Caroline (hotbabysitter) wrote,

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Complicated Shadow {5/10ish}

Chapter 5

In the Vargas family, life went on unbroken. It had no choice.

The Vargas's were a strange branch of the American mafia. They were started independently from the main web of families that had existed for years in the northern states by Lovino and his twin brother Feliciano's grandfather, who had come over from Rome with a posse of devoted followers. He had immediately started taking over other family branches that were almost dead and bringing them under his wing. He revived them, and in return, they paid their allegiance and their ten percent to him. Only known as Godfather Roma to everyone but his closest supporters, he soon led an empire that spread across the country and back across the ocean to Italy. For decades, Rome ruled the underworld.

Of course, like Rome, it couldn't last forever.

At the end of his days, Godfather Roma's empire started to collapse. It had gotten too big, and he could no longer control it by himself. Rebel families split back off, tired of his new, more modern methods and wanting to go back to the traditions that had been established since their ancestors had immigrated; their debtors began to laugh in their face; the police caught up with them. As the Vargas's fell, so did Roma's mental state. By the time he lay on his deathbed, he was barely aware of his surroundings and of the last fragments of his inner circle at his side. Each of his oldest grandsons clutched a hand that used to hold their world in its palm; now they were pale and brittle. He smiled at them, and then he passed.

In his will, written before his senility, he ignored long-established rules of democracy in the succession of Dons and named both of his grandsons his heirs. There was no power struggle between the two of them; the twins knew each other's strengths and weaknesses like their own, and knew what the other would do before he did it. The trouble came from everyone else.

The twins were young – barely of age – and, on the surface, inexperienced. Many people who had never heard of his grandsons, only of their age, balked at the idea of being led by children instead of the more favored underboss. Said underboss, however, backed up the twins' claim to the Don, choosing to stay in his position as a solid, strangely German barrier between the soldiers and them. Even with this endorsement, the twins lost favor, and the Vargas family shrank continuously.

Understandably, the twins and their supporters were frantic to keep this from happening. They had too much in their pasts to allow for their protection and their family to fall. The twins had to prove themselves worthy of following in their grandfather's footsteps as the most influential mafia boss in North America; their loyalists had to prove that they were still a force to be reckoned with and not laughed at. So began the desperate struggle to reestablish their reputation.

There was no job that the Vargas's were unwilling to take. They risked it all every day on the most outrageous and dangerous of organized crime, covering the police scanners in hopes of taking and keeping the attention of their deserters. It worked, but only slowly. Most still weren't convinced that these two were for real, that they wouldn't flake out at the first sign of danger to themselves, that they would get bored and run away.

They needed to make a statement.

In the next month, Arthur turned out to be very good at his job. It was a full-time deal (although Cameron confided in him after they got more accustomed to each other that there was a much more even distribution of hours now than there had been with Ray on the payroll), so he wasn't suffering from mind-numbing boredom anymore. After Toris learned that Arthur was relying on the goodwill of the Sugar Maple patrons to get to work and Jake to get home, he insisted that he would drive him – even when Toris wasn't scheduled. Luckily for Arthur's conscience, Ivan noticed this new development and scheduled the two of them together whenever he could.Alfred and Arthur kept up their nightly phone conversations. Unless Al was out on a federal mission. They managed to make contact at least long enough to ask about their day every evening. As they grew closer to each other, the conversations grew longer and the subjects grew broader, turning into debates and 'heated discussions' at times, but never so intense or passionate that a snort of laughter from Alfred or an overly British turn of phrase from Arthur to turn their tone silly again.

Matthew and Katyusha stopped treating him like a guest and more like the distant relative from his cover story after Thanksgiving. Arthur insisted on paying at least some rent, even though the Marshals were compensating them from the rent money set aside of Arthur's planned apartment. Matt gave in after heavy pressure from Arthur, but he used it to keep the house's alcohol supplies in full stock. Arthur couldn't quite bring himself to object, since the two of them were its only users. Katyusha used the leftovers to supplement the grocery fund. (Arthur did end up gaining a little bit of weight, but 'only what was good for him', in Katyusha's words. The cost of living in New York hadn't been kind to his health.)

Then, just before Christmas, a cold front breezed through the Southeast and gave them the first snow day of the season.

"Ain't this the greatest?" Alfred cried as he exploded out of Matt's back door into the fenced-in backyard.

Arthur followed him and glanced around, unimpressed. "This is what you call snow down here?" It was still falling lightly, but there was only enough on the ground to mostly cover the grass. "This is rather pathetic."

Al just laughed, getting down on one knee to shove some of it together into a grass-covered snowball. "When you live down here, Artie, you take what you can get." Arthur made a face at the nickname, but had given that fight up as a lost cause a long time ago. He walked across the lawn to the flowerbeds running the length of the fence to shake off the snow from the plants that were actually above the ground, not noticing the crunch of slow footsteps behind him until Alfred pounced, shoving his dirty snowball down the back of his shirt.

Arthur jumped with a high-pitched squeal, shaking the snow from his shirt as he took chase after a cackling Alfred, throwing curses and small handfuls of snow at him that he easily dodged. With a snarl, Arthur jumped forward and tackled Al to the ground, one knee landing on the back of his thigh and his hands pinning back Alfred's arms. The Marshal lost his breath for a millisecond before training and instinct kinked in and he flipped back, pinning Arthur to the ground and driving the air from his lungs. He rolled over and straddled Arthur's stomach, holding his wrists to the ground with ease. They stared at each other for a moment, chests heaving, before simultaneously dissolving into breathless giggles. Al pitched forward to rest his forehead on the ground by Arthur's shoulder, shaking from laughter and losing his hold on his motor skills.

When they finally calmed down to giddy smiles, Alfred sat up halfway, grinning down at his prisoner from a few inches away.

Without thinking and high on endorphins, Arthur pulled up and kissed him on the cheek.

Alfred jumped back like he'd been poked with a firebrand, scrambling to his feet and staring at Arthur in horror as he pressed a hand to his cheek. "No. Nononono. No, this isn't- this can't be – augh!" he pulled at his hair and paced around the yard, talking to the air while Arthur watched him from the ground, confused and hurt. "What's the first thing they tell me? Don't get attached. And what do I do?" His ranting descended into unintelligible angry mutterings, staring at the ground and lacing his fingers behind his head.

"Is it because I'm a guy?" Arthur said in a small voice from the ground. Alfred whipped his head around to look at Arthur in surprise.

"What? No! God no!" He took a deep breath, then let it out in a heavy sigh and walked over to help Arthur to a standing position. "It's nothing to do with you, Arthur – Arthur, I'd date you in a heartbeat if I could," he said with a hesitant grin. He held onto Arthur's hands his gaze as his eyes pleaded with him. "But I can't."

Arthur blinked at him, face turning pink from the cold and the confession. "Well why not?"

Alfred smiled wider. "Well, first off, that's just not something you do as a Marshal – it's like 'don't date a coworker', y'know? Don't date your assignment." Arthur started to rub a circle into the back of Alfred's hand, and he sighed. "And what d'ya think would happen when you got your summons and had to go back up north? 'Cause no matter what, I'd still probably stay here. My everything's here, I couldn't pick it all up and move on a whim, and you'd probably never want to live through an Alabama summer if you ever got a taste of 'em." He tried to grin, then stared down at the stitching on Arthur's coat, shifting on his feet as Arthur watched his face change. "Plus, I just… I just can't." He bit his lip, and Arthur's will crumbled.

"Oh, love," he breathed, hugging Alfred close. Al responded instantly, arms coming up around Arthur's waist and head dropping to rest on his shoulder. "It's okay, it's okay, I understand," he said soothingly, rubbing a hand up and down Alfred's back and standing on his toes to rest his chin on Alfred's hunched shoulder. "I'm not going to push you into anything, especially if you're not ready."

Alfred sighed and sagged against, Arthur, holding him tightly. "Thanks." Arthur sighed, letting his eyes slip closed and absorbing the other's presence. Then he snapped them back open and stepped away.

"If we're going to keep this from happening, we're going to have to set some ground rules," he said clearly, straightening his clothes and avoiding Alfred's eyes intently. "No more touching, no more flirting, no more anything beyond just friends. Agreed?"

Alfred blinked, then smiled broadly. "Agreed. Now come on, I bet Kat's already got the fire up and the hot chocolate ready," he said, waving Arthur back inside.

That agreement barely lasted the week.

Susan hosted a New Year's Eve party for Shannon at her diner, marking all her alcohol half off for the night and turning the TV behind the bar to the New York ball dropping – although it was impossible to hear it over the crowd. By the time midnight on the East Coast rolled around, very few people were sober enough to care who they bumped into or what they were drinking, much less notice Arthur and Alfred drag each other down the back corridor towards the bathrooms.

Arthur grunted as he was pushed against the first scrap of wall that wasn't covered in memorabilia, shifting into a moan when Alfred's body followed his, falling a little too harshly, but not unpleasantly. "I thought we weren't going to do this," Arthur gasped as Alfred kissed the side of his neck wetly, arching back against the wall he was pressed onto as whiskey-tainted breath fanned across his skin.

Alfred chuckled and lifted one of Arthur's legs to wrap around his back. "Well, see, now, I've been thinkin'," he mumbled into Arthur's skin. "If we both want it, and we both don't care 'bout the consequences – what's the harm in a lil' screwin' around?" He pulled back to grin at Arthur through glazed eyes, who cupped his face and ran his thumb along his lower lip.

"When you put it that way, I don't see any harm at all," he said in a low tone, giving Al his best drunken seductive look. "What about the Marshal code and whatnot?"

"Fuck the Marshal code," Al said vehemently, making Arthur giggle and pull him down to kiss him sloppily. Alfred responded by lifting Arthur clear off the ground and slamming him into the wall. Arthur gasped in surprise, but Al's tongue in his mouth kept him from breaking the kiss, and he groaned instead, locking his ankles together at the small of Alfred's back.

When they parted for air, Arthur's hands were tangled in Alfred's hair and Alfred's were halfway up the back of his shirt. He rubbed his cheek against Alfred's and hummed. "Fuck sounds so nice when you say it," he purred again, and Alfred shivered.

"Okay. Fuck. Okay." He relaxed his hold on Arthur and stepped back enough for him to get his feet on the ground. Arthur took his hands and walked backwards away from the party, eyes half-lidded and staring at Alfred. They fell into the first door they found, the heavy thunk of a deadbolt closing them off from the world a moment later.

{A/N: Look! Things happening! Explanations! Making out! :DDDD

I am so close to finishing this I can taste it}
Tags: fanfic, hetalia

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