Title: Taking Matters Into Hand
Character or Pairing: Gino Corlioni, Vito Corlioni, Elisa Contadino, Violetta Sanzio, Augusto Corlioni.
Warnings: Severe punishment of kids.
Claimer: All characters and situations herein are mine. All mine. Don’t touch.
Prompt and Community: 059. Mercy; 100_situations
Word Count: 2,462
Author's Notes: Based on a conversation at work.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get beer?” Vito’s a step above Gino, lounging in front of their building. He tries to balance his skateboard on its end again and curses as it falls onto his leg. Gino scrambles out of the way to avoid getting whacked in the head.
“We’re twelve,” he points out. “We can’t even buy cigarettes.” He leans back, squinting at the sky. “Be pretty cool, though.”
“We have brothers and sisters,” Vito says at his most condescending. “One of them would.”
Gino shrugs. “Lea would be all motherly. Romeo’s too boring. Leo would spike it with something to make us sick. Nic’s no fun since she had Talia.” That’s almost all the ones who are old enough, but Gino’s not even going to mention Mrs. Corlioni’s kids.
Vito will, though. “David—”
“He’ll kick us out before we even finish asking.” Probably with an actual kick, knowing their second-oldest brother.
“There’s still Maggie.” Vito probably also sees how stupid it would be to ask their oldest brother, and Teresa’s not an option.
Gino glances back at Vito, making a face. “I don’t want to be the reason David hits her.”
Vito shrugs at him. “He’ll do it anyway.”
Gino shakes his head. “Not Maggie. Or Penny,” he adds quickly. “Or Carlos.”
Vito makes a face. “Fuck, you’re boring. Angela?”
Gino rolls his eyes. “She’d drag us into David’s office and call our mas.”
“Fine,” Vito mutters. “I’ll think of something.” He stands, kicking his skateboard onto its wheels. “C’mon. Ma said to pick up milk before she gets home.”
“Why do we have to do it?” Gino complains. “Mina—”
Vito shoots him a dark look. “Mina’s studying. She’s going to be a doctor.” He says it with the same fierce pride he has every time his full sister’s future comes up. “We’ll do it. Besides, Ma gave me extra.”
Gino climbs to his feet, grumbling, and grabs his own skateboard. “Fine. But you can’t bi—complain next time my ma sends us.” He only corrects himself because his mother has just come out the door. “Hi, Ma.”
“Are you going somewhere?” Ma asks, tousling his shaggy hair. Gino tolerates it for a minute before remembering that he’s twelve and they’re outside. Besides, Vito’s right there. He ducks away, scowling at her.
Ma just laughs at him.
“We’re getting milk,” Vito pipes up. “At the corner store.”
Ma nods and, before they can get away, kisses them on their heads. “Violetta’s running late. Come right back, we are all eating at my apartment tonight.”
“Too grown up now?” Ma says, laughing again. “Which of you fell last week and wanted your mother to kiss the scrapes better?” Gino flushes, staring down at his scabbed knees. “And who cracked his head and wouldn’t let the doctor put in his stitches until his mother calmed him down?”
Vito reddens, looking away. “The shot hurt,” he mumbles. The stitches still show clearly against his shaved head.
“Go, boys. Dinner’s in fifteen minutes.”
Gino and Vito don’t need to be told again. They jump off the stairs and kick off on their skateboards, helmet-free despite the reminder on Vito’s head that there’s a reason to wear them.
They prop their skateboards up against the window of the store and walk back toward the milk. As they pass the fridge of beer, Vito sucks in a breath and hisses, “Got it.”
Gino frowns at him. “From here?” Mr. Williams keeps a .38 behind the counter, and he didn’t even get arrested last summer when someone tried to hold him up and he shot the person. Besides, he knows them. And their mothers.
“Pussy,” Vito mutters. “Okay, we’ll get the milk. Then you go up front and steal some candy. Make sure Kim sees you.”
“Kim?” Gino glances back at the counter. It is her, all sixteen and blonde and flat-stomached. Looking at her always gives Gino flutters in his stomach. “We can do it when she’s not here. When Bill’s working, maybe.”
Vito rolls his eyes at him. “Everybody steals candy. When she tries to stop you, I’ll get out with the beer.”
Gino considers that plan. Besides Kim getting mad, he doesn’t see a downside. He nods slowly. “Okay, we’ll do it.”
Vito grins at him. “Told you I’d think of something.”
“I knew you would,” Gino admits. “That was faster than I thought it’d be.”
Vito punches him in the arm and heads back to the milk. He pulls out two gallons, thrusting one into Gino’s hands. “Here. Then we’ll take them outside.”
“I remember,” Gino says. “It has to be when Kim is here.” He shakes his head. “What kind of candy?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Vito gives Gino a look. “You’re not going to get to keep it.”
“I might get some!” Gino protests. “Before she sees.”
They bring the milk up to the counter and set it down, grinning at Kim. “Your mothers send you?” she asks, smiling at them.
“Not my—his—” Gino gives up and looks over at Vito.
“Just my ma,” Vito says smoothly. “Gino didn’t have anything better to do.”
Gino kicks at Vito’s leg. “I offered to help.”
“Ow!” Vito glares at Gino. “Offered nothing. I made you come.”
Kim interrupts them with the total, and Vito hands over a wadded ten, still glaring at Gino.
“There’s extra. Did your ma say you could get anything else?”
“Oh yeah.” Vito steps back and looks over the candy selection. He grabs a Snickers bar and looks at Gino. “Want something?”
Gino picks up a Mr. Goodbar, smiling at Kim. “Thanks, Kim.”
“You’re welcome.” She bags their candy and the milk, eyeing Vito’s head. “What happened to you?”
Vito shrugs. “Fell off my skateboard.”
“You should wear your helmet.” Kim hands him the change. “See you guys later.”
“See you.” Vito takes one of the bags, jerking his head toward the door.
“Bye.” Gino takes the other and hurries outside. When Vito joins him, he hisses, “Do we have to do it today? Kim’s going to get in trouble.”
“It’s that or wait until we get sent again,” Vito points out. “C’mon, don’t wuss out.”
Gino sighs heavily. “It’s a bad idea,” he informs Vito, and sets down his bag.
“You didn’t think so inside the store!” Vito exclaims. “It’s a great idea. C’mon.”
Gino slinks back inside, trying not to meet Kim’s eyes. But she’s busy with some other customer. Vito passes him to head back to the fridge with the beer and hisses, “Man up.”
Gino swallows. He slips back up to the candy display and pretends to try to decide. He just wants to give Vito enough time, and he keeps shooting glances at Kim. Even so, he almost jumps out of his skin when she says, “Gino? Forget something?”
“No,” Gino squeaks. Vito’s had enough time. When Kim glances away again, he grabs a box of something—he’s not even sure what—and makes a run for the door.
“Gino!” Kim’s already closer to the door, and she beats him there, folding her arms and glaring. “Give me one reason not to call your mother.”
“Gino, mo—” Vito runs smack into him, and a few things fall to the floor. Gino can hear the cans roll. “Shit.”
Kim grabs them both by the ears and pulls them behind the counter. “Sit down,” she snaps at them, pointing at the floor. Vito and Gino do, giving each other guilty looks. Kim pulls out her cell phone and pushes some buttons. “Mina?” Gino watches Vito go completely white. “Is your mom there? Okay. What about Gino’s mom?”
This won’t be too bad. Ma might smack them a little and yell a lot, but that’s all. She’ll get over it.
“Uh-huh,” Kim’s saying. “Okay, got it. Because your brothers tried to steal from the store.”
“How do you know Mina?” Gino blurts out as she’s dialing another number.
Kim ignores him, but Vito mutters, “They go to the same school. That’s why she’s always doing homework when we get here.”
“Ms. Contadino?” Kim says suddenly. “It’s Kim, at the store. No, they’re fine, but…” Kim narrows her eyes at them. “Gino tried to steal candy, and then Vito had beer stuffed under his shirt.”
“Wasn’t that cold?” Gino whispers. Vito just nods.
“I’ll keep them here,” Kim says. “How long? Then I can close until you’re here.”
There goes any hope of escape.
Kim steps outside just long enough to bring in the bags. Then she flips the sign over and locks the door.
“What’s Elisa gonna do?” Vito mutters.
Gino shrugs. “Yell, be mad, maybe smack us. She’ll tell Violetta.”
Vito nods. “Not too bad.”
Gino shakes his head. “You know Ma.”
Kim moves to the door after a few minutes, unlocking the door. Gino and Vito stand, watching, as she lets Gino’s ma in. Ma doesn’t move to hit them. She doesn’t yell. She just gives them the most disappointed, hurt look Gino’s ever seen. He drops his eyes, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“What happened?” Ma asks quietly. Gino gives Vito a desperate look, but Kim answers.
“Gino tried to steal a box of candy, right in front of me. I beat him to the door, and Vito ran into him. That’s when Vito dropped the beer.”
Ma nods and reaches into her purse for her wallet. “How much did they cost the store?”
“Nothing, really,” Kim says. “I can still sell everything. I thought you should know.”
“Thank you.” Gino wishes Ma would stop looking at them like that. “If Rich has a problem, tell him to call me or Violetta.”
“I will,” Kim promises.
“Come on, boys.” Ma picks up the bags. “Get your skateboards. We’re going home. You walk with me.”
Gino, still unable to meet Ma’s eyes, tucks his skateboard under his arm. He ducks his head as he passes his mother. Vito follows, unusually silent.
As soon as she’s outside, Ma takes her cell phone from her purse.
“Who’re you calling?” Vito asks, stupidly to Gino.
Ma doesn’t answer until she’s hit buttons on her phone. “Augusto.”
Gino’s sure he goes just as white as Vito. “Ma, don’t, please!” he begs. “He’ll be mad.”
“He’s your father.” Ma switches to fluid Italian. “Augusto, it’s Elisa. Your sons are in trouble. No, it can’t wait. They tried to steal from the grocery. Beer and candy. My apartment. No, she doesn’t. I’ll tell her. All right.” She hangs up and transitions back to English. “He’ll be here sometime after dinner. He was working.”
“He’s going to kill us,” Vito mutters. He scuffs his feet along the sidewalk.
“Did you think no one would know?” Ma asks, voice soft. “That there would be no consequences?” She shakes her head and pushes open the door to their building. “Go upstairs. Vito, your mother will be there soon. You will both explain to us then.
Vito swallows hard and nods. He runs up the stairs, Gino on his heels, and they slam into Gino’s room.
“What do you think Pop’s gonna do?” Gino slumps onto his bed, staring at Vito.
“Dunno. Doesn’t matter anyway, Ma’s going to kill me first.” Vito drops his skateboard and rubs his head, near the stitches. “Pop’ll probably beat us.”
“Ma won’t let him.” There’s not nearly enough confidence in Gino’s voice. “We’ll tell the truth.”
Vito shoots him a look. “That means I get in more trouble!”
“It was your idea!” Gino shoots back. “Ma’s never been so mad at me,” he adds, barely muttering.
“Mama’s boy,” Vito accuses.
“Vito,” Violetta calls. Gino watches his month-older brother freeze, eyes darting around the room. “Gino. Dinner. Elisa says you have something to tell me.”
“Our sisters are gonna be there,” Vito hisses. “Mina.”
Gino shrugs. “Mina already knows, remember?” He shuffles out of the room and sinks into his chair, not meeting anyone’s eyes.
Ma and Violetta wait until they’ve served everyone and the boys have started eating to start asking questions. Gino does tell the truth, but only when his mother asks him. That way, he’s not offering Vito up.
They send Vito and Gino back to Gino’s room after they’ve eaten, and this time they sit in tense silence, waiting. When their father’s voice reverberates through the apartment, they shoot each other terrified looks.
“Vito,” Pop rumbles when he comes in. “Gino. Tell me what you did.”
So they tell the whole thing again, jumping over each other to make sure they both speak up and can’t be accused of hiding anything. Pop nods when they’re done and wordlessly unfastens his belt. Gino doesn’t think he’ll ever forget the soft hissing as Pop pulls it free of his belt loops.
“Vito. Bend over.”
Vito gives Pop a frightened look, and Gino can’t blame him. Pop might be old—almost sixty!—but even Johnny and David are still afraid of him. Pop swings his empty hand, slapping Vito’s cheek hard enough that Gino flinches.
By the time it’s Gino’s turn, he’s shaking and trying not to cry. Vito’s a howling mess on Gino’s bed. Even Gino can’t make out his words, but he’s pretty sure Vito is crying for Violetta. All it takes is one lick for Gino to see why. Even through his shorts, it burns, and Gino lurches forward to try to escape. Pop’s hand catches his shoulder, holding him still.
Gino knows he’s crying for his mother when Pop lets him go. He clutches his ass, collapsing on the bed. He’s not really aware of when Pop leaves, but he does know when Ma gathers him in her arms, stroking his hair.
“Shh, my darling,” she murmurs. “It’s over. I’m here, my son.”
Gino buries his face against her. She doesn’t say anything about how he’s getting snot and tears all over her shirt, just rocks him. Gradually, he realizes Violetta’s doing the same thing for Vito now. Vito’s sprawled over Violetta’s lap, hiccupping every so often.
“Would you like to shower, my darling?” Ma asks, voice soft again, but in a good way. “The water will help.”
Gino will not forget this night. He will remember how his father offered no comfort after whipping him, just left, and he’ll remember how his mother cradled him after his shower, calling him her darling and singing to him in Italian. He will remember, when it comes to his own children, nearly thirty years later, and he will always offer them comfort after disciplining them, even when his daughter turns out to be a miniature of Vito. And he will remain wary of his father for the next thirteen years, until the man dies.