Truths & Chains – Chapter Twenty-Seven

A/N: I just finished this chapter this morning, so here’s a belated Monday update!**

NOT EDITED

Though Vito had never considered his house to be in a gated community, Elias wasn’t really wrong. The very few houses near him were owned by Jamal and unoccupied, something the old man had most likely done to make sure Vito couldn’t piss off any neighbors. The four hundred-something acre neighborhood was practically Vito’s.

Vito cleared his throat, shoving his hands into his pockets. “How are you getting him to walk alongside you like that?”

Elias held both hands up, Dude’s leash between them. “I have his leash cinched up so he can’t go much further than this. If you give him more than that and he’s a puller, he’s gonna pull on it. That’s just how dogs work.”

“I like how you say that like it’s common sense.”

“I… I think it sorta is.”

Vito snorted. “Probably. I’m not known for having a lot of it.”

“Yeah, that makes sense.” Elias adjusted his grip on Dude’s leash. “So, umm… I can ask questions?”

“Sure.”

“Family in law enforcement?”

“JP.”

“JP?”

“Jamal.”

“Pitman?”

Vito nodded. “Yeah. He raised my brother and me for a while when Mom and Dad were in jail.”

“Your parents were in jail?”

“For a while. Awaiting trial and shit.”

“What’d they do?”

“They didn’t do anything. My parents are good people. My dad’s dad, though… Well, he sucked. My parents took the fall for something they didn’t know was happening, and eventually, they were proven innocent, like they should’ve been the first time.”

“That’s… Jesus.” Elias shook his head. “I’m sorry you guys had to go through that. It’s horrible.”

“We survived. The foster homes were way worse than Mom and Dad being in jail. We didn’t really grasp that part at the time. That’s what Ti says, anyway.”

“That makes sense. You were… young at the time?”

“Very. We were just babies when they were arrested.”

“Couple months old?”

Vito glanced over at him. It almost felt like a damn interview. “January 1999. You’ll have to do that math.”

Elias snorted. “I don’t know your birthday. Believe me, I’ve looked.”

Vito leaned down and whispered a soft, “Flattered,” in Elias’s ear. It earned him a delicious little shiver. A smile tugged at one corner of Vito’s mouth. “May ninth. Ninety-eight.”

“Christ. You guys were only seven or eight months old.”

“Sounds about right. Our social worker took us to visit Mom and Dad once or twice a week or something like that. Foster care sucked. Ti came up with a plan to break us out for the millionth time. We ditched, JP’s officers found us again, and this time, he took us in.”

“How old were you when he took you in? I mean, how long did you guys have to suffer through foster care?”

“We ran away that final time on our sixth birthday. JP took us in a couple days later.”

“How’d Pitman, of all people, get approved for that?”

“I mean, he was totally bangin’ our social worker by then.”

Elias choked, turning his head to cough into his shoulder. Vito couldn’t help but smile. “That seems like, umm… a conflict of interest.”

Vito shook his head. “They were, like, dating. I’m pretty sure she was already living with him by then. Pretty much a social worker who got to take home the kids she worried the most about.”

“Well, I’m glad it worked out that way, then.”

“Me too.” Vito pulled his hand from his pocket long enough to smack Elias’s ass. Elias scoffed, pulling one hand from Dude’s leash to backhand Vito’s in return. Vito smiled, turning his head away from Elias in hopes that he didn’t see it. He wanted to charm Elias’s pants off again, sure, but he didn’t need the guy knowing how easy it was for him to make Vito smile. That seemed like asking for trouble. “Do… you wanna talk about you?”

“I’m not nearly as interesting as you are,” Elias said.

“I’m sure we can find somethin’ interesting. What was your childhood like?”

“Umm…” Elias cleared his throat. “I don’t know.”

“I already know your parents sucked.”

Elia shook his head. “Childhood wasn’t… My biological mom and dad are dead.”

“Oh.” Vito’s brow furrowed. “So who the fuck’s been bitching at you? Adoptive parents?”

“No. Yes. Sort of?” Elias lifted his shoulders. “Stepmom and her husband. And they don’t bitch at me. They do what’s best for my dad’s charity, and they help make sure I do what’s best for it.”

That clicked it all into place for Vito. The abusive parents, the urge to defend them, the unreasonable desire to do whatever they told him to. “So your bio-dad. What was he like?”

Elias smiled, so soft and faint that Vito would have missed it had he not been watching the man like a hawk. “Dad was awesome. Incredibly sad after Mom died, but he never took that out on me. We used to go out on his motorcycle all the damn time. We went on road trips, competed in charity-run triathlons together. He taught me to cook and bake, taught me how to find peace in those things. Dad was just… great.”

“How’d he end up with a bitch like your wicked witch of a stepmom?”

Elias sighed. “I’m not going to play this game with you. I didn’t share my opinion of Jamal with you, and I don’t want to hear your opinion of my parents, either.”

“Your opinion of Jamal is bullshit. Mine isn’t.”

Elias stopped walking. Vito stopped a stride ahead of him. “You have not met my parents, Vito. You absolutely have not gotten the full picture of them by listening to a few drunken and whiny complaints.”

“So if I meet them, I get to call them whatever I want?”

“Depends. I’ve met Jamal many times. Do I get to say whatever I want about him?”

Vito’s lip curled back at the very idea. “Talk shit about him. See how far it gets you, Payne.”

Elias took a small step back, shaking his head. “I’m not you, Vito. I kept it to myself because there is no benefit in antagonizing you with it. If you’d like to not have to put any ‘effort’ into another person, I suggest you do the same in regard to my parents.”

Vito stepped forward and snagged Dude’s leash from Elias. The shorter man flinched, but he stood his ground. “Fuck you.”

Elias scoffed. “You wish.” He took a step back. “I’m done playing this game with you. If you can’t do something as simple as not talk shit about my family, I’m done. If I see you at my house again, I will call the cops. I’m not fucking around.”

“Do it. I won’t stay locked up for long.”

“I know. Criminals of your degree normally don’t.” Elias shook his head. “I can’t believe I was actually starting to believe your little act. I-I can’t believe I almost let you ensnare me like that. Vito Minetti, upstanding citizen. God.” He ran a hand over his short hair, shook his head once more, and walked straight past Vito.

Vito tugged on Dude’s leash and started the walk back home, his jaw tense the whole way. He didn’t know how the fuck Elias planned on getting home, and he didn’t give a fuck. Maybe he’d get picked up by some maniac and become the story of the century for why attractive young men shouldn’t walk home alone. Maybe—

Vito stopped at the front door, brow furrowed. Jesus, how had he let Elias get under his skin so much that he’d hope for his death? Elias was an innocent man. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar or hit list. Christ, the man already had a maniac prank calling him, and Vito was out there trying to will the maniac into a more present existence? What the fuck was wrong with him?

He shoved open the front door and stepped inside. “Come on.”

Dude stayed outside and let out a little whine.

“No. Come in.” Vito gave the leash a little tug. “Tito’s harness idea would come in handy right about now,” he muttered, stepping over Dude. Hands on his butt, he pushed Dude into the house, closing the door before he could bolt outside again. He unclipped Dude’s leash and kicked off his shoes. Anger still making his blood a little hotter than it should be, he pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed Bo’s number.

“Listening,” Bo said after the first ring.

“He fucking did it again.”

“Who is he, and what did he do?”

“My… my piece of ass! And he pissed me off.”

“Well, I know there have been no televised instances today, so what did he do?” Bo asked.

“He asked if he could talk shit about JP. Like… like he’s got any fuckin’ right to talk shit about him.”

“Why… did he ask if he could talk shit about him?”

“Because I asked if I could talk shit about his parents once I met them, since they’re horrible fuckin’ monsters. And he said it depends on if he’s allowed to talk shit about JP.”

“If you’re allowed to shittalk his parents, he should be allowed to shittalk yours.”

“Mine aren’t horrible!”

“Not to you. Jamal has murdered his fair share of people, Vito.”

“So have you!”

“Yes? And?”

“I-I… Why can’t you just be pissed with me?
“Because this man hasn’t wronged either of us. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it, Vito. I’m assuming he told you not to shittalk his parents, so if you continue to do it to his face, he should have the right to shittalk yours. Treat others how you want to be treated.”

“But…”

“You’re just mad because you like him.”

“I absolutely do not.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I don’t!”

“Well, you’ve now slept with him at least twice, despite my advice to leave the poor man alone. And you were with him now in the daylight, so I assume you were on a date.”

“No. No dates. I don’t date. My brother was shot. If I’m stressed out enough that I don’t wanna sleep with a new person every night, so be it.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I don’t like him.”

“I suppose I’ll have to take your word for it.”

“As you should.” Vito leaned back against the door. “He lives almost half an hour away from me,” he said, his voice quiet. “He’s… I think he’s walking home.”

“What do you want me to say, Vito?”

“Should I go find him and take him home?”

“What’s the last thing he said to you?”

“Umm…”

“Well, it sounds like you know he doesn’t want to see you again.”

Vito groaned. “I can’t let him walk home.”

“Why not? You don’t like him.”

“I wouldn’t let my other pieces of ass walk home, either.”

“You take them to a hotel in a vehicle they didn’t drive. You don’t know how they get home.”

Vito cleared his throat. “Fair.”

“If you don’t like him, find yourself someone else to sleep around with.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because… I don’t know. It pisses me off. I-I tried hooking up with someone else after this guy, but I couldn’t. Like, this guy, he wants to know, like, everything there is to know about me. Wants to talk about my tattoos, about my job, about my pool technique. Christ, he wants to talk about where I got my jeans, okay? He’s interested in learning shit about me. And no one else is. He just… I don’t understand why, but I wanted that again.”

“That’s understandable,” Bo said after a moment. “I know it’s hard for you to follow even your own thoughts and feelings, but maybe you enjoy the idea that someone likes you for something more than sex.”

“But I’m good at sex.”

“So am I. I still enjoy knowing Jensen likes me for more than what’s in my pants.”

“I’m not mushy gushy. I don’t like any of that fancy romancy bullshit anywhere but my books.”

“You don’t have to be mushy gushy to like that someone is interested in you for more than what pleasure you can offer them. It’s nice to know someone wants to know you for reasons other than simply using you.”

“But… I don’t care that I’m being used for sex. I use people for that, too.”

“Of course, but it’s okay for your desires in life to change and twist overtime. Maybe right now, with your brother injured and you a little more on your own than you like to be, you want someone to be interested in you for you. There’s nothing wrong with that, Vito.”

“How do you know there’s nothing wrong with it?”

“Because there was a point in my life where I believed with absolute certainty that no one would ever be interested in me for me. Not for sex. Not for an advantage at work or school. Just… me. Knowing Jensen is interested in me simply because I exist the way I exist is an amazing feeling I wouldn’t trade for anything.” A pause. “It isn’t a crime to want someone to, well… want you. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, not if you don’t want it to be.”

Vito blew out a harsh breath, gaze shifting to Dude. The dog stared back at him, one wrinkly eyebrow raised far too judgmentally. “I don’t wanna, like… date the guy.”

“You don’t have to date him to enjoy being around him.”

“Guess not,” Vito said quietly. “Don’t you ever get, like… insecure about all of that? About all of this?”

“You mean about liking men?” Bo asked.

“Yeah, I guess,” Vito said after a moment. “But more like… liking men and also liking women.”

“Well, it’s a little different for me. I’m not bisexual. I’m not in the mob in the same way you are. I don’t have the pressure of worrying about what the soldier beside me is going to think about the orientation I was born with, the one I had no choice in. But past that, of course. For me, there’s always been at least some sense of insecurity. I loved Bridget, and I always will. I don’t think the insecurity around that fact will ever go away. But loving Jensen and having a family with him… If the insecurity has to be there for me to be able to have him and the kids, so be it.”

Vito cleared his throat. “What… would you do if you were me?”

“I’d sit on my options for a day or two, weigh the pros and cons of one choice versus the other. Past that, what I’d do would depend on what I wanted. If it were Jensen… Well, I wouldn’t be letting go, that’s for sure.”

“Yeah,” Vito whispered. “So… I should wait until tomorrow?”

“It’ll give you both time to cool down and sit on what happened today. If you want to continue being around this man, both of you need time to decide if today was just a little bump in the road. Even if the time you want to spend with him involves nothing more than sex.”

“Okay.” Vito cleared his throat. “Umm… thanks, Bo.”

“Of course. You know you can always talk to me, Vito. I know it isn’t easy for you to wrap your head around that, but it doesn’t make it any less true. I’m here for you, and I always will be. You’re family.”

“I know,” Vito said quietly. “I’m working on it. Ti always says that holding it all in and bottling it all up is a good way to get yourself killed, either by an enemy or by your heart. I’m trying to listen and abide by that, but… it’s not easy for me.”

“I know. But we’ll work on it. Maybe you and your new friend can work on it.”

Vito snorted. “I doubt it. I don’t know how tomorrow’s gonna go on his end, but today, I know he’s not really happy with me.”

“Well, keep your thoughts positive. Maybe he’ll come around again. He’s already forgiven you for your… Vito tendencies before. Maybe he’ll be able to forgive you for another.”

“If I’m lucky,” Vito muttered.

“Then I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. I’ll send you all the luck I have.”


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6 thoughts on “Truths & Chains – Chapter Twenty-Seven

  1. I feel like taking Vito’s side… like Jamal has done a lot of bad things, but he’s damn good boss and husband. But then I feel like we don’t know Elias’s parents enough to judge them yet.

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    1. Jamal being a good boss (which is often questionable, lol) and husband (also questionable 😅) doesn’t negate the things he’s done. But despite that, Elias didn’t say anything beyond using Jamal as an example of why he needs Vito to stop. Antagonizing Vito for fun is pointless and gets them nowhere. Taking Vito’s side in this instance is taking the side of someone who continues to pour salt in the wound no matter how many times he’s been begged to stop. I love Vi more than anyone, but he’s known to be a dick

      Vi hasn’t met Elias’s parents ever, but we’ve seen them in scenes from Elias’s POV. They’re assholes through and through. But Vi hasn’t met them, and Elias just wants him to stop pretending he knows them enough to talk about them the way he does

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