Benny goes up in the world...
(Because incoherently terrified people don't make good underlings, and Antonio runs a tight ship)
The deep voice piping up behind him just about made him jump three feet in the air, and Benny tried to calm his hammering heart by an act of will or somethin as he rouded on the ambusher and said, "Jesus, Gino, warn a guy."
"Wasn't exactly being quiet." Antonio's 'doorman' told him in as colse to an appologetic manner as the man ever got with someone at Benny's level. It was also a damned lie, but Benny wasn't about to call someone as dangerous as Gino on that.
It wasn't that he knew Gino had killed anybody, exactly. But there were a whole lot of people who you'd put 'talked to Gino' as the last thing they ever did as anyone else would know about.
"You seem a bit jumpy lately." The man who was either Antonio's cheif enforcer or just the guy who scheduled what the enforcers did told him. "And that's ok, given things you do. Only, you're a bit jumpier than that. People notice, Benny."
And just like that all the work he'd been doing on settling his nerves in the last few seconds was undone, and Benny swallowed heavily, feeling the fear that one of those people who might never be seen again suddenly might be -him-.
"Jesus. I ain't, I din't -" Exactally what he wanted to say he hadn't done Benny couldn't even say, but Gino gave him a friendly hand on the shoulder, steadying like and shook his head.
"We know. The old man did maybe mess with you a little bit while we looked into it, too - he's a sense of humor - but the reason we didn't say anything is we were checking into that." Gino guided Benny to a slightly more secluded booth -and absently put the 'privacy' sign - not an offical sign, but a particular vase moved to a particular spot that the club staff knew ment 'do not, under any circumstances ever disturb'.
"Christ." Benny shivered and was quietly very glad there hadn't been anything to find, but at the same time..if they hadn't found anything, why was Gino talking to him now?
"Thing is Benny - you're spooked. That's understandable, that's ok. Being around Kaiju's reletives is probably enough to spook anyone by itself, but I think you're probably not as spooked as you -should- be, and also spooked for the wrong reason."
"What." It was like Gino had somehow poured Icewater into his veins. Having a -boss- like Hebert pay personal attention to him was more than enough reason to be scared - and Gino thought there was something worse?
"A man like Boss Hebert can be dangerous, Benny. He's family, so he's not dangerous to you - but men like that? They have enemies. Enemies who can notice things." Oh. Benny thought. Yeah. There was something worse, wasn't there.
"Shit. How -" Benny tried to articulate the question in his mind - to ask how badly he'd messed up just by being spooked and got a shrug.
"Thing is, men like Boss Hebert also take care of their own." Gino told him gently. "He was nothing but complimentary about you two, said you kept your heads and had good instincts generally speaking. Also said he got wind you were pretty nervous all the way home, too. A man with your record, he said, that bore looking into. So he came over to check on it. Personally. 'course, that wasn't all he was in town for - meeting with Antonio covers all sorts of ground. But while he was in town, he looked out for you."
Benny sagged. That was..that was honestly the worst possible thing he could imagine. Boss Hebert, a boss, personally running protection on him? That was way more attention than he ever wanted. There'd be no keeping his head down now, no keeping out of the really big leagues - and he felt rather like someone swiming in the ocean.
With Kaiju. And any family she had. Out there. Somewhere.
And of course, then it got worse. Gino let him half collapse and continued, "Good thing he did, too, or we'd be down you and probably about a dozen other guys."
That got Benny sitting up streight. "What?"
Gino nodded. "He tipped us off to four stings. CIA, the teeth, Man who claims to be Mossad but is probably Yangban, and that bunch of 'bowlers' who are reconsidering their ties to the Empire in a big way right now. Not our work even - apparently, Boss Hebert telling you personally to be more f'kn careful or someone could get hurt is enough to make a starter 'accident' artist decide he doesn't want to be near anymore accidents. Or Nazi's. I'm not saying Kaiser keeps track of shipments at the DWU and is feeling like he wants to either skewer everything in sight or hide under his bed, or both, but that bunch of kids doesn't bowl at that alleyway normal like. Or bowl at all."
Benny swallowed. "Goddamn. I owe that man my life. There aint- there ain't no way I could even repay someone who could stop that and I didn't even notice."
Gino nodded gravely. "He won't call it that way - Boss Hebert's not the sort of guy who keeps that marker over your head. Said no charge. That said, Benny - we think you're off the radar now. But you gotta straighten up. Old man and the boss have your back. Time for you to step up and have theirs."
Benny shook himself all over and stared back at the man who was - without a doubt - his boss's bosses's boss - and nodded. "Yeah." He ran a hand over his face and got a sympathetic smile.
"Hellofa thing for a man at your level in the family, Benny. Don't feel to bad about not noticing things Boss Hebert did, though - /we/ didn't and that guy from Mossad had been in place for at least a year." Gino gave the 'transport specialist' a sympathetic commiserating look and watched spine - and the particular combination of 'I'm safe' and 'I'm not safe at all' that kept you alive in the underworld leak back into Benny as the driver worked out that he wouldn't be expected to do the impossible - just to keep his mouth properly shut about things he'd done, and to know that whatever happened, the lafamilia - and perhaps also 'the Family' now - had his back and was watching out for the people that Benny himself would never have noticed.
Perhaps Danny Hebert hadn't actually noticed the man, but his presence had caused the informant to tip his hand. Benny didn't need to know that of course. Still...there were things you did to cultivate a family member, and Gino did one now.
"Then again - you were worried. Maybe you didn't know why, but you /did/ do some things that kept you out of the hands of those stings, Benny. Not telling you not to listen to that little voice. But keep in mind the biggest shark in the water isn't usually the one we really have to immediately worry about." Gino told him and watched Benny breathe deeply and steel himself.
Probably reminding himself that he was, in fact, a loyal, hardworking and /hard/ member of the best family in the world. And that however much he might have to look out for things, there were lots of other people who might ought to have to look out for him.
"Thanks for - letting me know. Gino. That'...ain't gonna lie. I was terrified for a while and I thought it was all Boss Hebert. And that man is still straight up terrifyin. But if he's watched out for me, I ain't gonna do less."
"Good man." Gino said. "Now, having given you the pep talk, I'm also going to give you some releif - we're not sending you back to Brockton Bay just now. Got a shipment that needs to go to Sanfran in a couple of days. You handled the brocton shipment really well, so this one may be a let down - it's not nearly on the same level. 's also not nearly as hot, either. Details are here - and burn this when you're done with it." A slim letter was slipped across the table and Benny took it - his hand only shook a little as he did - and nodded. "I'm not taking over from your usual, understand. But some jobs from lets say, 'higher in the food chain' will be coming your way. Both because you do good work - and to make sure nobody forgets we're looking out for you."
"Hah." Benny nodded as a waiter approached - and realized the privacy vase had been moved back at some point, though hell if he'd seen Gino do it..but it ment he'd better police his tongue -now- reguardless. "It's best to remember you got family. Both ways. That...saying that gets a whole 'nother level of meaning now."
Gino chuckled. "That it does. I reccomend the lasagnia; Chef Marco is laid up - nothing serious - but his assistant's Alfredo isn't as good as usual."
The rest of dinner was a lot more cordial - and filling. The Lasagna was quite good, and Benny left with - if not a spring in his step, a stiffening in his spine.
Gino watched him musingly and lifted a silent toast to Danny Hebert from the family. Benny had been recommended for the job because they'd known he was loyal and kept his mouth shut, of course - but that encounter had let them know a bit more about just how loyal Benny was, and the family valued that kind of loyalty. It was a waste to have someone with it as only a driver, so development of this man's carrier was being..refocused.
Not /changed/ exactly. Antonio was a big beleiver in not breaking things that worked, after all. But Benny had proven he could be more than trusted with big jobs - and that he had potential in the arena of having a sense of when things you don't know about are going wrong.
Besides, it would be good to have a deliveryman who was familliar with 'The Family' up in Brockton.
Neither person at that table had any question at all that Benny would be delivering things up that way again.