My name is Lovino Vargas. I am nineteen years old, and I make my home in Italy. I have a younger brother named Feliciano, who is eighteen. We have the same birthday, but I’m a year older. I have a twenty-three-year-old guardian named Antonio Carriedo, but I don’t associate with him much now that I’m older. I live with four of my college inmates: Kiku Honda, Ludwig and Gilbert Beilschmidt, and my brother Feliciano.
Of course, it was four. . .until she moved in with us.
_____ _____. A relatively quiet, docile girl. Ever since Alfred had dragged her to that mock world conference in June and introduced us all to her, she intrigued me. It was July now, and she had come here and stayed with us. She slept in her own room, but my stupid brother would oftentimes sneak into her bed and stay there with her for the night. Eventually, we all warmed up to her. She would sometimes go off to visit other people from our college (like Ivan Braginski and his sisters or those five weird guys from the Nordic countries), and she would always receive a warm welcome when she came back to our place. She came to know us better, and she knew everything about us.
That is, except for one important thing.
When I was four years old, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The doctors said it was pretty bad and that it wouldn’t get any better with age. So far, they were right.
And it never really got to me until _____ came here. I would usually wind up yelling at her and making smart-ass remarks toward her. I didn’t mean most of the stuff that came out of my mouth; it just spilled out uncontrollably. But the weird thing was. . .she didn’t seem to mind much. She was far more patient than the others, and I was grateful for it--even though it never really seemed like it.
_____ woke up relatively early one morning, at around seven-thirty (she usually woke up late). She got out of bed and slipped on some acceptable clothing and walked downstairs, spotting Gilbert halfway down.
“Morning, Gil,” she said as she reached the floor and crossed into the living room where he was.
“Guten morgen, Frau,” he replied with a tired smile. He squirmed a bit on the couch he was sprawled across so he could see _____ better.
“Why are you up so early?” she asked.
“Toni und Francis wanted me to go with them someplace.”
“You mean you don’t know where?”
He shook his head and let out a nasally, “Mm-mm.”
_____ rolled her eyes. “I’ll never understand you guys.” She turned and made her way to the kitchen, blinking in faint surprise when she saw Lovino sitting at the dining table with his chin in his hand. He was looking out the window, and there was something she noticed in that split-second she saw his expression: Loneliness. Sadness. Pain.
After that split-second, Lovino turned his head to look at _____, his face somewhat mirroring hers when he blinked as well. _____ cleared her throat. “Morning, Lovino,” she said.
Lovino relaxed slightly. “Buongiorno.”
She walked over to the stove to make something, but realized that Ludwig and Feliciano had beaten her to it when she saw the wurst and pasta set across the stove and counter. They must’ve cooked it before they went to train, she thought. She got out a plate and fixed herself some breakfast. “So, how’d you sleep?” she asked, apparently trying to make small-talk.
“The hell does it matter?” Lovino spurted out. Immediately after he said it he regretted it.
“I’ll take that as a ‘pretty good’,” remarked _____ as she sat down at the dining table beside Lovino.
Lovino blinked. He had been caught off-guard by her tone; it wasn’t sarcastic or rude like he’d expected (and so often received), but it was, in a way, understanding. He looked at her with furrowed brows. He had to tell her. He had to let her know why he acted the way he did, why he said these cruel things. “Ragazza?”
“Mm?” she replied, her mouth half-full of pasta.
“I . . . I have something to tell you. . .”
_____ swallowed quickly, setting down her fork and looking at him. “Yeah? What?”
“Well. . .it’s about me. . .and the way I talk. . .” He notice the slightly puzzled look on her face, and decided to get to the point. “I. . .I have. . .” He mumbled the rest in such an inaudibility that _____ couldn’t hear.
“You have what?”
Lovino took in a shaky breath. He was nervous. “I. . .I have bipolar disorder. . .” He looked down at his hands on the table. “I was diagnosed when I was a little kid, and it hasn’t gotten any better. The doctors didn’t think it would. And that’s why I say things I don’t mean, and why people get so impatient with me and think I’m a bad person. . .”
His voice trailed off as he looked up at _____, his eyes widening at her expression. Adorned upon her face was a sad, understanding smile. It was genuine, and that was what surprised Lovino the most. She lifted her hand and placed it on Lovino’s, muttering a quiet, “I know.”
“Ce cosa?!” Lovino rose a little from his seat in shock. “You know?! Did that tomato-bastardo tell you?! Oh, when I get my hands on that--”
“I figured it out on my own.”
Lovino dropped back into his seat and stared at _____, speechless.
Supposing that an explanation was due, she began her story. “I had a brother who was bipolar. He didn’t have it for as long as you have, but it was still pretty bad. I had to adapt quickly just to keep up with him. Then. . .this year in March. . .my brother and I got into a fight. When I got home from school that day, and I went into his room. . .he was lying face-down on the floor in a pool of his own blood with a knife in his hand. . . He’d gone back home and slit his throat. . .” Unknowingly, she tightened her grip on Lovino’s hand. “At the end of the fight, I told him that I hated him and wished I didn’t have a brother.” A sad smile crossed her lips. “I guess I got my wish, didn’t I?” She lowered her head, tears welling up in her eyes. “Y’know,” she said, choking slightly on her words, “I don’t even remember what we were fighting about.” The tears finally escaped from her eyes and fell down her cheeks. “I hope it was important. . .”
Lovino remained quiet for a moment as he witnessed _____’s emotional scars being reopened. He’d noticed her white-knuckle grip on his hand, and covered hers with his free one. He was able to release his other hand and gently wipe her tears with his thumb.
Not knowing what else to do, he pulled her gently into him, holding her there as he stroked her hair and kept his grip on her hand. “Mi dispiace,” he said quietly.
_____ sniffled. “I-It’s okay. W-What’s done is done. . .” She pulled away and sighed. “I just hope my brother forgives me. . .”
“Look,” said Lovino, “you’re sorry, right?”
“More sorry than for anything else I ever did.”
“Then he’d forgive you.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. She looked at him and saw a warm smile grace his lips before he got up and kissed her forehead. “I hope you left some food for me, bella,” he said as he made his way over to the stove.
_____ shook her head, trying to calm herself down from the excitement of that small display of affection. “U-Uh, yeah. . .”
“Sì,” he mumbled, putting food on his plate and sitting back in his seat.
_____ blinked when she saw an unusual item on Lovino’s plate. “Is that wurst?”
He glanced down at the German sausages. “Sì.”
“But I thought you hated them.”
“No,” he replied. “I hate the damn potato-eater that makes them. But I love the sausages.” He took a bite of one, savoring it in his mouth before swallowing. “Don’t tell him, okay?”
_____ laughed. “Okay. I won’t.”
Lovino smiled at her. “Grazie, bella,” he said, adding under his breath, “for everything.”