Last night was a Happy Friday for Antonio and his friends.
Originally, he'd no intention of drinking because he promised his son he wouldn't but his friends insisted a few shots for him to forget. Forget his problem with you.
He needed the nerves to face the truth that you and him are history. Beer had never tasted so sweet before.
He woke up to the sight of another bottle of liquor on his bedside table. Whenever he drinks to sleep, he would usually wake up the next morning without the bottle on his side. Lovino would visit his dad's room at midnight and throw the bottle into the trash bin. It had been a routine.
Antonio was awakened by his five-year-old son begging for attention.
"Papá! Papá!" Lovino bobbled his father's shoulder.
"Mm-hm? Mm-hm?" Antonio only groaned, burying his face on the pillow.
"Papá, wake up! I wanna make pancakes!"
His head was pounding and he couldn't get up. He drank more than he could manage, thanks to his friends. They said it would make him feel better. Hell no. All he wanted to do was to forget his recent heartbreak with his Austrian girlfriend, who left him without a sound.
"Oh, come here you," Antonio carried Lovino and laid the boy next to him. He started tickling him until the room was filled with Lovino's laughter.
"You won't leave me, no?" Antonio asked.
"Never," Lovino said with a reassuring smile. "Te amo, Papá!"
He gave his father a heartfelt hug.
His room was a mess. Broken things decorated the floor. He tried to recall what was the last thing he did but everything was nothing but blank.
The entire house was silent. Antonio checked the time and realized it was almost lunch. More often than not, he would find Lovino slumped into the couch, watching his favorite show at this time of day.
Lovino found the phone under a heap of papers at the kitchen counter.
"Hey, buddy," Antonio greeted.
"How was your first day?"
"Just okay? How about the teachers? Were they good to you? Did you make new friends? How was everything?"
"Mm-hm. Yeah. Mm-hm," Lovino stomped his feet back to the living room with a bag of chips and turned up the TV volume.
"A-are you mad at me?" Antonio asked. He wondered if Lovino was annoying him on purpose. "I'm sorry I couldn't pick you up. We have a launch party tonight."
"It's alright," Lovino said, endlessly clicking the channel button.
"So tell me about your day. It's your last year in grade school, aren't you excited? C'mon hijo, speak up."
fine..." Lovino answered. His TV show was starting. "I have to go. Bye."
Antonio frowned. Whatever happened to the sweet little boy he used to know? He was afraid that he and his son were growing apart.
Lovino might be playing some sort of bad joke on him. Antonio checked every single room in the house until the only place left was his bedroom. Perhaps the boy was still asleep.
"Lovi?" Antonio knocked on the door. "I'm coming in, okay?"
His heart sank. No one was in the room. He cursed as their argument last night reoccurred to him.
It was past midnight when Antonio reached home.
"Hey, Lovi. Why are you still up?"
"I was waiting for you to come home," Lovino spoke without looking at him. "Hoping you brought some food because we didn't have anything edible in the kitchen. Not even a single tomato."
Antonio gave himself a face palm. "I forgot about that. I'm so sorry."
"You always forget everything," Lovino turned off the TV.
"Have you tried the deli?"
"What choice do I have?"
Antonio figured out why his son was acting with so much irritation. Then he recalled that he promised to pick him up after school.
Lovino relied so much to his father. After all, he is Lovino's family, all the boy had known. It didn't have to take a genius to figure out that Lovino gets hurt whenever his father would leave him empty promises.
"D-did ____________ bring you home?"
Lovino batted his eyelashes. "Yeah. She decided to drive me home when she saw me waiting for nothing."
Antonio sighed and took a seat beside him. "I'm sorry, Lovi. It won't happen again."
"You promised you wouldn't drink."
"My friends wouldn't let me go without drinking."
"And because you also wanted to."
"No, I didn't."
"Yes, you did."
"No, I didn't."
"Yes, you did. Yes, you did. Yes, you did."
"No. I didn't."
"Okay," Lovino snapped and took off.
Antonio seized his arm and made him sit back on the couch. "Hey, sit down for a minute. Don't turn you back on me. I'm still talking to you."
"I don't want to hear more of your damn lies!"
"I won't lie this time. Cross my heart."
"You always say that!"
"I promise this time I mean it. Sit down!"
"You always mean it!"
Antonio exhaled sharply. "Look at me, Lovi. Listen, I'm doing my best to make you happy, can't you see?"
He tried to hug Lovino but the boy deflected.
"Don't touch me! You're useless! Maybe that's why she's leaving you! Maybe that's why no one ever wanted to stay in the first place! You're the worst‒"
Lovino didn't finish his sentence as the back of Antonio's hand hit him across the face.
For the last time, Lovino glared at him, extreme hatred burning in his amber eyes. He ran to his room and slammed the door. He sat on the carpeted floor and began to cry.
Antonio couldn't believe what he just did. Full of shock and anguish, he too walked away and bashed everything he saw. He searched for a bottle of wine, hoping to receive comfort.
You were staring at your phone, waiting for his call. Lovino was sound asleep, curled up on your side. The poor child didn't even make a sound when you stroke his hair.
Does Antonio even know his son was missing? Did he get drunk again last night?
Your things were fully prepared. You already made up your mind, more than ready to go home. Your job contract was finished and you had no other reasons to stay in the country.
Like they say, all good things come to an end.
But just this very early morning, his kid showed up in your doorstep with a backpack and begged of you to let him stay. Lovino's eyes were swollen, as if he'd been weeping on his puppy overnight.
The boy had grown close to you, enough for him to earn a special place in your heart.
It was a rainy afternoon and almost everyone in school was going home. Lovino prayed his dad wouldn't forget to pick him up. He waited on a bench near the gate and searched inside his bag, hoping to find a distraction.
After a few moments, his face lit up as he saw Antonio going outside his car with you.
"___________!" Lovino called.
"Hello, Lovino!" you said as the boy gave you a hug. "Have you been waiting for long?"
Lovino shook his head. Antonio took his bag and shared his umbrella with the two of you. Lovino didn't let go of your hand until he got inside the back seat. Antonio opened the passenger's seat for you.
"Are you staying again for dinner?"
"I don't think I can, Lovi. I still have papers to do tonight. Maybe some other time."
The boy pouted.
"Alright. Maybe I'll stay for a few minutes," you said.
"I didn't know he likes you that much," Antonio said, making a left turn.
"Hey, Papá?" Lovino said.
"Will she be my new mamá?"
Antonio's face glowed bright red. "That's for her to decide."
You smiled and pressed his hand.
The door bell rang.
"Hey," Antonio said, hands in his pockets.
I'm just wondering if Lovino is here."
You studied him for a split second. He appeared like he was out the entire morning looking for Lovino. "Yes, he is. He's still asleep, though. Come in."
Antonio raked his fingers through his auburn wavy hair. The first sight that welcomed him was the array of your belongings in the living room.
"What time are you leaving?" he asked, sitting on the couch.
"In three hours," you said.
He nodded slowly.
"So uh, why did he run away?"
He averted your gaze, so much to his shame. "We had a little argument last night."
You nodded. "That seemed to be pretty late. He arrived here at around three in the morning
Good thing nothing happened to him."
Antonio shook his head in disbelief. "He'd been avoiding me these days, you know? He wouldn't talk to me, much less look at me ever since we‒"
His train of thought was interrupted when you heard your name from your room.
"_____________?" Lovino repeated fuzzily.
He showed up in the living room, rubbing his eyes, but he seemed to wake up completely when he perceived the appearance of his father.
"Let's go home," Antonio walked closer to him.
The child pushed him away, anger visible in his face.
"Lovino, please," Antonio knelt before him. "I've never been so sorry my entire life for what I did to you."
"I'm staying with her."
"Lovi, you can't. She's leaving."
"I'm coming with her," Lovino decided. "I don't want you anymore! Go back to your friends! You don't love me!"
"Lovino, don't say that," you said.
Antonio rose to his feet and stormed out the door. "You used to say you'll never leave me like they did."
You called his name and went after him.
Three months later
"I hope the rain stops soon," you told Lovino while helping him put his green and red hoodie on. You realized how adorable he was in it, looking like a cute tomato kid.
He nodded as he took your hand. You were standing at the airport lobby, catching a glimpse of the land you've first set foot in. The thrill is actually making you feel all giddy as a little girl.
"There he is!" Lovino pointed at his dad who was pushing your luggage cart. "Hey, Papá! Hurry up!"
Antonio huffed in exhaustion as he reached the two of you. "Lovino, what kinds of rocks did you put inside your luggage? It's the heaviest!"
Lovino only looked at you with a sly smile. "Come on, you two! Don't you want to catch the train?"
"Alright, Mister Temperpants," you said, looking after the kid as he ran ahead.
"And you, let me help you with that," you told Antonio as you took your own luggage. "That's what you get for breaking promises."
"I'm trying my hardest to fulfill them," he said.
You rolled your eyes and pulled his hood to his head, covering his eyes.
"Remember my promise that I'd take you here someday?" he said.
"Welcome home," He locked his sparkling green eyes on yours and laced his arms around your waist. Right at that moment, you had the assurance that after all you've been through, you were finally home.