Ruggiero felt dejected. After that painful confrontation, the more hours passed the more he wanted to kick himself in the ass for having acted in a way that made him lose his Enzo. He made Manfredo get dressed and told him to look for another place somewhere else. The boy didn't feel offended, he understood. And even though he felt what had happened was not his fault, he was sorry. Ruggiero went out to look for Enzo -- he didn't know where, he didn't know how. Enzo was probably going back home, he could already be far away. What could he do?
He let a note on his door, "Enzo, I'm looking for you. Wait for me here," hoping the boy would change his mind and go back to him. He didn't want to lose Enzo. He could not allow himself to lose him. He had taken the issue too lightly, now he had to remedy that in some way, if there was still time.
Why had he been so superficial? He hurt the person he loved the most in the world. But if he was in love with him, how could he betray him so? When he saw Enzo in front of him, he had to... what? At that point, any thing he did would have been too late. He should have thought of that earlier. It was useless to think about closing the stable after the horses had fled away.
He walked around Messina -- he didn't know where to look for Enzo, and maybe he had already gone back home... and yet he was not able to not look for him. He needed Enzo. He needed only him and not just any boy. Enzo had entered his blood -- why did he cheat on him? Just to feel the shiver of a pleasant, fresh, exotic body? What a dumb ass he had been!
He continued to roam around the town the next day, until he ran into Manfredo. The boy greeted him and was smiling as usual.
"Ruggiero! Are you still looking for your Enzo?"
"Yes, even though I fear he had gone back to our village."
"I don't think so... This morning a certain Vincenzo enlisted, eighteen years old. I don't know if that's him... his family name, if I'm not mistaken, is Rota..."
"Enzo! That is my Enzo! Where is he now?"
"I don't know, but if you want, I can try to find out. Come with me, come on."
"Aren't you mad at me?" Ruggiero asked, somewhat amazed, somewhat embarrassed.
"No... you told me from the beginning that you are in love with him. I'm sorry for you. If you can start over with him again... make him understand that between you and I there was nothing but just sex..."
"That shouldn't have happened. I was wrong."
"He is a really handsome boy, your Enzo. And he must be really in love with you to have reacted in such a way. You'll see, he might have cooled down..."
"I'm afraid he hasn't, but I have to meet him again... try to ask for his forgiveness."
"Well, I wish you success. You don't have much time, we will leave the day after tomorrow."
"Yes. I hope to find him very soon..."
But the officer keeping the lists of people hosting the Garibaldians didn't bother to write down the new Sicilian recruits on his lists, therefore, he could be of no help. Ruggiero was dejected.
"Listen, I'll try to find out something about your Enzo. Anyway, even if we are unlucky, you can come to the pier the day after tomorrow -- you can surely see him there."
"But I won't have time to talk with him..."
"Then I hope we can find him before we leave. Can we meet tomorrow? Here at this place?"
"Yes, thank you."
Ruggiero went back home. He spent the night almost without sleeping -- he was agitated and restless. He didn't want to lose his Enzo. What to do? Then, he got an idea. It was near dawn. He hurriedly got dressed and went to look for the General's Quarters of the Garibaldians, where he went the previous evening with Manfredo. He asked for the recruiting officer. The guard told him that he would come later. Ruggiero sat down and waited. That was the best way, for sure. He was ready to abandon everything, just not to lose his Enzo... His Enzo. Would the boy still be his boy?
Meanwhile, Manfredo went to look for the sergeant in command of the Sicilians group. From him, he got the name of Enzo Rota's corporal, and went to look for him. Enzo was at the "Mars Field" drill ground, getting trained to shoot guns with his fellow soldiers. And Manfredo recognized Enzo right away -- he was the only blond Sicilian. He thought about going to talk with him, but then he had a better idea. He went to see the corporal and told him that the recruit Vincenzo Rota was wanted at the General's Quarters. Fortunately, the corporal didn't think of asking to see a written order -- he had some awe for that "veteran" Garibaldian, a Piedmontese with a determined and self-confident look. He went to call Enzo and sent him to Manfredo.
The boy put down his gun and went towards Manfredo. He recognized him at once and stopped, slightly dumbfounded.
Manfredo went near him, "Let's go," he simply said, and started to walk out of the drill ground.
Enzo hesitated for a little, but then followed him, "Why do they want me at the General's Quarters?" he asked, frowning.
"It's just a lie. It's me who wants to talk with you."
"About what? We have nothing to talk about."
"Well, maybe you don't, but I do. And I'm a chosen soldier, therefore your superior," the boy said, which he just made up.
"So, where are we going?"
"Let's walk. And you listen to me."
"Listen, I understand you are mad at me, and at Ruggiero. But between Ruggiero and me there has been only sex. He is in love with you. He is looking all over the town trying to find you."
"In love with me? Looking for me? I don't want to meet him," the boy said with sarcasm.
"I swear, he told me from the start. He just wanted some fun, all right, but you know, he is a man with fire in his veins. But he told me clearly that between us there could be nothing more than a little adventure."
"That lasted eight days?"
"I was his guest, we slept on the same bed, since he has only one, and I was horny as much as him, or even more than him. But he loves you. He screwed me only because he missed you for too long."
"I don't believe you."
"Anyway, in my opinion, you have to meet him, and talk with him."
"I don't want to. I enlisted in the Garibaldians to be away from him. And then, I am staying with an old friend now."
"You mean you make love with him?"
"That's just a reaction based on your misconception, I'm sure," Manfred said, looking at him straight in the eyes.
"No. It is because at least my friend doesn't make a laughing stock out of me. He doesn't swear me he would be mine only. We like fucking and so we fuck."
"But for your Ruggiero and me, there really wasn't anything more. Is it possible you can't understand that?"
"He was my first and only man. I trusted him. But he, I knew that he had had a lot of adventures before me. He could not content himself with just me. It is not his fault, it's my fault, as I trusted a person not to be trusted."
"I think you are too hard on yourself. Yesterday, after you went away, he asked me to leave. He is not interested in me, but only in you. I don't live with him any more now. Why don't you go back to his place?"
"You can go back there, he will be happy to see you again... I want to have nothing more to do with him."
"Don't you admit one can make a mistake?"
"Yes, but... I made a mistake too, but I became aware of it at once, because I was in love with him. I didn't need eight days. And I would not hide it from him and pretend that nothing happened, as he had intended to do, while he..."
"He... was just afraid to hurt you, to tell you. Just for that..."
"... continued to fuck you, since I was far away anyway, so I could not find out about it. And then, with how many more would he do it, as long as I do not find out? Not to hurt me, you say? Or to have fun as he pleased? While I am faithful at home waiting for him, he is having his fun around with all those at hand's reach? No, thank you, I don't want to play the role of the faithful wife waiting quietly at home!"
Manfredo smiled at this image, "But you two can still talk and smooth things out."
"And for what? Even if now he promise me seas and mountains, I don't trust him any more. No, I woke up -- it was too beautiful a dream. Can I go back to my training, now?"
"No. I don't yield so easily."
"As you did with Ruggiero? Do you want to take me to bed? Do you want to fuck with me too? I'm game, you know? Your place, or mine?"
Manfredo looked at him, amused, "You really would make love with me?"
"Sure thing! Opportunity only knocks once. And you are a beautiful boy -- I know that, I saw you naked."
"Well... if you promise me to go to talk with Ruggiero, we can go to your place afterwards -- I sleep in the General's Quarters, now that Ruggiero had chased me away. We can't screw there."
"But I don't want to meet him."
"I'll meet him at noon. We will go together," Manfredo insisted.
Enzo thought about it for a while. He really wanted to fuck with that boy. He would fuck with anyone, now. "Let's go then," Enzo said determinedly, starting to feel slightly aroused for the perspective of having sex with the boy for whom Ruggiero cheated on him.
They went back to the house of the doctor who was hosting Alduzzo, and when the waitress went to open the door, Enzo told her he had to talk in private with "the Piedmontese", then took Manfredo to the bedroom.
They rapidly undressed and went on the bed. Both were excited. They caressed each other with lust and unrestrained greed, but without tenderness.
The Piedmontese was wild, "God, what a beautiful cock you have!" he murmured, bending down to work it with his lips, tongue and mouth.
He was good, skilled. Enzo turned to reciprocate that pleasurable treatment and they formed a perfect ring, greedily sucking each other. Then Manfredo parted from him, went on all fours and asked to the other to stick it in him. Enzo, fully aroused, penetrated him with a few strokes and started to pump inside him with a will. His companion moaned, and Enzo covered his mouth with his hand, fearing they could be overheard and people would know what was happening. And he thrust into him with more energy. Manfredo skillfully rocked under him, making Enzo even more excited. It was evident that the youth was really enjoying Enzo's ride.
Enzo thought that usually he preferred being a bottom, but now he was enjoying this fuck as never before. It was possibly because he was thinking that the boy had been mounted exactly in the same way by Ruggiero; possibly because the boy was tossing and rocking under him like a mare in heat; possibly also because he felt like playing the dominant role for the first time. He was terribly enjoying it. He did his best, and rode him with a vigor he didn't think he had. He hammered inside him vigorously, fingering the boy all over his body, twisting his nipples hard, groping his turgid genitals, forcing him to tilt back his head so he could fuck his mouth with his hard tongue. That was not a kiss -- it was a yen to penetrate him completely, more, and even more.
Manfredo was enjoying that unbridled force of nature, happily thinking that Sicilians really know how to make a boy enjoy! And was confusedly asking himself whether it was better for him to remain in Sicily... He recalled his first Sicilian, in Marsala, who mounted him with the same wildness, up the stairs of a church tower where the man attracted him with the pretext of showing him the view. He recalled the man from Palermo who took him at nighttime in the orange garden, under the window of the mansion where the General stayed, and where he was on guard. Then Ruggiero, who was ready to start again a few minutes after he enjoyed him, and whom he enjoyed for a full week. And now Enzo, who seemed like a jockey at a race -- all of them were really fantastic.
At last Enzo reached his orgasm. He strongly shuddered while he was unloading inside the boy, and he squeezed his body almost with violence. But Enzo was not satisfied yet. He felt wild. He made Manfredo turn around and sit on the bed, and took his hard and erect member in his mouth and sucked it almost as if he wanted to suck out even his soul. The Piedmontese was pleasurably upset for that fury. He tossed in an unseemly manner while Enzo was fingering his testicles, teasing his anus, which was still wet from the previous penetration, and twisting his nipples. Manfredo unloaded as well, trying to hold back the moans of pleasure that was violently shaking him.
But Enzo felt really wild. He knelt in front of Manfredo, astride his lap, and showed his still hard member to his lips. The boy smiled, and readily parted his lips. Enzo pushed it all inside, and grabbing Manfredo's head, he started to determinedly fuck him in the mouth. Manfredo caressed Enzo's butt, which was darting at each push, and the full sack of his testicles, while telling himself that Sicilians were really unique! That boy, younger than him, was more virile than all the men with whom he had sex up north.
Enzo reached his orgasm again, and abandoned himself on the bed, panting. He felt empty, and not only physically, but also mentally. With Alduzzo, it had been different. But just now, he had let out all his rage, his frustration, the disappointment he had inside himself, not towards Manfredo -- the boy had been pleasurable, anyway, and not even towards Ruggiero, but towards himself.
They started to get dressed, in silence. Then Manfred said, "But now you have to come with me to meet Ruggiero."
"I don't see what for, but I'll come."
"I liked it. I don't know who is better, you or Ruggiero. You must have shot sparkles, you two."
"Let bygones be bygones. I now want only to have my fun, I don't want to hear about him any more."
"In my opinion, you are making a mistake."
"So much the better," Enzo stubbornly answered.
When fully dressed, they went out. Yes, that wild fuck did him good. The day seemed more radiant to him than ever. And to hell with Ruggiero!
They went in silence to the meeting point, and waited there.
Meanwhile, Ruggiero was at the General's Quarters, in the waiting room. When the recruiting officer finally came, he was the first of a rather long waiting line. The officer made him take a seat in front of him and started to ask him questions. He seemed interested after knowing that Ruggiero was a lawyer. The interview lasted about twenty minutes, then the officer made him fill out some forms. When the young man had to write down his name, he wrote "Ruggiero Rota" without any hesitation. He didn't decide on that beforehand, it came out spontaneously right while he was writing. This was almost a way to state that from that moment on, he would change his life. He would dedicate himself, body and soul, to Enzo. He was abandoning everything for him. The officer called a soldier, who led Ruggiero to the orderly room and assigned him a red shirt and scarf, a white bandoleer and a backpack. Then he led him to another officer to take an oath. Now Ruggiero was a Garibaldian too, like his Enzo! He was told to go back after lunch to be assigned to the Sicilians contingent.
Ruggiero, with his civilian clothes in a bundle and his empty backpack on his back, went home. He put a few things in order, went to look for Alfio and gave him the key, asking him to cancel the apartment's lease, and to send back home his few remaining belongings. Then, with his civilian clothes carefully folded in his backpack, and all his money in his pocket, he went to the meeting with Manfredo. It was almost time. He hoped that the boy could bring him good news. He was walking with a fast pace. Even if Manfredo was able to find Enzo, he could now go on board with him. He would talk with him. He could try to convince him to try again, to forgive him. He hoped he hadn't lost him forever.
When he reached the meeting point, he at once recognized the two blond youths who were waiting, standing up and quietly chatting, and his heart jolted in his chest. He approached them with a fast pace, almost running, holding back his breath. Manfredo was the first to see him and had an amazed expression when he saw Ruggiero's red shirt. Enzo saw the stupefied expression of his companion and turned to look at him too. Ruggiero was now a few steps from him, and coming nearer, and the boy at once understood the reason for Manfredo's expression.
Enzo could not avoid feeling stirred up. Deep inside his heart, he was still in love with that young man, even if he didn't want to admit that, not even to himself. He felt agitated, he tried to control himself. He also held back his breath. Ruggiero stopped in front of him, and for a while, they looked at each other without uttering a word.
It was Manfredo who broke the silence, "You enlisted too?" he asked, shaking his head. He guessed that Ruggerio did this only to be able to be near the boy whom he loved, and whom he didn't want to lose.
"Yes, just as Enzo did," the young man answered in a low voice, confirming the Piedmontese's guess.
"I just hope they will not put us in the same legion!" Enzo said, showing some coldness and harshness that he was not really feeling.
"I don't care, but at least I can be near you..." Ruggiero retorted in a subdued tone.
"Would you please leave me alone, don't you think you have hurt me enough?"
"I wanted to beg for your forgiveness."
"Forgiveness? Yes, I forgive you, but leave me alone," Enzo answered with an impatient tone, but his heart was beating like mad.
"Yes, sure, I'll leave you in peace. But first... first I want to tell you I know what I did was wrong, I know I don't deserve you, but I continue to need you, I do... I love you, Enzo."
"Yes, you showed me that!" the boy answered sarcastically.
Ruggiero lowered his eyes, "I know, Enzo, you have the right to scold me. I know I was not able to merit your love. But give me one more chance. I am not asking you to let bygones be bygones, to pretend nothing had happened. Just try me, please..."
"To try you? What try? At this point I don't trust you anymore, can't you understand that?"
"Yes, sure I understand, but I would like to show you that from now on, you can trust me. Give me the chance to show you this, please. I never begged anybody. I had always been rather proud. But now I beg you..."
Enzo laughed, "One begs and prays to the saints. I'm no saint. I decided to follow your example -- last night I fucked with Alduzzo and this morning with Manfredo. And I intend to continue, with them and with others, as I feel like. Therefore, between you and me, it's over. I don't want to be tied to anybody anymore. I don't want deceive myself again, at least I will not be disappointed."
"I understand, but... give me the chance to... to remedy what I have done."
"Do what you like. It doesn't concern me any more. Just leave me in peace. Have your life and let me have mine."
Manfredo was listening in silence and observed their expressions. He could read emotion, both the imploring expression of Ruggiero and the apparently cold and distant expression of Enzo. These two, he thought, were made for each other -- determined, strong, sensual, able to feel deep emotions. They would be together again, he thought. It would just take some time. Ruggiero did the right thing to enlist. It was easy for Enzo to leave everything. But for Ruggiero, it was a courageous deed that Enzo could not ignore. Then he smiled -- both had enlisted for love, although their reasons and circumstances were different. Yes, those two would be together again, would find love in each other again, he bet inside himself. But he also thought, to be more certain, he needed to talk with his friend Enrico -- he probably would have some ideas on how to bring the two lovers together again.
A Messina man approached the three Garibaldians, "Hey, picciotti, may I offer you lunch? I own a tavern here nearby, and I will be honored if you would be my guests.""
"Thank you, we willingly accept, right, my friends?" Manfredo readily answered.
"Really I..." Enzo started to say, slightly annoyed.
"Surely you are coming!" Manfredo said, taking his arm.
"Perhaps I'd better not go..." Ruggiero said with a humble voice.
"But he invited all three of us, didn't you?" Manfredo said, turning towards the tavern keeper.
"Sure, sure, come," the man said thoughtfully.
"But I..." Ruggiero said hesitantly, looking at Enzo.
Manfredo whispered to the boy, "Anyway, we three are on the same boat at this point. Don't be a bastard now!"
"I don't care," Enzo answered, shrugging his shoulders.
The three followed the man. The tavern was only a block away. The customers welcomed them with applause and cheers and many offered them wine, but the keeper said with pride, "They are my guests, my guests of honor. Filuccio, prepare a table, and use the good silverware!"
"Yes, master!" the boy answered with a big smile.
They sat down at the table, with Manfredo at the center, so that Enzo and Ruggiero were facing each other. But they weren't looking at each other -- Ruggiero was ashamed, while Enzo was trying to keep a distance.
They ate a really good and abundant meal. The merry atmosphere of the place, the fact of being at the center of everybody's attention, helped the situation somewhat, even though Enzo never looked at Ruggiero, while the young man instead threw him a glance furtively from time to time. They answered the questions of the other customers, especially Manfredo who being a foreigner, raised more curiosity than the other two. The tavern keeper was overjoyed. He already had in his mind how to make his tavern famous -- he would have three Garibaldians' red shirts made, a flag like what they carried when they entered Messina, and would display them on a wall of the tavern. Then he would replace the shop sign that read "At the Golden Cock" with another that read "At the Three Garibaldians." And all the customers who were there on that day would spread the news that three Garibaldians really did eat there, and would swear that the three shirts were their shirts. The free meals he offered and his little ploy would earn him at least centuple the money.
When the three got up to leave at last, Enzo said he had to go back to his training. Manfredo instead went with Ruggiero to the General's Quarters.
Along the way, he said, "In my opinion, sooner or later, you'll overcome everything."
"He was so cold, so distant... he had erased me from his heart."
"No, I don't think so. You'll see. You'll conquer him again."
"I'm afraid not... but I have to try, I can't live without him."
"You enlisted for him, you left everything for him, this must have touched his heart."
"It didn't seem so. Anyway, I'll do it again in a heartbeat."
Reached the General's Quarters, Ruggiero went to see the liaison officer, who was waiting for him. The officer told him he could be useful to him, with his knowledge of the laws of the Two Sicilies Kingdom. Moreover, he needed educated and trustworthy people. Therefore he proposed that he become his assistant, "You will get lieutenant's rank. You will be part of my group."
"I will willingly collaborate with you, sir, but I have a favor to ask you -- may I be part of the Sicilians group? It is very important to me."
"I would like to meet your wishes, but it is better if you are with me, as you have to work with me."
"I don't want to insist, but... I would like to share the life of my countrymen, to sleep and eat with them. And during the day I can come and work with you."
"If you insist... I think we can do so, even if this may raise some problems."
So Ruggiero got lieutenant's stripes and started to work with the liaison officer. Garibaldi also nominated a governor in Messina, who was in charge of organizing the referendum at the appropriate moment, and keeping contacts with the small but growing army continuing its march to the north and to Naples. That night, Ruggiero was also assigned a bed in the General's Quarters. He met Manfredo and chatted with him for a while, before withdrawing to sleep.
On the day after, they all boarded the ship. Before sailing, the Garibaldians were lined up on the pier, and Ruggiero went among the Sicilians. He saw Enzo, but the boy didn't look at him. When the roll was called, at the call of "Rota Ruggiero" he stepped forward, and couldn't see the amazed look of Enzo.
Alduzzo, who was near Enzo, whispered, "But his family name is Vizzini!"
"Sure. I can't understand why he told them he is Rota."
"You can't? Don't you think it is a way to tell you he belongs to you?"
"Be quiet!" the corporal ordered in a low voice.
The two boys became silent. The roll call ended and at last they went on board.
Enzo, when Ruggiero went near him, icily said, "What are you trying to do, saying you are Rota too? Didn't you understand that everything is over between us? What use is it, this lie?"
"I don't know. It just came out instinctively when I signed. Possibly because I know I am..." he was about to say 'yours' but a kind of modesty stopped him. He knew that Enzo was not able to understand that yet. Would he ever be? Enzo didn't ask him to finish his sentence. But the boy understood, Alduzzo told him that, and Enzo knew that his friend was right.
"Anyway..." the boy started to say with a certain vigor, but he didn't finish it, and went away from Ruggiero -- he felt he was terribly attracted to the young man, and was afraid he could yield again. He went to look for Alduzzo, sat near him and told him, "Let's hope we can find a quiet place after we land. I want to fuck with you."
His friend looked at him, somewhat shocked, but nodded in assent. He understood that Enzo was simply running away from Ruggiero, or, more precisely, from himself. How long would it last, and how would it end?
They landed. The citizens had revolted as soon as they heard the news that the General who freed Sicily with a thousand men was arriving. Garibaldi was already a living legend. They were still fighting downtown, but the port was already in the hands of the rebels, who welcomed the ship's arrival with ovations. The Garibaldians, led by their General, rapidly disembarked and regrouped. And the glorious and fast advance of the small volunteers' army started again, barely slowed down by minor skirmishes with the Bourbons' army that was adrift.
The Sicilians also fought with vigor, to earn esteem and respect from the Piedmonteses. Moreover, the first Calabrian volunteers had started to join the ranks. Enzo and Ruggiero had their baptisms of fire.