[olderpeople!AU] Here Comes Your Man
Fandom: Latin Hetalia.
Characters: Perú (Miguel)/Chile (Manuel).
Comments: ... idk, FEELS MAN, this AU gives me lots of feels. Special thanks to zulenha for beta reading me and berseker for giving me concrit and advice. YOU ARE THE COOLEST BROS, GIRLS.
Summary: Miguel smiles like the sun and Manuel's knees buckle until he falls, falls, falls.
They meet at college, their rooms next to each other, located on the second floor, in the exact corridor that faces the park. Manuel can hear him making a lot of buzz, he's always stomping around or singing, or even bringing people as loud as himself to his place. He decides, right away on the first day, that he hates him. He's just an annoying idiot who won't let him focus, he thinks, he'll never graduate if that dude keeps making so much noise. So, when the guy tries to introduce himself to him the first time, Manuel throws the door at him in a gesture of defiance, resenting him for causing so much trouble. Miguel screams at him, calls him un-polite, calls him a bitter old man with no life and no friends and storms back to his apartment with a furious huff.
Afterwards, Manuel feels a little bit guilty, he knows he was rude to the guy. But he's not going to chase him to his place and apologize, that's not how he is and, besides, Miguel is the one who won't let him focus on his studies with all that noise he makes, the little shit, with his stupid catchy songs and his noisy feet.
The next time he sees him they are both at a bar, slightly wasted and just a little bit stupid. Manuel just sinks on top of the stool, thinks about that essay he has to deliver next day and wishes he could cry without feeling ashamed, the taste of rum fresh on his lips. And then Miguel sits beside him and recognizes him as the mean guy who lives next to him and closed the door on his face, chuckling with red cheeks and a slurred speech that makes him sound even dumber in Manuel's opinion.
"You are such a little shit", Manuel says, so envious of the way the guy just smiles his way into life and Miguel laughs and it's like the most annoying laugh Manuel has ever heard in his crappy life, because it's contagious and he has to make use of all his will so he can avoid jumping on Miguel's bandwagon.
"It's funny", Miguel says, a glass close to his lips, "You are funny." And it's like Miguel sees him, as if he could read his goddamn mind, as if he could see how bitter Manuel is, how lonely he is, how pressured he feels, how afraid he is of failure and not being good enough and not succeeding at that stupidity called life. Miguel knows, and Manuel’s breath catches when he sees the guy smile.
Miguel smiles and he smiles like the sun and when he looks into his stupid eyes it feels like fucking summer and he doesn't even know what he is doing when he reaches out for him and kisses his lips, so slowly at first and then in such a feral way it actually becomes a little bit painful. And then Miguel is clasping his head and pulling him to his lap and they are kissing as if they have known each other their whole lives when the reality is, the only thing they know is that they dislike each other as much as they can.
Miguel is a warm person, he feels warm against Manuel's body that night, and he thinks it's weird, having a stranger come into his world in such a sudden way, he feels big and intense and he feels like the sun and maybe, just maybe, Manuel is not ready to welcome the sun into him yet.
He kicks him out the next day when Miguel says he doesn't remember whatever the fuck happened last night, he kicks him out and feels angry at himself for letting it happen, because of course Miguel would just dismiss it all, he's just a stranger and Manuel doesn't care for strangers. Miguel shoots a hard look at him, "I didn't want to stay anyway, I've got stuff to do" and Manuel’s heart sinks a little, but he lets him go. He never sees him again, not even at college and that's extremely weird, given that they still live next to each other.
Manuel goes on this fancy little class trip after graduating. He couldn't afford it on his own but thanks to his good grades, the university pays it for him. And he feels annoyed, yes, because he doesn't like charity, he doesn't like feeling indebted to people and feels (undeserving) uncomfortable when he receives help. When he stares out the window, just before the landing, he has to admit to himself that the landscape is completely new to him, something he has never seen before, something beautiful, with a touch of magic, with pictures of glorious memories. His classmates are scattered around him, talking in excited voices, sharing their plans for the first days. And Manuel sits there, kind of uncomfortable, because he never created any kind of bonds during his five years of college. He got good grades, hell, he got the best grades, no one could tell him what to do, his teachers constantly congratulated him on his talent.
(So why is it that he keeps wondering if he will ever be good enough?)
The first night, he takes a small stroll around Cusco. He observes the starry sky, dark as a mantle, with little white dots spattered all over it, he watches the rogue streets, filled with all kind of sounds, filled with secrets buried under old stones. Everything about the city tells a story, and Manuel loves all kind of stories, the good ones, the bad ones. Even the forgotten ones.
And it’s like that, with so many ideas inside his head, and a rising urge to write something, anything, that he gets into a tiny bar inside a hotel, and orders a big glass of pisco. He drinks and drinks and the liquid feels so warm against his throat, it makes him feel so full of life. He has to close his eyes and savour it and heck, he’ll never admit it, but Peruvians know their pisco.
That’s when he hears him, laughing at some spot behind his back. Manuel doesn’t turn around to see him, but he knows he’s there, he remembers the scandalous way he laughs, remembers the way it made him want to cackle too, and how much it annoyed him. His heart actually skips a fucking beat.
So he turns around, just in time for Miguel to stop laughing. And their eyes meet and it’s weird, it’s like time hasn’t happened at all. He looks more handsome now, Manuel thinks, and shit shit shit, he still smiles like the sun. It’s all about sunshine when it comes to Miguel, he knows, and he wants to punch him for smiling at him, he wants to punch him for making him feel so exposed, so raw.
“Fuck”, Manuel mutters as Miguel walks up to him, “fuck”, he says again, because he’s drunk as hell and, by the way Miguel looks at him, with his hair all tousled and his reddened cheeks, he knows he’s screwed.
(They are so, so, so very wasted and he’s just falling all over again)
And this is how it goes, he barely knows Miguel and hasn’t seen him in years but he still ends up in bed with him. This is how it goes, he kisses him the moment Miguel lies a hand on his lower back, the moment he feels his warmth again, this is how it goes, with lips on his neck and fingers trailing on his hips. And this is how it ends, with them sharing a bed and staring at an unknown ceiling, the alcohol’s effect slowly fading away from their bodies.
“What do we do now?”, Miguel asks with a slow voice and Manuel feels suddenly offended by the way he whispers his doubts, as if he felt embarrassed by what they’ve done. “I don’t fucking know”, Manuel snaps at him and Miguel gets mad because it’s too early and he doesn’t have patience for someone as rude as Manuel and soon enough, they are fighting with a vitriol they rarely use with people, until Manuel gets sick of it and storms out. He’s tired and maybe a little bit hurt and he doesn’t understand why he keeps getting into bed with someone who keeps forgetting the things they do or dismisses them entirely.
(He feels so easily forgettable.)
He should know, by now, that things never come out as he expects them to. He should have known, from the moment that everyone gathered at the airport, that something was going to fail and, of course, he discovers what is it as he opens his wallet and finds out that his plane ticket is missing. Well, fuck, so much for an uneventful trip.
Manuel spends two hours frantically searching for his ticket, he even goes back to the hotel room where he stayed during the whole trip, and the hotel staff helps him look for it, to no avail. The thing just... disappeared and by the time that Manuel goes back to the airport, he has already missed the plane. And he just stands there, frustrated and confused, trying to figure out how to solve the shithole he has dug for himself. He doesn’t have any permanent papers, nor does he have family in the city. He doesn’t have enough money to pay for the ticket, he never had it.
And later, when Miguel finds him at night, sulking on a park bench with the face of someone who feels utterly defeated, he accepts his hand and ends up following him to where he’s been staying. “Don’t get any ideas”, Miguel jokes and there is it again, that crazy urge to laugh. So Manuel laughs, laughs and laughs until he’s out of air, until it gets ridiculous, until Miguel traps him into a clumsy hug, a hand on Manuel’s back and another on his nape. And there’s a whisper on his ear, and Miguel’s warm voice calling him an idiot, telling him that things will be alright.
“You shouldn’t be so afraid”, Miguel says, and his hand slowly makes his way to Manuel’s cheek. “I’m just going to help you a little, really”.
And Miguel smiles, he smiles and Manuel wants to punch that smile out of his face but instead, he feels too breathless, too suffocated. And there’s a poem about to fall off his lips, Neruda, he thinks, or maybe Mistral. It’s probably Mistral, he thinks, because the love she writes about is the kind of love that punches you in the gut and he doesn’t want to let it out, he wants to suck those lines in, he wants to keep them to himself. So he kisses him.
He kisses Miguel.
The next time that Manuel travels to Perú, flooded by memories of a missing plane ticket and Miguel’s hand on his and the way they filled the nights with talks about nothing special and warm food, it’s because the same idiot invited him and Manuel was too polite to reject his invitation, really, not because he has been thinking about him since the moment he left Cusco and came back to Santiago. He’s going to Lima, this time, to Miguel’s little flat located in a nice district. When he arrives, Miguel is eager and has been waiting for him for a few minutes (yes, he arrived really late to the airport). He’s holding a stupid sign with Manuel’s name on it and has a ridiculous grin plastered all over his face. Manuel feels his face getting hotter and hotter, and walks up to him only to be trapped in Miguel’s biggest, most annoying hug ever.
“You’re here”, he whispers on Manuel’s neck, so soft and happy, anxiety on the same hands he uses to type silly text messages for Manuel everyday. It’s not like they never stopped talking to each other after their time in Cusco, they kept in touch, exchanged daily e-mails and random anecdotes about the tribulations of their days. Manuel basks in the warmth of Miguel’s hug, almost reluctantly at first and then slowly growing accustomed to the random display of public affection. He smiles, discreetly, and then goes back to frowning.
(And he’ll never get over the feeling of feeling welcomed)
Miguel firmly holds his hand around old beautiful buildings and ancient ruins, never shutting up about anything. Manuel’s palms are always sweaty due to embarrassment and nerves, he’s always nervous when Miguel just grabs him in public places, when he holds him by the waist and kisses him under a tree. He’s getting used to it, yes, but it takes time and Manuel hasn’t known real affection until now.
There’s something about the feeling of fingers on his hips that gets him trembling and giddy with subtle excitement, something about the way they have sex in whatever strange place Miguel chooses for them. And sometimes they fight, yes, sometimes they have these silly discussions about football teams and the origins of pisco or the thing with the sea or the way Manuel apparently ‘looked’ at a stranger while Miguel talked to him. Sometimes Manuel gets so stubborn he refuses to even enter Miguel’s apartment and tries to spend the night sitting outside the building, because he’s too angry and Miguel only makes him angrier.
And when Manuel feels footsteps behind his back and a deep voice calling him a jerk, he hides another smile.
He’s been doing that a lot, lately.
Manuel moves to Miguel’s place the next year and the thing he misses the most is rain. Even if the rain in Santiago didn’t exactly look appealing, even if the water was so cool that it made his bones chill all the time and his clothes stuck to his body in an uncomfortable way, he misses the soft pitter patter against his windows, the grey feeling of nostalgia that rainy days used to give him from dawn to noon, a warm cup of tea in his hands and maybe some mate afterwards. He begins to adapt to Lima, beautiful Lima with its crazy pace and its streets filled with all kinds of people, just like Santiago, only merrier and slightly slower. They buy some furniture, replace some battered appliances and laugh like little kids when Manuel’s cat and Miguel’s dog fall madly in love and curl up into a furry ball under the table.
They have sex on a new mattress, soft and light, with open curtains that reveal a clouded sky, as grey as it can possibly get. When they finish, they stare at the ceiling just for a little while before cuddling without a word and falling fast asleep. And Manuel thinks and realizes that it’s not so bad, even if Miguel leaves his clothes scattered on the floor everyday and never does the dishes in time, even if he ends up sleeping on the couch at least twice in a month only to be awoken by him and go back to bed because neither of them want to sleep alone (and Miguel is afraid of the weird shadows of the night).
Miguel gets a job as a chef’s assistant in an important restaurant and Manuel starts teaching Literature in a school near the building where they live. Secretly, he craves for more and so, during the night, while Miguel drools all over the pillows and their pets cuddle under the bed, Manuel writes thousands of lines, builds and crafts several poems as he looks at the window and hopes that, one day, his words will be good enough.
At night, he stares at the curve of Miguel’s back and hopes.
“I had a great idea last night”, Miguel proudly announces during breakfast, his legs tangled with Manuel’s under the table. He stares at Manuel, hoping for some kind of inquisitive answer that never comes. “Don’t you want to know about it?”, he asks, a pout on his face.
Manuel stares at him, and minutes pass.
“I’m chewing, you dork.”
“So, I had a great idea last night”, Miguel repeats, making his best serious face. “You know, I’ve thought a lot about it and last night it hit me: I’m really talented, like, I have lots of talents.”
Manuel raises an eyebrow.
“Congratulations on your self esteem, Miguel.”
“No, no, no”, Miguel whines, grabbing Manuel’s hand so he’ll pay attention to him. “I’m going to start my own business, that’s it.”
Manuel stares and Miguel starts to feel judged, but it’s actually a good idea and Manuel knows it. Bastard has a lot of talent, that’s for sure, he’ll just need him for the math part.
“Go head”, Manuel finally answers, as Miguel visibly relaxes. “I’ll cover your back, really”.
Once, Miguel took a look at Manuel’s poems on the computer and whistled. “This is really good”, he remarked, “You should get published”. Manuel just shrugged it off, thinking that his words weren’t good enough, convinced that he wasn’t good enough yet.
Today, he’s doing it. Actually, he has already done it, and Miguel is crazy with pride, he’s been telling the sucker for ages that he should share his poetry with the rest of the world. Miguel practically jumps from the excitement when Manuel hands him the small book with his name on the cover. “Sign it for me”, Miguel sings before stealing a kiss from Manuel, laughing at the silly way Manuel gets red all over his pretty face and he can’t believe it’s been ten years, ten freaking years, and he still blushes like that. It makes Miguel’s heart beat faster, makes him tear the book out of Manuel’s hand and pull him into a close hug, caressing his waist and his back, kissing him as slowly as he can.
They end up doing it on the couch, which is no surprise, tangled in a mess of limbs, clothes and sweat. Miguel kisses the top of Manuel’s head and Manuel lets his guard down, lets himself rest an arm on Miguel’s stomach, enjoying the feeling of skin under his fingertips.
“This feels really good”, Miguel whispers with a happy sigh, a silly smile gracing his face and his eyes closed. There’s a soft silence around the house, only interrupted by the sound of their calm breathing and Miguel feels the slightest bit overwhelmed by it, suddenly, there’s so much space around them and so much silence and so many years behind their backs and he seriously wonders why he didn’t think about it before, why he let it slip like that. “... And you know what would be even more awesome? Kids.”
Manuel’s eyes snap open and Miguel’s smile broadens, because he’s not afraid. He knows Manuel was a lonely kid and he also knows Manuel likes kids; he’s a teacher, after all. They have talked about it before maybe not in a serious way, maybe joking most of the time, but now Miguel has decided it’s not a crazy idea anymore. “We should have kids”.
“Let me think about it”, answers Manuel, hiding his blush on Miguel’s neck.
It’s only a matter of time.
(A year later, they move to a nice little house, and wait.)
Five years pass before they can welcome the first kid into their family. Matías is small and chubby, with rosy fat cheeks and big hazel eyes that make Miguel melt, because even if they are of a color similar to his, they are almond shaped like Manuel's, and that's kind of cute. The first week they panic a little between trying to figure out how diapers work and what kind of formula should they use and how hot is too hot, and is it an I'm-hungry-feed-me crying or a I'm dirty-change-me crying?
They manage to survive the first month, thankfully, with the help of the internet, several parenting books and Miguel's best friend supplying them with always useful advice. Matías is a heavy sleeper and enjoys being carried around all the time, it's quite cute. Miguel likes to kidnap him to bed with him so they can take a nap, as they are able to sleep entire afternoons together until Manuel comes to wake them up and demands dinner, along with taking the baby with him so he can feed the little monster.
It's endearing, really, how Manuel calls him 'little champion' when no one can see him and his little boy stares at him with his big eyes and touches his face with clumsy little fingers. Miguel takes a picture of that and decides to keep it close to his heart at all times.
"I don't want to get up."
"You need to get up."
"But I really don't want to get up."
"Come on, go feed him. It's your turn, be responsible."
"Why is he doing this to us?"
"Because he hates us, that's why."
Matías is six years old when Miguel brings the apple of discord to their home. It happens on a sunny afternoon, on a lazy Sunday. It's too hot outside and Manuel is busy with the draft of a new novel he has started to write recently. He's sitting on the couch, with the laptop on his lap and Matías sleeping next to him, his head nestled against Manuel's hip, leaving a puddle of drool on the couch. Manuel doesn't attempt to clean because that'd mean waking up the lazy monster and he doesn't want to deal with a grumpy kid when he's writing.
And then, just as he finally advances to the next scenes and feels he's getting somewhere on the damn thing, a loud motor noise can be heard outside and his concentration goes out of the window. "... the hell", he mutters, closing the laptop with a resigned sigh and getting up off the couch. He picks up Matías and carries him to his bedroom so he can put him to bed, and once he is finished, he goes to the front door and looks around the street, trying to locate the source of the annoying noise. And there it is.
A fucking motorcycle parked on his yard.
He wants to murder Miguel.
Okay, maybe not murder him exactly, but close enough. And he yells at him his entire life when he gets home, giving him a speech about responsibilities, adulthood, giving up silly fantasies and acoustic contamination. And Miguel gets mad, really mad, because it may be silly for Manuel, but it's something Miguel has wanted since a long time ago and it's not fair, Miguel thinks, it's not fair that Manuel won't let him have something for himself, something only he owns, a little of personal satisfaction. "Screw it, I'm not selling this thing", Miguel grumbles and Manuel kicks him out of their home because he's clearly being a jackass and he doesn't want that monstrosity near their son.
Miguel goes to a hotel, on his new motorcycle, books a room and stays there, staring at the ceiling with an annoyed look and still thinking that Manuel's reasoning isn’t fair and he should be able to have something that's only his, for himself. He's been working for years, he owns his own restaurant, he's been supporting his kid as much as Manuel has done and yet, he's not allowed to have a fucking motorcycle. He crosses his arms and sulks and silently claims that Manuel thinks like a stupid old man, it's not like his old---
But, he's not exactly young either.
(And maybe that's why Manuel worries.)
Afterwards, he feels terrible for making such a huge mess of something so silly and comes back home with his head low and a little bit blue because he misses his family. Manuel welcomes him back with a huff and he's still angry, but lets Miguel hug him and kiss him anyway and then he tells him to go make dinner because Matías is hungry and he's been asking for him.
When Matías is seven, they finish the process for a second adoption they've been expecting for years. He gets a little bit jealous when Mariano enters the house for the first time, barely walking, as clumsy as a three-year-old kid can be. Jealousy doesn't last long, though, and they become so close that no one is able to break them apart, ever. That's how they end up sharing a room and Manuel gets to keep his office. And it's from his desk that he looks through the window and smiles with satisfaction as Miguel sleeps under a tree in the garden, the boys cuddled at each side of him. He's not good with cameras, so he doesn't take a picture. But he burns the image inside his head and vows to remember it each time he closes his eyes.
(This is it, he thinks, this is all he’s ever wanted.)
At fifty three, Miguel falls ill shortly after his birthday. It starts as a simple cold that Manuel has to tend, all the while complaining that Miguel's jokes are not funny at his old age.
"I'm old, right", Miguel grins, barely sitting up on the bed. Manuel frowns at him.
"You are not", Manuel grumbles as he sits at Miguel's side. "You’re not old, I was joking. You aren't the only one who makes jokes, you know?"
And then he gets worse, he gets sicker and sicker and Manuel has to take him to the hospital while someone else takes care of their kids. Days become weeks, and weeks becomes months and Miguel never stops grinning, but he gets paler and thinner and more exhausted with each day, and Manuel holds his hand and stays firm as Miguel promises everything will be okay, you see, I'll get better, you know, I'll get better and we'll go back to Cusco and it'll be like going on a honeymoon only not because we are not exactly married but we could get married if you want, he rambles. Manuel nods, and he waits and waits and wishes he could cry but instead, he kisses Miguel on the lips and tells him to shut up.
"I love you", he whispers to Miguel's hand one night, believing him fast asleep.
"Me too", Miguel answers, as he caressed his cheek. "A lot."
"You’re an idiot."
"I'm going to miss you."
"You’re an idiot."
Miguel leaves with a smile like the sun and Manuel kisses him goodbye with a thank you on his lips and the loving memory of a man and two boys sleeping under a tree on a warm afternoon and the reminder that, no matter what happens in the end, they both had all they ever wanted.
He hugs his boys close to his chest and softly rubs their backs. “It’s okay”, he tells them. “It’s okay, you can cry, I miss him too.”
They stare at him with teary eyes and Manuel has the sudden urge to look away. “We’re going to be okay”, it’s such a hard promise to keep, he knows, but he can’t go back now. He made a promise, he vowed to take care of them, no matter how much he misses the idiot.
That night, he goes to bed alone for the first time in decades. He hugs the pillows in an useless attempt to fall asleep, but the only thing he accomplishes is feeling even more pathetic. The boys are asleep and no one is watching him.
Somehow, he can’t bring himself to cry yet.
(And he doesn’t cry until later that night, when a cold wind enters through the open window and he asks Miguel to close it, half asleep, only to realize he’s not there anymore.)
He writes a sonnet for Miguel’s funeral and makes everyone cry as the sun falls upon them and leaves get carried by the wind, scattered all over his clothes. It reminds him of the first time he truly saw him, and how he had a poem on his lips and felt too embarrassed to let it out, afraid that Miguel would make fun of him.
Now he knows it’s different.
Miguel would have kissed the verses on his mouth.
His boys become teenagers in a blink and Manuel waves them off goodbye after driving them to college.
(Soon enough they’ll be graduating.)
Matías plans to take over Miguel’s business and Mariano wishes to become a journalist.
(Miguel would be proud of them.)
Manuel is a patient person. And he waits, as the years pass, as his boys grow older, as he writes dozens of books that he shares with the world.
He waits, for the boy with the smile like the sun and the contagious laughs and basks in the memory of warm hands touching his sides and soft lips on top of his.
(And he was never forgotten.)