A single figure sat lounging in an overstuffed chair in the study. The room was spacious, and very richly furnished. Shelves were full of books; some rows neatly packed while others appeared to have been tossed about in haste. Large maps covered sections of wall, carefully marked and plotted. Exotic flora and plush furniture accented the burgundy walls and frescoed ceiling flawlessly. A magnificent chandelier hung proudly overhead, its many genuine crystals willing to twinkle in the light. If there was light. That was another aspect of this room. It remained dark. Always.
The servants of the mansion referred to this room as the master's brooding chamber, though no more loudly than in their usual hushed voices. Hushed, and submissive. Hushed, and broken.
The man occupying the room, Feliciano Vargas, sat flipping a knife around in his hand expertly, while tapping his chair arm rhythmically with the other. If one knew the Italian well, they'd recognize this combination of actions and know that he was troubled. But no one else was around to see his gestures, as he'd asked for privacy.
'Asking' was a funny word when used with the spirit of Italy, though. He always got what he wanted. Who would question the great Italian empire?
He could feel troubled, though. And he currently was.
As with so many others before him, it was trouble with a girl.
After some thought, Feliciano had pinpointed his dreadful feelings onto her.
At first he thought he must hate ___.
But after more consideration, he had come to the conclusion that it was something more complicated than simple hatred.
He glanced down, realizing he'd undone several buttons on his shirt and was fingering the scar across the left side of his abdomen. From the wound that he'd received only a short time ago. The wound that ___ had sewn shut upon his arrival home. It nearly brought her to tears, piercing a needle into someone's skin. Her boss's skin.
She was a medical worker. How unprofessional. How inexperienced. How innocent. Had she never brought any pain to anyone before? What about her enemies? Someone like her--could she even have enemies?
She was weak.
He was strong.
They were complete opposites, so it would be perfectly reasonable for him to hate her, Feliciano thought. So why did he have to care about her so-- He froze.
His unblinking eyes widened. A nervous twitch threatened to roll across his face. The truth that he'd been avoiding, forbidding himself to acknowledge these past weeks, came out.
He loved ___.
In an instant, the knife was brought in a high arch down into the desk in front of him, impaling itself an inch into the wood.
Pushing the table away from him, Feliciano stood up and began pacing in the middle of the grand study.
How could the great Italian empire fall into such a wretched state as being in love? With an underling! Of course she was an underling, there was no one greater than he. But a human? She had no strength, no power, no connections. No one would compare her to famous models or other beauties, why then, did he? He knew art, he knew beauty, he knew intelligence--and ___ was no Einstein, either--so how could he see her as so stunning? So captivating in speech.
Unbeknownst to him, Feliciano's steps grew quicker, more panicked.
How dare she be worried for him! How dare she give him advice! How dare he listen to her and not punish her and take it! What had she done to him? It was some trick! The witch!
It couldn't be a trick. He could smell betrayal continents away; it was a sixth sense he survived on. ___ was nothing but loyal.
The study door opened to reveal the darkly dressed Kiku. Before having time to fully enter, Feliciano drew back a tense arm and threw another knife at the Japanese--the first was still impaled in the desk.
"Silenzio! Uscire!" he shouted, eyes still frantically racing across the ground in a frenzy. He heard the door click quietly shut. Despite his mood he still had--literally--deadly aim, but at the moment the thought that he might've stabbed one of his closest allies didn't so much as cross his mind.
He turned once, twice, three times more, but found his knees growing limp. Sitting down, he leaned over and let his back fall onto the polished floor, gloved hands covering his eyes.
'How could this happen' was the single phrase repeating over and over in his head. But in all his cleverness, he held no answer.
Feliciano wanted to scream, strangle, mutilate something,anything. Cry even.
How could he come this far, only to be brought so low?
How could one single woman have him trapped so inescapably, and not even be aware?
How could this happen?
Feliciano raced through the halls, pushing any maids nearby out of the way. He didn't have any butlers hired. Males could be more stubborn about following orders. And girls were prettier anyway.
But only one occupied his mind--and heart--now. And he was coming up to the hall her bedroom was in. Before ___, he would've laughed at the thought of himself behaving this way. But he knew now, one of the only things he seemed to know for a surety now, that he had to do this. She already had him--he needed her in return.
It was late, so surely she was back by now.
Reaching her bedroom door,he hadn't even realized he knew which one was hers,he knocked sharply. And waited. Impatience built up in his chest, and a headache manifested itself. Soon he pounded on the door. And waited. Receiving no answer he tried the doorknob. Locked. Reaching into a pocket he pulled out a pick and had the door unlocked in a manner of seconds. It would have been rude of him to intrude in that way had ___ been in the room, but luckily--or unluckily, she wasn't.
Feliciano cussed under his breath before turning on his heal and exiting the room.
He ran down one hallway then another, searching for the girl. She couldn't still be working, could she? There had been several accidents lately though...
He hightailed it to the recovery center connected to his mansion. Running across his large courtyard, toward the center's main entrance, he could see a figure approaching from the other end--it was her.
"___!" he called out, barely slowing down.
She looked surprised to see her boss sprinting across the grass and yelling at her--in her mind, scenarios that Feliciano wouldn't have considered, he must've been upset with her or in need of emergency help.
Coming within talking distance, he finally slowed down more.
"Mr. Italy?" ___ asked.
"Feliciano. For all the sweet things of the world, ___, call me Feliciano," the girl's superior said, no hint of humor on his person.
The nurse blinked up at him.
"Y-yes, sir...Feliciano." She let out a small gasp as he enclosed her face in his hands. Stepping into her personal space, he leaned in, matching her gaze with his with such intensity (even for his usual stare)that he was almost glaring at her.
"You've tainted me," Feliciano hissed, "You're in my heart. There used to be only hate, ambition. I had everything. You took that away from me. You have me trapped begging, with nothing. I need you. Love me. You have to."
___'s covered cheeks pinkened as she continued watching Feliciano, the situation dawning on her. A small, humble "okay" was all that was whispered through her lips.
Feliciano searched her eyes as fractically as he'd been searching the floor earlier for answers. He couldn't find any deceit in them, any betrayal. Only her innocence.
Pulling her face closer, and leaning down himself, Feliciano roughly kissed ___, desperate for an assurance of the situation.
And to his surprise, she kissed back.