A/N: Padrino means Godfather in Italian.
Also, thanks to goddesslaughs for the nudging, cajoling and general babying on this chapter! I needed it. Also, thanks for my new summary. It is so much better than what I had!!
Also, my reviewers, I adore you. Thanks for taking the extra minute to let me know what you think!!!
And welcome to SomniculusFaber…Thanks for comin' out!
Pushing open the door of the Mario's Ristorante, Vic's senses were assailed with the sights and smells of nostalgia. The restaurant was a fixture in the Italian neighborhood of Youngstown, and had been for decades.
Marriages, births, business dealings, first communions, even deaths were memorialized by gatherings in the back banquet room, while the front dining room served as display of who's who in the local Italian community.
Spotting Vic, Jimmy, the bartender, came out from behind the bar and greeted him with a handshake and a smile.
"Welcome back, Officer Tibolla." He said, taking Vic's coat. "Did you have a successful trip?"
"Not really, Jimmy." Vic replied, a note of smugness creeping into his voice. "But I laid some very important groundwork."
"Glad to hear it." Jimmy said, clueless as to what Vic was talking about, but glad nonetheless that he was in good spirits. "Mr. Profelli is entertaining in the back room, as usual."
As Vic crossed the crowded dining room, he smiled and exchanged pleasantries with several of the restaurant's other patrons. He waved hello to a high school football buddy and stopped to kiss the cheek of his Great Aunt's neighbor. It felt good to be back in his town and on his turf, especially after the fucking debacle that was his trip to Boston.
Reaching the door that led to the private dining room, Vic knocked twice and waited. After a long minute, the door eased open a crack and a familiar brown eye peered out at him. The door closed quickly and the sound of a chain rattling reached his ears before the door opened again, this time wide enough to admit him.
It was Foreman who opened the door, grinning broadly and clapping Vic on the back as he entered. "'Bout fucking time, Goomba."
Vic gave him a cool nod, annoyed as he always was with the casual familiarity that Forman loved to address him with, while his eyes traveled immediately to Carmine's usual spot in the back corner of the room.
Court was in session at Carmine's table, and Vic could tell at a glance that the usual players were still in favor. Umberto "Bert" Fiore, the underboss of the Profelli family, was in his traditional seat at the boss' right hand B.D. Cosenza, Carmine's nephew and heir apparent, sat on his left. Several of the other usual suspects occupied the surrounding chairs, all of them hanging on Carmine's every word.
Looking up, Carmine squinted in Vic's direction. As Vic moved towards him, his gravely voice cut through the din of the crowded room. "The prodigal son returns." Heads turned in Vic's direction at Carmine's words and whispers broke out at several of the tables. Apparently, his extended absence had not gone unnoticed.
Vic ignored the other men surrounding the table and walked immediately to Carmine's side, bending to kiss both of the older man's wizened cheeks.
Carmine Profelli gave an imperious flick of his wrist and there were the sounds of chairs sliding across the tile floor and the rustle of clothing as the other men quickly vacated the table, moving to other tables or to the bar to refill their drinks.
Vic took the empty seat at Carmine's right hand and accepted the glass of red wine that Carlo, the ancient bartender, brought over for him. Taking a long sip, Vic tried to gauge his boss' mood out of the corner of his eye.
He knew he had tested the limits of Carmine's indulgence by being away so long. With all the eyes in the room turned their way, Vic knew everyone else was waiting to see if he was still in the boss' good grace.
"Carmine, Padrino, I want to apologize," Was all Vic managed to say before the older man cut him off.
"Ah, Vickyboy." Carmine said, reaching over and patting his cheek affectionately. "I, too, was young once. Even the best of us can get our nose stuck so far up some woman's fica that we lose track of the rest of the world." He reached out with a fork and speared an olive. Popping it in his mouth, he said, "Don't let it happen again."
Vic let out a quiet sigh of relief and quietly changed the subject. "So, Foreman says you have work for me?"
As Carmine launched into the special assignment, Vic found his mind wandering. He was not done with this Luciana business and, sooner or later, he was going back to Boston to bring that bitch back. He just hoped that when the time came, Carmine would understand.
Sparked by something Carmine had just said, Vic's mind jumped back into the present. "The A.D.A.?" He asked, surprised at this turn of events. "Are you sure that's wise?"
The look that passed over Carmine's usually grandfatherly features, made Vic wish he'd kept his mouth firmly shut.
"As long as there are no mistakes," Vic felt his face flush at the tone in Carmine's voice as he spoke. "On your part, everything will be fine. Just don't fly off the handle and kill this one. That last time was a costly error."
Vic stifled a sigh, realizing that he would never live down the infamous last time.
It was a standard collection run that ended with a rather bloody twist. The guy reached into his desk drawer ostensibly to get the money but instead retrieved a Dirty Harry style revolver, catching Vic unawares.
His brief moment of shock had been quickly overwhelmed by combination of self-preservation and outrage that this motherfucker thought he could actually pull a gun on him. He had reacted with a brutality that was usually reserved for busting nigger heads during drug raids or the privacy of his own home. He stepped inside the man's reach, knocked the gun aside as if it were a toy, and, wielding his own gun like a club, he beat the man to death.
The rush of pleasure Vic had felt as he stared down at the bloody pulp that had, until recently, been a man's face was short lived. The man had been into Carmine for over two hundred large and Vic knew that the loss of that money would not be well received.
In the end, Carmine had forgiven Vic's lapse in judgment. The man's body had been dumped in the projects and Vic had been on the receiving end of a strongly worded warning from his boss. There could have been more serious repercussions, but in a decidedly ironic twist the Chief of Police had assigned Vic and his partner to investigate the murder. The murder weapon had turned up in the apartment of a local drug dealer, who, it just so happened, didn't pay his dues to Carmine, and the whole incident had been taken care of, at least in the eyes of the law.
Even though he had been forgiven, he knew the incident would never be forgotten. Carmine would dangle it over his head anytime he thought it would prove useful to keep Vic in line.
Apparently this was one of those times.
So instead of asking the questions that were chasing themselves around his head (Was it smart to intimidate the Assistant District Attorney? What made Carmine so sure the man wouldn't talk?), Vic just listened as his boss detailed the plan of attack, putting his trust in Carmine, as he always had.
-- - --
As he felt the recoil vibrate up his arm, Connor couldn't help but smile. He loved the feeling of control that came with firing a gun, whether that occurred in the heat of battle or, like today, at the shooting range.
He and Murphy rarely visited the range, partly because they didn't want to draw unwanted attention to themselves and partly because they really didn't need the practice.
Deadly accuracy was a gift that they shared, like their natural affinity for languages, which had come unlooked for but was much appreciated. Using Da's old army revolver, they had learned to shoot as boys in the fields behind their Uncle Sibeal's house.
Connor had to empty the cylinder twice before he began hitting the target accurately in either the head or the heart. Those were the only two places worth hitting on a man, according to his uncle, and if you weren't willing to kill you shouldn't pull your gun out in the first place.
Murphy, who had been dying to learn to shoot and was therefore insanely jealous that his twin got to go first, watched Connor's every move. His astute gaze noting the way breathing and stance affected the bullet's trajectory. When his turn came, only the first two shots missed the mark, as he learned to gauge the tension in the trigger and the kick of the recoil.
Jolted from his memory when the clip emptied and the slide locked into place, Connor reached over and wheeled in his target, admiring the tight grouping of shots that lay between the ears of the shadow man.
Suddenly, he felt a burning sting against his cheek and snapped his head to see Murphy flicking recently fired shell casings towards his head and grinning like an idiot, behind a pair of oversized safety glasses and the huge earmuffs that the range rented out for hearing protection. The light reflecting off his brother's glasses forced an image of The Fly into his head and he started to chuckle when he noticed Murphy preparing to strike again.
Ducking another well-aimed casing, he slid his own earmuffs off. "Cut it out, ye fuckin' eejit!"
"What?" Murphy shouted back, tossing another casing at his twin and theatrically pointing towards his hearing protection. "I can't hear ye!"
Connor took two steps toward his brother and knocked the hearing protectors off his head with a nicely placed slap. "Is that better?"
"Fucker!" Murphy declared, shooting him an irritated look and rubbing his ear. "Ye just about ripped my fuckin' ear off."
"Cry me a fuckin' river, brother mine." Connor said as he pulled his target off the cable. "How'd ye shoot?"
"Better than ye did, I'll wager." Murphy replied, spinning the wheel that brought his target rushing up to where they stood.
Connor didn't doubt for a moment that what Murphy said was true. While they were very well matched, Murphy was a more accurate shot, a fact that Connor never ceased to marvel at. He was the patient twin, often described as logical and concise. Murphy, on the other hand, was a creature of emotion and movement. Somehow though, when you put a gun in his hand, he channeled the strengths that usually belonged to Connor and applied them with a vengeance, placing the bullets wherever he chose.
Standing shoulder to shoulder, the twins held their respective targets at arms length, inspecting them. After a long pause and careful examination, Connor elbowed Murphy and gave a triumphant shout.
"Losin' yer touch there, Murph?" He asked, pointing to a hole in the paper that was a full two inches away from the rest of Murphy's shots.
"Not fuckin' likely." Murphy said, and waved his gun in front of Connor's face. "It's this piece o' shite that's the problem. It's been dropped a time too many and the fuckin' trigger is startin' ta stick."
"There's nothing wrong with yer fuckin' gun, and ye know it. Ye just can't stand losin' to yer elder brother." Connor replied, knowing the jab would add insult to injury.
Predictable as ever, Murphy's face reddened. "Elder brother, my arse!" He declared, grabbing another handful of casings and unloading in Connor's direction.
Connor grabbed his coat just in time and held it in front of his face, laughing. "Too slow, little brother, too slow."
Trying a different tactic, Murphy said. "Let's go see Cillian and get some new hardware. Then we'll see who's losin' their fuckin' touch."
"We're not wastin' any fuckin' money on guns we don't need just because yer aim is going to shite and yer ego is a bit bruised. We already depleted the saving for this little trip of yours." Connor snapped, turning away from his twin to hide his smile. It was going to take all of his will-power not to give Murphy his birthday gift early, especially after this escapade.
Stuffing his gun into the black duffle bag at his feet, he could hear Murphy grumbling under his breath. Connor caught a few phrases including "fuckin' tightwad", "piece o' shite gun", and "only wishes I was losin' my touch". Connor knew Murphy would spend the next few days blaming his weapon for the misplaced shot and he intended to enjoy every moment spent denying his brother the chance to get a new one.
It would only make the expression on Murphy's face that much sweeter when he finally got his birthday present.
-- - --
Vic's tongue flicked out and found a drop of blood that was not his own clinging to his lip. Smiling at the coppery taste, he pulled back his fist and let it slam into the man's face again, pleased at the way the flesh below the man's eye parted so easily under his knuckles.
As rivulets of crimson began to snake their way down the man's face, Vic heard the tinkling of breaking glass on the other side of the door and knew his partner was playing the hard ass, tormenting the family of their hapless victim.
Through swollen lips, the A.D.A. gasped out a plea. "Don't let him hurt my wife or my kids. I'll have the money by Friday."
Vic gave a low chuckle. "Oh, Mr. Profelli is no longer interested in your money. He's willing to let that slide."
The man's eyes widened, fear edging out the desperation that had been so visible a moment before. "Wha-what does he want?"
"You are heading up an investigation of an associate of Mr. Profelli's, an Umberto Fiore." Vic said, his voice was soft but the malice in it was palpable. "That investigation is about to stall. No Grand Jury will be convened. Lack of evidence. A brick wall. Any pending charges will be dismissed and any pertinent files will be lost. Am I understood?"
The broken man before him gave a feeble protest. "I can't just make it go away! There are at least eight clerks working-."
His words were cut off as Vic backhanded him across the face, sending an arc of blood from the man's nose splattering onto the wall. Vic repeated his question. "Am I understood?"
Vic was gratified when the man's chin dropped to his chest, bobbing with a slight nod.
"Very good. I'll convey your intentions to Mr. Profelli." Vic gestured towards the door, beyond which a woman's voice could be heard attempting to soothe a crying child. "As long as you take care of our friends, we won't have to take care of your family."