Title: No Pasta!
Pairing: Spamano: Spain x Fem!Romano
Rating: PG-13 (for my rather affectionate use of the F-word)
Relationship: Fluff and gooey sweet reunion things.
A/N: I want tortillas now.
An hour after midnight he sits in the waiting area, straight-backed and holding a paper cup of lukewarm coffee in each hand. Caffe con leche, usually with a bowl of bread pudding for him and breakfast skewers for her. Then they lace up their boots and wander out into chilly, damp grey pre-dawn to pick tomatoes, to check dripping grape vines for rain damage, to drive the beat-up truck in for errands.
Caffe con leche for the chilly, rainy day in November at the airport, so young a day as to not even dawned yet. He waits, the truck she calls a piece of shit parked outside amid a small array of other first hour traveler’s cars.
Every so often unfamiliar herds of faces bustle in, vision bleary with poor sleep and postures lax with the weight of carry-on luggage balanced with cups of coffee, water bottles, phones. Pilots in crisp uniform walk past, posture straight, gait quick, mind eager for a soft bed and reprieve.
It’s just a tiny error that he made, forgetting her arrival time and leaving anticipating a flight from Rome to Madrid around 11 p.m., rather than the 1:10 a.m.
Yet 1:10 comes and goes, leaving him bored and tired and wondering where she is, why it’s taking so long for a plane posted as ARRIVED to unload passengers.
More people arrive and stream through the gate. He hasn’t really been paying attention, and can’t discern if this group looks more harassed than the previous three. Way more harassed. And damn it, she’s not there either.
After they’ve passed, the big airport goes quiet again. A straggler comes forth, wheeling a stroller in double-time and viably shrieking in what sounds like English to someone on her phone. Her hair is the most eye-catching part of her, though rather short, it is spiky, pointing in all directions at once and crusted in some kind of gritty, red substance. He watches her, bewildered, as airport personnel politely intercept her and lead her away toward baggage claim.
“What was that about, I wonder…” He says it under his breath, curious if he’d missed something in American fashion about substances strongly resembling spaghetti sauce being smeared in young mothers’ hair.
“No kids, not ever,” another straggler hisses behind him. Two and a half hours of waiting and she manages to catch him off guard. He bends to set the coffees on the floor a safe distance away, then turns toward her.
She flew back in a white blouse under a neat black, buttoned vest. Both are crusted with some kind of sauce, as well as her matching pleated skirt. Her normally immaculate nylons have sauce all over them and a few runs, and her knee high black boots are smeared with it. Her hair is just as crusty and angular as the angry mother’s, her face a warzone between shame and tears and snarling, righteous rage. He covers her eyes gently with his palm for a moment and she stills, and stops trembling. Sliding his hand up, he pushes her dirty hair back from her face and grins when he sees her eyes again after so damn long.
“God I missed you, dulce.”
She sighs and shrugs his arm away so she can rifle through her purse, hunting for some item she’d forgotten to retrieve sooner. Her haste ends and she removes a handful of noodles and meatballs and strides over to a garbage can. Once the food is disposed of, she takes the coffee he hands her and drinks it so fast he’s glad it cooled to a palatable temperature. The empty cup follows the noodles and she strides for the door.
“Can we go or do you have business in…” She looks at the posting boards. “Prague?”
He smiles sympathetically and points. “Baggage claim is this way.”
The woman was already gone by the time they reach baggage claim. She takes her bag haughtily from the attendant holding it for her.
“Our apologies, again, señorita.”
“Save it, it wasn’t you,” she snaps, and turns rapidly toward the doors.
He waits until they’re in the truck, her bags in watertight compartments in the bed. She settles in and glares at him when he doesn’t start the truck.
“What? You got a problem? Let’s go!”
Her trouble is that she can never bait him with her abrasiveness. That’s all it is, a defense for a girl slighted by too many people earlier in life. Even when he didn’t know, her attitude never bothered him. He was fool enough to like it, like her, to foot the bill for her enormous appetite for pasta and tomatoes, to rent his spare room to her when she had nothing. To have already planned to make her dinner when they get back to the house.
“Are you all right?”
“I’m filthy, do I look all right?”
Taking his hands off the wheel, he turns toward her and cups her face in one hand. “Are you hurt, dulce.” He doesn’t ask, just clarifies his original meaning. She pushes his hand away, and turns away from him to stare out the window.
Only after the truck is out of the airport and back on the road home does she calm down enough to answer. “I’m not hurt. I just want to go home.”
He nods, sipping his coffee, and takes her home.
“Are you hungry? I’ll make you something.”
She opens her mouth to refuse while they pry the watertight box open, standing together on the slippery, pleated bed of the truck. He tosses her the carry on and takes the larger bag. At her scowl, he pointed out she’s doing this in heels and in the rain. She hops down with the carry on and starts toward the house. “No, I…”
He follows her down, and stops when she does. “Hm?”
“I guess that does sound pretty good. But only because my dinner was ruined.”
She continues on toward the house and he laughs, following her. As soon as they’re inside, he gives her a gentle push toward the bathroom. “Shower. Change your clothes. I’ll make you something, okay?”
“Yeah, fine, you do that, loser.”
He’s setting a covered bowl of homemade tortillas on the little kitchen dining table when she wanders in, toweling her hair dry and wearing an old t-shirt and a pair of pajama pants, the microfleece ones she won’t let him wash, convinced he’ll botch the job. The tortillas in place, he walks back into the kitchen, passing her as he goes. Gives her hair towel an affectionate ruffle and kisses her cheek. “Sit.”
She obeys, sneaking a warm tortilla when he’s not looking and taking a bite out of it. When he turns to bring two bowls of steaming, aromatic soup over, her eyes are closed and her shoulders have sloped downward, her mouth etching the beginnings of a smile as she chews.
“This is the best thing I’ve tasted in a month.”
She was gone three weeks. He’s not sure if it’s a compliment or not. “No one makes tortillas like me, eh?”
“Fucking no one,” she agrees, and opens her eyes as he sits down. Sniffs the bowl he’s placed in front of her. “You cheat. This takes all day to make.”
Grinning mischievously, he slides a spoon apologetically across the table for her. “I knew you’d be hungry, dulce. I started early.”
When they’ve finished their first serving, he makes her stay at the table and fills the bowls again. She probably would have had a third, but she ate at least five tortillas, enough to slow her down. By the end, she’s slouching happily in her chair, looking quite content to not move. He puts the leftovers away in the fridge and brings them each a glass of water that’s been in the fridge in a large glass jar, infusing with cucumber and mint and lime.
“So,” he asks as she sips the water. “What happened?”
She takes two more slow swallows of the water, and he waits her out patiently, sipping his own.
“Did you see a woman with fuckin’ stroller leave just before I did?”
He nods. She sighs. “That bitch’s damn squalling little brat decided to pitch a fit when she tried to make him eat the tomatoes in the spaghetti. He had the window seat, and she was in the middle. I had the aisle. Started screaming, and the flight attendants just came over to pressure her and try to help across me and one of them knocks my plate all over me.” She groans and sips the water again. “And in the chaos the kid decides to start throwing his food, too. At me, at his useless mother, at the flight attendants. And it was just noodles and bits of tomato. The sauce was in this bowl on the side, so she could pour it on the noodles for him. He threw that too. Hit the flight attendant beside me square in the nose. And then the pilot turns on the seatbelt sign and everyone has to sit down and buckle in and shit. Once we landed, the woman and I had to talk to the attendants and the pilot for a bit, and they let her go, then told me I could have my money back if I wanted. I told them the only thing I wanted…” She paused and bit her lip. “Shit.”
“I told them the only thing I wanted was to find you and…”
Antonio blinks in alarm and surprise when a tear slides free of her eye and down her cheek.
“Jesus, fuck,” she hisses, wiping it away. “And fucking go home. And then they had to ask me four times if I was sure. I told them I was fucking sure. I told them it wasn’t their fucking fault.”
“That’s what you told the person with your luggage.”
“Yeah. Not their fault stupid American women can’t take care of their own damn kids on a fucking plane.”
“You won’t like hearing it,” he says gently, “but I hear Americans aren’t allowed to punish their children in public.”
“What? Why the hell not?”
Leaning back in his chair, he swirls the water in the glass. “It’s equated with child abuse and can result in charges or the children being separated from the parents.”
She pauses, caught between a building tirade an d exhaustion. Settles for raising her glass in a toast. He taps the rim of his against hers, and she shrugs.
“Viva España,” she says, finishing the water. “It’s fucking good to be home.”
Their glasses empty, he sends her to bed and retires himself, changing into a plain tank top and shorts. It’s almost four in the morning. He falls into bed and snuggles in with only one dim bedside lamp lighting the room. Comfortable and content and happy she’s home, he rolls onto his side and dozes a bit, and wakes to a pressure at his back. Looking over his shoulder, he finds her laying with her back just touching his.
“Thank you, ciccino,” she says softly. “I’m sorry I’m an ass.”
“I’m not,” he says softly. “I never am.”
She doesn’t answer, but hasn’t fallen asleep yet.
“You know this is my favorite time of day?”
“It is,” he confirms, sliding over and rolling to lie on his back, arms behind his head. “If you lay and just listen, everything is quiet. It’s like your home is asleep too, like it’s a part of everything you do and it sleeps too, and dreams of the feeling when you’re all wet and lay and slowly dry in the sunlight. I guess that’s what it feels like. You come home so tired and so spent and go through all these steps and finally fall into bed and the whole house and all the stars and the moon sometimes are just waiting for you to join them in sweet dreams. Or something like that.”
“Huh. Seems kind of dull.”
“Does it?” He asks, yawning around the words.
“Totally,” she says, jumping through hoops of time-worn conversation, not meaning a damn word. She reaches behind her and holds out her hand. “Dead boring.”
“Maybe someday,” he says, taking her hand in his own and holding it tightly, stroking the back with his thumb. “You’ll see what I mean.”
“I doubt it,” she replies, reciting the line like she’s done a thousand times. Silence falls. Antonio leans up a little and turns off the lamp, and settles back in, still holding her hand, and playing with her fingers a little.
“You can go to sleep now, idiot,” she says softly, yawning.
He considers it, and smiles. “Welcome home, Lovina.”
She sniffs derisively, closes her eyes, and squeezes his hand.
“It’s … good to be back.”
He squeezes back. “Goo—”
“Shut up, ciccino.”
As always with her, her words are cold, but her tone is warm. Good night, ciccino.
“Good night, dulce.”