If you haven't, please read the intro here.
“…South Italy,” you said, your grin never fading from your lips. “I want to visit South Italy.”
An hour and a phone call later, you found yourself standing in front of the airport, a suitcase filled with what you needed for a four-day trip in one hand and your plane ticket in the other. You were all set to board your flight, but there was just one problem…
You were awfully lost.
“I knew I should’ve asked mom to help me find my way around the airport…” you mumbled to yourself, eyes narrowing as you attempted to weave your way through the crowds of people. Every now and then you’d accidentally bump into someone, but it was barely noticeable – however, instead of you bumping into another person this time, it was the person who rammed into you with enough force to knock you over.
You collided with the ground, a surprised squeak escaping your mouth at the suddenness of it all. Gingerly rubbing the portion of your back that had taken most of the fall, you hastily picked up your suitcase and plane ticket that had fallen to the ground before someone else could take it. Glancing around for whoever had bumped into you so you could apologize, you located an auburn-haired man on the ground with a curl that pretty much defied gravity poking out of his hair.
“Hey, are you al-”
“Eek! I’m sorry! Please don’t hurt me I didn’t mean to bump into you–”
“Hey, hey! It’s alright, don’t worry about it,” you said, cutting off his blabbering as you held out a hand to him. “People run into others a lot, so it’s okay.”
“Ah, really? Grazie!” The man said, taking your hand so you could hoist him up. Once he was on both of his feet, you offered him a polite smile.
“Anyways, if you’ll excuse me, I ought to get going.” You had barely managed one step before the same man’s hand latched onto your shoulder, and you turned to give him a questioning look. “…Yes?”
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I really need some help right now. I’m lost, and I was wondering if you could help me find my flight?” he asked, holding up a plane ticket of his own. Your eyes lit up with recognition at the sight of it, and you held up your plane ticket for him to see.
“You’re going to South Italy too? So am I! It appears we have the same flight,” you said with a grin, though it quickly turned into a small frown. “I’m lost too, though… I honestly have no idea where our flight is.”
“Really?! Then we can look for it together, sì?” He didn’t wait for an answer as he grabbed your arm, proceeding to drag you around the airport. “My name’s Feliciano Vargas, by the way! What’s your name, bella?”
“I’m _____. It’s nice to meet you and all, Feliciano–”
“Call me Feli!”
“Yes, well, it’s nice to meet you and all Feli, but if you keep dragging me around like this I might crash into some- Oof!”
It had taken quite a while, but both you and your new friend Feliciano had finally found your flight without missing it. The entire plane ride had been spent with him running your ear off with stories of him and his friends, and you listening in fascination.
I mean, it’s not every day you make an Italian friend who has an arsenal of strange – albeit entertaining – stories up his sleeve.
“Oh, and I haven’t told you about my fratello yet, have I?” Feliciano suddenly said, stopping in the middle of his story about how he once crossed a Swiss man’s yard and nearly got shot.
“What’s a fratello?” You cast him a questioning look at the foreign word – from the time you had spent with Feliciano, you had come to discover that he spoke a mix of English and Italian. Italish, you called it. He also really loved pasta, but that was off-topic.
“It means brother! I have one, his name’s Romano. He’s really mean sometimes, but he’s not all that bad,” Feliciano explained. “He volunteered for this tour guide job, so that’s why I’m coming to South Italy. He asked if I could take care of his house and everything while he gave some winner of a contest a tour around South Italy for four days.”
That sounded awfully familiar.
“Oh, really? The reason I’m coming to South Italy is because I won a contest! Do you happen to know what the contest was called, the one that your brother volunteered to be a tour guide for?”
“It was ‘Around the World,’ I think.”
“That’s awesome! Your brother’s going to be my tour guide! Although I do have a question,” you said, arching an eyebrow. “Why does he need you to look after his house? It’s just a tour guide job.”
“Vee? They didn’t tell you?” Feliciano smiled. “The tour guide’s going to be staying with you at your hotel for the time you’re staying there!”
Looks like your friend forgot to mention something when explaining to you the contest.
All around you, you could hear fast-paced Italian being spoken as you stepped off of the plane and into the airport. Your flight had finally landed, and you had a chance to stretch your sore limbs – but in the midst of it all, Feliciano had seized your arm and started to drag you wherever he was going, just like back in the other airport.
“C’mon, _____! We need to find fratello, or else he’ll get mad that we took too long to show up!” Feliciano said frantically, his speed increasing at the thought of his brother getting angry – and also forcing you to dodge people in your way.
“Feli, slow down! You’re going really fast–”
“Idiota, where are you going?” A gruff voice was heard from behind you before a hand suddenly grabbed your collar, effectively stopping you in your tracks as another one grabbed Feliciano’s and turned the both of you around.
The surprised yelp that was about to come from your mouth seemed to get lodged in your throat as you looked over the person that had spun you around. He bore a resemblance to Feliciano, although his hair was a couple of shades darker and his skin was more olive-colored – but he also had that strange curl that Feliciano also had, sticking out like a strand of hair that refused to go down without a fight.
“Ah, fratello! We found you!”
“More like I found you,” he retorted, letting go of the two of you and letting his arms hang at his sides. “Now that you’re finally here, you can have this–“ Digging through his pockets for something, he retrieved a few keys and handed it to Feliciano; all the while completely ignoring you. “Keep good care of my house or else, and don’t use all of my tomatoes for your damn pasta sauce. Now go away, I still have to look for the ragazza who I’m going to give a tour.”
Clearing your throat, you shyly raised your hand as though to announce your presence. “Um… I’m the person you’re looking for… you’re my tour guide, right?”
For a few moments, you could see his eyes widen and a surprised look come across his face before it vanished as soon as it came. Coughing awkwardly into his elbow, he averted his gaze from yours, instead redirecting it to the ground.
“Well, I’ll be going~!” Feliciano chirped as he bounced away, a skip in his step. A somewhat awkward silence settled around you two, and it was starting to become uncomfortable before Feliciano’s brother finally spoke up.
“So you’re the one who won the contest, huh? I’m going to be your tour guide for the next four days. My name’s Lovino,” he said, holding out a hand for you to shake. “Lovino Vargas.”
You could distinctly remember Feliciano telling you that his name was Romano, not Lovino – so, curious, you obviously questioned him about it.
“Lovino? But I thought your name was Romano.”
At the mere mention of the name, an embarrassed blush rose to his cheeks as he shot you something between a glare and a suspicious look. I mean, who wouldn’t be suspicious when a stranger knew your name?
“Who told you that?” Romano asked, eyebrows furrowed.
“Feli! He was telling me about you and said your name was Romano, not Lovino,” you said with an arched eyebrow. “Is Lovino a nickname or something? Because how do you get Lovino from Romano–”
“My name is Romano,” he grumbled, cutting you off. “But I don’t like being called that, because Romano’s a cheese, and I’m not a piece of cheese.”
“But what if I like cheese? Then can I call you Romano?” A smile started to pull at your lips. “My mom once gave me some to eat with my pasta. It was called Pecorino Romano, I think, and it was really good!”
“But it’s still weird, being named after a cheese!” Romano argued, crossing his arms.
“A good cheese,” you added, waving a finger in front of him. “So how about it? Can I call you Romano? My name’s _____, but you can call me some other name to make it fair!”
“…You’re a weird ragazza,” Romano mumbled, “But a good kind of weird. You can go ahead and call me Romano. I think I’ll call you… bella,” he said, a small smirk crossing his face. “It suits you.”
“Alright, whatever floats your boat! Now since you’re my tour guide, I demand that you show me around, Roma!”
“Oi! I thought we agreed that you’d call me Romano, not Roma!”
“But it’s short for Romano!”
“This ragazza… before I show you around, we should first go to our hotel and I’ll help you unpack, sì? Then I’ll take you to the beach, if you want; Italy has really nice beaches.”
And thus started your four-day adventure in South Italy, with a tour guide who was named after a cheese.