Levi was such an idiot. Levi was such a fucking idiot.

Levi was about to get them all killed.

Damian knew he shouldn't have followed Dominic as he chased after Levi and Braden. Levi must've taken that meth after all, and Damian sure as hell hoped it was worth it. The moment the cops caught up with him, which wouldn't be long, he'd not only be charged with a DUI, failure to comply with an investigation, but assaulting, maybe even attempting to kill the Chief of Police. And Braden had stayed in the car! Damian didn't care how high the idiot was, he had just slung himself as the accomplice into all those charges. Levi's parents' Navigator was wrapped around a tree.

Damian followed Dominic as they all ran in a disorganized line into the woods, into the land that held the fence. He knew who owned the property, but the name wasn't coming to him. It was a hulking piece, very open once the forests thinned. Where was Levi even trying to go? Deeper into the forest? The dipshit would get lost in a second.

Damian tripped on a loose root, splat on the floor, a mouthful of dead leaves and dirt in his mouth before he could tell he wasn't running anymore. He spat out nature, licked his mouth to check for blood, and sat up.

Sure enough, he couldn't see Dominic or the others. He considered going back the way he came and sucking Chief Tate's dick for mercy when a gunshot went off.

To his left, he saw the name ALEK etched into the bark of a tree and to his right, he saw Dominic running through an open area of the Bardicis' pasture.

They were going to die.

"Dominic!" Damian screamed, suddenly very aware of what the gun was aiming for.

Dominic looked back, still running, and another gunshot sounded through the land.

Dominic dropped.

He could see Mr. Bardici out right by the back of his house, gun in hand. Oh God, could he do that? Was he really—?

The answer to that question could be found in three words: Make My Day.

It was perfectly legal under Colorado law to kill anyone who you feel threatened by if they step onto your property.

Dominic had just suffered that.

Damian had no idea if Levi and Braden had suffered the same fate.

Or if he was about to.

No. I refuse to. For God's sake, I'm in my friend's backyard.

Stepping a bit deeper into the trees, Damian pulled out his cell phone and texted Era.

- Your dad is shooting up the place and I'm sitting on the property near Alek's tree. Help.

No answer. God, what was he supposed to do? Try to find Levi or Braden? Grab Dominic's body? Get the hell out and save himself?

He slumped down the tree trunk, making himself as small as possible. He should leave. He really ought to leave.

If he didn't stay, though, try to help those guys, what would that mean for the vow he had taken? What if the other three weren't dead, and managed to escape the law? Was it worth saving his life against Mr. Bardici only to have those maniacs take it? He knew deep in his gut that Dominic and that group would kill him if he showed any signs of disloyalty.

Another few bangs sounded through the forest.

He could just go around front.

He looked around the property, a panicked lump forming in his throat. If he went back the way he came, he'd have to run on the road for a while until reaching the Bardicis', or risk going through the forest and around the other way.

He looked at his phone. No answer from Era.

No, he wasn't going to be stupid about this. He was going to around on the road. Seeing Chief Tate again and taking a while was well worth not being shot by Mr. Bardici.

The road was empty when Damian reached it, no more life than the bloodstain in the ice Chief Tate had left behind. Once he was sure he could live to tomorrow, he'd have to check on Chief Tate; it had looked like he hit his head pretty hard.

Even if Levi was on meth, why the hell had nearly killing the top ranking police officer in the area seemed like a good idea? It only confirmed that Levi and his crew were insane.

Only once his lungs threatened to collapse on him did Damian reach the Bardicis' front door. Still no text from Era.

He rang the doorbell.

Era answered.

"Why didn't you answer your phone?" Damian asked, more panicked than angry.

"It's in my room and I was watching TV. Why?"

"Tell your dad to stop! My friends and I didn't mean to run into the backyard, but then he started exercising his Make My Day law rights and—"

Mr. Bardici appeared behind Era like a ghost. He didn't have a gun anymore. Damian even wondered if he'd seen that man out there at all.

"Hi, Mr. Bardici," Damian squeaked.

Mr. Bardici furrowed his brow, glanced at Damian, then focused on his daughter. "Do you know him?"

Era crossed her arms. "He's my friend from school. He thinks you were out in the backyard killing people."

Mr. Bardici shook his head. "Tranq bullets. Figured they were running from someone who'd want them back."

Somehow, that only made it slightly better. "W-What're you gonna do with them?"

"Turn them into the police. What else? If anything, they were trespassing on my property and need a slap on the wrist. If there are other charges on them, then that's that." Mr. Bardici studied him. "This isn't excluding you."

Hell no he didn't come back to support these guys only to get roped in with their jail charges. Sure, Chief Tate probably wouldn't slap huge charges on him, but who knew how he was feeling after that conk to the head? Maybe he even forgot about their arrangement. Besides, his mom would kill him.

"Mr. Bardici, I didn't do anything. I came in here trying to stop the guys from coming here. You gotta believe me."

"Don't think I didn't recognize those kids—Tevlin and Wilke are born and raised criminals. Whatever they did was bad."

No help from Mr. Bardici.

"Era, I wasn't involved. Yeah, I've been hanging out with them, but they were doing meth, crazy stuff. I wasn't involved. I came to help them. You believe me, don't you?" Damian said, looking right into Era's eyes.

Era didn't speak, clenched her fist and stared at her shoes.

"Dad, Damian wasn't doing anything bad. I'd believe whatever he says. He's friends with Luke and I—he's a good guy."

Era's gaze had just become a force, and Damian tossed around the idea of grabbing Dominic on his way out. At least if he saved Dominic he'd have someone to vouch for him.

"Dominic wasn't doing anything either. It was just Braden and Levi."

There was a long silence in which Mr. Bardici's stare could've melted him like the Wicked Witch of the West.

"Go collect Tevlin and get off my property, Richards," Mr. Bardici said.

Damian dashed into the backyard, picked up Dominic fireman style, and sprinted out as fast as he could. The last exchange he heard was:

"Get new friends, Era."


Damian made it back to his own house by the time Dominic woke up.

"What happened back there? How'd we get out of Bardici's house?" Dominic asked as he sunk deeper into Damian's swing chair on the front porch.

Damian felt the first swell of pride from doing something useful all day. "I went around the other way and convinced Bardici to let us go. He was going to tranq you guys and hand you over to the police. I bet he got Levi and Braden."

"Jesus, sounds a bit tame for Bardici."

Everyone was scared of Kastriot Bardici, so Damian wasn't going to disagree.

Damian shrugged. "He's freaky, but he seems a lot more bark than bite."

Dominic smirked. "And his daughter's pretty hot, when she lets you look."

Damian had considered asking Era out every now and then, just to try it out, but something always told him that Era wasn't interested in teenage love affairs. Besides, she was a city girl trapped in a small town girl's life. Not only would Era leave come August, but she'd never come back, and kick the world's ass. But, she was pretty hot. No denying that.

Damian looked at his still bandaged finger. "What happens now, with the gang?"

"If Levi and Braden get charged, then that's that. Fuck them. Our mission doesn't end with them leaving. They were holding us back anyway. Chief Tate did the dirty work for us."

Damian scooted a bit away. "Bear with me here, because I'm not sure I...get what we're doing. Have you come up with any new suspects? I remember you mentioning some girls, the shut in, but has any of this gotten any more solid?"

Dominic leaned back, started the swing drifting to and fro. "You know about the cocaine trade that used to go on around here, right?" Damian shook his head. "It was huge fifteen or so years ago, but gradually started waning out. No one ever met with the suppliers, and it was always a death threat for everyone to never ask. The last people to take up the helm were Hudson and Wyatt."

"They sold cocaine? Aren't—weren't they like fifteen? Who'd trust them with that kind of job?"

"They were low level soldiers. You know, would deliver the coke to people. Someone else got the money." Dominic rubbed his hands together. "Here's the thing, though. I think the supplier may have killed those two. They would risk things, screw around when they should've been working. I'm sure their supplier thought they were disposable. Wyatt would tell me all that he knew. He said the supplier was from New York, then some small Eastern European country. Said he saw the big boss one time, and described him as a lean guy with wavy dark hair, nearly black eyes, sharp cheekbones, arched eyebrows formed as if the guy plucked…"

"You're describing Kastriot Bardici."


"Kastriot Bardici dealt cocaine?"

"That's always been my problem. I don't think Bardici here does. He keeps the kind of antagonist relationship with the police that would suggest that they couldn't nail him for something if they tried. He wouldn't risk it. But, the guy described sounds exactly like him."

"The Bardicis are from New York, and they're Albanian. Eastern European country." Damian's jaw went a little slack. "Dominic, Era said she had uncles. Ones that were actually a part of the mafia. Ones that are exactly like you describe. Era always sounds scared when she talks about them, or at least guarded. Trust me, all Luke did one day was ask if she had family in New York, and she said she had three uncles, and freaked out, stopped talking."

"Shit man, if it was the Albanian mafia who killed Wyatt, we're gonna have to think much bigger if we're gonna complete this mission."

Damian swore his heart stopped beating. What had Dominic just said?

"You'd—You'd still go after them if you knew they were part of a legit mafia, probably overwhelmingly dangerous?"

"A murderer's a murderer. Besides, it's just a theory." Dominic looked to Damian, eyes blazing. "You're not pussying out on me, are you? You're all I have left, and god dammit, Damian, I'm not letting you go. I'm going to avenge my brother if it kills me. Stay by my side, and you don't have to worry about you dying too."

Yeah, he really needed to talk to Chief Tate. No one had told him he signed up to become some grief-crazy killer-in-training's accomplice. And, Jesus, it had actually gotten worse with Levi and Braden arrested.

Calm down. Maybe Levi and Braden won't get charged. Dominic can focus his man hunt with those guys. School's only in session for a few more weeks. Ask Mom and Dad if we can leave town for a bit.

Except he wasn't going anywhere come August, and neither was Dominic. As long as he stayed in Edgeport, there was no escaping Dominic Tevlin. There was definitely no chance of escaping Dominic Tevlin if Damian tried to duck out on him.

What was the alternative, though? Go through with Dominic's plan? There was no doubting it then. Dominic was going to kill whoever killed Wyatt. If Dominic needed any help doing so, Damian would be expected to do whatever needed to be done.

He needed to talk to Chief Tate pronto.

What's he gonna do, though? Arrest Dominic? What if there's not enough evidence, and he runs free? He'll not just kill you. He'll torture you. Just like what happened to Wyatt and Hudson.

Just like what Damian was beginning to truly believe Dominic did to Wyatt and Hudson.

He just needed to secure a motive.

A/N: Oh, Damian the plucky hero/detective. Guess we'll have to see where that one goes. :P Hope everyone enjoyed!