Truths & Chains – Chapter Nine


Vito parked his truck outside the airport, leaving it running as he waited for Tito. Usually, Vito paid for parking and waited for his brother inside the airport, for Tito had asked Bo to send someone willing to simply pull up next to the doors. It seemed like a mildly out of character ask for Tito, but Vito had no intention of asking or pushing about it. Maybe his brother had finally loosened up a little and had a fun, sore weekend.

Vito snorted to himself, shaking his head. As if Tito even knew how to have a normal fun weekend, let alone one that was so fun it made him sore.

Tito pulling open the passenger side door pulled Vito away from thinking about the fun he almost had with… Gorgeous while Tito was twiddling his thumbs in New York.

“You look like shit.”

Tito blew out a short burst of air, rolling his eyes. “Thanks. Slept like it too.”

“Mm?” Vito shifted the truck into gear and pulled away from the airport. “Lillian keep up the white fence bullshit the whole time you were there?”

“No. Just dizzy and nauseous most of the time.”

“Mm.” Vito drummed his fingers against the steering wheel for a moment. “So you probably don’t feel like savin’ some dogs from a fighting ring?”

“God, I’d love that. Is that what we’re doing?”

“It’s what I’ve been talking to Bo about. I need a job. Soon.” Vito cleared his throat. “But he wanted to wait until you were back. It’s at least a two-person job, and neither of us wanted me workin’ with someone else.”

“Probably for the best.” Tito leaned his elbow against the window and pressed his forehead to his fingers. “At least two people? Did Bo tell you anything about the details of the job?”

“Yeah. We’re taking out one of Herandez’s rings. Someone—probably you—needs to memorize the layout of the place and lay down explosives in the building so once we save the dogs, we can blow the place to ash. And then, y’know, me, I’m gonna take out every single fuckin’ bastard in my way, make sure they can’t hurt one of those dogs ever again.”

“For once, I’m on board with that,” Tito mumbled. He closed his eyes, index finger gently dragging back and forth across his forehead. “So Bo sends me the layout, I memorize it, place the explosives, and then… you do your thing?”

“I think so. Bo wouldn’t give me all the details until you were back in Kansas.” Vito couldn’t help but chuckle. “I think he was worried I’d go in and take care of it myself if I had all the info he had.”

“That was probably a good idea.” Tito blew out a slow breath before clearing his throat. “Do you know why we’re hitting Hernandez? I mean, I hate the dog fights as much as anyone, but I thought Bo was against starting wars.”

“Dunno, didn’t ask. I’m just happy to have the job. I don’t care about the ins and outs of it.”

“For what it’s worth, when it involves starting a war, you should care about the ‘ins and outs’. Wars put you, me, and everyone we care about at risk. If you’re gunning to start one, you need to, you know… think about all the possible dangers and outcomes of that.”

“It’s Bo’s war.”

“Bo’s war that you and me will help kick off. That puts me and you just about as high on the hit list as Bo,” Tito said. “I just wanna know what we’re fighting for. That’s all.”

“A’ight. I can respect that. We’ll talk it out with Bo. But for me, the reason doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, I’m doin’ it. Okay?”

“I know you are,” Tito said. He grabbed his sunglasses from where they’d been hooked on the collar of his shirt and lifted his head from his hand only long enough to slide them onto his face.

Vito watched his brother for a moment before his eyes drifted back to the road. “You sure you’re good for a job? Seem kinda… out of it.”

“Just dizzy.” Tito chuckled, but it was softer than usual. Quieter. “I’ve laid explosives under worse conditions, and I’ve walked you through a blueprint under even worse. I’ll be fine.”

Well, Vito had definitely already done his due diligence at being ‘better’ to Tito. Continuing to push and shove seemed pointless. “Let’s go see Bo, then.”


For the first time in a hell of a lot of years, Bo was smoking when Tito and Vito met up with him at the Kansas Pitman Estate. He held up a finger before Vito could throw out any smart-ass comments and ground the cigarette in the ashtray on the desk. “Pardon the bluntness, Tito, but you don’t look well.”

“Tired,” Tito said plainly. “I’ve run missions on a hell of a lot less sleep than what I’m running on now.”

“Why haven’t you been sleeping?”

“He’s dizzy,” Vito said as he dropped into one of the chairs in front of Bo’s desk.

Tito let out a breath, but he nodded as he lowered himself into the other chair. “But I took a Dramine on the way over. I’m good to go, Boss. Vi needs a job, and I’m here to work it with him.”

“If you’re certain.”

“He’s certain,” Vito said. He waved a hand between them. “I already grilled him in the car. He wants to work. Just wants to know why we’re startin’ a war and shit.”

Bo pulled off his beanie long enough to scratch his scalp and rough up his hair. “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask. I’m not entirely certain you’d both be… in the right headspace for a job if you knew the ‘why’ of it all.”

“I want anyone who hurts an animal to suffer just as badly as the next guy does, but I gotta know the reason I’m putting the lives of the people I care about on the line if we’re starting a war. I always gotta know,” Tito said.

Bo glanced over at Vito before clearing his throat. “We’ve picked up… chatter about Hernendez’s beliefs about the mob, gangs, cartels, and how they ‘should’ be run. For starters, he believes that each family should be restricted to one ethnicity like the ‘good old days’.”

“Like when the made men had to be totally Italian, no matter what?” Vito asked.

Bo nodded. “And while that’s concerning, he isn’t as deadset on that ideal as he is about his second point. No queers in the mob. Mister Dawson and I are certainly the most prominent members of the LGBTQ community amongst the Families, but it doesn’t mean we’re the only ones, and it doesn’t mean that Hernandez would stop at prosecuting only queer members of the mob. It’ll be anyone they suspect to be queer. Anyone who wears too tight of jeans or a shirt that’s too low cut. Anyone with a piercing in the ‘wrong’ ear, the wrong type of rings on their fingers, the wrong haircut. They’ll target anyone that doesn’t sit right with them, and by the way his poker table talks have been going, we’re quickly approaching the tipping point. So… if he wants a war with a queer, he’s got one.”

Vito knew it wasn’t about him, that no one in the mob would ever assume he was part of the ‘community’ in any sense of the word, but that didn’t stop him from stiffening.

“Jesus,” Tito whispered. “Well, you have our support, Chief. Hernandez wants a war? We’ll give him one he’ll never forget.”

“In the short time he has left on their Earth,” Bo said. “The dog fights are Hernandez’s largest source of income. Not counting the one you’ll be hitting tonight, we know there are at least two rings here in Kansas, and we suspect there are a handful or more scattered throughout the country. Hernandez has the occasional drug deal or firearms swap, but they’re nothing compared to the millions he’s raking in at the expense of those poor dogs. We’re taking out as many of the dog fights as we possibly can. Once Hernandez has watched the majority of his operation crumble to the ground, we’ll take him out, and bu then, we’ll make sure every single member of any gang, mob, or cartel knows what will happen to them if they threaten the safety and security of our members.”

“Taking out the dog fights works for me,” Vito said. “You got the blueprints?”

Bo tossed a folder across the table to him. “Those are the blueprints I was able to get my hands on. They’re from several years ago, so I can’t guarantee they’re entirely accurate. Unfortunately, there’s always the chance that they’ve added onto the building or changed the location of certain important places inside of it. The X’s on the blueprints indicate the needed placement of the explosives, which Mekhi is finishing preparing for you in the garage, and you’ll pick them up when you leave. If you run into any issues with the blueprint not matching the building when you arrive, leave, get away from the building, and then call me. Once you’re both safe, we’ll regroup and set about getting access to the current layout of the building. Are we clear?”

“We’re clear, Boss,” Tito assured.

Bo nodded before his blue eyes shifted to Vito’s face. “Are we clear? You get out of the building if it doesn’t match the blueprints.”

“I ain’t in any risk until we start the war.”

Bo’s eyes narrowed, but Vito knew he wouldn’t bring his sexuality into it, not with Tito sitting next to him. Bo knew he was the only person Vito had come out to, and Bo wasn’t exactly a believer in outing people to their family members. “You’re both Pitman’s boys, and everyone knows that. With me taking over, everyone that knew that knows you’re now my boys, my responsibility, my family. If you get caught in a building that we do how to escape from because the layout isn’t as expected, they will torture or kill you to get to me. You evacuate the building if it differs from the blueprint. Are we clear?”

Vito cleared his throat. “We’re clear, sir.”

“Good. Go over the plans, look over the layout, and if you have any questions or concerns about the explosive placement, let me know. Otherwise, let’s get this show on the road.” Bo let out a breath, shaking his head. “Let’s start ourselves a war.”

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