All characters © Amano Akira

The immortal head of combat forces, part of I Prescelti Sette; the kid who laughed in the face of the Reaper. His name is Skull.

Sleeping With No Identity

You can be a king or a street sweeper,
but everybody dances with the Grim Reaper.
-Robert Alton Harris

He imagined the sensation of his hair tickling his brow as the wind swept it back, the feeling of nothing at all under his feet, and he could almost forget completely that somebody was calling his name.

Well, almost.

Then that somebody called him by his real name, and that was enough to snap Skull out of his reverie (which he shouldn't have been having in the first place). Don's offices were not exactly the ideal places to drift off, and Skull gave his new boss what he hoped was an endearing smile. "Y-yes, Boss?"

"You have your head in the clouds," the don of the Carcassa Famiglia frowned, twirling an unlit cigar slowly between his fingers. Some of the stray shreds fell onto the neatly burnished desk. Skull could never remember the guy's name—Don Marcolo, or Marcus, or something like that. One of the M's. Maybe it was Manicotti. That stuff was good, especially with cheese stuffing.

"I'm giving you the chance to redeem yourself here, Skull—you wish to be called Skull now, yes?" Skull gave a reluctant nod, all thoughts of pasta dissipating, and the don continued, "You can thank Colonello for recommending you despite your, ahem, record."

Skull's endearing smile tightened uncomfortably at the edges. It wasn't his fault he got kicked out of COMSUBIN. They weren't even supposed to legally take kids under seventeen, let alone expect them not to get bored. CSUCS his ass. But, since nobody in the mafia really cared about that sort of thing anyway (they had their own underground Scuolas Militares that began at age five, for linguine's sake), it continued unmentioned.

Colonello, who was five years his senior and head of the Arms section of the Raggruppamento Centro Studi, had thought that any kid with talent would also have an equally developed attention span. Skull almost guffawed, which would have been a bad idea giving his current position. For knowing Skull since elementary school, Colonello couldn't have been more wrong. And Skull, while he did enjoy the water to some extent, didn't really dig the whole human torpedo thing.

"According to the Subacquei, your skills were 'admirable, but not appropriate for COMSUBIN training,' " Don Marcolo or Marcus read from his reports, tactfully overlooking the numerous conduct demerits on the page. He fixed Skull with a pointed gaze. "Good talents should not go to waste, I believe."

"I appreciate you givin' me a second chance and all, but I don't wanna do any killing," Skull replied testily, fidgeting. "I don't like that kind of stuff. Just the stunt work, y'know?"

The world, in Skull's opinion, was going to the dogs. Dear sweet linguine, was it going to the dogs. Even at fourteen he knew this. Iran and Iraq were at each other's throats, the pope had been shot last spring, and Tylenol was killing people in America. Oh well. At least Italy had won the world cup. Murder would just pull Skull into the fray of insanity that was already swirling the globe, and he fancied killing even less than he did human torpedoes.

"Not to worry," Don Marcolo or Marcus smiled, "you won't be involved in extortion or assassination. If I've heard right, your strategic prowess will be more than enough."

And that was how Skull got the job as Carcassa's strategist, simple as that. On a side note, the name Carcassa was not to be confused with the Carcassi family, mind you, who had been some of the finest luthiers back in the eighteenth century. Skull doubted that instrument-making ranked high amongst mafia history.

Don Marcolo of Marcus or whatever the hell his name was stuck true to his word. Mostly. Skull assembled combat strategies, which he happened to excel in, and the best part was that Skull himself actually got to do most of the front-line work. And afterwards he could go to his quarters and listen to some Jimi Hendrix, PFM (or Jocula, if he was in the mood), or that new American band Metallica. So yeah, for a while things were pretty sweet.

The whole reason he got involved in the Italian mafia in the first place was for the stunts. You could call him an adrenaline junkie, but to Skull that just sounded dumb. He simply liked the freedom. Doing stunts was the one time he could actually be brave, and when he was in the air he was free of all earthly a cloud, almost. Skull was in it for the fun. At first he ignored the corruption of the mafia, and intentionally turned a blind eye to the fact that the Carcassa Famiglia was not that big on moral codes and honor.

But Skull's a little older now. In spirit only, of course.


End of chapter one. This is probably the first story I've written where I am intentionally breaking canon, and in more ways than one. It's implied that Skull joined the Carcassa Famiglia after the events at Mafia Land, but I feel like he would have had to be a lot younger and more foolish to join a family like that.

The title is a reference to Emily Brontë.