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Chapter Text

„Why are we two actually still together?“

“Because we are both crappy.”

Tahir shot the other a grumpy look but got an amused smile in return. It was 2 am and they sat in the Hyde Park. It was still warm, British summers were a pain in the arse, no matter what kind of weather. It had been unbearable hot and humid lately, so the temperatures at night were a wonderful relieve.

“Then we should change that, shouldn’t we” the Pakistani-Brit said, head on Robert’s shoulder. The other Londoner leant his own head on his shortly, cheek against messy black hair.

“Probably. I mean, as long as we get along, we don’t have to worry. You’re a bitch, I’m an arsehole, everything’s fine.”

“But we could try, you know.”

“Yes, we.”

“I am not going to ask you to only change stuff about yourself, Robert. We are both jerks to each other.”

“Agreed. Tell me when I am a giant douche again and I’ll try.”

“That’s a good idea.”

Robert got a pack of cigarettes out of his pockets and Tahir’s eyes wandered upwards again:

“For a start, you could quit smoking.”

The other laughed, lighting a cigarette: “Oh no, no no, pretty boy, that’s no part of the deal.”

Chapter Text

“It’s so surreal” Marco said and Charlie turned to his boyfriend, who stared at the façade of one of the many big churches in Palermo; the Irish didn’t know which one. He appreciated architecture greatly but there were so many religious buildings in Italy’s cities, it was ridiculous. He couldn’t wrap his head around why one wasn’t enough. Maybe he was too atheistic for the catholic places he spent his life in.

“What’s surreal darling?” he asked and Marco kept staring at the heavy, elegant and far from simple front of the church with a dreamily sparkle in his eyes:

“That I am a street rat but made it to be such a great thing. Look at that! It’s big and important, it’s expensive and complicated!”

“It’s mainly masquerade and make-believe” Charlie answered with a tired smile that didn’t reach his eyes and the sparkle faded when the other looked at him.

“But, you know, what’s inside counts. And for a lot of people, faith is way more than masquerade and scary stories, but actual comfort.”

He frowned and looked back at the building: “I mean, this is one of the thousands churches, right?”

Marco laughed and walked the few steps over to him, wrapping his arms around the other’s waist – quite uncomfortable since Charlie had his hands in his coat pockets:

“Sí. But faith doesn’t impress anybody without a pretty façade. And a street rat doesn’t impress anybody without a nice lifestyle.”

The Irish got his hands out and put one on the Sicilian’s cheek:

“But those who find faith nonetheless, are giving their heart and soul away for the beautiful thing they discovered somewhere hidden.”

Chapter Text

“Are you still awake?”

“Shut the hell up bastardo.”

The Spaniard laughed at the response but poked the Italian in the front passenger seat once more. He pulled the small blanket away and turned around to shoot glares at him:

“What the fuck do you want Antonio.”

Antonio smiled and just pointed out the windshield: “Just look carino.”

Lovino bristled with anger before he turned to look forwards.

The sky was littered with stars and indeed amazing, but it had been like this since yesterday when they started to take the route through the Pyrenees. The Italian had no idea why he had agreed to this crazy vacation idea of the Spaniard – he was not really a man for road trips. Probably to make Antonio shut up about how great and cozy it would be.

“That’s what you woke me for? If you wanted to marvel at the stars together, you could have waited until tomorrow evening!” Lovino snapped at him, voice hoarse from sleeping and being used so loud.

But Antonio just kept smiling and got out of the car: “Don’t be like that, Lovi, but you’re right! You can see it better outside!”

“See what you fucking idiota?!” Lovino yelled and coughed, looking for the water bottle that had to be in the door of the car. After taking a sip he turned around to go back to sleep – the Spaniard could fall of the damn mountains out there, he didn’t care!

“Another one! Lovi, did you see this! Carino!” The overexcited tone was hard to ignore.

“Seen what?” he growled but didn’t get an answer.

“And yet again!”

Just as the Italian’s eyes flung open again, his door did as well and Antonio grabbed his arm, pulling him out of the car along with the blanket: “How can you just slumber away such a beautiful thing?!”

“How about you fuckboy tell me what you are so excited about!” he yelled again but Antonio only pointed at the sky. Now Lovino’s eyes widened in surprise.

One shooting star crossed the sky. Another one right after it and after waiting a few more seconds, the next came by.

“Wow” he whispered, sitting down on the front lid after wrapping the blanket around his shoulders.

Antonio sat down right next to him: “Amazing, isn’t it?”

“Very.”

The Spaniard grinned: “Are you glad now that you got up?”

“I would have been glad if you had fucking told me that there is a meteorite shower!”

“Aww, don’t be like that! Come on and make a wish instead, yeah? A lot of wishes!”

“I will wish for every single shooting star that you stop being such a pain in the ass.”

“They don’t come true once you say them out loud.”

Chapter Text

“I wonder sometimes if I am good enough for you.”

Tahir looked to the side, but Robert didn’t bother, just kept staring at the ceiling.

“Like, am I a bigger jerk than you can handle? Am I a bigger jerk than you deserve? You are Mister Goody Two shoes in this relationship after all.”

And at this point, he had to look over to the Pakistani-Brit who chuckled.

“I think we are both two pretty fuck ups, Robert” he snorted with a smile.

“That’s why this whole shit works. We are both no good, we both like … learn together?”

Tahir shrugged: “I hope we do. I like you and as much as you deserve it sometimes, I don’t want to hurt you for no good reason.”

“You’re a fucking sap” Robert grinned and leant in to kiss him on the cheek, the other smiling at it.

“Yeah, I am the fucking sap, sure. But even if we are not the best, we don’t want to leave each other right?”

“Can’t be that big of a jerk if you still want me” Robert whispered, placing a tame kiss on the lips now.

“I mean, if we rot in hell one day, we’ll rot together” Tahir grinned and the other laughed, leaning back.

“I am sure there is a place there reserved for us” he said.

“I know there is one for me for sure. It’s called the throne.”

When Robert looked over to him, he only received a puppy face for his very done expression:

“What?”

“That’s it I am on the balcony, smoking.”

When he was already halfway through the room to the balcony door, Tahir frowned:

“Robert, you are naked!”

“Did I say I would go in my birth suit? Jesus Christ.”

Chapter Text

“This is a very soft bed. I appreciate this very soft bed.”

“And this is a very soft butt. I appreciate this very soft butt.”

Harry didn’t know if he should glare or grin, instead he just buried his face in the pillow:

“Michele, we’ve been running around all day, my butt doesn’t appreciate being touched right now.”

“But I am massaging it, it should appreciate it” Michele complained but let his hand slide upwards nonetheless, caressing the Irish’s back.

“It’ll sure appreciate it tomorrow, darling” Harry muffled into the pillow, having to repeat it after Michele didn’t hear it.

It was quiet for a while, the Irishman almost asleep when the Sicilian asked:

“Life is hectic lately, isn’t it?”

Harry turned around to lie on his back, looking at the other:

“It has always been.”

“Do you sometimes wish it wouldn’t be?”

Harry reached out and put his hand on Michele’s chest, lazily caressing him:

“It’d be a lie if I said no, but as long as I have you by my side, it’s okay. Life is hectic, but the nights with you are not.”

He grinned: “Well, and when they are it’s a good hectic.”

Michele smiled back but frowned as well: “They are not hectic. I don’t make love hectic, I make it thoroughly and intensive.”

Harry only laughed with his arm over his eyes at the response while the Sicilian shuffled closer to him and wrapped his arms around him:

“I still also love it when time stands still every night, though. When there is nothing but peace and a sweet, sleeping Irishman in my arms.”

“Agreed” Harry whispered.

Chapter Text

“It’s a rough one today, isn’t it?” Francis asked and the young scot turned to him with a small grin.

“Aye” he said, wind blowing through the red hair.

“You sure have an interesting weather here at the coast” the Frenchman continued and Gavin’s grin spread further:

“Yeah, even nastier than it is at home in Edinburgh. But you can like it.”

“You sure can” the other said, walking the few steps over to him, both standing at the edge of a cliff right now.

For a while you could only hear the waves crashing into the shore before Francis spoke up again:

“You do that a lot when you are here, don’t you?”

Gavin frowned: “Yeah.”

“Your mom said ‘I bet that rascal is out there on the cliffs as always’.”

“My … She really used rascal?”

Francis chuckled: “You are one.”

“Francis, I’m seventeen.”

The Frenchman only shrugged with a smile and the scot sighed, looking at the sea again.

“Why do you do it so often?”

“I don’t know. I like to see how the waves are crashing. It has something … soothing. I can think out here.”

“I understand.”

Francis kept looking at the other, who didn’t seem to notice, with a small smile.

I fully understand.

Chapter Text

“It’s snowing again.”

“Is it?”

Ivan was always surprised and amused by how much the older man was fascinated by snow. He wondered if Yao ever saw snow when he was at home.

“When will it stop snowing? If the weather keeps it up like that, we won’t be able to go home” the Chinese man said now frowning and the Russian laughed, wrapping his arms around him and pulling him away from the window:

“Aw, is that such a bad thing?”

“Well, we both have things to do, now have we?”

“That can waaait a bit” Ivan said and buried his face in the long black hair covering Yao’s neck. The other sighed:

“And what happens if the electricity goes out? Or something like this? Not that I wouldn’t find a way to find a solution but –“

He was stopped when Ivan wrapped his long scarf around his neck as well.

“Problem solved. Whatever happens, I’ll keep you safe and warm.”

The Russian grabbed the blanket lying at the end of the couch, covering both of them as well.

“See? I have good ideas too.”

Yao sighed once more with a faint smile: “You sure have, you big bear.”

Chapter Text

“Oi four eyes, I asked if you are okay” Erzsébet said and Roderich shoved his glasses upwards.

“Ah, yeah sure” he stuttered out before clearing his throat. He should show more confidence after all.

The Hungarian cocked an eyebrow before sticking her arm out to help him up. Contemplating for a second if he should accept the offer, he then let her help him up. While the Austrian muttered curses under his breath and patted the dust of his suit, the other crossed her arms:

“So you are the young Edelstein?”

“Roderich Edelstein, Leader of the Edelstein Clan, exactly” he answered proudly. The Hungarian didn’t seem impressed though and after a few seconds of silence, he wondered if he said something wrong.

That was before a big smile spread across her face: “I’m the new leader of the Hédeváry Clan, Erszébet!”

She giggled: “You know, my father told me a lot about your family and I was curious to finally meet the new boss! I hope you live up to my expectations!”

He frowned: “Your … expectations?”

“I’ve heard how much power your family has! And I hope that you will be a fair match for me like your father was for mine when it came to business! I don’t want anybody who clings to my legs!”

She leant in to him: “Even if it’s a cute four eyes.”

Chapter Text

“That are a lot of scars for one man” Donella said and Paddy turned to her:

“Hm?”

“You have quite a lot of scars for one life.”

He shrugged: “It’s a very dangerous life.”

“It sure is” she replied before pointing at a scar on his upper arm: “What’s this from?”

He lifted his arm to look at it: “Football. Broke my arm, it was really nasty.”

“Football, really?”

“It was a really shitty field and we were reckless bastards back then. I think I even almost broke Kilian’s foot during one ‘match’. I know I broke Angus nose on accident once and got Liam’s ribs bruised.”

“And I thought your life was dangerous because of your homeland and your job, not because of football. “

“It’s sink or swim if you play team sports with your blokes. Look at the boys, I could tell you stories about Harry!”

“Maybe he would have turned out better with another role model” she grinned and Paddy laughed.

“Don’t think I’m the cause but who knows. Maybe it’s not only due to the times, some people are just born wild.”

She tilted her head forwards: “Does that mean you are a raised wild child while Harry is a born one? Does society nowadays produce more polite kids? I can say what I want about my fifth’s years but they do not break limbs and other body parts that casually when playing any sports.”

“Maybe war produces wild children, you know, I was around 18 when all these happened. 18 and up. Maybe not the time.”

She looked at him and leant against his shoulder: “Maybe. Who knows.”

Chapter Text

“That is an amazing sight! I mean, it’s just forest and forest and forest, but it is still kinda awesome!” Gilbert said, causing Matthew to laugh.

He looked at the Canadian with a smile: “I mean, we’ve been walking around and around in the woods all day, but now I can see them from above!”

The German put his arms akimbo, striking a ridiculously confident pose that way: “Damn right, I am above them all! I am the forest king now!”

Matthew laughed so hard he didn’t make a sound; it only intensified when the other slipped from the fallen tree he was standing on, landing on his butt in the grass.

“Oh no, oh my poor forest king” he said after rushing over to him, hugging the Albino:

“Are you alright?”

“The forest doesn’t seem to accept me as its ruler yet, but it’ll see” he bristled and Matthew laughed again, burying his face in Gilbert’s shoulder, who only ran his hand through his hair with a smile.

“I don’t know if you are that qualified, Gilbert. You spent your whole life in Berlin after all.”

“Ah ah ah! I saw more forests than you’d believe me! My mom was – and still is – a sucker for holidays somewhere at the end of the world. Seriously, me and Lutz saw SO – MANY – FARMS when we were younger!”

“Farms are not forests, dear.”

“Dad liked to go hiking, so don’t get me started on this, Vögelchen.”

Chapter Text

“Herakles, get your fucking cat out of my face!”

“Get your face out of my cat!”

The Turk glared at the other man, who only stuck his tongue out to him.

It was not like Sadiq minded the other cats lying on the couch with them, just that one kitty that liked to climb onto the book he was reading.

So he just took the cat for the what-the-hell-nots time but instead of putting it down on the floor, he let it fall on Herakles face:

“There you have your fucking cat!”

He leant back again, an amused smile making his lips twitch as he watched Herakles getting more and more annoyed when the little black kitten wandered around on his face and neck region.

But just a few seconds after he started to read again, somebody clawed at the back of his book.

“I can do what I want with you, you’ll always come back, huh?” he muttered.

And he also caught a muffled something from the other end of the couch.

“Did you say something Herakles?”

“Yeah, how I don’t understand; Who the hell would want to come to you?”

Sadiq caught his foot when he wanted to kick him, laughing:

“Well, you are still here, aren’t you?”

“Oh shut up! You came to my place, it’s not like I invited you!”

A few of the cats meowed when the Turk moved around, now kneeling over him:

“Of course not. And you never show up in Ankara for other things then business, hm?” he asked and poked him in the cheek, the Greek quickly catching his hand.

“Just shut the hell up!”

The other grinned: “Make me!”

Although the kiss was surprising, Sadiq didn’t mind it at all.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe I’m in such a situation with you again” Arthur hissed and Francis look surprised at him.

And then the Frenchman chuckled, making the other throw a displeased look in his direction.

“Arthur, you sound like we got into trouble at work again, not like we are on a date.”

“Just as bad” the Englishman hissed once more and Francis sighed, just like Arthur:

“I’m getting used to this, okay? I’m … I am sorry.”

He straightened his back, looking the other in the eyes – which was very hard to do without glaring again, since Francis smiled amused.

“Apology accepted, mon amour” he said and Arthur wish he could just leave the godforsaken Restaurant, on the other hand he wanted to be here after all.

And yet cringed when the other put his hand on his:

“Is there anything I could do to make it easier?”

“I … I don’t know. No, I don’t think so.”

“If you say so …”

Silence ensued and even though this hadn’t been their first date, it was awkward. Extremely awkward and that made Arthur just feel miserable.

“Ah well, any plans for afterwards?” He asked, regretting it the second he had said that.

But once again, the Frenchman only smiled:

“Well, we could go back to my place, sit on the balcony and just talk about things.

Like we used to do, right?”

The Englishman did remember the evenings they spent there under a blanket, looking at the stars and talking about everything.

He smiled faintly: “That sounds like a lovely idea.”

Chapter Text

“Do you like it here?”

“Yes, it is a nice for a change. You know, I’ve went through our swamps quite a few times. It is interesting how the … “

Chi stopped and Alfred waited two seconds before asking:

“The?”

“How is the area called again?”

“Bayou!”

“Right, the Bayou is different from the swamp areas in Vietnam and that is really interesting for me.”

“It is cool” the American said. “Like, Vegas does get boring after some time … You need to show me the swamps in your country! Oh and we should visit the Everglades!”

“The Everglades?”

“That are swamp-ish areas in Florida! But beware, there are GIANT Gators!”

He dropped his paddle, crooking his fingers as if they were claws and leaning in to her:

“And if you don’t pay attention they are gonna EAT you! Rawr!”

Chi didn’t smile a lot; not because she wasn’t happy but because it simply wasn’t her thing.

And yet in this moment, she smiled. It was a very awkward smile, she actually tried to hold back a laughter.

Alfred, on the other hand, started to smile from ear to ear:

“Are you smiling Chi?”

She only snorted as answer and Alfred shuffled closer on his knees, making the boat totter:

“There are already gators here! Maybe one is under the boat right now, just waiting to snatch!” he threw his arms around her, pulling her into a tight hug and the woman made more noises which was most likely supressed laughter, "you!"

“But no worries, I am here and ready to save you! I will heroically battle any alligator coming close to my beloved Chi!”

“Alfred?” She snorted once again.

“Yes?”

She lifted the paddle out of the water, gently hitting him on the head with it.

“You are a total goof” she said before bursting into laughter.

Chapter Text

“Are you sniffling?”

“No.”

Francis smiled when the other coughed:

“Gavin, did you catch a cold?”

“Bugger off.”

“Oh mon ami, if your mother would know …”

“What, she is not already here? Cuz you sound like her.”

The Frenchman threw a judging look in his direction, even though the young scot wouldn’t see it. It was almost pitch black in the room, the moon barely lighting it.

“Shit, I’m cold” Gavin muttered and the other looked at him again before getting up and walking to his bed.

“Scoot over.”

“What for?”

“Just make room.”

Grumbling, the scot shuffled closer to the wall, Francis lying down beside him.

Gavin cocked an eyebrow when the Frenchman wrapped his arms around him:

“First saying I’m ill and now you come and cuddle?”

“I can’t let mon ami freeze.”

He buried his face in the red hair and sighed.

The scot let out a small “Heh”:

“Your ami, hm?”

“… oui.”

“I wondered over the last time, you know? It’s okay.”

“You mean it’s okay if I have a crush on you? That is mutually understanding?”

“That’s not the only thing mutual here.”

He paused shortly: “You know, I-I’d kiss you and stuff, but then both of us would be ill, so … that gotta wait.”

Chapter Text

“Sophie?”

“Mhmpf…”

“Are you really sure this was a good idea?”

“I’m hungry, ok.”

“Yes sheep, but you look like you’re going to fall asleep and with your face on your fries.”

“Fuck yeah, who doesn’t want to sleep with food in their face. I’ll tell you, this is how I wanna leave this earth.”

She put her chicken nugget down and revealed an imaginary headline over her head:

“Irish woman found dead with five slices of potato pizza in her mouth.”

Benny laughed and Sophie snickered as well. It was 2 am and they were almost alone in the McDonalds; only the staff and another man were still around.

“The only more Irish way to go would be to get an alcohol poisoning from Whisky or choking on too much Guinness at once.”

The New Zealander chuckled lightly before leaning in to her:

“Is it mean if I’d say that’s how I imagine your brother to go?”

An ugly snort came from her lips since that comment had caught her off guard while chewing on a nugget.

After half choking, half laughing for a solid minute, she whispered:

“No Kiwi, that’s not mean. That is exactly how that tosser would blow his own lights out. Jesus christ, the pictures in my head, I can't.”

He ruffled through her hair:

“Goodies then.”

Chapter Text

“Faster, faster!” Ayşe screamed and Selim wanted to scream, too, although for different reasons than his daughter.

Teacup carousels were clearly not his cup of tea.

That he could see his wife outside of the ride, grinning from one ear to the other, didn’t make it any better.

Next time he would make Emine do this, no matter how much Ayşe would beg.

“No no no sweetheart” he said as his daughter pulled at the wheel to make the ‘teacup’, they were sitting in, spin even faster.

“Daddy’s head is already spinning enough.”

She giggled and only proceeded to pull.

Selim put his hands on hers, looking her in the eye:

“Ayşe, please.”

The girl almost screamed with laughter again, trying to pull her hands out from under his. As he let her, she put them on his cheek, trying to kiss her father on the nose.

He laughed and leant in to her to make it easier.

“Love you, Daddy.”

“I love you too, princess.”

The peace lasted for a few more seconds before she started to pull on the wheel again.

“And? That was fun?” Emine asked when the two of them hopped (Ayşe) and stumbled (Selim) out of the ride.

“Yes!” her daughter said and stretched her arms to get picked up while her husband just muttered a variety of German and Turkish curses under his breath.

Chapter Text

“And you are sure you aren’t cold?”

“Sí Ludwig.”

When his boyfriend still frowned sceptical, Feliciano kissed him:

“I am fine, it’s just a bit chilly.”

The German nodded and finally relaxed, making the other smile.

The sky and thermometer had looked promising this morning, much to the delight of the Italian.

He loved to go to the beach and had hoped to do it every day when Ludwig suggested a trip to the Baltic sea.

But the weather had been cold and rough during the last days, good for cosy, romantic evenings in their holiday house, not for swimming.

And yet it had gotten cold again today, cutting the beach experience disappointingly short.

Now they sat in a Strandkorb Ludwig had rented, wearing T-Shirts and shorts over their swimwear, hoping for better weather.

“I like your country, but the weather is really bad at times” Feli mumbled, leaning against the other’s shoulder.

Ludwig chuckled low, caressing the back of his head:

“I’m sorry Schatz.”

Feli just enjoyed the warm touch, a little lift for his mood – until the hand moved on to his neck.

“Oh, you’re ticklish?” the German asked after the other had cringed and squeaked.

“Sorry” he added, yet tickled the spot once more.

“Ludwig, you’re mean!” he said offended, reaching out to brush against the other’s neck. Ludwig cringed, ducking his head:

“Feliciano!”

“Well you started it!”

“I – Stop!”

Feli only giggled, letting his hands wander over the German’s body like spiders:

“Aare you ticklish there? Oor there? And here?”

Even though Ludwig was really good at holding his laughter back and started to tickle the Italian as well, Feli managed to almost sit in his lap in no time.

His boyfriend tried to catch his hands:

“Feliciano, there are people looking!”

“And?” Feli snickered, just proceeding to tickle his neck, making Ludwig press himself against the back of the Strandkorb.

And slowly, without them noticing at first, the Korb started to fall.

“Alright, that’s enough” Ludwig wheezed when all three – he, Feliciano and the Korb – were lying on their back.

The Italian just laughed with his face on the other’s chest.

Chapter Text

“You’re not very professional” Johannes said, but Janine only continued to grin:

“Open it, four eyes.”

He bristled, folding the piece of paper that just hit him on the head apart.

Her grin grew slightly when he threw an annoyed scowl in her direction:

“Your caricatures have never been and will never be funny.”

That grin was apparently set in stone:

“Damn right. They are hilarious.”

Hannes only rolled his eyes and went back to work and so did she after uttering “Boo hoo, you are so boring today.”

Just like all the crappy paperwork on the screen in front of her. Being a newbie in this agency was exciting but also a terrible pain in the ass.

That was until something hit her arm and when she turned to the other’s desk, a paper ball hit her right in the face.

The Darmstädter smirked and she pouted:

“Yeah, now you think you’re really cle – “

“I don’t. I know I’m a fucking genius” he replied when another ball found its way inside her blouse.

“Okay you little bitch, what do you got there?” she said, grinning pissed off and stood up to lean over her desk to get a better look at his.

Janine didn’t know one could build a catapult out of a ruler, a staple, a rubber band and two pencils.

“You goddamn smartass” she said, admiration in her voice.

“Thanks for acknowledging my brilliant mind” he gave back, then the Kasselänerin grabbed a ruler:

“But don’t think I will be defeated that easily. Bring it on, fuckboy.”

“You want to play baseball?”

“I am a fucking sports ace. Afraid?”

“Of the person that can’t kick a ball for her life?”

“Of the woman that can kick your ass in half when it comes to Ice Hockey.”

Chapter Text

“BONNEFOY, I AM GONNA FRY YOU BLOODY FROG CRISPY!”

Francis had heard a loud crash, followed by Arthur’s screaming.

When he barged into the room, the Englishman lay on the floor in what used to be Arielle Halévy’s office chair.

He snickered, immediately earning an intense glare:

“What the fuck Francis?! What are you, twelve?! A dumb prank like this –“

“Hey, hey, what? It’s not my fault the chair broke! How should I have known this if you just asked me if I have a spare room for you –“

“Well, then explain this mess you wanker!”

“Arthur, how about you get up first?”

Glaring at him one last time, Arthur got up and adjusted his suit.

“Look “ Francis started to explain, “I guess it was Désirée because she wanted to annoy Arielle again, god knows why. Or maybe it was just a loosed screw because –“

“There are tons of screws loose in this madhouse.”

Francis pouted but since it didn’t got a reaction out of the other, he sighed:

“But you understand that it couldn’t have been me?”

Too stubborn to admit it immediately, he hissed “Fine” only after a while.

Francis smiled and walked over to him:

“Are you hurt mon amour?”

“Oh yeah, you are asking that really soon. Nice how concerned you are.”

“Excuse me, but I had to defend myself against your accusations.”

Chapter Text

"Uhhh no! I ... uhm ..."

The Londoner furrowed his brows:

"How many lies do ya want to keep tellin' to get you out of that? If ya wouldn't have lied in first place, ya wouldn't have gotten in trouble."

"I'm sorry" Lewis whispered, leaning against the other's shoulder, smiling:

"But at least you are not mad."

King bristled: "Who said that? Ya wanted to get ME in trouble for ya bullshit! Ya can actually piss off and find a place in this bloody hospital where neither Bailey nor I have to see ya rotten face!"

"But I-"

"There's nothing open to discuss!"

"Hey! I am the hospital patient after all; YOU should leave if you don't want to see me!"

King was quiet for a while, gnashing his teeth and although he had never been particular violent towards Lewis, the Southamptoner was afraid he'd hit him. Sure, he was taller and King was chubby, not muscular, but that meant nothing. He knew the other could land heavy hits.

"Fine" he snarled, getting up and walking out of the room, coughing while doing so.

And suddenly Lewis felt bad. No, not suddenly. The fact that he just threw his boyfriend with a cold out only added guilt to the already enormous pile. Most of it was that he had once again try to put the blame for things he fucked up onto other people. And of all people he did it to one who actually cared about him.

But Adam had always forgiven him, hadn't he? He just had to say sorry a bit more enthusiastic, a bit more like he meant it - which he surprisingly did - and then everything would be fine again.

Chapter Text

“Did you parents name you Dolcetto after you sweet tooth?”

The Venetian glared at him, the effect of it failing spectacularly though. He just looked too cute with the curly brown hair falling into his face and the ice-cream spoon between the tightly pressed shut lips.

“That you have one is undeniable, you little chocolate fanatic” Francesco chuckled, getting hit with the spoon on the fingers in response.

“Shut up Franci and eat your own darn gelato” Dolcetto said, eyes on his own cup while he picked another piece of strawberry out of the ice-cream.

Instead of doing so, the older man only stirred around in his cup and kept watching him.

“You’re gonna let it melt!”

“Wow, you care more about the gelato than about me.”

Francesco grinned: “It was definitely for the sweet tooth.”

“Just shut up and eat, you bastard.”

But Franci was only half done with his when Dolcetto already tried scratching out the leftovers in the cup.

“Hey, do you want some of mine?” he asked, holding the spoon full of ice cream to Dolco, who only squinted his eyes, his own spoon still in his mouth.

The Neapolitan laughed, pressing his face behind the other’s ear, burying it in the curly hair, after Dolco had eaten the spoonful before grabbing the whole cup.

“Ti amo, Dolco.”

“Stop breathing in my ear, you charming fuck up.”

Chapter Text

"Honey, the 90ies called, they want their shoes back" Vicki said and Irina's former smile turned into a frustrated frown.

"I like them" she pouted and her girlfriend sighed: "Irinushka, even if you like Plateau shoes, we're not going to some big city but to a small hut somewhere on the countryside."

"You don't like them."

"I wouldn't be caught dead in them, but you look cute in everything you wear. Frozen feet, however, do not look so cute."

Irina apparently desperately tried to think of a comeback, head already red, but then let herself fall down next to Vicki on their couch, the blonde hugging her.

"Well, I like them" she mumbled and rested her head against the one of her girlfriend.

"Irinushka, I know you do, but you can't wear them. Where are your boots?"

Irina just closed her eyes and Viktoriya frowned before pulling away from the hug:

"Your boots, Irinushka."

"I lost them."

"You lost them?"

"I threw them out."

"What- Why?"

"Because they were pretty damn worn out."

"And you didn't get new ones since then?"

"Nope."

"Lapotschka, why didn't you? Actually, you should have more than one appropriate pair, now I think of it?"

"Because they're ugly, ugh! And because it didn't matter at that time! I mean ... I have tons of boots, I just didn't realise I threw away the special ones! You know, the work ones!"

"O-Okay ... but then why the Plateau shoes?"

Irina looked her dead in the eye:

"Because I like plateau shoes."

"Irinushka...!"

She got up and strutted to the door:

"And I am gonna show them off!"

"Irina! Get back here! I won't take you out in those!"

Chapter Text

“Bennyyyy! Happy Birthday, ah, no, Happy new Year! Happy birthday, what am I saying – “

“Sophie, you know you told me that last night already?”

“Whaaat, I didn’t.”

“Yes, I mean, last night for me.”

While the woman on the other end let out a drawn out “Ohhhhhh…”, he sighed.

The New Zealander wondered how much she drank.

“But a Happy New Year to you, too! I am sorry I can’t be there to kiss you, but next year, well, this year. I promise.”

“Well I could always ask Lorenzo if he wants to kiss me for you.”

“Sophie!”

“What, he’s drunk and moping, mo-ping, dear lord why is talking so hard, about how his girlfriend isn’t here and Harry clings to Michele, and Charlie and Marco are making out as if they are going to fuck on the couch every second and for the rest, oh well … I think Eva tries to hit on one of Harry’s friend’s girlfriend and- “

“That sounds … like you’re having fun?”

“I do! It’s chaotic like every year, but it is not bad! I think I’ll go back to the other’s! I love you Benny, Happy New Year!”

“Yes” he sighed with a smile. “Happy New Year, Sheep.”

Chapter Text

“Happy New Year, you booze repository” Michele said while Harry shielded his eyes from the light falling through the window. It wasn’t a bright day, but even the clouded sky gave him a headache.

“Hangover?” the Sicilian asked after the other hid under the blanket.

“Fuck off with your rolled up blinds and your condescending voice” Harry growled and Michele sat down on the edge of the bed:

“Sorry, but last night was quite … much.”

“Too much for you?”

“I don’t know, at one point maybe. How are you?”

“My head is exploding.”

Michele chuckled and pulled the blanket away, placing a kiss between his eyebrows:

“Do you want to sleep some more or should I make you a hangover breakfast?”

He still didn’t open his eyes: “A breakfast would actually be nice.”

When the Sicilian was almost out of the room: “Well, how are you Michele? Not hungover?”

“No, not really.”

The Irishman opened his eyes, squinting and blinking when he looked at him though:

“Then how the fuck did you bear with us?”

“Well, when I'm tipsy you are quite okay, even when drunk. And now be a good boy, I will be back in a few minutes.”

“Love you, darling!”

“Love you too, tresoro!”

Chapter Text

“Looking dapper today, why that?” Donella said and Paddy gave her a confused look:

“You saw me in a suit and now wearing a blazer is dapper?”

“And how often have I seen you in summer shirts and shorts and worn out T-Shirts – “

“I have to wear a suit all the time, I can’t always be fancy for you” he answered, putting his hands around her waist and kissing her.

“Hm, Heels?”

“Three whole inches, handsome.”

“You need to stop with this, one day you’ll be taller than me.”

“Oh yeah, I’ve seen those shoes and I would break my legs in them.”

Patrick laughed and looked down on her:

“You look quite lovely yourself today.”

“Eh, school year just begun and I like to impress the young kids before they only know me in a turtleneck 50% of the time.”

“No other reason?”

“So far not. Are you in a blazer because you want to give me one?”

“Well, only if you want to. I am free this weekend – I guess.”

“Then let me tell Hope that I am home a bit later today.”

“Tell her I said Hi.”

Donella was already halfway back into the building: “You will see her later anyways, tell her Hi yourself!”

He only grinned.

Chapter Text

“You don’t like the cold outside, hm?” Gavin said, tickling the cat on his stomach behind the ears.

“Ulef was really born on the wrong island” Tristan said when he came back, putting the tea on the couch table before looking outside: “Rhew however …”

“Can Cats catch a cold?”

“Maybe … but that little guy is tough.”

He kneeled down, caressing the scot behind his ears and pressing a kiss to the piercing on his ear:

“You two prefer the warm living room, hm?”

“There is a place and a time for crappy arse weather and there is a place and a time to take care of my sweeties” Gavin replied, kissing the other on the mouth.

“Do you think Ulef will share?” the Welshman whispered and the scot grinned:

“I don’t know, he likes me very much. I think he’s very comfy here.”

“That’s a shame” Tristan said, kissing the scot, tongues poking at each other, lips perfectly fitting, Gavin’s hand running through the messy, thick brown hair.

“Because I think he will have to share” the Welshman whispered afterwards and Gavin smiled:

“You’re gonna be the one telling him to get off my belly.”

“Easy.”

Tristan stood up, saying “Sorry old chap, but you can come back in a second” when he picked the cat up and put him on the on the floor, before climbing on the couch, legs to each side of the other’s hips.

“Comfortable?” he asked after lying down.

“Wait Trissy-Boy, let’s move a bit …”

After a few seconds, they managed that Tristan could put his head on the other’s chest, hip between the scot’s legs now.

“Now it’s comfy” Gavin whispered and kissed him on the hair.

And they could have fallen asleep like this if there wouldn’t have been another bloke who wanted to cuddle.

“YOU BLOODY BASTARD!” Gavin yelled when Poki hopped on his face, trying to get in between him and the other.

“Hey Poki dear” Tristan smiled and shoved the cat aside before putting an arm around him and caressing him behind the ears.

“This cat has a deathwish, I am telling you” Gavin growled and Tristan rolled his eyes:

“He’s just wild.”

“He is a careless idiot.”

“Like and like repel each other, hm?”

“Shut up, Tristan.”

He kissed Gavin: “You shut up and be a grown man about the cat for once.”

Chapter Text

“This is an outrage!”

“What is an outrage now, Liebste? Graffiti? No Graffiti?” Alexander asks, walking over and holding onto the arm of his girlfriend, his beer in the other hand.

Pia frowned: “… I forgot.”

She sighed frustrated and turned around, sliding down at the wall of the house; the Weimarer did the same.

“Are we leaning against Goethe’s house?”

He looked upwards shortly before smiling: “Jep.”

It was quiet for a while before he spoke up again: “If you’d become some sort of hero, would you like a memorial?”

The Jenaer woman let out a small “Heh” before looking into the sky: “I don’t know. Like … what do I want with a memorial? What use is it if I do something and people think it is so great they have to ban in me in stone? No, I don’t want a statue, I don’t want my house turned into a museum, I want songs written about me! And my stories being made into movies! A statue doesn’t inspire anybody and how much is the change I made worth, when then everybody just looks back on what I did instead of looking forward what they could do!”

Alex chuckled into the beer bottle he was emptying right now, smiling at her when he put it down:

“I love you Pia.”

“I know you do, you big nerd” she smiled back.

And once more a few seconds passed before Alex looked upwards and started to hum:

“Hol den Vorschlaghammer! Sie haben uns ein Denkmal gebaut … Und jeder Vollidiot weiß!”

“Dass das die Liebe versaut … Ich werd’ die schlechtesten Sprayer dieser Stadt engagieren, die sollen nachts noch die Trümmer mit Parolen beschmieren …“

People were looking out of their windows, disgruntled about the fact that apparently two students decided they had to dance and sing as loud as possible in the middle of the night.

Chapter Text

“Okay, what is your problem with me!”

Ludwig stared at Feliciano for a second like a deer in the headlight, before coughing and putting his usual stern look on again:

“I don’t quite understand, Herr Vargas? Have I said something wrong?”

“You have said nothing at all!” the Italian gave back upset, but his expression was worried:

“You just sit there and smile when I throw looks at you and when I try and flirt you never flirt back … “

Ludwig went back to a deer in the headlight, although this time it was a blushing deer. Once again this only lasted shortly, a frown replacing the former expression: “Herr Vargas, I think this is not an appropriate topic right now.”

“An appropriate topic right now – Beilschmidt, if you don’t want me just say it! But stop playing with me!”

The Italian looked disappointed, sad and angry while the German just looked down, cleared his throat before looking back at Feliciano:

“Herr Vargas, I was not toying, I just merely didn’t know that you were expecting … this. Also, you can call me Ludwig.”

And now it was Feliciano’s turn to put on the deer look: “What?”

“I think … I thought I was flirting. I suppose we take things … slower and do them more … subtle here in Germany. I am sorry you got confused.”

“So …you do like me back?”

“Yes, I do. I just didn’t know how to– “

He got cut off when the Italian wrapped his arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss on the cheek:

“Oh, you silly, silly German! It’s Feliciano now, Ludwig!”

Chapter Text

“And we could see the city below us! Main sparkling, cars rushing , humans hurrying down the – “

“Could it be that one week in Pullach is already too much for you?” Anna said with a smile and her Frankfurter girlfriend turned to her surprised.

“You know, it just sounds like you are missing Frankfurt already …” the Wiesbadener woman said with another amused smile, almost wanting to chuckle at the other’s pout.

“Pah!” she said, turning her head away that her high red ponytail swung to and fro. “I am just very excited because I have not been to this restaurant for a while! Silly, if I’d miss home that easily I wouldn’t work for the BND!”

“Well, you don’t miss Frankfurt when you have something to do, that is right Prinzessin …” Anna replied, tilting her head and coming closer to the other woman. “But apparently you’d rather-“

“Yes, you got me! I’d rather do nothing at home than sitting in this Bavarian hole! Don’t get me started on the weekend before in Berlin, ugh, Berlin!”

Anna giggled, hugging her taller girlfriend from behind: “Oh my poor Prinzessin!”

Karin grinned, shoving the other’s arms away before turning around to hug her and spin around:

“So, just imagine Bienchen! We would enthrone over the city, dining the finest dishes in entire Hesse!”

Anna laughed at first but reduced it to a smile and she didn’t look the other in the eye when she started:

“Karin, I know you’d really love to go to that restaurant, but you know … it has been a stressful week… Couldn’t we just hang out at your apartment and admire Frankfurt from above from there?”

The Frankfurter looked disappointed: “Sure Anna … I mean, I can still go there later…”

The Wiesbadener cupped her face: “I know you want to take me on an amazing date, but I’d much rather spend time on your couch cuddled up under a blanket and kissing you, you know?”

She gave the other a kiss, making her grin and spin around with the blonde again:

“Sure as hell Bienchen! We’ll eat junk food and watch bad movies if you want to!”

“I want potatoes and sausage with green sauce and a Bully marathon!”

“Your wish is my command!”

“And lots of kisses!”

Karin kissed her on the mouth, the nose, the cheek, the neck before she straightened up:

“Your wish is my command.”

Chapter Text

“This is the last time I save your sorry ass!” Francis almost shouted, making Arthur’s head turn quickly:

“This better is the last time you put my oh so sorry arse into trouble, frog!” the Englishman spat back.

Francis scowled at him, leaning down to the man on the floor: “I didn’t put you in trouble! You know what awaited you!”

Arthur lifted his head, coming closer as well: “I thought you had this under control!”

“I thought you and Gavin had at least a tiny bit of self-control for once!”

“I do, I can’t do anything if those good for nothing scots are barbarians! Also, I didn’t ask you for anything!”

“I risk a good business relationship, I risk a friendship, I risk really a lot for … nothing!”

Arthur stood up, glaring at him and pointing at the door: “I didn’t ask you. There’s the fucking door, I am bloody fine without your help. Go on and back to McAlistair if he’s oh so precious to you! The nothing will find a way without you!”

Only their heavy breathing filled the room, both glaring each other in the eyes. But suddenly Francis sighed and ran his fingers through his hair: “I risked it for this messed up relationship we have going on. I wish I could say I risked it for you and everything, but sometimes I think it’s for my wish and nothing.”

Arthur clenched his fists, relaxing shortly after and looking at the door:

“Where are the others?”

“I told Arielle to take care of the others, I don’t know what she did” Francis answered.

“I see … “ the Englishman muttered.

“I can still get you out of here, you know?”

Arthur straightened his back and finally looked back into the dull blue eyes.

“I’d appreciate this very much”, he bit his lip before he hold his hand out to Francis: “My love.”

A sparkle appeared in the Frenchman’s eyes before he took his hand and pulled him close: “You let me lead, mon petit?”

“I dare you to call me rabbit again” Arthur snarled and Francis chuckled, kissing his hand: “But you are mon petit lapin.”

“Just get me out as intended you wanker.”

“Your wish is my command.”

As Arthur followed the other through the corridors of the building, he whispered:

“Besides, are you really worried about that bloody scot? This isn’t the first stunt like this you pull with him and me.”

“He seemed really annoyed by me lately … But you are right, I shouldn’t worry. This is apparently just British default behaviours, being cranky like a little kid. Example given right behind me.”

“You are an insufferable wanker.”

“I love you too, Arthur, I love you too.”

Chapter Text

“I wonder how many litres of water go down here” Abel said, looking down the small waterfall.

“I am pretty sure it said it somewhere” Frida replied, looking down as well. “But I can’t be assed to look it up now. I would have to snail downstairs and then –“

“Snail? Snail downstairs?” Abel laughed and Frida grinned:

“Yes, snail! It is the perfect verb for when you have to go down the slippy stairs!”

“Snail is not a verb.”

“Well it is now, you killjoke. German, language of the thinkers and poets!” the Thuringian gave back. “Two of the most important poets were actually from my state sooo … I bet Goethe would have approved.”

“Actually, Goethe was hessian” he gave back. “And Schiller was Bade or Swabian or I can’t be assed to remember it right. Baden-Württemberger.”

She squinted at the hessian: “Well, is it called Hessian Classic or Badener Classic or Swabian Classic? Stop being jealous just because you have been born in a lame state.”

“At least I am no Ossi.”

“Arroganter Wessi Sack.”

He laughed, it was a laugh coming from deep inside his throat and she grinned.

“At least I am working for an agency that does her job” Abel said and she stared at him with an open mouth before grabbing his arm:

“Is Mister BND getting on his high horse here? In front of the V-Lady? That’s how my boyfriend treats me? Have you also ever wondered how high the waterfall is?”

“Are you implying you want to throw me down there?”

He grabbed her at her waist and lifted her up: “Could you even lift me?”

She laughed and hit him gently on the shoulder, causing him to let her down.

“You and your impressive muscles win this round” she giggled and he joined, both just laughing for the next few seconds.

“Well then, young lady, what do you think of snailing downstairs and then finding a nice café?”

“Oh, my dearest sir, that sounds like such a lovely idea!”

Chapter Text

“Yellow car!” the Belgian woman said, slapping the Australian beside her who almost dropped his ice cream over it.

“That’s the … third?” Kyle asked, rubbing his thigh. “Jesus, where are all those yellow cars coming from?”

“I don’t know” Anri replied happily, licking her chocolate ice cream. “But I don’t mind. Also, the question isn’t where they are coming from but why you aren’t seeing them” she said with a mischievous expression.

Kyle couldn’t believe his European girlfriend was far older than him; she reminded him of somebody his age far more right now.

“Just wait” he gave back with a grin and she chuckled, making his heart jump still. Her voice was pleasant, soft as silk, and so was her laughter. And she still looked so beautiful, the blonde hair in short pigtails and the green Alice band matching her eyes -

“Yellow car!”

“Are you so pretty on purpose to distract me?!” he asked with furrowed brows and rubbing his thigh once more and she laughed.

“Of course! Also, that was a nice way to compliment me. I’ve only heard the nasty versions of this before.”

“Nasty versions?” he asked surprised but she just looked on the street:

“It’s hard to be a woman in our business… “

“Ouch. People should know be – Yellow Car!”

He grinned like a kid as she rubbed her thigh and laughed her beautiful laughter again.

Chapter Text

It was usually Emine who woke up during the night or couldn’t even fall asleep thanks to her husband’s snoring – not that Selim would ever admit that he snored. A million people could tell him this, he would probably only acknowledge it on his deathbed.

But Emine slept safe and sound this time while he frowned in his sleep. Something was there, something that had jolted him out of his deep sleep, but only being half awake, he couldn’t make out what.

Whatever. He would just fall back asleep in a few minutes …

Something pressed against his face and his eyes jerked open.

“Diggah!” he yelled, waking up his wife but not bothering his cat who had made himself comfortable in front of his face. Shoving the tomcat of the bed, he meowed in displeasure but stayed at the carpet.

Still glaring at him, he got a slap from Emine:

“For the love of god it’s in the middle of the night, be quiet!”

“The cat was in my face, what am I ought to do, suffocate?!”

“At least you’d be quiet then!”

“Emine!”

“Selim!”

Diggah started to snore on the floor and Selim looked down on him unimpressed:

“At least you are happy, huh.”

Chapter Text

"I just don't know ... I don't like guys. But I don't like girls either, I don't find girls sexy." Irina laughed while Viktoriya dug her long nails into her palm.

"Or maybe I just don't like hands all over my body. I once made out with a girl and it was gross" she carried on and the Muscovite put her hand on the ground, ready to get up. "But ... I wanted to kiss her so badly. And it felt so nice for the first few seconds." Irina ran her hands through her red curly hair, tears dwelling in her eyes: "You know, the entire making out thing grosses me out and guys gross me out but girls are so cute! The way they laugh, the way they talk, the way they look and dance ... But even no girl would take me!"

"I'd take you!" Viktoriya said abruptly, leaning in to her colleague. As Irina stared at her, Viktoriya calmed down a little: "You know Irina, I ... I don't think you have to find people sexy. Or have sex because that's not what it's about. And you should be sure that someone might look at you and all they want to do is kiss you and hug you and hold you close ... And watch you dance and hear you laugh ... Because sex is fun, but nothing that's necessary. One can get off alone, but you can't kiss alone. Or hug alone."

"Vicky ... " Irina said before looking down. "Maybe. And yet, who wants a weird lesbian? Who wants someone who doesn't go all the way."

"Who the fuck said how the long the way is?" Vicky gave back. "And who the fuck said that you are a weird lesbian? Would you like to call yourself a lesbian?"

"If I can pass the test, yes" she laughed and cried at the same time, tears running down her cheek despite her wry smile.

"Test passed" Viktoriya said and pulled her in a hug, both adjusting that Vicky ended up kneeling over her. "Test, you stupid thing, there is no test. If you love girls, then call yourself a lesbian. Who the shit cares about sex, sex is not the be all, end all."

"Thank you" Irina said, hugging her even tighter and Viktoriya felt like her heart would explode into a thousand pieces at any time.

Chapter Text

„Franci?“

Dolcetto leant his head onto Francesco’s shoulder and the other smiled:

“Yes?”

“I want rice pudding for tomorrow’s breakfast. And jam with it.” He tilted his head to the other side while Francesco stopped his hands. If he would continue now, he’d only cut himself. “Or Nutella. You don’t have that.”

“I am usually not too fond of it …” Francesco said, picking the knife up again but still hesitating. And he laughed, as the other answered:

“I know you damn dimwit. That’s why you’d need to buy some. Or we.”

“I mean, we are gonna spend the day together anyways, then you can come shopping with me, too.” He put the knife down but didn’t move. How, with Dolcetto’s hands around his waist. “I mean, I am doing this for you after all.”

“Yeah.” A short pause. “Thank you.”

“Everything for my darling” Francesco grinned, looking at him and Docletto looked back, brows furrowed in annoyance. The Venetian let go and searched for the kitchen watch:

“We should go.”

“The rest should be there by now, too, yes.”

Just when Francesco put the cut meat into the refrigerator, Dolcetto wanted to leave the kitchen.

“Telling me that you want to stay the night by ordering breakfast … “ The Neapolitan said and Dolcetto stopped, glancing at him over his shoulder. “That’s only something you’d do.”

“I don’t have to stay if you don’t want me” Dolcetto replied and Francesco grinned as he looked at him:

“I’d never want it any other way.” As Dolcetto was already in the corridor: “And you’re in charge of the coffee tomorrow!”

Chapter Text

“This was unsuspected and unsurprising at the same time”, Marzia Pavone said and Matilde Agnusdei jumped beside her, hitting her own ear with her arm.

She continued to rub her neck and look away: “Y-Yeah, I guess they make a nice couple.” She put her hands together, fingers painfully clenching around the other: “I am very happy for Signorina Acerbi.”

Marzia looked at her with a frown, but Matilde still smiled at the ground, her arm going back to her neck: “A-And for Signore Bellini, too, of course.”

“Hey, Signorina Agnusdei, you don’t have to force small talk onto yourself when you are somehow troubled”, Marzia said and Matilde jumped again, eyes wide open and staring into nowhere. “It’s fine. And maybe you want to talk to me about it?”

“Ma-Matilde!”, the other one said after quickly turning to Marzia. She swallowed before carrying on: “I just …” She looked away again. “I am sorry for yelling at you, Signorina Pavone.

“What’s with Matilde?”, Marzia only asked and Matilde took one more breath and sighed.

“It’s my first name. I just … I just thought there is no need for you to address me as Signorina. I am sorry if I overstepped my boundaries somehow.”

“Which boundaries? Oh man, you worry greatly over little things, Matilde.” She smiled at her:

“My name is Marzia. Feel free to call me that.”

Matilde looked up at the other woman and blinked a few times before she smiled too:

“Al-Alright, Marzia.”

Chapter Text

"Do you ... believe?"

"I believe that I'll catch a cold."

Salomé flashed her a smile and Arielle sighed.

"Are you religious in any way?" Arielle tried again and Salomé cocked her head.

"We all take things for fact despite knowing jack shit and we all got our little world views with which we explain it, so ... yeah. I guess everyone's religious and so am I."

Arielle relaxed, shoulders dropping as she faced the wind and looked down to the beach.

"Do you believe that there ... could be something bigger out there?"

"Oh, I'm certain that there's something bigger out there", Salomé said. "Maybe a bigger nothing. Maybe that mountain over there, maybe there is a bigger entity out there or within us. I don't know, I haven't decided yet what to treat as fact yet. Or what at the moment at least."

Arielle opened her mouth, but instead of words only a sigh could escape.

"Arielle, if you want a forward answer, why don't you ask forward?"

Salomé smiled at her. Arielle's face didn't change a shade.

"Because I want an answer ... that's true to you, Salomé. I want your answer."

Salomé didn't smile anymore and looked back at the sea.

"I don't like labels. Or definite answers," she said. "And I just ... don't know for myself. I can't say and sometimes it feels a bit bad because ... all of you find comfort in what you believe and I can't commit to anything. You know, I believe in everything and nothing and it's just ... not very nice in the moments I'm only human."

Arielle stared at her with eyes wide open while Salomé pulled her shoulders up, face nuzzling at the collar of her shirt.

"If you want to talk about it and everything else in those moments, I'm there." Arielle walked up to her, grabbed her arm and kissed her on the cheek. "Ma souris.”

"I may don't like labels or definitive facts, but madamn Halévy, I'm so gay." Salomé kissed her on the mouth. "So gay for you. Te amo Arielle."

Arielle chuckled inbetween the kisses:

"Je t'aime, Salomé."

Chapter Text

Lorenzo knew he had to bear with Charlie for probably a quite long time from now on. Yeah, the Irish wasn’t even that bad. He managed to keep them apart – and was getting better at it – didn’t get into Lorenzo’s way only to mock him and he made Marco happy. He wasn’t as good as Harry but Lorenzo was growing accustomed to him.

Yet he really wished Charlie would be on the fucking moon as he came home from a game of Poker.

He hadn’t heard the other sounds thanks due to the TV running. No, he only heard the wet noise of kisses and heavy breathing when he entered the living room.

Charlie was lying on top of Marco, his shirt untucked and the first few buttons of it undone. One hand of him was beside Marco’s head, the other was under his brother’s polo shirt.

And Marco was running his hands over Charlie’s neck, yanking a little at the shirt to slide the other one past the collar over his back.

All while giggling and fucking French kissing.

“What the shit …”, he said and both of them jolted, stopping their face sucking to look at him.

“Oh … Hey, Lorenzo”, Charlie  said after some grimacing.

“Hey brother”, Marco said.

Silence ensued until Lorenzo whispered “My eyes.” He turned back into the corridor: “Oh gooood my eeeeyeees.”

Chapter Text

„I like you, chér. You’re cheery, which is important, you’re cheeky, which is more important and you’ve got a lovely bottom, which is all-important. The ass of a man is the piston that drives the world, and you have a good one.” Arielle’s eyes lingered on for a second, silently, before she added: “Well, it’s not quite cheeky instead this awful dry british humour, but I think we can work with this.”

Tahir had known this woman for a month, tops. An entire month, that was; contact in the three months before this one and rare and shallow; now that Arthur had more business with Francis – only for the mainland connection, Tahir knew that – the English also had more business with his right hands. And Arielle seemed to have way more business with him that Tahir had expected.

“No takebacks on the cheery though?” he simply asked her and chuckled again, her smile showing pearl white teeth.

“Why, is this unusual for you?”

“Well, I hope not, but I’d count myself more as one of the calmer kind” he said. “I’m a gentleman.”

“You are indeed, always treading so carefully” Arielle said. “Truly an Englishman.”

His smile was wide but not bright like hers: “Can’t say I’m not proud of it.”

She cocked an eyebrow but never lost any of the charme. Everything she did was with a smile and an enticing twinkle in her eyes. Tahir found it arrogant in most Parisians, but on Arielle he thought it was stunning.

“Saying that in front of a French woman is not ought to get you any plus points, chér.”

“Might be, Miss Halévy, but you already admitted that you like this one and, as a gentleman, I am not one to lie. Speaking of like, you look stunning today. It seems actually to me, as if you are getting more beautiful with each time we see each other.”

She laughed, loud and lovely. “You’re flirting as stuffy as an Englishman, too.” She grinned again, tapping with her fingers on the table. “And yet it doesn’t turn me off. I bet that’s all due to your ass.”

“And you’re really as unapologetically bold as a French woman” he said. He leant in to her and lowered his voice. “Is that what you look for in a man, too? Not gentleness but wild fire?” His hand was lying very close to her. Arielle noticed it because she felt it. Suddenly, the air was thicker and carried the electricity between them way better.

“Well, I need a man who does have manners” she said and looked him straight in the eyes. “But I don’t need anyone who sits on his ass, no matter how pretty, and does nothing to entertain me.”

There was a time spent in silence. Then Tahir suddenly grabbed her hand and pressed a kiss to it. It was intense but not sloppy and his hand squeezed hers.

“I’ll see what I can do about that, my Belle” he said with a grin. There was still some kind of stiffness in his face but it only made his eyes glow more. Then he stood up, leaving her behind at the table.

Chapter Text

There was a chuckle from the bed room and soft, fast thuds. Francesco didn’t bother much with it at first, but after some time became so curious he put his breakfast aside and went back.

When he had last left it, Dolcetto had still been asleep. Now he sat crosslegged on his bed, holding up a piece of string and swayed it to and fro right over his cat’s head. Machiavelli was eagerly watching; whenever he lost interest, Dolcetto slowed down. And often, when he started to pick up the pace, Machiavelli jumped after it, trying to claw at it.

Dolcetto smiled brightly all the time, a little snort escaped him every now and then as well, but when Machiavelli jumped, he chuckled. Eventually, he put the string down and Machiavelli jumped at his hand, clawing at it. However, he still smiled, while admonishing him with a gentle slap on the nose: “Not like that, you asshole.”

When he caressed the thick fur, Francesco sat down next to him. “Slept well?” he asked and Dolcetto looked at him; he still smiled faintly and didn’t stop when he answered.

“Yes.” Francesco stared at him just for a little while before he leant over and put his head on his shoulder. Rubbing his face against it, he elicited another chuckle and sighed happily himself.

“Do you want breakfast in bed?” he whispered into his ear.

“Now, I’ll get up in a few minutes.” A few moments passed by in silence. “Thank you though.”

Chapter Text

“And that is Phạm xiao jie.”

Chi didn’t like being introduced by Yao, the least in his own language and the completely wrong way.

But she also didn’t like that she was in his office. Or his country.

But since she had hesitated so long with to whether or accept his offer on being introduced to his Russian partner, she had no time for negotiation and had to accept his conditions.

So now she stood in Yao’s main office in Peking, her bodyguards behind and next to her, mirroring the man and his bodyguards in front of her.

Ivan Braginsky smiled brightly. “I’m very glad to meet you, Phạm Côngowna.”

Chi raised both eyebrows. Ivan had either done his job, a little more research and found out her father’s name or Yao told him him – which was more likely. Even when it did sound like Russian word, the first part was the correct Vietnamese pronounciation of her father’s name.

“That’s a Russian thing” Yao curtly explained to her, before his look turned to Ivan. “Her last name’s Phạm, Ivan.” He sounded and looked slightly annoyed.

Ivan simply kept smiling, a little amused even at Yao. “Now that’s still confusing” Ivan said to him until he turned back to her. “It’s a Russian thing indeed and it’s just the polite way to refer to people, you know? We don’t do the entire Mister and Misses thing. It’s a little unusal to address foreign people, but I still think it’s the best option. If you don’t like it, I’ll stop with it and call you by your last name. Or your only your first name - It's Chi, right?”

She could hardly follow his words, for too many thoughts rushed through her head. Eventually, she decided to simply go with it.

“I don’t mind. My name is Phạm Huệ Chi, I’m pleased to meet you” She said. She didn’t shake his already offered hand but bowed down slightly with her hands pressed against each other. Sure, it was old fashioned and even Yao shook hands with westerners. But this was her polite thing.

The spiel repeated ,smoothly this time, when they introduced their bodyguards to each other, but had Yao then not immediately dragged them off to business, there would have been another moment of silence and smiling at each other, just mirroring each other’s cold friendliness.  

Well, Chi wouldn’t be smiling, she rarely ever did. The greedy, curious look in her eyes would however been the same as in Ivan’s.

Chapter Text

„And? How’s it going?“ Harry asked.

“Good. What do you expect?” Michele asked back with an amused. “I’m just looking if they’re doing well.”

“They could also not do well” Harry said and Michele grinned while he kept inspecting the rest of the tiny cherries.

“Nothing I touch ever goes wrong” he said.

Harry cackled. And then, the latter Michele stood on shifted a little. It had two rows and could stand on its own, but the ground was a little uneven and since there wasn’t much to do anyways, Harry had been holding it. Now however, he apparently stepped on it and wrapped his arms around Michele’s waist, resting his head on his shoulder.

Michele didn’t voice his concern of them falling over, but he chuckled when Harry asked: “When are you going to plant the spaghetti trees?”

“Soon” he said and looked back at him, seeing the bright grin while Harry’s laugh was throaty. Michele couldn’t help but laugh himself, so much the ladder almost fell over. After Harry had gotten off of it and Michele had steadied himself again, Harry asked:

“I can’t wait for some self grown spaghetti.” And before Michele had the chance to answer, his shirt was dragged up and Harry pressed a kiss to his lower back.

He giggled before he answered, having cringed a little when the other’s lips had touched him. “For real though, I am wondering if I could turn the hills out there into a vineyard. I don’t know if the ground here is right for it, but it’d be nice.” He propped his chin up on his hand, staring into the distance. “You know, back in Syracuse and around Catania, especially around Catania and the Etna, there are so many vineyards. It’s wonderful.”

Harry followed his gaze. “I can see that.”

Michele looked down on him. “Even if I can’t, we could take a trip to the east and visit some vineyards. Do some vine tasting and so on …” He climbed downstairs. “Just visit my mother when I’m there anyways, but take a sweet Hotel and treat ourselves to a nice weekend with a bottle of Sicilian quality wine or two.”

Michele’s feet touched the floor and Harry hugged him from behind again. “Sounds wonderful to me” he said. “Although I like the idea of feeding you with the grapes you planted yourself more. Just the two of us in a blanket in the grass …”

Harry probably muttered a few more future ideas, but they were lost in the fleeting kisses he placed all over Michele’s neck.

Michele cringed again, but kept staring at the hills, rising behind his house in some distance. “Yeah, me too.”

Chapter Text

“Io penso che è un buon giorno,” Ludwig said. “How’s my Italian?”


“Absolutely fucking terrible,” Lovino said, lying on the couch behind them, but Feliciano just giggled.

“I think you’re doing fine.” He nodded. “Ich denke, das ist gut gewesen.” Feliciano’s German was thick with accent but so was Ludwig’s Italian. At least he managed to roll the r unlike Gilbert, who had ranted something about bad Batzi influence and then sulked.

“It’s not è, it’s sia,” Lovino said. “Because it’s your own personal opinion, because the day could be nice, but it fucking ain’t because I’m stuck here with you.”

Ludwig sighed. “Thank you for your grammar lessons, Lovino”, he said without looking at him.

“Prego.”

Feliciano tried his best to hide his laughter but a little snort escaped him. When Ludwig looked at him, he reached out to caress his arm. His smile was friendly. “You’re doing well, really. I can understand you.”

“Well, I guess that is the most important thing,” Ludwig said and caught the hand that had moved to his cheek and pressed a kiss into it.

“Che beota,” Lovino muttered while turning the pages of his novels.

Ludwig sighed once more. “Honestly, I’m glad that I don’t understand him yet,” he said and Feliciano laughed.

Chapter Text

“Do you often feel this lonely?” Francis asked

“Often? Kind of every day,” Arthur answered into the dark.

It felt weird to have such discussions on a sofa in a good and nice living room that would be the dream of any square. But Arthur didn’t own a suburb mansion or luxurious flat in the middle of Paris; this was all he had. Had ever had.

At least the weather fit; a storm had caused a power outage a few minutes ago.

Maybe, maybe under a little other circumstances, they would have already been making out by the time it happened and the dark would have only intensified the amorous mood. Then they’d already be in the bedroom, doing things other than talking.

But Arthur had been like this like Francis had arriven. Barely talking, but also not lashing out. Pressing back into hugs, but only half-heartedly kissing back.

He understood. That was the reason that he and his mother only used the villa they used to live an as second home. They’ve had many plans what to do with it instead, too, but in the end, nostalgia always won. The nostalgia that had driven both out of it as well.

“Maybe we should get candles,” Francis said.

“Afraid of the dark?” Arthur asked.

Francis glared in his direction, but sadly, no lightning made Arthur able to see it right now. Or may fortunately; he knew Arthur was not in a great mood.

I’d rather think that you are afraid of the dark. Of the ghosts of your past.

“I just think that candles could make all of this romantic, at last,” Francis said and got up.

“Sit down,” Arthur said and got up as well. “I’ll get some candles, or a torch, or something.”

Being left alone in the dark, Francis thought about how he would like to not meet the ghosts of Arthur’s past. That’d be just uncomfortable if you put the supernatural aspect aside. No idea, how his mother would react, but his father …

The light of a flashlight appeared on the wall and quickly, Arthur entered the living room. He had a bunch of tealights in the other hand, along with a box of matches.

“There you have your candles,” Arthur said and sat back down next to him. He put them on the table, right on his empty plate, and lit the first match. “We have a lot of long ones, too, but where should I have put them?”

Francis watched him light the candles, then he took the flashlight and turned it off.

“Arthur, can you tell me about your parents?”

Arthur didn’t answer but in the dim light of the candles, he could now see his surprised face.

“I’m sorry if that was insensitive. It’s just … I know you feel lonely because of them, but I would love to know why you missed them in first place.”

Arthur didn’t answer immediately and Francis already wondered if he had ruined it all. “If you don’t want to –“ he began, but Arthur shook his head. Then he leant against him.

“Well, my mother liked to stitch …”

Chapter Text

With a sigh, Roderich folded his newspaper together and pushed it away. It almost fell of Erzsébet’s side of the table.

She stopped peeling potatoes to look at him. “Something's wrong?” she asked.

“They are actually allowing a re-election,” Roderich said. “Because the FPÖ, who had nominated a candidate for the election, went to the constitutional court. And, as it turns out, because someone screwed up with the vote count when it comes to the postal vote as well as … Thing is, they said this election was unfair and there is going to be another one.”

He rubbed his temples.

“And that is not good,” Erzsébet said.

“Well, it could indeed not turn out well. We’ve all been so relieved that the FPÖ, this right wing party that apparently made being a nationalist jerk socially acceptable again for many people … We’ve been so relieved that they lost. Even if it was just by an inch, but lost was lost! And now this!”

“Ugh,” Erzsébet said. The next piece of potato peel landed a few meters away on the kitchen floor.

Roderich looked at her, waiting for anything further, but she only kept furiously peeling her potatoes.

As he went to pick up the peels that didn’t make it into the trash bowl, she said: “Roderich, have you ever thought about a coup?”

He furrowed his eyebrows slightly. “What do you mean by Coup?” he meant as he dropped the peels into the bowl.

“Overthrowing the government,” Erzsébet answered. She was solely looking onto her potato and didn’t notice that the next peel she chipped away landed on his trousers.

“Erzsébet,” he said and she sighed deeply.

“I really mean it, this is not just some delusional idea because being head of state sounds oh so awesome –“

“It’s not about that, I just wish you would try and keep the kitchen a little cleaner,” he said and she looked up. He took the peel of his trousers and threw it into the bowl.

“Oh. Sorry,” she said and laughed. “I didn’t want to get your pants dirty, Roddy.” He sat down again and she patted his thigh.

“It’s fine,” he said. “So you’ve seriously thought about a Coup d’Etat?”

“Yes,” she said. “It’s just … I’m so angry with what our government does to us and other people. I know we aren’t the good guys but … I honestly think we can’t be worse than those pigs in power.” She snorted and put another peeled potato away. “In some stories, the lesser villains have to team up with the hero to defeat the Big Bad. And I know there are a lot of people a lot more decent than us who’re pissed off by our current politics.”

“That’s an interesting way to put it,” Roderich said. He took his glasses off and pulled a cleaning cloth out of his shirt pocket. “An almost amusing one, to imagine it like you’re in a novel.”

“I found it to be the best way to describe it,” Erzsébet said. “I know I am not a beacon of morality, but I am a decent human being that treats others like ones as well. For our prime and his party, that’s apparently a fucking alien concept.”

Potato peels found their way onto the floor again and Roderich refrained from a sigh. He put his glasses on again.

“Do you ever had any specific plans on how you’d stage the Coup?” he asked her

“I did.”

“Well, in case that this re-election goes as feared, I might ask you for advice then.”

Erzsébet chuckled and Roderich smiled to himself as he looked at her.

“You know what is another great pastime if you’re not yet in the mood for overthrowing the government?” she said and leant towards him before she went back to potato peeling.

“What is?”

“Protests. Nothing is as good as going onto the streets and call people out for their bullshit.”

“I might, actually. I feel like I should. Lacklustre politics is what got us into this mess in first place.” He pulled the newspaper back onto the table before it fell off for real. “Can I help you?” he then asked.

Erzsébet shook her head. “Nah, I'm good. And almost done.”

“I’ve thought about baking a cake for later. Maybe I’ll just stuff my face with food and eat the frustration away.”

“That sounds like an excellent idea!” Erzsébet said and dropped the last peeled potato into the pot.

Chapter Text

"You still love me, right?"

Michele just stared down on the mess that was his kitchen. His eyes were only half open. No emotion tugged at the muscles of his face.

"Depends," he said. "If I can manage to clean the kitchen, I'm open to make up offers. If I can't, you better take your legs into your hands and run into the next church and ask for asylum."

"Whats the Italian word for asylum?" Harry asked. Usually he endured consequences, if he had to endure them at all, as cocky or deadpan as possible. Right now, he could only muster a nervous grin.

"Rifugio," Michele asked. He turned to the sink and picked up a sponge. The one Harry had used to cover up his fauxpax he had already thrown away.

Harry hushed out of the kitchen. He'd indeed go to the city and buy Michele a bunch of flowers. Maybe he'd also go into one of the restaurants he liked and tried to book a table for tonight. He might also actually visit one of the churches and pray. Maybe one of the priests spoke enough English to absolve him off of his sins he had committed against food and cooking.

He hadn't yet reached the door when he heard Michele whisper something. "Dio ci manda il cibo, il diavolo i cuochi."

Harry grabbed his jacket and had almost forgotten his wallet as he hurried out of the door and down the pathway of Michele's front lawn.

Chapter Text

It's not a good idea. It's never a good idea on evenings like this.

"Don't touch me." His tie is already loosened, almost undone. Francois undoes the rest and pulls at it. It slides around his neck, gets stuck and Arthur's pulled closer to him.

"Or else what," Francois asks with a smirk on his lips which grows into a wicked grin the longer he looks at him.

"This is not going to end nice."

The grin twists again and there's something much darker and sinister to it. Arthur feels his own aggression reflected in the blue eyes.

"Where's the fun in it when it's only nice? Nice is such a terrible bland flavour."

He sees his mother in him, the vein of cynism bleeding into him.

"Alright, I'll give you the ugly shit then, frog." Arthur grabs his collar, the shirt that must have been sinfully expensive, torn and stretched under his grip.

It's a sloppy kiss, it feels bad and awkward when their mouthes first smash together, but soon enough, tongues touching, they take what they need.

"You think you're getting away scotfree?" Francois asks inbetween one kiss and before Arthur could react, he grabbed both ends of his ties, crossed them and pulls. He chokes, spits out a gargling soung before Francois lets go.

"Oh, but I still love you, you know that, don't you?" Francois asks and the grin, the fake-sweetness his voice drips with, the feeling in his throat, it's all too much.

"Shut up about love. Love's got no space in here tonight. You're not here because you love me." Arthur's hand is in his shirt again and he makes sure his fingers dig, scratch, bruise the skin underneath.

There's the wicked grin again and Arthur would like to punch it a few teeth out. Instead, he kisses it again.

Chapter Text

"I cheered for you. I know, it doesn't really make it any better, but I cheered for you, even though you said something mean about us earlier."

Feliciano had come over for the weekend, so had all six in fact.

Ludwig looked up from the news on TV but only briefly. He shook his head and sighed.

"I mean," he said when Feliciano sat down next to him, "in retro perspective, I should have shut my big mouth. Now we're watching from the side-lines as well."

Feliciano chuckled and threw his arms around him. His head rested on Ludwig's shoulder and a smile spread on his face.

"You've got to look at the bright side, now there are fewer chances for us to have arguments," Feliciano said and he chuckled.

"True."

He put his arm around him, hand rested on his thigh.

"And in the end, it's only football, I suppose," Feliciano said.

"It is," Ludwig said.

The silence lasted for two seconds.

"It's not only football, what am I saying, it's football", Feliciano said and Ludwig nodded.

"It's a very important thing."

"Hello, Ludwig," Fabio said as he entered the living room.

"Hello Fabio," he replied. "No, don't talk about it. I don't want to complain about it."

Gabriella walked into the living room and they greeted each other as well. Feliciano was caressing him.

"Your brother said the same and then within two sentences, he was complaining." Ludwig laughed.

"You've won last time, so it's not that bad if you didn't make it far this time," Gabriella said. "And we didn't even make it in. Next time for all of us, I guess."

"Guess so," Ludwig answered.

"If you even get in next time," Lovino answered when he showed his face in the doorframe.

"Lovino, non essere così cattivo con lui," Francesco shouted from the garden but Lovino leant against the doorframe.

"Spain is in the finals now," he said. "Won their group, too!"

"I bet Antonio is having a lot of fun," Ludwig said.

"'Having a lot of fun', saying that to this Cheshire cat here, Ludwig, sure sounds wrong," Francesco said as he joined them but Lovino put an arm around his shoulders and dragged him around.

"We'll be in the kitchen and prepare stuff for the barbecue, aight?" he said.

Ludwig watched them go with an amused smile. "Sure. Thank you."

"Di niente!"

Fabio and Gabriella went into the garden to talk with Gilbert and Dolcetto, so when Ludwig turned the TV off, they were alone.

"You know, we should have some fun, too," Feliciano said. He put one of his hands onto Ludwig's which was still on his thigh.

"Lutz? Are you two coming or nah?!"

Feliciano's fingers intertwined with his. "Maybe later," he whispered.

"Yes, later," Ludwig promised and they kissed.

"Awww, they gon' fuck," Francesco whispered as he stopped in the doorframe while he was on his way into the garden with the bread basket.

Gilbert gave him a look between confused and concerned, said "Well, I hope not" before he turned to his brother:

"You two are coming now or not? We might have lost, but we still put dinner on the table on time in this country!"

Chapter Text

“It’s too hot for this.”

Katta only moaned in response but as Ann-Liz tried to roll off of her, it turned into a moan of pain.

“Fuck,” Ann-Liz whimpered while the sun shone onto her back.

“Well, fuck indeed and we can’t even fuck!” Katta said and Ann-Liz dropped her head back to Katta’s chest with a groan.

But Katta promptly lifted her head, which also prompted another cry of pain.

“Ouch!”

“Are you nuts, do you want to rip my boobs off with your face?!”

“That hurt!” Ann-Liz glared at her and Katta ran her hands through her hair. It only lead to more wincing. “Don’t.”

“Your hair’s getting a little long,” she said and untangled her hand.

“I know and now there’s always knots in there,” Ann-Liz answered. “But I can’t find it in myself to go to the hairdresser. First there was the end of the semester with these temperatures and now it’s holidays but I still can’t get myself to leave my flat. Except to see you.”

“Bad decision,” Katta answered. “Real bad decision.”

“I noticed,” Ann-Liz said. A little bit she hoped for an offended Katta, but apparently it was too hot for to care.

“There’s only one option here,” she said instead. “Do it like waxing – quick and painful.” She put her hands to Ann-Liz’s shoulders.

“Can’t we just lay here until the sun went down? Or until we melted into one either way?” she asked and tried to laugh at the end but it died in her dry throat.

“I mean, we can do that until we pass out. Probably because of my stink.” Katta looked her straight into the eyes.

“Okay, let’s do it.”

“Good. One, two – “

Ann-Liz let out a yelp of pain when Katta flipped her over. Their arms still touched until Katta moved away.

“I thought you were counting to three!” she said.

“Surprise always works better,” Katta answered and closed her eyes. “If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in the icecold bathtub,” she said without moving.

“Take me with you,” Ann-Liz said without even looking at her.

Chapter Text

“Patrick, what for the love of God are those?”

“Those are my shirts.”

Donella gave him still an amused smile before she picked up another shirt. “They need the entire length of the drying rack,” she said. “Someone could probably use that comfortably as a tent.” She hung the wet shirt over her arm and leant over so her face was in front of his. “Ever thought about donating a bunch and helping the homeless?”

“I did,” he buzzed unfazed and straightened the shirt he had just put on. He then slapped his shoulder blade. “And some of them already helped this homeless arse.” He took the shirt from her arm and smiled as she laughed.

“Are your pants similarly huge to fit this homeless arse?” she said and patted his bum.

Paddy laughed and put his hand on his bum. “You saw both my shirts and my pants off of me before,” he said, his eyes on Donella as she went around him. “I’ve just got a broad back, I always did.”

“Seeing them crumpled up on a bedroom floor is something different than seeing them all laid out on a drying rack,” she answered.

“Oh, just wait until you do laundry,” he told her. “I’m going to finally take a look at all those pretty dresses all laid out.”

“Don’t you dare,” she said and he chuckled. “Unlike you, I don’t have the excuse of a broad back, I only have a few kilos to lose.”

“Don’t forget your beautiful, long legs,” he said and pressed a kiss to her cheek on his way to return the laundry basket.

“Oh, but nothing about the extra kilos?” She asked with a smug grin.

“You know I love every single kilo on you!” was the answer from the other room.

Chapter Text

"How did I function so high all these last years?"

It rained outside. Winter was the times for storms at the coast.

Il temporale. Il vento che corre veloce. Il vento che sia irato.

Anch'io, vento, anch'io.

"Dunno, ask your therapist." Harry turned a page in his book. "My best guess is that you supressed the trauma and everything that came with it to save yourself."

"Maybe I did."

A hand ran through his hair and he flinched.

"I'm sorry, darling, I didn't want to startle you."

"No, it's okay, it's okay. Please, go on in fact."

A hand caressing his head, he felt the storm inside of him fade a little.

Non essere irato Vento. C'é sole qui vicino.

Harry kissed him on the head and put an arm around him. He must have put his book away.

"Do you want to think right now or would you like some distraction? We could watch history documentaries."

"Yes please," he replied and turned his head enough to rub his nose against Harry's. His cheek touched the other's.

Sì, è un sole! Così caldo, così chiaro!

"I love you," Michele said.

"I love you, too. More than you will ever know."

Chapter Text

"You're a ... fucking madman." The smile on Dolcetto's face was crooked, as were his clothes. He pulled his pants up, but it was a half hearted attempt to adjust them.

"I'm a Neapolitan." The grin on Francesco's face wasn't wide, but there was something in the way he lifted his eyebrows, in the sparkle in his eyes, that made it ooze energy. Energy that was ready to tear down what wasn't already in ruins in Rome.

He leant back while Dolcetto fastened his belt. "Didn't you enjoy it? Don't you think you're a little ...", his elbows buckled and his head tilted even further backwards, "mad as well?"

Dolcetto snorted and Francesco laughed. He bellowed and it was thrown back by the walls that surrounded them. It was a surprise that the old building wasn't shaking.

"I think no one could be with you if they weren't a little mad."

Francesco's laughter rose anew and afterwards, a grin from ear to ear plastered his face. He put his arms behind his head and crossed his legs. "I don't think I'm unique actually," he said. "I said I'm Neapolitan, but don't you think you've became a little ... different ever since you came to this city?"

Dolcetto, propped up on one arm, used his other to play with the curls that had escaped the gel of Francesco's hairstyle. "I don't think that's due to his city. I met you."

"Do you really think your old self would have fucked in an abandoned building?" he asked.

Dolcetto's expression was unmoved. "Yes."

Francesco frowned, eyebrows furrowed and a pout on his lips. His eyelids lifted and the pout disappeared after a while.

He sat up.

"Maybe you need to be a special person to even tap into this city's madness. Into ... it's life." The grin had vanished. The mad sparkle that had powered the muscles of his face was gone. He turned to Dolcetto. "I don't think you're not mad. Gabriella isn't, Fabio isn't, but you? You can't deny something here moves you." He smiled, a smile that slowly detoriated into a grin as Francesco tilted his head. "The Vargas are something else entirely, they grow up here, they basically are this city's spirit. But us? We aren't used to it and it infects us, it twists us. It truly is madness."

Dolcetto stared at him. "Shut up, Nero."

Francesco's laughter blended seamlessly into Rome's sound.

Chapter Text

It was hot and loud and full and it was Istanbul, not Ankara. Of course it was Istanbul.

The city that connected Europe and the Middle East. The last thread of Turkey that lingered into the territory with which it was once so tightly connected. Constantinople, as it had been called when their inhabitants had still considered themselves Romans but all spoken Greek.

Herakles spoke Greek right now, the words tumbled off of his heavy and drunk tongue.

Athanasios wouldn’t have cared if he knew that his son was getting smashed hundreds of kilometres away from home. He did not know about it and he still didn’t care. Even knowing that this was a queer boat party would have made him disapprove at best.

Funda would have cared – about her Sadık’s image. She wanted to protect her son from himself, keep his image clean, give nobody a reason to disapprove of him.

Boy, was Sadık fucking his mother’s plans up. He loved her, dearly, but he also loved Herakles, who was holding onto him right now.

Herakles had lied about his age to the bouncer, he had lied the whole evening and he could, because he was 15 but passed as 18. How a lazy cat like Herakles had such a body, he did not know. Puberty was sure doing him good and maybe his father did him so bad he wanted to outdo him. Too many girls Herakles age swooned over his father.

Herakles on the other hand wondered how a seventeen year old could be as hairy as Sadık already. His beard itched when he rubbed his cheek against him.

“You need to speak English, boy, otherwise I can’t understand a word,” Sadık said but Herakles only pulled his head back and struck his tongue out at him. What a brat.

And then he sipped at his drink again, one of these disgustingly sweet mixtures where you can’t taste the alcohol and thus always drank too many.

And boy, did Herakles and Sadık had too many of these for sure.

“I told you this’ll be a blast,” Sadık said.

“You didn’t lie, as you do so often.”

“I never lie about important things to you.”

Herakles put his drink down. He wouldn’t touch it afterwards and Sadık would just buy him a new one, because they had more money than sense but at least they used their money to be sensible.

“Dance with me again,” he said and pulled Sadık by his arm.

“I am pretty sure that everyone here thinks by now that I’m your boyfriend,” Sadık said with a grin but let himself be willingly dragged off to the dancefloor once more.

“I’d be fine with that,” Herakles replied and the answer makes Sadık happier than he thought it would.

“That’s not how you find any new flings, though,” Sadık answered and in the same train of thought reminded himself that there were a lot of people here who are ten years older than Herakles.

“I don’t want new flings,” Herakles answered and puts his arms around Sadık’s neck. He’s only half a head smaller than him and Sadık is sure he hadn’t have his last growth spur yet.

“So you’re a faithful one, huh?” He put one hand on his hip and it was strangely close for how they hadn’t even kissed each other once this evening.

Or ever.

Chapter Text

"You look like a pirate now," Donella told him and Paddy pulled one corner of his mouth into a loopsided grin.

The golden fake teeth had an odd shine to them.

"Oh, do I?" he asked.

"Like a real bad one," Donella said. She put an hand on his and carried on more quiet. "I'm still saying you should see a doctor about passing out. I know you can't stand hot temperatures, but just passing out sounds unhealthy even for you."

Paddy shook his hand and head. "I just forgot to drink," he said. "And we were out for too long in the sun. Stuff like this happens."

Stuff like this did happen. And stuff like the shit that really punched his teeth out did happen as well, but no doctor knew a remedy for his lifestyle.

He had always known Diego was the better soldier out of the two of them and this time, Paddy's recklessness hadn't been enough. His skill had never been in the face of the other man.

"Paddy, you're over fifty years old. And I would wish you'd live to see another fifty years," Donella said.

"Oh, I'd wish that, too, but what can you do?" he said and grinned.

She didn't smile. "Patrick, I know I can't tell you what to do, but I am seriously concerned. I know you lived through a lot, but one day, your wounds won't heal into scars anymore."

Paddy wasn't in the mood to smile anymore either. Some wounds had stopped healing a long time ago and let his lifeforce drip away with each step.

So he smiled, nice and polite without showing those ugly teeth again and put his other hand on hers.

"I'll take care," he said.

Chapter Text

It was still dark outside, there wasn’t even a trace of blue in the sky at this ungodly time.

So the light of the bedside table was the only one when Lovino awoke.

After he had blinked a few times and forced at least one of his eyes to stay open, he saw Antonio, who leant over him.

“What do you want?” he asked. He had made no moves to pull his shoulders down, still buried under the blanket up to his neck.

The smile on Antonio’s face got cracks, but it still shone brighter than the bedside lamp. “Aren’t you happy to see me?”

“It’s the ass of the fucking night and that’s what you wake me up for?” Now he turned onto his back and rubbed his eyes.

Antonio sat down on the edge of the bed and put his hand close to Lovino’s leg when he leant closer to him. “I felt so bad that I suddenly had to leave and you were on my mind the whole time, so I didn’t want until the next morning.”

“Wait for what?” Lovino asked and threw his arms up once. “The fuck do you want to do now? I ain’t doing anything, I tell you that much, except for turning around and continuing to sleep.” And turn around he did, eyes closed. “Maybe ignore your existence until the sun’s up.”

Antonio snorted and leant over him. He caressed his cheek. “I’m sorry for waking you up. Can I at least get a kiss?”

“You fucking giant sap,” Lovino answered. For a while, nothing happened except for Antonio’s caresses and he forced himself to keep his eyes closed. “Do you actually plan to get into bed and switch the goddamn light off or do you want to watch me like a creep until the sun’s up?”

Antonio chuckled about that and the hand disappeared from his cheek. He heard the rustle of clothes, the nearly silent sound when they hit the floor. The sound of his belt and the stiff denim of his jeans was louder, but not louder than the click of the bedside lamp being switched off.

He heard the bed creak and felt the blanket lifted before an arm wrapped around his waist and Antonio pressed his whole front to his back.

He buried his face in the curve of his neck and Lovino heard the deep breath he took as much as he felt it. The hand around his waist dug into the T-Shirt he wore for sleeping.

From one second to the other, his eyes were wide open and his heart was in his mouth.

Antonio lifted his face from his shoulder. “I missed you,” he whispered directly into his ear.

Lovino was sure that he had to feel his heartbeat. Great, now he was wide awake at 5 am and locked firmly in Antonio’s hold.

At least Antonio didn’t fall asleep. “We haven’t seen each other in a while, so I’m so sorry we couldn’t spend so much time together.”

“We would have spent the whole day today together because of work, anyways,” Lovino said. His heart had calmed down a little. But the warmth of Antonio’s touch still made it jump from time to time.

“But I wanted to spend the night with you today, too. I wanted to be there when you fell asleep and I wanted to be with you before that. I wanted to … do other things before we fell asleep, too.”

Lovino could hear the grin in his voice. Antonio’s hand plucked at the hem of his shirt as well as at the waistband of his underpants.

“You can be there when I wake up,” Lovino told him. “And then we can also do other things.” He sighed and closed his eyes.

They flew right back open in surprise when Antonio pulled him closer and his grip tightened. “Does that mean I’m getting morning sex?” he asked and Lovino gripped the pillow to give the shock – and annoyance – some kind of outlet.

“If you’re going to let me sleep, you’re going to get some! Otherwise all you’re going to get is kicked in the balls!”

Antonio laughed and stuffed his face into Lovino’s neck again. He felt the vibrations of his laughter through his body.

He moved his body enough to look at him. He couldn’t stay mad at him, in the end.

Antonio looked at him with a smile and Lovino pecked him on the lips. “Come on. Sleep now. You’re surely dead tired.”

“That’s true.” Antonio yawned once before he put his head onto Lovino’s shoulder. Within a minute, both men were fast asleep.

Chapter Text

"Moritz?"

Moritz turned his head to look at Simon over his shoulder. He slept with his back to him. They had never been two to cuddle a lot when it came to actual sleeping.

Or Moritz wasn't one, to be honest. Simon had slept with Lena in his arms, her face against his chest and his fingers in her hair. He had slept with Janine, both of their bodies all over the bed, especially hers.

But he didn't mind with Moritz. They just weren't that kind of couple.

With him, he also felt like he didn't have to cling to anything.

And yet ...

"What's the matter?"

"What if you have to go during the night?"

Moritz turned his back a little more towards him to look at him. "Then I will leave and in the best case won't wake you up."

Simon was quiet for a moment. He didn't look at Moritz. "Yes, that's for the best, I guess."

Moritz still didn't turn around again, so Simon swallowed and spoke up before he could. "Then we'll just see each other around some time, yes?"

"Yes." Now he turned around and Simon supressed a sigh before he looked at his back.

Moritz had broad shoulders, but underneath his chest, he became skinny. Almost haggard. His sharp face had the same vibe, with the short, bristly, black hair atop of it.

He was an imposing figure, especially so if contrasted with Simon, who was slim but did not have the same strength in his arms and legs as Moritz. His own black hair fell in thick strands over his forehead if he didn't brush it back and it tickled the back of his neck.

To be fully honest, Simon wondered if he had been sporting a belly lately. He knew he'd get one as soon as his job would become a fulltime desk one.

He sighed into the silence. He was sure Moritz didn't hear it. His breath was deep and even.

Yes, he was just the police officer and Moritz was the secret agent. They were all people with a certain something and all he had was enough nerve to be allowed to work with them.

He wondered if some day, he'd wake up alone and realize that he also only had enough nerve to be together with an agent.

And that he hadn't deemed it enough nerve in the end.

Chapter Text

"Why do you do so much sport?“ Hugo asked as he laid on Leo. One of his hands played with their hair. “If I wanted to slack off, sports wouldn’t be what I'd do.”

“Well, you get fat easily in old age,” they answered and Hugo chuckled. It wasn’t a loud or long chuckle, but they still felt the vibrations from his stomach and chest in their own. They enjoyed the touch a lot, soft skin on soft hair. “And sports are healthy! I didn’t really have time to do what I wanted with my former employer. I did sports to stay in shape, but not because I actually enjoyed what I did. Sports were just another chore on pile of a whole lot of other chores.” Leo took a short break to nuzzle through Hugo’s hair. “What I do now, I actually enjoy. Hiking, for example, reminds me of my childhood. I often played outside then, alone or with friends. Often with our old dog, too. For me, to be as free as a child, is the definition of slacking off.”

Hugo didn’t answer and Leo didn’t mind. Their nose went back into Hugo’s hair while he played with theirs.

“That sounds like a nice childhood,” Hugo muttered.

“It was one, very much. Especially everything before puberty.” They chuckled. “Don’t you miss those days as well?”

“Hmm.” Hugo’s head rested on his arm, which in turn laid on Leo’s chest. “Not really.”

Leo’s face was still in his hair. “Did you not have a nice childhood?” They asked.

“Not really.”

Silence.

“What was it like?”

Hugo sighed loudly and lifted himself up. Sadly that meant he had to use both arms and stopped playing with Leo's hair, who in turn also couldn’t press their face into his. “I don’t want to talk about it. I’m hungry, actually. Can I just use your kitchen or should we order something or do you want something … or what?”

Chapter Text

„I saw how you looked at her.“

Harry felt his cheeks heat up. Neck frozen in place, he simply couldn’t look at Michele.

“It’s okay, I’m not jealous,” he moved on, voice soft but it didn’t help Harry’s fast beating heart. “Neither do I want to pry – but I am curious.” Michele put his hands on his shoulders and rubbed them.

“It’s stupid,” he finally stammered. “And … an old hat.” He couldn’t even finish his dry laugh when Michele’s words choked it in his throat.

“It doesn’t look like an old hat. Your eyes looked very alive … burning with something.” He put his head on his shoulder and yet, Harry still couldn’t look at him. “Care to tell me what fans the flames?”

“I’ve never seen eyes so beautiful. You know, we all got green eyes, I got them, Soph got them, Gavin got them, but they don’t look as beautiful on anyone else … but her.” His look had zoomed out and only slowly, he began to realize what he had just said.

Michele didn’t interrupt him.

“I met her … Gavin introduced us to her, all of us. Back then, when it was clear they weren’t yet a couple. But they … I saw how he looked at her, because Gavin throw his heart everywhere … because he can actually give the love.” He took a deep breath. “I just broke up with my last girlfriend, she broke up with me. Alice had left because I had ruined her, because she tried so hard and couldn’t take the task, the mess I am, this unloveable arsehole. So … I saw how he looked at Hannah and I saw how she looked at him and I … I didn’t know if I looked at her the same, but if I did, I looked away. She was so stubborn and funny and such a friendly soul … she only became kinder and more confident as time went. I don’t know if she knew or if Gavin knew, but I never said a word. Never when he looked at her like that, never when she started to look at him like that. Because I didn’t want to object another person to the mess I am. The broken monster.”

Tears ran down his cheek and dripped off of his nose and chin. “Sometimes, when we talked, I wondered … I wondered if she …. Could see it. If she …” he buried his face in his hands. “Doesn’t matter. If she would have … I probably would have rejected her. Or … not.”

“It’s the not that’s still tormenting you, isn’t it?” Michele whispered.

Harry sobbed as answer.

“It’s okay, Tesoro, let it all out.”

Chapter Text

„What’s the light of the party doing out here?“

Freyja looked over her shoulder but only saw a silhouette against the houses lights until Magnús sat down next to her.

“Rebelling,” she said and he laughed. She waved with a piece of paper. “It’s not really working with the piercings and with getting an older boyfriend, so I guess boycotting my own birthday party has to do it.” She sighed, although there was a smile on her face.

“Should I tell you that it’s working and your mother had a real disappointing face when she pointed me to you out here?”

“You’re asking me if I want you to lie,” she said and his smile turned a little sheepish.

They sat in silence for a while, Freyja staring into the nightsky, until Magnús asked: “What’s that you got there?”

“A coupon for the place I got my piercings from, for future piercings.”

“That’s a very nice gift!” He beamed and put an arm around her.

“It is.” Still the same smile on her face.

“ … you’re not happy with it, are you?”

She sighed again and there was a deep frown on her face as she spoke: “I am! I am really thankful that my parents are this understanding and all, I don’t want them to, like … hate me or not accept me, it’s just …” She stared at the coupon. “I sometimes think they don’t understand after all that I am not their little princess. I feel like … “ She sighed.

“You know, I am the only one they have left at home, so I feel like I have to be the perfect child at all the time. I don’t wanna disappoint them, but I don’t know … I don’t know. I feel like my brothers have it easier.”

“You haven’t disappointed them, did you?”

Freyja didn’t look at him. “No. It’s a stupid fear, I know. That your family is too loving.”

He shrugged. “I mean, I can’t really … relate to that, but I know how it is to have a lot of responsibility.” He wrung his hands.

There was silence again. “You know who gave me a nice gift, too?” She said into it. “Emil. He build an entire forest population out of cork and chestnuts.” She laughed and looked at him. “Do you want to see it?”

“Yes, sure!”

Chapter Text

„Is that a real seashell?” Soph asked the twins while they were waiting for Maria. She couldn’t understand a word from the conversation she had with her neighbours, anyways.

“It is, and it’s one of a kind,” Lorenzo said.

“A kind you don’t often find here,” Marco added. “Fontane Bianche isn’t very famous for its wildlife –“

“But for its peace. It’s a nice, clean, foreign tourist free piece of beach,” Lorenzo said.

“Until we came,” Charlie said from the table. He played with the wineglass in his hand.

“You’re not tourists, you’re part of the family,” Marco said.

“Mamma, la cena diventerà fredda,” Michele called to his mother. His fingers were gingerly turning at the handle of a saucier. Knowing very well that he would not interrupt his mother’s conversation with her neighbours, he went to get the lid of the saucier to keep it warm.

“The kids are already so restless they’re going sniffing around the gifts,” Paddy said.

Soph’s eyes widened and shot from side to side. She had almost dropped the gift box to assert her fake innocence.

“Should I tell her?” Michele asked, earning a “No!” from the twins and laughter from Paddy.

There were steps from the front door. Steps of more than one person.

“Questo è la famiglia di mio genero Harry, il bello ragazzo accanto a Michele. Conoscete i gemelli, la ragazza giovane è la sorella di Harry, Sophia. E questo è Charlie, ragazzo di Marco, e l’uomo alto accanto a lui è Paddy, loro padrino.”

Charlie snorted early on when Maria explained her guests to her neighbours. Luckily enough, Soph had put the gift down already.

“She just introduced you as pretty boy,” Charlie told Harry. Harry didn’t laugh at all, but instead began to smile and blushed lightly.

“And as her son in law,” Michele said. He was so close to Harry, he wished he’d kiss him on the cheek. “Not quite right, but who knows what the future will bring. She should start introducing you as my fiancé first, though. My eye candy fiancé …”

Michele swiftly turned around to greet the neighbours with a smile and small talk, as it seems. The Irish all only uttered a one worded greeting, but no one seemed to mind. Maria surely already told them they spoke no Italian.

“Oi, Frecky,” Charlie whispered after he leant over the table towards Harry. “Is it full moon already?” He asked with a side glance on the neighbour. He and the woman seemed to be a couple.

Harry kept a deadpan face. “Lycanthropy is not a joke, Charlie,” he said. “Didn’t you read Harry Potter properly?”

Charlie chuckled and leant back.

“Michele, have you used my gift yet, by the way?” Soph had sat down in the meantime.

Michele turned to her. “The snowmen oven mitts? Of course I did Sophia. I even brought them here with me, didn’t you hear how Mamma said they were cute?”

“No, I didn’t.” Soph hid her blush and sheepishly proud smile behind a glass of orange juice. “So much joy with a second hand gift, Maeve was right, that was a great idea,” she half muttered to herself, half told Charlie.

“She surely did, honey,” Charlie said and began to run his fingers over her back.

Maria said goodbye to her guests, as did her other guests, but it took another few minutes, until she returned to the table.

“Mi dispiace! Mi dispiace …” Maria said and uttered even more explanations and apologies in Italian which Michele was busy to translate when he wasn’t telling his mother to calm down.

Before she sat down, she tweaked a piece of mistletoe that lay on the table as decoration.

“Maria, potresti daremi questo?” Lorenzo asked. She at first gave him a surprised look, then frowned before she handed him the mistletoe.

Lorenzo held it over Michele and Harry.

“Sono andati, adesso bacia tuo fidanzato,” he told Michele with a grin. He leant on his chair with one arm.

Maria chuckled and tried to stifle it under her hand. Marco grinned like his brother while Charlie tried not to laugh.

“Non è mio fidanzato,” Michele said. “Non ancora …” He leant in to Harry and pressed a kiss to the waiting lips.

Chapter Text

“Isn't it just like two shipwrecked men clinging to one another?” Michele asked after they were done and laid together. 

What a cruel question it was, to talk right about the reason for why they were seeking solace in each other's arms. But since he apparently felt such a tremendous need to talk about it, he must have hurt and so vetoing him from speaking would have been cruel as well. 

“Mhm,” was all the answer Herakles could muster. He didn't want to philosophize for once, not about his own pain. He didn't want to think of this as convenience. 

Michele laughed, head still against his chest and Herakles arm wrapped around him. His hair was sweaty and messy and he welcomed that a lot more than his usual neat look. 

“We've clung to each other because we both needed someone to understand our pain and ask no questions.” 

There was a hickie on his neck. A big one. He liked it but didn't dare to reach out and run the back of his fingers over it. To cause pain while other wounds still and clearly were open wasn't a good idea.

Trauma . Greek for wound. The blood from the hickey only seeped into his skin, but a far deeper trauma sputtered from his mouth. Maybe all the blood from the bruises that his father had caused him, he had swallowed and now vomited it back out. 

“Even now they're dead, we're clinging to each other because we want to forget and we need distraction. Even now I feel like I have to hide from them and find a way to make something lovely to hide all the pain.” He laughed again and buried his face into his chest. For a moment, Herakles feared that he'd began to sob any second now. 

So he took his hand and caressed his side with the other. 

“Focus on the lovely,” he said when Michele looked at him. “They're gone. For good. There's nothing we have to hide now.” 

Michele gave him a pained smile at first, but it turned more and more genuine as time passed. 

He lowered his voice and softly, added: “Do you really see this as nothing more than a distraction?” 

“No, no, no” he said, looked up and sat up. He didn't let go or shook off Herakles' hand. “Of course not, my dearest friend. It's not just distraction, you're not just anyone to me.” He looked him straight in the eyes and they ended up staring at each other for a while. 

What a man he had become, with what authority in his face. Not that he could see any of it right now, for the kind but tired and scared boy he used to know was all too evident in his features. If he was a Trojan Prince somehow gone too far ashore, he was Paris and not Hector in this moment. 

He caressed his cheek with the hand that was not held and Michele leaned into the touch. 

“I think we shouldn't think of this as distraction, but as celebration of our freedom,” he said and Michele's pretty eyes fluttered open again. “We can do whatever we want.” He realized what he just had said and sat up himself, with an electrified grin on his face and now cupped Michele's face with both of his hands. “We can do whatever we want,” he repeated, his voice no more than an excited whisper, because any louder and it would break. “No more restraints, there's nothing that could ever hold us back now.” 

Michele smiled at him, but it was more of a tired and derisive smile. 

“Sure, we can look at it like this,” he said. 

“Are you not thrilled?” Herakles asked. He leant in closer to him and cocked his head as if he searched in his face. “Where did your enthusiasm go? Where's the Michele again who, just months ago, sat in this bed with enough enthusiasm to conquer the world? Where did my Alexander go?” To know that Alexander had been an insulting nickname for his own father by Funda Adnan still stung a little, but his father never had wanted the title and not deserved it, anyways. 

Michele snorted. “I think he might have died in Paris. Or, if I'd rather say that I'm Achilles, I died through Paris.” He sighed and rubbed his cheek against one of his hands with closed eyes. “I'll have to go back there tomorrow.” 

“Do you really have to?” 

“I'll have to end what I started. I'm not going to draw my horns in and live it down, that'd be even more cowardly than what François is trying to do.” 

Herakles looked at him with a soft smile before he kissed his forehead. “Don't get killed up there,” he said. “I'd much rather have you safe at home with your loved ones without glory than dying for your ego. Don't be an Achilles.” 

Michele sighed and it might have been a failed snort. Throughout it all, he hadn't opened his eyes once until now. “Bold words to come from an Alexander like you. Are you going to Ankara again soon? Or Istanbul?” 

His smile was still soft. “I might,” he said. “If you're going to leave me for Paris.” 

“Oh, believe me, I'm not going to have half the fun in Paris that you and he are going to have.” He kissed the palm of his hand and then left a trail of kisses down his arms. “Even if I want to sleep with François out of frustration, just so that I don't have to talk with him, for god's sake.” Michele had briefly talked himself into a rage, but it was gone with a sigh and his next words: “I'll only remember how good this night was and be disappointed.” 

Herakles chuckled about this and Michele shot him a roguish smile before Herakles kissed him. 

During the kiss, one hand wandered down to the hickie and he stroked it with his thumb. He could feel Michele shiver underneath his hands. 

Chapter Text

“Come on, dance with me,” Leo said and pulled Hugo of his chair to his feet. 

He could see it in their face, hear it in their voice and even smell it in their breath that they were drunk. 

Hugo didn’t mind that much, though. 

“Why do you have the music taste of a 40 year old mother?” he asked while they dragged him away from the table. 

Leo giggled. “Because I am a 40 year old mother, now shut up,” they said, in a tone so gentle and happy that it took the entire edge out of the ‘shut up.’ 

So he didn’t mind it at all. At least the music wasn’t Schlager this time, he guessed. 

Hugo didn’t know if Leo’s head swayed so much because of them ‘dancing’ or if it was the alcohol. Hugo put one hand on their hip and after there was no protest, the other as well. Leo stepped, almost stumbled, closer to him. 

“First you need ... That's what you get for falling in love!,” it blasted from the speakers. Leo had one hand on his shoulder and Hugo wished they’d keep it there. He whirled them around a little and their grip on his shoulder tightened. 

“Then you bleed ... You get a little but it's never enough,” the song went on. 

How pretty Leo had looked when they had come here and how pretty they still looked. Shirt unbuttoned, hair messy and their braid falling apart. For a very short moment, because it was tied to another thought, Hugo wondered if that was how Leo had looked when they were in their 20s. When they had learned to dance on small festivals and tiny town discos, to the same music they were listening to now, probably. 

God, whoever had danced with them in the same, weird, shitty way must have been the luckiest person on the planet. 

“And now this boy’s addicted cause your kiss is the drug!” 

Hugo’s hands went from their hips to their face, cupped it and pressed a kiss to their lips. 

Leo showed no sign of resistance or even surprise at all. Instead, mouth open when Hugo’s tongue ran over their lips, they came closer and wrapped their arms around Hugo’s waist. 

Chapter Text

François had never seen such a lavish office – yet – and was immediately determined to take some ideas back home to Paris. The entire place radiated the grandeur of a palace and François wondered if it was thanks to Sadık or thanks to his famed mother. He had seen her once as she had visited his father in Paris, back when he was merely a teen. Her radiant, charming and wonderful beauty paired with her steadfast confidence had left a lasting impression on him.

Sadık was of a coarser kind than his mother, but exuded the same conviction in his absolute power. Not God-given, like the kings he had learnt about in school and read about at home, but hard-earned.

Hard-earned mostly by his mother, but François wasn’t going to say that. Big egos didn’t like to hear truths and he already had to deal with some pretty harsh truths.

“So, what are you here for?” Sadık asked him while he worked on an incredibly fancy and almost antique tea kettle. Now that was a change from the plain and pragmatic or unbelievably homely kind of kettles he knew from the MacAllisters and even the Kirklands. “If you want to mediate between me and the Russian, you can forget it. Braginsky is an old, bitter man whose clock is ticking and since he doesn’t realize it, I’ll just wait with a grin until he drops dead.” And with a grin he looked at François, who thought it was an utter shame his eyes were hidden underneath a dark blue mask.

François cleared his throat and put on what he considered a more professional face than his previous gawking in awe. “Don’t you think though, a less … confrontational course might help establish a more stable relationship between you and Kazimir’s son in the future?”

Sadık leant against the table with the tea kettle and took a sip from his cup. “I’ll talk to that kid once he made his stripes. How old’s that bugger? Sixteen?

“If you demonstrated some good will towards his father, he might not make his stripes by trying to aggressively branch out towards the south.”

“The old Braginsky wouldn’t recognize good will if it spat into his face. François, there’s no chance for you here to make your stripes. Time will solve that problem sooner than any talks do.”

François fell quiet and Sadık snorted. He poured another coup of tea and put it down in front of him. “Here. Don’t pull such a face. Kick back a little, don’t want that you came here for nothing.”

François answered it with a smile and a “Merci.” All the time he had spent in British houses hadn’t made him like tea any more.

“Can you promise me something, though?” he asked him.

“Depends on what it is,” he said. He leant against the table, cup in one hand and the other crossed in front of his chest. What a chest it was. Sadık wore beautiful and graceful clothes and even though his language was more than informal at times, he also had some sort of natural grace to him, due to his tall stature and long limbs. But he had the back and chest of a ringer and big, callous hands. It was a strange mix but it fit right in with his role as grand emperor. The masks he wore were perhaps the strangest element of his appearance but they tied the two together – exquisite and mysterious as they were, they hid the fine face and part of his emotions behind a wall.

“Once time has … solved this problem one way or another and Kazimir’s son takes his place, you will show some good will, won’t you? Because then I’d be more than willing to put in a good word for you as soon as he takes his place.”

Sadık gave him an amused smirk. “You’re planning quite ahead, don’t you?”

François smiled at him. “This world is changing and if I want a place in it, I better help it change. Besides, the Russians are something of a … volatile power, a middleman with connections would really work to your advantage.”

Sadık smiled back at him and it was such a plain, friendly smile. There was no way to know what he really thought about his words with his mask on – so François decided to swallow his nervousness and decide to believe he had said just the right thing.

“Sure,” Sadık said. “Your tea’s getting cold.”

“Oh, of course.” He smiled and took a sip.

Sadık suddenly leant in closer to him and François hid the fact that he was startled behind his teacup. “What are you trying to do, goldilocks, grow a beard?”

He could not hide his obvious offense behind the teacup. “Trying?” he asked in an affronted tone. “I beg your pardon, Monsieur Adnan, I’ve succeeded at growing a stylish beard.”

Sadık chuckled about this and rubbed his own jaws and chin between his fingers. Now that he was closer, he could see faint golden patterns punched into the mask. Not to mention his deep, green eyes.

“Do you wear that mask at all times?” he asked him. “Or is there a possibility I could peak underneath it?”

Sadık chuckled again, but it was somehow more breathless this time. “Why are you asking?”

“Well, I will not be insulted on my appearance by someone who hides half of his face behind a mask.” He grinned at him and cocked his head as he moved his own face even closer to Sadık’s. “I’m also just morbidly curious. Is this like a kink thing?”

Sadık burst out laughing right into his face. “You’ve got a big, loose mouth right there,” he said afterwards. “But if it does other things than talk big words, I might let you peak underneath it.”

“So it is definitely a kink thing, alright,” François said but before Sadık’s laughter could die down and take the moment with it, he added: “These pretty lips can do a lot more than say sweet things, though.”

Now Sadık’s chuckle was dark and rough as it came from the depth of his massive chest. One hand in François’ perfectly styled hair, which pained him more than his smile could hide, he said: “I bet some people would thank me for shutting you up” and kissed him.

Chapter Text

“Hey, remember when we were young? When you sat right here on the floor? You looked so terrible in your suit back then. You even still had green tips from growing out your Mohawk.”

François fanned his face while he laughed but Arthur saw no reason to laugh with him.

“What do you mean I looked terrible?” he asked. “It’s not like either of us made a good figure back then – and I don't remember anything terrible about my perfectly good suits anyways.”

François snorted, with a frown on his face but one eyebrow slightly cocked and smirk on his lips.

“You didn’t drink enough yet, I can tell by your civility. And come on, Arthur, you know very well that your suit was so ill-fitting that it made you look like a child playing dress up in his father’s closet.” He laughed again. “The leather jackets you wore up to then suited your scrawny body much better.”

Arthur had turned away as he took another sip from his wine. The glass was nearly empty when he put it down. François considered pretending that he was offended by how Arthur was gulping down his fine wine, but decided against it. It was too late for pretence.

“Well, it was my father's suit,” Arthur suit and François pressed his lips together.

A sandtrap. Now they sat there in silence.

“You’ve really grown into his footsteps, though,” François said and looked at Arthur from the corner of his eye. “And into your suits, too.” He grinned.

Arthur snorted once. His face rested on his fist, elbow propped up on the table.

“You haven’t changed at all.”

“Well, you cannot change perfection.”

“And only an idiot persists in his mistakes.”

The corners of François’ mouth dropped into an annoyed expression. Arthur had a small smirk on his lips as he drank the rest of his wine.

“You should know that best, shouldn’t you?” François asked him. “It’s what lead you here, isn’t it? From way back when you were sitting on my floor, struggling to stabilize your position, but determined on earning the respect you thought you were owed. Once you were back on your feet, you only always marched into one direction. Never looking back, never paying mind to any of the warning signs, even when you tripped. Only kept on stumbling ahead, until you nearly tripped off the edge of a cliff.”

François had been staring at his wine while he monologued. He glanced at Arthur.

His upper lip was slightly pulled upwards, while his eyes were half-lidded. His eyebrows hung close over them.

“If I had wanted to get reminded of that, I could’ve went literally anywhere else in this godless world.”

“Non, non, non, if you had went anywhere else but here, you probably wouldn’t have been alive to hear it.”

Arthur snorted again. “Yes, I owe you my life and undying gratitude. I need more wine for this shit.”

Arthur got up and François watched him walk over to the dresser on which another bottle sat.

Arthur took it, unscrewed it and filled his glass up again. He took the bottle with him as he walked over to the couch.

François smiled.

Oh, how thoughtful of you to think of me -

Arthur stopped in front of him, leant slightly down and threw the entire glass worth of wine into his face.

François held his breath for a second and shook his head before he gasped.

“Bugger off with your fucking knight in shining armour attitude,” Arthur said as he sat down on the floor. He slammed the glass onto the coffee table and put the bottle straight to his lips.

“Arthur! My clothes! My couch! My wine –“

“Fuck your everything, Bonnefoy,” Arthur replied after he had put the bottle down. “Thought it might clear your already empty head. Seriously, who do you think you are? Do you think I’d rather not jump off that bloody cliff in your metaphor if I had to crawl in the dirt in front of you instead?”

François looked down on him and cocked one eyebrow. “Well, you are sitting on the floor in front of me right now.”

Arthur, who was drinking straight from the bottle again, showed him the V-sign.

François chuckled and reached for a handkerchief to clean his face. He unbuttoned his shirt and leant forward, arms resting on his knees with the hands dangling between his legs.

“I can’t believe I saved your sorry life and that I’d do it all again,” he said.

Arthur suppressed a belch. “And I can’t believe that I’m still so deeply thankful for it when you’re being an utter wanker. Don’t tell anyone I said that, though, I’ll deny it and renounce every thanks I ever mumbled to you.”

François laughed quietly. “Yes, yes, of course you’ll do.”

He leant in even closer to Arthur, grabbed his jaw and turned his head to kiss him. Arthur complied, tilting his head upwards and pressing his lips against François.

They tasted like wine, like the one which dripped from François hair onto Arthur’s pants.

Chapter Text

“Could you maybe please tell your brother to not pick fights?” Ludwig asked while Feliciano looked through his suitcase.

He lifted his head and looked over to Ludwig with a confused and even concerned smile on his face.

“You know that’s not going to work out the way you imagine?” he said and Ludwig sighed. Feliciano went back to his suitcase. “Besides, the ruckus today wasn’t really his fault. If you want me to scold someone, it should be Francesco. He was the one who started this whole thing and roped everyone into it.” He laughed and looked back at Ludwig, his hands still rummaging in the suitcase. “That's what I got out of Lovino's and Fabio's retelling of the whole thing at least.”

Ludwig looked at him with a fond smile and snorted as Feliciano laughed. He looked away as he said: “Yes, you're right. Francesco's at fault ... as hard as remembering that apparently is. I suppose because he's so affable and friendly, people tend to let him get away with things.”

He looked back at Feliciano, who was still occupied with his clothes. Ludwig sat up.

“Something like that coming from you, who never lets anyone get away with anything,” Feliciano said with an amused smile on his face.

Ludwig slid closer on the bed until he sat next to him. “Oh, I don't know, I think there are some exceptions ...” he muttered and kissed his neck.

Feliciano snorted and still didn't look at him when he said: “What's that supposed to mean, Ludwig?”

Chapter Text

“Did you know your name is basically French?” François asked him, his words and facts both slurred due to the alcohol.

“Well, I think I always was kind of a Francophile,” Gavin answered and pulled him closer.

They both giggled.

François’ head rested between Gavin’s shoulder and chest, where his hand laid. Gavin’s arm was draped over François shoulder and his hand gently held onto his arm.

He gently rubbed up and down.

Suddenly there was another giggle and the two boys jumped.

Cléa Bonnefoy stood in the doorframe, since who knew for how long.

“Look at you two boys,” she said with a grin on her face and a tone of voice that showed she had more than enough alcohol as well.  “Suiting yourself, huh?” She cocked her head. “Need anything?”

“Come and leave the kids alone,” Milli MacAllister said and with an annoyed frown took Cléa by the elbow to lead her away.

“I just wanted to make sure they get along well,” Cléa said. “And they do.”

“I sure hope they do,” Milli said but leant back into the doorframe to look and point at her son. “Also – don’t even think of smoking. I better don’t come back and smell even a whiff of smoke, or else!”

“Don’t worry, Madam MacAllister, I’ll make sure he doesn’t,” François said with a bright puppy-eyed look. Millicent spared him a glance less stern than the one she gave her own son afterwards.

“Good boy,” she said.

“Of course he’s a good boy, he’s mine,” Cléa’s voice came from the corridor.

That was the last intelligible they heard before the voices completely disappeared behind a closed door.

“I mean, it looks really cool when you smoke, but it does smell,” François said and rubbed his head against Gavin’s chest.

“Hm, I think I could busy my mouth with other things,” he said and lifted François’ chin. “That taste better, anyways,” he murmured as he leant in and pressed a kiss to his lips. Another followed and hands began to stray from arms and chests.

They didn’t know for how long they had sat together like this. Time evaporated between caresses, kisses and alcohol.

With the bang of the door it manifested again and they jumped once more.

Gavin sat up straight on the edge of the couch. His chest heaved up and down.

He stared at the door.

He swallowed while François sat up and put one hand on his shoulder.

“Probably only the wind, cause somebody opened the front door,” Gavin said.

François put his head onto his shoulder. “Most likely.”

Gavin looked at him. “We should probably go to my room, anyways.”

François cuddled up closer to his side with a sigh. He grinned at him a moment later, eyes half open. “Good idea.”

As they reached the narrow stairs however, their fathers just emerged at its top.

For a moment, the four stared at each other, Pierre Bonnefoy and Will MacAllister looking rather surprised.

Before discomfort or any other emotion could dwell up in Gavin though, Pierre cleared his throat and made his way downstairs. Will followed him and looked as unimpressed as ever. Maybe a little tired.

Pierre talked with François, a smile on his face.

The only thing Gavin understood was the “Good night” the two wished each other in French. As Pierre had reached the floor, he first patted François’ shoulder, and then kissed past his cheek, which François’ reciprocated with a quiet laugh.

Gavin just wanted to pass his father when he leant in to him and muttered:

“Close the bloody door next time, Gavin.”

Gavin’s face heated up. So much for the wind.

“Aye dad,” he answered.

“Night,” Will added and looked at him with a fond look in his eyes.

“Night dad,” Gavin said with a wry smile. His face was still red.

When he went up the stairs, François’ hand in his, he believed to hear his father chuckle.