potion, it’s not going to just wear off? Firstly, you couldn’t have used it on Marquez anyway, because it counts as a psychological advantage and as you full well know, we can’t use magic to our advantage in any competitive events. Secondly, this won’t wear off until Luca’s revealed his biggest fucking secret, and I doubt he even knows what that is, so it could take forever.”
Luca does know what his biggest secret is, but he’s not particularly willing to share his affection for another rider (especially the younger brother of Valentino’s biggest rival) in front of his brother, Uccio or Pecco, even if his team mate already knows.
“Ah, well that is slightly unfortunate.” Valentino gives Luca a guilty look. “My bad. I’ll fix it, Luca, I promise.”
“I’m going to kill you.” Luca tells him, deadpan. “I’m going to get ready for the race.”
And with that he turns on his heel, not feeling hungry at all anymore.
“Hang on.” Pecco’s voice comes from behind him. “What do you mean my hair is bad now?”
Luca has to hand it to Pecco; even though he’s still clearly pissed off about the hair incident, he follows Luca around dutifully before the race and prevents him from being interviewed by claiming that he’s sick.
“What’s the-“ One interviewer begins to ask, but Pecco cuts her short by clapping a hand over her mouth.
“We think it might be contagious.” He says, ignoring her look of shock. “Best not to breathe too close to him.”
Once they’ve managed to fight their way back to the garage, Luca ignoring every single person on the way simply to prevent anything offensive or embarrassing from slipping out of his mouth, Pecco sits him down and hands him a bottle of water.
“Are you going to be okay?” He asks, pushing Luca’s hair up off of his forehead. “We can say you’re actually ill if you don’t feel good enough.”
Luca furls and unfurls his fist, watching as a small ball of light appears there. He’s thankful that everyone there is Italian, meaning that he can do magic without risking anyone who doesn’t know about it noticing.
“I’ll be okay, Pecco.” He says, and Pecco nods, knowing it’s the truth. “I’m just worried, what if I end up talking to, you know, him.”
Pecco twists his mouth. “I mean, do you think it’s likely to slip out?”
“I don’t know.” Despite the fact he can only be honest, it’s the most truthful thing he’s said since he took that ridiculous potion. “I guess I’ll just have to try my best. It’s not like we see much of each other anyway, so.”
“But, you remember what Uccio said?”Pecco asks quietly. “He said this wouldn’t go away until you revealed your biggest secret. Do you think that is your biggest secret?”
Luca bites his lip, remembering those awful words oh too well. “Yeah, probably.”
“Luca,” He closes his hand over Luca’s own, the ball of light feeling warm between their palms. “You don’t need to tell him if you aren’t ready, but if you do; you can just play it off like it was a joke. Tell him that I told you to say it or something. After you’ve said it, you won’t have to tell the truth anymore, will you? Then it’ll be the break, so don’t worry about it too much, okay?”
Luca lets the words wash over him and reassure him. He could definitely lie his way out of this if he had to, he certainly had before whenever Valentino had questioned him about if he had his eye on anyone.
“Okay.” Luca lets the ball of light vanish, squeezing Pecco’s hand as he does. “It’ll be fine.”
“Yes,” Pecco says, beaming again. “It will be.”
The race itself goes very well; he gets his first podium and manages not to say anything very offensive (apart from telling one of the interviewers who asks him how he feels that he feels “on top of the fucking world”, which leads to a scandalised look from an awaiting Pecco, who hurries him away before he can say anything worse).
Much later, after a few too many beers with the team and his brother, who rather drunkenly pats him on the head and tells him he’s very sorry, he decides to head back to his motor home.
The voice alone is enough to stop him in his tracks and he turns, albeit a little haphazardly, on the spot.
“Ciao.” Luca slurs, trying to stand upright properly as to not look a complete mess.
Alex looks beautiful in the dim lights surrounding them, and Luca can’t help but to step a little closer just to admire him. He’s got a nice face, is the first thing that comes into Luca’s head, with his beautiful bone structure and hazel eyes that seem to sparkle in light.
Alex smiles at him. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you; I just wanted to say congratulations.”
Luca blinks. “You, what?”
“Congratulations?” Alex says, grinning further still for reasons Luca can’t quite understand in his drunken state. “You got your first podium? I just don’t want this to be like, well, you know.”
It takes Luca a few seconds to realise that he means he doesn’t want them to be like Marc and Valentino.
“Oh, yeah.” Luca smiles. “Thank you, Alex.”
“I mean, you never know,” Alex continues. “One day we might be competing like them, but hopefully no arguments.”
Luca laughs. “I doubt it, you’re much better than me.”
He doesn’t know if it’s the potion or the alcohol talking, but the words are true and they don’t sting as much as they normally do. Luca knows he isn’t the same as his brother, even if he wishes he was sometimes, but it’s nice that Alex thinks he could be up there one day.
“Um,” Alex has an expression Luca can’t quite work out on his face. “Thank you, I guess? You are good though, you wouldn’t be on the podium if you weren’t.”
Luca can’t make anymore words seem to come out of his mouth, so he just stares at Alex for a moment, admiring the shadows cast upon his cheekbones by his eyelashes, as he absorbs the words. He hears them all the time from people like his brother and Uccio, but to hear it from a true rival makes him feel all fuzzy inside.
“Have- have I got something on my face?” Alex asks after a moment of Luca, probably rather creepily he realises, staring at him.
“No,” Luca says, and the words come out the way he knew they would, tongue forcing them into existence against his will. “You’re just really hot.”
He feels his whole body tingle and Luca knows that the potion’s curse is broken, and then suddenly, a wave of nausea hits him and he can’t move a muscle before he keels over and throws up. The feeling of mortification runs over him as he feels himself sober slightly, the reality of the situation hitting him.
“Are you okay?” Alex asks, kneeling down beside him, apparently not bothered about the vile smell of sick between them or the fact that Luca just admitted to finding him hot. “Shit, you’re burning up.”
“I fucking hate my brother.” He coughs. “Stupid, fucking idiot.”
Alex laughs softly. “Yeah, I know that feeling. Let me take you back to your motorhome.”
Luca allows Alex to put an arm underneath his own, curving it around his waist and hoisting him upwards. They walk slowly, Alex checking him every few steps, until they what Luca realises is not his own motorhome, but Alex’s. The older blushes slightly.
“I didn’t want to wander around in the dark with you like this.” He says, fiddling with the door handle. “I can take the sofa.”
“We can share.” Luca says softly. “It’s your motorhome.”
Alex gives him a look, but nods slowly. “Alright.”
They manage to settle themselves down in the bed, Alex in his pyjamas and Luca in his shirt and some borrowed sweatpants, lying somewhat awkwardly as so not to touch one another. Luca doesn’t know why the hell he suggested this, and he’s rather wishing that he had offered to sleep on the sofa himself instead when Alex speaks again.
“Oh shit, the lights.” He looks up, and it’s only then that Luca realises they’re still on. “I’ll just-“
“Don’t worry.” Luca says without thinking. “I’ve got them.”
He clicks his fingers and they go out, leaving them both in total darkness. It’s only once the silence hits that Luca realises what in his slightly drunken state he’s just done, what he’s just revealed to the Spaniard and a fresh wave of panic and nausea hits him. Oh god.
“I, um, that-“ He stutters uselessly. “I didn’t-“
Alex, however, has an expression of awe on his face that’s visible even in the pitch black room.
“Was that, you know,” He lowers his voice, leaning closer. “Your magic?”
Luca nearly chokes on his tongue. “How do you-“
“Vale told Marc about it and Marc told me.” Alex grimaces and Luca is revisited by the urge to murder his brother. “I promise I won’t tell anyone, though. It’s true then? You can control light?”
“I, yeah.” Luca says. “I mean, I can do other stuff, but that’s our family power.”
Alex’s eyes widen. “Does everyone have a different power?”
“Yeah and it all depends on where you come from in Italy. People who live in the same villages or cities tend to have similar types of family power, but your family history has the most influence on it. They tend to pass from the female side of the family, like me and Vale have the same power as our mum. Pecco can move things without touching them,” Luca admits, wishing his own family power was a little more cool now as opposed to just playing around with lights. “And Uccio can control fire.”
“That sounds like something Uccio could do without magic.” Alex snorts. He looks up at Luca with those big, hazel eyes. “Could you, if you want, show me?”
Luca swallows. He closes his fist and concentrates hard, hoping that the alcohol hasn’t weakened his power in any way. When he opens his fist, there on his palm is a ball of light that gently rolls when he moves his hand. Alex’s eyes are wider than ever in the soft glow, and Luca is visited by the urge to kiss the awestruck expression off his face.
“Wow.” Alex says quietly, reaching his hand out. “Can I touch it?”
Luca shrugs. “I guess, I mean, I’ve never really shown anyone who wasn’t Italian. You can try.”
Alex holds out a hand and Luca tips the golden sphere onto it, and to his surprise it remains there; if anything, the light seems to almost burn brighter, Alex cupping his hand slightly to watch the ball roll around in it. He looks like a small child being given an incredible Christmas present, a silly little smile on his face as he watches the glowing ball.
“This is amazing.” Alex looks up at Luca. “Why can’t you use magic in the races?”
“We’re not allowed to use magic in any competitive events.” Luca says, feeling his eyelids beginning to become heavy. He knows he’s going to have to be up early and is going to pay for drinking so much, but he doesn’t want this moment to end. “Unfair advantage or whatever.”
Alex grins. “You need to tell Marc that; he thought Vale was cursing him in 2015.”
Luca smiles back, deciding not to mention the fact that he, Uccio and their mother had had to talk Valentino out of cursing both Marc and Jorge on more than one occasion that year. They lay in comfortable silence, Luca attempting not to drift off as he watches Alex playing with the ball of light in his palm. Alex looks up at him eventually and holds out his hand.
“You can make it disappear, right?”
Luca nods and closes his palm over Alex’s own, trying to ignore the way his brain is screaming you’re touching him. He feels the light vanish before he sees it, the room fully dark once again. Before Luca can pull his hand back (and his head can explode), Alex laces their fingers together, bringing their joined hands down between them on the mattress.
“Goodnight, Luca.” He says gently, closing his eyes.
Luca has to take a moment to appreciate the sight in front of him as well as to not to combust due to the fact that he is holding hands with Alex Marquez.
He closes his eyes, feeling as though the ball of light is still present, warm and bright within his chest.
When Luca wakes, he’s hit firstly by how bright the sunlight streaming in through the curtains is, and then by the pounding in his head and churning in his stomach. He leaps out of the bed and only just manages to make it into the bathroom before he’s throwing up again, emptying the contents of his stomach into what he now realises is not his motorhome’s toilet.
“Hey.” Luca feels a cool hand push the hair off his forehead, and looks up to see Alex stood there, still in his pyjamas. “Sorry I wasn’t in bed when you woke up; I got up and thought I should let you sleep in a bit. Do you want an aspirin or something?”
Luca shakes his head, fearing more vomiting if he opens his mouth again.
“Okay, if you’re sure.” Alex says, sounding unsure as he continues to stroke Luca’s hair. The feeling of it makes Luca lean into his hand, closing his eyes as he does. “I’ve brought you a glass of water anyway. You can use my toothbrush or whatever, I’ve already done everything so I can just throw it away when we leave. Do you want me to go outside?”
“No.” Luca croaks out. “Alex, please, could you -“
Alex holds him steady as he brushes his teeth, washing away the vile taste in his mouth, and then helps him back into bed. Luca half expects him to go back into the living room or kitchen and leave Luca alone in his shame, but Alex lays down next to him, their calves touching.
“How long before we have to go?” Luca asks.
“About three hours.”
They sit in comfortable silence for a moment, Luca drawing little patterns on his arm in light while Alex watches, fascinated.
“Luca,” Luca looks up at Alex, who’s watching him carefully now. “Did you mean it? What you said yesterday?”
Luca feels a hot flush come across his face as he remembers the dreaded confession he had made shortly before throwing up the first time. He could pass it off as a drunken mistake, but there’s something in the way that Alex is looking at him that makes him feel like he already knows.
“Yes, I meant it.” Luca admits. “Vale, he tricked me into taking some truth potion. He was going to try and give it to your brother, actually, but that would count as cheating, so it just ended up being me.”
“Is that why you told that reporter you were ‘on top of the fucking world’?” Alex laughs and Luca can’t help but to grin back. “Everyone else thought you were a bit too high off the podium champagne.”
There’s another pause before Alex speaks again.
“I really like you.” He says, not meeting Luca’s eyes, face as flushed as Luca’s own must be. “I’ve really liked you for a long time now. I thought you were just drunk and maybe your brother got you to try and mess with me.”
Luca realises that he probably should jump to his brother’s defence, but to be fair, it does sound like the kind of thing Valentino would do for a laugh and he’s completely overwhelmed by the fact that Alex likes him back. Alex likes me too.
“Oh.” Luca says stupidly. “I, wow, that’s good.”
Alex grins at him, eyes sparkling. “Does this mean I can kiss you now?”
Luca nods, and can’t help but to grin back as Alex leans over him and presses their lips together. Luca really hopes his mouth doesn’t taste like vomit. They kiss languidly, tongues gently scraping against one another and Luca feeling as though his whole body is on fire. He grabs at Alex’s shirt, pulling the Spaniard on top of him so that his legs bracket Luca’s body.
“Is there magic you can do during sex?” Alex asks, grinding his hips down against Luca’s, who can do nothing but moan in response. “I guess we’ll have to find out together.”
The previously cool interior of the motorhome is starting to feel overwhelmingly hot, and Luca can hear himself panting as Alex kisses the side of his jaw, moving down to suck a love bite on his neck. It’s only when Alex has taken off his shirt and resumed his marking up of Luca, who drags his nails bluntly down the other’s back, that the door of the bedroom bursts open.
“Hey, Alex, I spoke to Vale and he said that his brother was with you and- OH MY GOD!” Marc looks absolutely horrified at the sight in front of him, and if most of Luca’s blood wasn’t pooled in his groin, he would probably find the expression on his face hilarious. As it is, all he can do is stare in equal horror at the Marquez elder.
“Marc, what the fuck?” Alex hisses, sitting up. Luca is rather thankful for the fact Alex is straddling him now, because he could really go without Marc Marquez of all people seeing him with an erection. “Get out!”
Marc stands there as though struck dumb for a moment before blinking and hastily turning on his heel and practically running from the motorhome without bothering to shut the door to the bedroom on his way. “Sorry, I should’ve knocked!”
They hear the door slam behind him and Alex groans, slumping back down over Luca and burying his face in the Italian’s neck. Luca has to bite his lip to stop himself from laughing.
“That was so embarrassing.” Alex says into his shoulder. “I am so, so sorry.”
Luca presses a kiss to the side of his head. “It’s okay. It’s probably a good thing he interrupted; we need to get ready to leave soon.”
Alex hums, Luca feeling the sound through his skin rather than hearing it. They lay together for a moment before Luca hears Marc’s voice again from outside the motorhome.
“What the fuck is the matter with you, Vale?” His voice is loud and angry. “Do you know what the hell I just had to see? I never wanted to see my little brother defiling yours, ever.”
Alex laughs first, the sound vibrating through both their bodies and Luca can’t help but to join in, the two of them drowning out Marc’s complaints to Valentino. They laugh until Luca’s throat is starting to hurt and Marc’s voice is long gone from outside.
“You know,” Alex says thoughtfully. “I think your brother might have planned this. Why else would he tell Marc to come here?”
Luca pauses for a second to think about it. Surely not, but then he remembers Valentino’s original supposed reasoning for making the potion and it hits him that his brother has been racing longer than he’s been alive and surely would know that giving Marc any kind of potion would be against their laws.
“Fuck.” Luca says fervently. “That bastard.”
Alex laughs again, rolling himself off Luca. “He’s a smart bastard, though.”
Alex stands up, pulling his shirt back on before turning back to Luca with a small, soft smile on his face that makes Luca blush in spite of what they’ve just done.
“I’ll make us some breakfast.” Alex offers. “And then you can help me pack.”
It’s only then that Luca remembers the break starts today and this will be the last time they see one another for nearly a month. He doesn’t know where this is going yet, but he knows that he doesn’t want to leave it like this.
“Alex,” Luca starts, thinking how to word what he wants to say without sounding like he’s overstepping the mark. “You could come to Tavullia for a couple of days during the break. I could show you how we use magic on the bikes at home.”
Alex blinks. “You- you want me to come to your house?”
“Only if you want to.” Luca says hastily. “You don’t have to, I just thought, maybe-“
Alex leans back over, kissing Luca soundly before he can make a complete fool of himself.
“That sounds great.” Alex says quietly, kissing Luca on the nose. “Now, chop chop. I’m a growing boy, I want some breakfast and now I have an Italian boyfriend who can make me a proper cup of coffee.”
Luca beams at the word “boyfriend”, watching fondly as Alex bounces off to the kitchen. He fishes out his phone from the pocket of his jeans, which are still on the floor from last night. There’s several texts on there, mostly concerned ones from Pecco, and then one from his brother.
Did you tell him?
Luca shakes his head, grinning.
Yes, you bastard.
He looks up at Alex, who’s badly singing along to what sounds like Shakira as he fries some eggs, and feels a wave of affection run through him for the boy in front of him. Luca knows that this won’t be easy, but he also wouldn’t want anything else now that he’s had this. He watches Alex for a few more moments before putting his jeans back on and joining him in the kitchen.
Luca jumps up on the counter. “Please.”
He clenches his fist, opening it and blinking in surprise when he finds not the usual yellow glow, but a faint pinkish hue coming from the ball of light. Alex gazes at it and Luca is struck by a sudden idea. He reaches into the cupboard behind him, pulling out a clear plastic tub and tips the orb inside of it, placing the lid gently on top and then handing it to Alex.
“For you.” He says simply. “You can keep it with you then.”
Alex stares at the light, then back at Luca. “I-thank you. It’s beautiful.”
He leans over and kisses Luca firmly, cupping a hand to the back of his neck and stroking the skin there with his thumb. They only break apart when the toaster pops and they both jump, giggling against one another’s lips.
“I’ll put it in a jar.” Alex says decisively, pointing at the light. “And then I can put it up in my room and piss Marc off with it. He’s really jealous that you can all do magic, you know he hates not being able to do something.”
There’s a fondness in Alex’s voice as he talks about his brother that Luca can relate too so strongly that he can’t help but to fall a little more for the man in front of him.
They joke easily as Alex serves up breakfast, both of them slouching down on the sofa to watch TV as they eat. Alex’s hand comes up to curve around Luca’s thigh, warming the skin even through his jeans, and Luca places his own over it, entwining their fingers.
It’s at moments like this that Luca thinks some of the most magical times of life don’t need any real magic at all.