This comes from the 64 Damn Prompts on LiveJournal (by rashaka). I will, most likely, be working through all 64, because I can't bear to leave such a lovely thing unfinished. I will also include the song that helped me write it/find inspiration/that I thought fit the mood.

P.S~ By now, I believe the world would end if I actually managed to make one of these a normal drabble—you know, like the 100 words they're supposed to be.

P.P.S ~ Mafia fic this time—my first ever. I know I got stuff wrong, so if you're a Mafioso and take offense, none intended, I assure you.


Prompt 29: Locks

Music: All for Love, by Serena Ryder


It was the symbol of a time Gino had thought forgotten, a lock on the past he had tried to leave behind. But it hadn't let him run free forever, and now his old life was threatening to pull him back to what he used to be.

Gritting his teeth, he reached past the black circle branded into the wood of his door—a notice he had gotten yesterday, and a silent warning to expect company—and turned the knob. The door swung inward in silence, unlocked even when he knew he had set the deadbolt before leaving that morning, to reveal his cheerfully lit apartment and two pair of shoes sitting neatly beside the entrance. Gino sighed, even though he hadn't been expecting any differently. For professional killers, Valentine and Amadeo were unfailingly polite.

Knowing what was going on, Gino hung up his coat and scarf, took off his own shoes, and headed into the small living room. Sitting on the couch, a pot of tea on the table in front of him, was a young, black-haired man with a foxy grin and sharp eyes. Another man was with him, smaller and with icy-blond hair, rectangular glasses, and a bored expression. Three cups had been set out, and the tea in them was still hot.

"Valentine, Amadeo," Gino acknowledged, taking a seat at right angles to both of them.

Amadeo grinned, fierce and sly, and waved cheerily. "Hey, Gi-gi! How's that new job of yours coming'?"

Gino shot him a look that said he knew Amadeo was aware of just how his new job was going, but picked up his cup calmly enough. "It was fine. However, someone seems to have tipped the boss off to the fact that I have ties to the Family."

Mafia hung unspoken in the air between the three of them.

"Heh." Amadeo's grin never faded. "Imagine that. But it's good luck for us. See, Mr. Donatello wants you to come back, if you're not otherwise occupied."

Which, Gino knew, was polite-speak for "Mr. Donatello's ordering you to come back. Don't make me break things." It was hardly a surprise; Gino had been lucky to get even three years not under the Donatello Family's thumb, and those three years had hardly been easy. In addition, the only reasons they would have for sending Valentine were to kill Gino, or to play on his good memories of his time in the family, in an attempt to win him back.

Not that they would have to attempt very hard, Gino acknowledged wearily, inhaling the scent of his favorite green tea—which he knew hadn't been in his house when he left this morning. Valentine knew that it was his favorite, and, more importantly, had remembered. He had missed those little bits of thoughtfulness that Valentine always showed. He missed Valentine, period. As much as it pained him to admit it, he even missed his old job.

The golden-eyed man simply watched him, honey-colored gaze as intent as Gino had ever seen it without blood spilling right after. He looked away.

"I should kick you both out on your asses," he said, unable to keep a trace of humor out of his voice. "But I get the feeling that it won't work like I want it to."

If anything, Amadeo's grin became wider. There was a sharp edge to it, as well. "Mah, Gi-gi, don't you wanna come back wit' us? Marco's been restless, and Captain Rosenberg's getting bored without you."

Gino felt a matching grin threaten. Rosenberg was the police captain who had spent an exorbitant amount of time trying to catch him red-handed. Gino had taken great pleasure in driving the captain up the wall at every opportunity. It would almost be worth giving up his freedom and coming back, if only to see Rosenberg's face when he learned of it.

Snorting softly, Gino turned to look at the blond man. "I know why they sent you, Valentine, but what is Amadeo doing here? Moreover, what are you doing here together? Last I checked, you couldn't stand each other."

Valentine sniffed, crossing his arms over his chest. "Because," he snipped, "Mr. Donatello seems to be laboring under the mistaken impression that I am fond of you, and asked me to convince you if Amadeo failed. It must have been a moment of insanity on his part."

Gino couldn't prevent the small, bitter smile that twisted his lips, and looked down at his tea. "Insanity. Right," he said, as flat and dry as the Sahara. He grimaced and took another sip. "And fond. How could I forget? Is that what you're still calling it, after six years?"

Golden eyes narrowed to slits behind rectangular lenses as Valentine went rigid in his seat. "What else?" he demanded stiffly. "Love?" The word dripped from his lips like a particularly insidious poison, uttered with all the contempt and disgust that the assassin had ever shown for the concept during their time together. "Do you still insist on this foolishness, Ricci? It is a simple biological reaction between two sexually mature creatures—enjoyable, yes, but absolutely explicable. There is no love."

Amadeo settled back into his seat, sharp blue eyes watching their interactions like a spectator at a tennis match—or a martial arts tournament, which Gino had no doubt it could devolve into, should the argument continue long enough. It wasn't the first time he and Valentine had come nearly to blows over their differing opinions, especially on this subject.

But Gino knew what he felt for Valentine, and he wouldn't let the other man write it off so easily.

"How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as love?" Gino quoted softly, and Valentine focused on him with a laughing, incredulous sneer.

"Really?" he drawled. "Einstein? But even he admitted that it was completely biological, and therefore—"

But, with that, Gino realized that he really didn't care anymore. Not about this stupid argument that they had had so many times already, not about the fact that he had just lost his job, not about the fact that Mr. Donatello was calling him back into the fold after three years.

"Stop," he said quietly, setting his teacup down and rising to his feet. "Valentine, Amadeo, I appreciate you coming. Tell Mr. Donatello that I'll be in contact in a few days. You can see yourselves out." He turned on his heel and stalked away, heading down the short hall and slamming his bedroom door closed behind him. With almost savage satisfaction, he turned the three locks on it, shutting the world out and himself inside as he slid down the heavy wood, dropping his head back with a sharp thunk.

No, he thought tiredly. I can't do it anymore. I'll go back to Mr. Donatello and be a good little pet, but I'm not letting that icy bastard have even one more minute of my life when he can't accept what I know he feels.

He'd been an innocent, utterly naïve recruit when Mr. Donatello had first brought him into the Family, barely twenty and with all the safecracking skills of a professional who had spent years in the game. His fingers were magic. He could open any locks, get into any safe, slip through any security system virtually undetected. Add to that a hair-trigger temper and a tendency to pick fights with those many times bigger and stronger, and Gino was surprised he had lasted more than a week. As it was, Marco, an enforcer, had taken offense at some insult and tried to pound him into the ground. Only Valentine's opportune appearance had saved his hide, and the assassin had taken Gino under his wing.

They shared a sort of calculated, gleeful abandon in fights, a fondness for Shakespeare, and a love of science—though Gino favored computer science and Valentine liked biology—and they had been attracted to each from the start. They fell together easily enough, quickly enough, and Gino had never been happier.

And then, five years into their relationship, he had spoken those three little words, and Valentine had come unglued.

For the next year, they had fought, almost continuously. It had finally reached a point where Mr. Donatello had called Gino in and offered him a break from the business, a way to clear his head. Gino had jumped on it, and left without even telling Valentine.

They hadn't been able to speak without shouting, anyway.

Gino had loved him—still loved him—but he wasn't willing to deal with the constant anger Valentine seemed to feel because of it. It wasn't so much that he blamed Valentine for them falling apart, because he didn't, but the assassin, skilled enough to rank third among Mr. Donatello's pet killers, was a part of it. Because Valentine did know that love existed, Gino was certain.

He just didn't want to admit what he felt, or was scared to.

Near-silent footsteps sounded in the hall, and then there came the soft thump of someone sitting down with their back against the door. After several long moments of quiet, Valentine finally said, "You've locked me out."

There was something in his tone that had always been absent before, and Gino frowned. Was that…loneliness? Valentine—proud, narcissistic, flamboyant Valentine—was never lonely, or at least never let it show. But this—

This was practically a confession in and of itself.

"And you locked me out," Gino countered quietly, eyes still closed. "I'm not a toy, Valentine. I know you just see everyone below you as scum, or a future target, but that isn't me. if I can't be anything different in your eyes, then it's probably better that we don't meet anymore."

The next period of silence stretched for so long that Gino half-thought Valentine had left. Then, after what had probably been minutes, there came a soft sigh from the other side of the door.

"I realize that, actually," Valentine said, and it was ever so slightly wistful. He attempted a chuckle, but it just sounded hoarse. "I'll have you know that I can't even insult people well without you there to hear it."

The joke fell flat—but, even so, it almost didn't. Gino smiled faintly and shook his head. "Like you ever needed help with that," he scoffed, then paused as something occurred to him. His smile widened slightly. "Hey, Valentine? If I ask you something, will you answer truthfully? No matter what?"

Valentine paused, and Gino could almost feel the waves of suspicion radiating thorough the wood. Carefully, the assassin allowed, "I suppose. Ask your questions."

Gino chuckled softly at the wariness in his voice. "When I left, did you look for me?"

"Yes." The answer was immediate, if a touch confused.

Gino simply smiled. "After you knew I was gone, did you want me to come back?"

"Yes." That time was just as swift as the first.

"Did you ever look around the apartment and forget that I had left?"

"Yes."

"Did you want to come after me?"

"Yes."

"Did your chest ever ache and feel empty when you thought about me?"

A short hesitation, and then a soft, "Yes."

"In three years, did you ever go to anyone else for those 'biological needs'?"

The next hesitation was so long Gino again though that he wasn't going to answer. And then, even more softly than before, Valentine murmured, "No. Never."

Gino reached up and turned the locks one by one, undoing them, and then rose to his feet and opened the door. Valentine stood there, staring at him with unusually serious eyes, though there was a glimmer of their usual arrogant brilliance tucked away, as though it were a defense. "I assume all of those questions have a point?" he asked cautiously.

Reaching up, Gino wound his fingers in Valentine's nearly white hair and pulled him down into a long, sharp kiss, tasting and testing and breathing in everything he had been missing for four years now.

When they finally broke apart to breathe, Gino leaned forward and rested his forehead against the assassin's collarbone. "I love you," he murmured.

Valentine's lips tipped up, a fain echo of his crazy grin. "Before I built a lock I'd ask to know what I was locking in or locking out, and to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn't love a lock, that wants it down," he quoted, then said more softly, "You know that I'm…what I'm locking away, don't you? Just for you?"

Gino's expression echoed his, a small smile touched with everything that they weren't saying, that they might never say. "I know," he said, then snorted softly. "Oh great scientist, you're using the wrong word there. I believe it was, 'Before I built a wall I'd like to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down.' Robert Frost is probably turning in his grave."

"Close enough." Valentine dismissed it with an airy wave of one hand, then focused all of his beautiful intensity on Gino once more. "You'll come back?" he asked softly, and though it wasn't hesitant, it wasn't assertive, either.

Gino cast a glance around his small, dingy apartment, the traces of a life that was never meant to be his, and then back at the tall, slender, elegant man in front of him, who would never dream of speaking words of love, but nevertheless felt it even more strongly than most.

"Yes," he answered. "I'll come back."