no return

“i take it you had a good reason for leaving oscar on the floor?” matteo’s voice is cool -- his posture isn’t. it’s stiff, coiled, ready to launch into any action matteo deems necessary.

usually, antonio is kind of into it. for a guy in his fifties, matteo’s spry, to put it lightly. almost too flexible, really, and usually the best action matteo liked to take was pinning him to the mattress or table or what have you.

this isn’t any of those things.

matteo is sitting across from him at his kitchen table, his eyes are pinning antonio where he sits, his fingers are pressed against his mouth that means he’s displeased with antonio, and antonio can feel his disdain over the bruises he still has. that’s always been something he’s prided himself on: he’s not like the other men in this. he’s never had to do much in terms of violence. his face, his features, all of it has always been something that matteo has prized, that antonio has felt pride in.

people could call him all manner of things, even stupid, greasy oscar. matteo still -- usually -- wanted him at the end of the day. he wasn’t going to fuck and run, and he wasn’t going to just toy with him for fun.

the bruises now, the aches, changed things -- and punching oscar changed things more. “he was being a dick to ms. ramirez,” antonio puts down the tea pot a little too harshly, pris whining in the corner. “after he miscounted the money and broke that expensive counter we brought. then he tried to tell me how to do my own job--”

“you deem that a good reason to let ms. ramirez see him bleeding on the floor?” matteo cuts in sharply, tracking antonio as he moves in the kitchen. “she was extremely distressed and called me directly.” antonio winces, which doesn’t help the thundering ache in his jaw. “fifteen minutes of my time, wasted, trying to mollify her because you couldn’t deal with a simple task. we both know that oscar doesn’t have two braincells to rub together -- and you could have just taken it, and recounted it before seeing it that hard to be civil and get business done?”

the more he talks, the more antonio moves about the kitchen, pulling down cups, tumblers, trying to resist the urge to bite back. fighting with matteo in any capacity usually never worked out well. most arguments turned into a horizontal tangle -- and those that didn’t carried on and on and on.

fuck he didn’t want to argue. he was just tired. he had a dentist appointment in the morning, had to figure out how to outpace the feds for the third time, run picks up and-- and really, he just wanted matteo to shut up and do something goddamn nice.

instead, he worked his jaw, trying to figure out how to say this right, to not make the argument extend anymore than it had to. it’s not that matteo didn’t have a point. he could have done all that. it was just that the comments about them, about whether or not antonio belonged -- along with what cos knew now--

he bit down hard on his tongue. he wasn’t going to think about that now. couldn’t even afford to consider thinking that around matteo about what cos did and didn’t know.

he took a breath, turning around, setting the glasses down. “fine. i could have done all of that -- and i didn’t. oscar is a brown-nosing fuck and i can’t stand him. happy?”

matteo clearly isn’t. he takes the cup (fingers long and fine, and really, should have been in antonio’s mouth goddammit), pulling it over to him. “no, as i’m sure you expected me to say. you’re acting childish, and we both know you aren’t a child.”

he’s so tired of hearing that lately too. still, he smiles, the way matteo likes. and matteo returns it, reaching for the tea pot. “we can shelve that for later. i didn’t come here to argue all night. i wanted to talk to you about your grandfather.”


antonio can feel his stomach drop. he knows that old fucker never could keep his mouth shut about certain things, and the involvement in the mafia, well. he didn’t know much about him and matteo’s connection, except that they’d first met at his father’s funeral. the few times he’d seen him in a work capacity had never been good, and never too long.

“what about him?” he shoves a piece of cheese in his mouth, not really tasting it as he chews.

“i’m going to be seeing him often in the next few months,” matteo’s eyes are so fixed on him, gauging for any reaction antonio might have, “we’re heading a project together. that won’t bother you, will it?”

yes yes yes fuck yes it’s going to bother me. is what antonio would have said if he were completely stupid. he isn’t, however. he knows better than to really voice his feelings on his grandfather being involved with matteo, on having to potentially deal with him in a “work” capacity as it were. the man was scary on a good day. on a bad one…

“no,” he lies, “i’ll be fine. i can handle him. what exactly do you need him for?”

matteo drinks his tea and doesn’t answer.

just as well -- antonio needs time to panic in his own head with this new information. and, frankly, to figure out how to best break the news. the worst thing would be for old man ragazzo to drop into town unannounced, with no warning to anyone else.

fuck, he needed something stronger than tea.

when it’s all said and done, when the bills are counted (with mrs. ramirez not in the red, goddammit), antonio expects matteo won’t stay. he’ll take the bag and leave early, and antonio will have to figure things out for himself.

matteo surprises him; he doesn’t pick up the money, he doesn’t go to the door. he does things as normal: cleans the dishes, loosens his tie, pets batty, and makes his way to the bedroom, as usual.

of everything, at least this stays the same. at least antonio still has this -- still has matteo. he sets his worries aside, and follows matteo inside, shutting the door with a definitive snap.

as it turns out, matteo doesn’t mind the bruises in the bedroom.