I busted through the doors of Tino’s and was immediately greeted with the smell of pizza. Instead of the warm feeling I usually got my stomach turned sour, threatening to spill everywhere. My eyes searched the crowd until I met Sammy’s huge green eyes and then I fell to my knees.
“Vincent!” Sammy and Sam screamed as they charged at me. I barely heard them or felt them as they picked me up and carried me to the back. My feet drug across the floor because they refused to work with me. Nothing wanted to work with me.
Not even my ears.
“Pops is gonna kill me,” I muttered. “Hide me. Hide me. H-hide me.” I babbled like this for a while as my mind went on a wild goose chase.
I fucking hurt Gio’s pops. I hurt him because of a guy I said and begged myself to believe that I hate. I wanted- no- needed to protect him. In those few moments I saw his pops’ hands connecting with his flawless face, everything I had been denying came into focus. I cared about him. I did. No matter where I tried to hide or who I tried to hide it from, it was true.
A slap came across my face and I snapped to attention to see Sammy’s green eyes full of worry. “Vincent you need to tell us what happened.” My eyes sought out Sam’s and I found him on the phone with a worried look directed at me.
Wait until he hears what I did. He might not look so damn worried.
I looked around and made out the other boy’s faces. They all looked worried and completely lost as their leader sat there on his ass scared out of his wits. What if my dad really killed me? What if he finally did it? I would have lied to Tommy his whole life. Tears wanted to pour out of my eyes but I wouldn’t let them fall in the face of my boys.
“Vincent, talk,” Ralph urged. I shook my head and opened my mouth only to be cut off when the bell rang and then flew into a wall near the back where we were at. My body wanted to tremble because I had a feeling that flying bell was caused by very pissed off Catalino’s.
My thoughts were confirmed when Angelo yelled, “Vincent we have some business to handle!” I wasn’t scared of him. I was scared of having to see Gio. The way he had looked at me as I walked out the door would be an image I that never left my head. The pure anger and hate had me chilled to the bone.
“Vincent what the fuck did you do?” Georgie hissed at me. My eyes went over all their faces. They looked ready for a fight and they hadn’t even heard how I fucked up. My shoulders straightened when they nodded and motioned for me to lead. These boys were my life. We have always been together no matter what and me being selfish wanting to not only drag Gio in but be with him is fucked up.
I walked out of the back with no shoes no shirt and no fucking problem. My eyes went over first Angelo, then Cristiano, Francesco, Lucca, and then my eyes caught on Gio. His green eyes were hidden by sunglasses so all I could feel was the hate coursing off of him. I felt my heart stop in my chest and then resume when I realized I was not alone. I couldn’t let them see where my mind was at. They would all hate me if they knew.
“What are they doing’ here, Vin?” Georgie asked. I looked over at him, ripping my eyes away from Gio and found his emerald eyes piercing through Lucca. Lucca was looking right back at him with hate and when I looked at the other boys they were all staring down another boy in the group. I turned my eyes back to Gio and I found him right in my face. It scared the crap out of me so I pushed against his chest.
“What the fuck did I tell you about doin’ that shit!?” I hissed. Gio fell backwards into Angelo’s arms and for some reason that made me want to rip his head off.
“Vin, what are they doing’ here?” Leo asked, repeating Georgie’s question.
“Oh, you didn’t tell your boys about what the fuck you did?” Francesco hissed. My eyes went to him and I swear I almost choked on all the hate in the air.
“I can believe that. You’re such a coward you ran after you did it. What kind of leader does that?” Cristiano commented afterward. That comment hit home though. I reached forward and yanked him into my face by his jacket. He didn’t back down however. He just glared at me.
“I am not a coward.”
“Oh so running like a bitch is not a coward?” I threw him back and went to turn away from them when a hand landed on my shoulder and ripped me around. I was met with Gio’s sunglasses.
“Leave me the fuck alone!” I said and pushed against him.
“You don’t get to run this time,” he whispered. The way his voice sounded made my body go slack. He sounded like pure sex for some reason and every part of my body was enjoying it.
“WHAT THE FUCK DID WE MISS!?” Sammy screamed and that got not only the Catalino’s attention but every other person’s in the pizza joint. Gio looked over at Sammy with a menacing face, but that way not my concern. My concern was that now that he was turned to the side I could see the blue and purple bruise that covered his eye. I yanked his sunglasses off and he looked back at me with a look I could decipher.
“He kicked Gio’s pops’ ass and then fucking ran, so Enzo took it out on Gio,” Angelo hissed right in Sammy’s face. My heart practically shattered in my chest as I got a better look at Gio’s face and saw the cracked lip, the swollen nose, the bruised eye, and the bruises peeking out from beneath his sleeve as though someone had grabbed onto him too hard.
“Gio…” I whispered. He closed his eyes and bit his cracked lip. I reached up and touched his cheek. He winced but didn’t pull away. “I’m so sorry,” I said with some much sorrow and self-hate. I had caused this to happen by running. I did this to him.
Why the fuck did I have to care!?
“Your pops and mine got into an argument once you ran and your pops took up for you. He said you were only doing what he told you to do; take care of family.”
“He had a gun pointed at me though,” I said.
“It was pointed at my pops as soon as you were out the door,” Gio said. I grabbed his face tighter and bent down to inspect him better or so my mind was telling me. My heart wanted me to close the distance and kiss him but…I...can’t…
“Uh, you two have gotten close,” Leo said cutting through me and Gio’s moment. Gio ripped away from me and then fixed his jacket. “What did we miss?”
“Nothing,” Gio answered.
“We all still hate each other,” I finished.
“Now, don’t ever come near my pops again and I won’t come near you again,” Gio said. My eyes never left his as I nodded. He walked back two step and I turned around and began to walk away as well with my head in a totally different place from where my heart was. Everything was so screwy. Why can’t things just go back to the way things used to be? When everything made sense.
“Bitch!” Sammy yelled and I turned around just in time to see Sammy deck the shit out of Angelo. Georgie grabbed a hold of Cristiano, Lucca tackled Leo, and Ralph grabbed Francesco by his hair and kneed him in the face. I watched them all but looked for the head of honey brown hair that was so familiar to me. When I met his eyes finally he was trying to rip Sammy and Angelo apart.
I watched him stop trying to pull them away and then walk toward me with something in his eyes. As soon as he was close enough he ran at me and tackled me so hard we fell into the back room. I looked around with stars dancing behind my vision. Sam was nowhere in sight and that made me nervous as Gio sat up and straddled me.
Gio looked down at me and cocked his fist back like he was going to hit me but nothing happened. Nothing other than him starting to cry. I looked up and went to touch the side of his face but he just turned his it away from me.
“Why are you crying?” I asked softly. His shoulders shook as he cried harder. Just a few hours ago I had been in this very same situation and I hadn’t trusted him so what made me think he would tell me? I reached up again and he let me grab a hold of the side of his neck. I pulled him down and he pulled me up so we met halfway and hugged even though my mind was on something else.
“You are the first person to ever stand up to my pops,” he whispered into my neck. “You took up for me in a way none of the boys ever had.” I felt his tears slide down the side of my neck but I didn’t mind. All I did was pull him closer and set my head against his neck in return.
“I couldn’t let him hurt you,” I muttered, “That’s my job, cagna.” He laughed against my shoulder and burrowed even deeper so I felt his eyelashes against my skin.
I should not be here with him like this. My boys are out there fighting with his boys over us and all we are doing is sitting here coddling each other like some lost souls in the night. This behavior is not what good leaders do. I could practically hear my pops yelling at me to stop.
“We need to go break them up,” Gio said softly. I nodded but neither one of made a move to get up. I let my hands fall down to his waist and he groaned against my neck, sending a delicious shiver down my back.
What the fuck is happening to me?
I feel that question is my new catchphrase.
“We should really go,” Gio said as he shifted his hips on top of mine. That time I groaned. He did it again and I grabbed a hold of his hips tighter and brought him harder down onto me. “We- should-d realllllly go.” I nodded and lifted my hips off of the ground to meet his shifting hips half way.
“Oh fuck,” I hissed when I felt his mouth on the side of my neck. This is bad. REALLY fucking bad, my brain hissed. Your boys are out there and here you are dry humping with a guy you supposedly hate. What would your pops think of this!
I opened my mouth to tell him to stop when he moaned and dug his nails into my back.
I slammed his back onto the ground and pushed my erection into his with my eyes closed because if I opened them it would become real and this couldn’t be real. I felt his nails drag down my exposed back and marveled in the feel of him responding to me.
“Vincent,” he moaned and lifted his hips to meet mine that were grinding against his. I felt his erection hit mine and everything turned savage. I bent my face down and bit his neck so hard he screamed and grabbed his thigh and squeezed until he begged for me to go harder.
“God damn,” I hissed and gripped his hair so he would stop moving beneath me, but the act only made him move more and grab onto me tighter. This is bad! “Shut up,” I hissed at my brain.
“I- I’m not saying any- oh fuck. Harder!” he said with urgency that made me comply. I started to lean down so I could get a taste of that forbidden mouth. Everything will be okay, I tried to tell myself. You can do this.
“What the fuck are you doing!?” Tommy yelled from behind me. I yanked myself away from Gio and snapped up so fast Flash would be jealous. Tommy stared down at me and Gio with big eyes as his mouth hung open.
“You were humping’ him,” he said with still wide eyes. In any other situation I would find his face hysterical but right now it was paining me. If he couldn’t accept me when he was the one that told me to go for it then pops would take it no better.
Not that I was planning to take this public because THIS was nothing. There was no us and there was no THIS.
“Tommy-“Gio tried this time.
“Oh you are so gay!” he screamed and this time he was laughing. “You were humping’ a Catalino on the floor of Sam’s pizza joint!” he laughed even harder. I turned my head to look at Gio who avoided my eyes and kept staring at me delusional brother.
“Tommy I am not gay,” I stated. “We were fighting.”
He scuffed. “With your swords?” he said motioning to our pants. I closed my legs and Gio covered his with a pink color finding its way onto his cheeks. I ripped my eyes away from him and looked back at Tommy who was looking at us with a confused look.
“Why are you two denying it?” Tommy asked with his brown eyes searching.
“There is nothing to deny,” Gio said as he stood up. I followed his lead and made a bigger gap between us.
“So you telling him ‘harder’ was just a figment of my imagination?” Tommy asked skeptically. Gio coughed and looked down at his feet. “And you,” Tommy hissed, “cursing up a storm was also just a figment of my imagination?”
“I always curse,” I countered.
“Oh, sure. What’s your excuse for the moaning?”
“Fuck you, Tommy,” I hissed. He rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to say some smart ass comment when my pops’ voice reached us.
“Vincent! Thomas!” he yelled. Gio shifted on his feet as I took a step forward. My head screamed for me to keep going and forget about it, but my heart was telling me to stay and make sure he was okay. I took another step but made sure to deliberately touch my hand to his. I felt his eyes go to me but I continued to walk.
When we got to the front my eyes all but fell out of my head. Angelo and Sammy were being held apart by Sam and they had torn up clothes and bleeding body parts and Cristiano and Georgie were being kept apart by two separate guys, one being Georgie’s dad, Enrico, and the other most likely being Cristiano’s pops. Ralph and Francesco had a gun pointed at them by a guy that looked like Francesco, and Leo was being held away from Lucca by his pops that had them both by their hair. The restaurant was trashed in every form and every one of the customers were gone.
“You are so beyond grounded,” My pops hissed as I met his eyes. He had a gun pointed at the ground, thank god, but his eyes spoke levels. He was mad at me for leaving, relieved to see me alive, and confused by why I didn’t look so roughed up. Ravished maybe but no scratches other than my back were on me.
“I’m sorry, pops,” I said. Tommy touched my shoulder and I bit my lip to stop the tears. Just a few days ago I had been a man of steel and now I am falling apart piece by piece. Gio took away my armor and now I am open to anyone who wants a piece. I am breaking.
“Sam,” my pops said to his best friend.
“Yeah?” Sam answered.
“How do you want these boys to repay you for all the damage?” All of us stood up straighter and stiffened. Mafia pops’ will do that to you. “Repay” could be death for all we know. “Repay” could be a fucking finger from each of us. “Repay” could be sacrificing yourself for your boys, which is what I planned to do.
“Whatever you want I will take full punishment. They wouldn’t have fought had it not been for me,” I said stronger than I felt. “It is my fault.”
Every one of the boy’s eyes, both Catalino and Mussolini, went to me. I could even feel Gio’s eyes burrowing into the back of my head. Each one of them held respect and for the first time in a long time I felt like the leader I was supposed to be.
Sam cleared his throat and released his hold on his son and Leo who were too stunned to notice. “You are not the only one boy. I saw the whole thing pan out and from what I can tell my son and Angelo star-“
“I am the leader so I am taking responsibility. Fuck who started it. I am the leader I should have stopped it from happening.” I took a step forward and leveled my eyes with Sam’s. “What is the punishment?”
I felt a hand on my shoulder and went to brush it off, but when I touched it tingles shot through me. I looked back and found Gio looking at me with respect filled eyes. “I am a leader as well. I am taking half responsibility with him. And- shut your fucking mouth,” he said when I went to argue. “And I want no kind of punishment to be given to the boys.”
“I have to say that this is the proudest moment in my whole life,” Sam said. I wished it had come out of my pops’ mouth but that will happen when pigs fly and drop pixie dust onto the hungered children of the world. “But I am giving you all a punishment. You have no social lives anymore boys. You work for me now.”
All of us groaned and glared at our respectful enemy. My eyes went to Gio and his hid a certain emotion I hid in my own. Hope.
“And Giovanni you live with me now,” pops said interrupting our stare down. Gio and I both looked at him with open mouths and horrified faces. Well if we were going to try and stay away from each other, so much for that shit. “Your dad was hyped up on coke so we forced him to either go to rehab or lose his life. He knows too much son so we need him clean.” Gio nodded.
I wanted to ask why his ma didn’t take care of him but I knew better.
“Now,” Sam said. “All of you report here tomorrow at eight. We have some cleaning up to do.” We all groaned again but Gio. He looked lost up in his head. I knocked my hand against his again and he looked down at our hand and put one finger into my palm and then walked away.
I walked into my house with Tommy in my arms because he fell asleep in the car and Gio and pops tailing me. Tommy shifted in my arms so I stopped and waited for him to get comfortable again.
“Vincent,” my pops said. I tensed but looked over at where he was. He swiped his hair out of his eyes and then gave me a small smile. “Good job tonight. Way to be a leader.” He then turned on his heel and walked down the hall to his office. I smiled to myself and started to walk again.
“Where do I sleep?” Gio said suddenly. I had forgotten he was there.
“Just follow me,” I answered. Those had been the first words we spoken to each other since the whole incident on the floor. I felt overly awkward and I bet he did too but like the hard headed Italians we are, we wouldn’t dare voice our feelings.
“You and him are close,” Gio said from beside me as we ascended the stairs.
I looked down at my little brother who was definitely not so damn little and smiled. “He’s my life. I don’t know what I would do without him.”
“I wish I had a brother or sister. Maybe life wouldn’t be so hard,” he said. A silence took us over and then he shook his head. “No I don’t. I wouldn’t want them to suffer this life.”
“I think about that all the time,” I said truthfully. “I don’t want Tommy in this life but it’s not my decision.”
“He acts like you,” he whispered. “Just fucking like you.”
I smiled. “I am taking that as a compliment.”
“It was one,” he said even lower.
The awkward tension started again as Gio opened Tommy’s room door. Gio walked ahead of me and pulled the covers away out so I could set him on the sheets. I started to untie one of his boots and Gio did the other. We stayed quiet because there was nothing to really say.
I finished undressing my brother. He had only his SpongeBob boxers which made me laugh. I kissed him on the head before covering him and going out into the hall where Gio was waiting patiently. I walked toward my room and he followed me.
“I’m not sleeping with you right?” he asked.
I laughed. “The guest room is right beside my room. Our rooms are connected by the bathroom so if you need…me….” I trailed off because I doubt him coming into my room in the middle of the night would fly well with what is happening to us.
“Thank you,” Gio whispered when I took him into my room. I opened my bathroom door and then turned around to face him. He was shorter than me just like I liked my girls but he was so much better than those skanks. He was honest and he was just like me. He understood me.
“You protected me and then my boys tonight,” he said with a shrug. “I just think I should thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I said and then walked to the other side of the bathroom and opened the door. I switched the light on in the room and started to tell him where everything he would need was. When I was done I turned around and walked back into the bathroom, but when I tried to shut the door he stopped me.
I looked into his face and opened my arms. He fell into them and hugged me with tears pouring out of his eyes. “He hates me so much, Vin,” Gio sobbed. “He hates me.” I didn’t have to guess who “he” was. His pops didn’t deserve Gio. He didn’t deserve to breathe but that was not my decision.
I held onto his smaller frame with my hand moving up and down his back soothingly. I caught sight of us in the mirror and met his wet eyes. We looked so…normal together like God created us to be together. I once read this legend in history class about Zeus. Apparently humans were first created with four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Zeus was scared of our powers so he split us in two, condemning us to spend their lives in search of our other half. Looking at us in the mirror now made me feel like I had found my other half, but that couldn’t be because we were both guys.
“We need to stop this,” he said softly as he pulled away. “We need to just stop this.”
“What is THIS, Giovanni?” I asked.
“THIS is not right,” he answered. “But sure as hell feels that way.”
My heart skipped a beat. “You and I are screwed, ya know that right?
He smiled. “Oh I know it.” I looked into his eyes and let myself smile. He smiled back and I got so lost in his beauty. I leaned forward and he lifted up on his toes but the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs had us stopping. I was so close to his mouth I could smell his sweet breath on my face.
“Screwed,” he whispered.
“Beyond screwed,” I answered and let him fall out of my arms. He looked at the floor and I bit my lip. Our parents would kill us if they ever found out about what is happening between us even though it we both kind of wanted something to happen. But we both knew better.
“Maybe if we ignore THIS it will go away,” I offered skeptically.
He nodded. “So….we hate each other?”
I don’t think that is possible anymore, “Yeah,” I whispered.
“So leave,” he said. I looked at him and found his eyes begging me to do exactly the opposite of what he said.
I felt my throat constrict as I nodded. “Night, cagna.”
“I am not a bitch. An asshole? Yes. A bitch? Only in your dreams.” I laughed and pushed his shoulder before I turned around and walked to the door of my bathroom. I went to close it and found him about to do the same. Our eyes met and it felt as though we were being torn apart. I found my other half and we were being torn apart by our lifestyle.
“Goodnight, Giovanni,” I said.
“Goodnight, Vincent,” he said back and we closed the doors at the same time, cutting the last strand that kept us together. We were halves again that were not allowed to ever be whole again.
It is forbidden.