Ty wrapped her old army patterned jacket tighter around her body. It was approaching nine o'clock in the evening of that chilly Saturday night and she had just arrived at the park; the very park that had been the stage of the scene that changed her life.
She was waiting for her friends to arrive as she had called them just twenty or so minutes ago. The skate park would still have people roaming about and Ty wanted this conversation to be as private as possible. It was also why she hadn't told any of the Rizzos or really anyone from that group about her little gathering.
It had been a day since she realized and admitted her growing feelings to her friends and Ty was more confused than ever. She couldn't get a hold of any of her friends during the day since they were all busy and there was no way she would have been able to leave the Rizzo mansion without the usual two escorts and giving her reason. She absolutely did not want to have this discussion with one of Roberto's men or even the Rizzo brothers – especially Dante Rizzo – standing by within earshot. It wasn't the wisest decision but Ty was too focused on her own thoughts to realize the potential danger she was putting her and her friends in.
"Finally," Ty breathed when she saw Grant and Henry approaching, the dim, flickering yellow lights of the lamps overhead lighting their forms. Drew, Jimmy, and Fred soon followed them, completing the group.
"So you manage to sort anything out through the day or are we still talking complete confusion and you're afraid?" Drew asked getting straight to the point. The boys knew her too well.
Ty rubbed her face, ran her hand through her hair, and shrugged, "I'm still extremely confused."
"What's there to be confused about?" Fred asked. "You're crushing on the guy, easy as that."
"But it's… Dante," she even whispered the raven-haired boy's name. It was still unbelievable even though she was quite aware of her feelings. Her growing feelings. And that's what frightened her.
"So?" Grant questioned even though he could tell this was a big deal. Never before had Ty been so torn about a boy. She had had a few crushes in the past but never had she been like this over them.
"I…" Ty tried. "I don't think it's just a crush…" She knew it wasn't. The boy had gone above and beyond her subconscious expectations of him and his actions are what had put her in this predicament. It was embarrassing as it was frustrating.
"Besides, he hates me," she tried to be dismissive but her tone fell flat. "I don't know why I'm making such a big deal out of this. It's stupid."
"You trying to convince yourself there, Ty?" Jimmy said. "What on earth did the guy do for you to be so torn up about this?"
"I don't know!" Ty whined in frustration. "I just, it's Dante. The prick who was a jerk but is apparently not a jerk and is actually really considerate and an awkward dork and actually cares and selfless and I just don't know what to do about it. I mean the only thing missing is that he's the person who brought Gramps back." She finished by tossing her arms in the air in exasperation.
Fred bit his lip in the way anyone close to him knew that meant that he knew something that was relevant and important.
"What?" Ty questioned him. She had to admit to herself that she was a little scared of what he was going to say.
"I may have been told that he did…" he said carefully. Carlos had mentioned it when he came over before Ty's birthday. The two had had a few discussions concerning Ty and Dante, the talks generally consisting of Carlos venting about his obtuse brother. And speaking of the eldest Rizzo brother, he had sent his boyfriend a quick text saying that he and the others were meeting with Ty and given the location as well. He knew Ty wouldn't have wanted bodyguards but he hadn't thought she was actually reckless enough to sneak out. Fred, although betraying his friend's trust was much more worried about her safety. Carlos would arrive in just a matter of minutes.
"Are you serious?" Ty was not the only one to ask. The other boys were just as surprised. "How do you know?"
Fred scratched the back of his neck, "Carlos told me."
"And the jerk wouldn't tell me when I asked him," Ty grumbled. "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
Fred raised his hands in defence, "I thought you knew. He told me he told you where to find Dante that day."
Ty groaned aloud and was about to speak when she saw a figure approaching them. She squinted and saw that it was a man wearing a coat that hid the bottom half of his face. Totally not suspicious at all.
"What are you kids doing out here so late?" the man asked. Ty and the boys watched him suspiciously. They all had a bad feeling about the guy.
"Nothing much, we were just headed back home," Grant said. He grabbed Ty's arm and the group made to leave, turning their backs to the man.
"I don't think so," the man said. "Turn back around, kiddies."
They all turned around slowly and saw that the man was pointing a silver gun directly at them.
"Let go of the girl," the man ordered.
Grant hesitated but Ty shook his grip off of her arm.
"Good. Now, you boys back away from her."
No one moved.
"I said, move it!" He fired a warning shot that zipped past Grant's cheek.
"Listen to him," Ty whispered harshly.
"Now!" Ty hissed.
The boys obeyed and stepped backwards even though every step went against their very being. Fred kept wishing that Carlos would come quickly.
The man snickered, "Better keep listening to her. Girl knows when it's time to give up. Besides, what can a couple high school brats do?"
"What do you want?" Drew demanded. He was barely restraining himself from trying to create a diversion by attacking the man. It was a plan similar to that of the other boys, even Fred who was still waiting anxiously for Carlos to show up.
"Did I say you could speak?" the man questioned, pointing his gun at Drew.
"Ignore him! He's an idiot," Ty said, hoping to divert the man's attention, as well as the gun's.
Just as she had hoped, the man faced her and so did the barrel of the gun. "Since you're so smart, you'll come with us quietly, won't you?"
Us? Where're the others? Ty furtively looked around to see if she could see any of the man's backup.
The man walked towards Ty. She was shaking in her shoes, eyes darting to find some form of escape.
"Now, you be a good little girl and we'll take you to see Mr. Bellini. He's been waiting for an opportunity where those Rizzo dogs weren't at your heels."
"What do you want from me?" Ty asked, and she prided herself on not sounding as scared as she was.
The man smirked and traced the side of her face with the barrel of the gun, the cold metal biting at Ty's skin and freezing her in fear.
"I'm not the one who wants you, little girl. Mr. Bellini sees the usefulness in you and I'm simply to deliver you to his waiting hands."
Ty's eyes continued to dart around the scene, looking for some way she could possibly help her friends escape unscathed. She spotted a movement in the trees to her left but thought it was simply her imagination, or one of the man's backup. She was despairing.
"Now let's g—AH!" the man shrieked, gripping his right shoulder as he fell to his knees.
Ty didn't know what happened but as soon as the man went down she ran into the trees, yelling to her friends, "RUN!"
The boys were already sprinting towards the trees the moment the man went to his knees.
Once Ty was safely behind a tree, she peeked out to see what was going on but a hand covered her mouth, silencing a scream.
"Shh, calm down, it's me," Carlos whispered into her ear. Ty relaxed and turned around but her eyes grew wide at seeing a gun in Carlos' hand.
"Fred called me and I'll yell at you later for being so stupid and reckless, but now you and your friends need to go to Mario. He'll take you back to the house."
Gun shots rang out and Ty covered her ears.
"Go, now!" Carlos ordered as he stepped out from the protection of the tree.
Ty did as she was told and ran in the direction Carlos had pointed to. She soon saw Jimmy and the two continued on. They stopped when they saw a figure hiding behind a tree and hid behind one as well, unsure whether the person was friend or foe.
"This is unreal," Jimmy whispered, panting slightly.
"I'm so sorry," Ty said. "This is all my fault."
Jimmy was about to say something but the figure turned and saw them. Neither recognized the person.
"It's you!" the man exclaimed once he caught sight of Ty.
"Run!" Jimmy said and pulled Ty away as the man began chasing them.
They ran out of the trees and ducked when they heard gunfire, the two of them holding hands as they pulled one another onwards.
Another man appeared from the trees brandishing a black gun. He yelled "duck!" and Ty and Jimmy did as he said out of fear. The man fired and Ty glanced behind to see the man that was chasing them fall, clutching his knee and moaning in pain.
"Get to the north gate, Luigi's waiting there with a car to take you guys back to the house," their savior said. Jimmy was suspicious but Ty recognized the man from the house, and he had the traditional black stud piercing in his right ear.
The two ran and they quickly reached the north gate of the park. Just as the man had said, there was a sleek black car waiting for them and the two saw the rest of their friends at the gate being herded into the car.
"Where's Drew?" Ty panted once she got there. She did a head count and didn't see the scruffy blond.
"He's on the way, get in the car, Ty," Luigi said, eyes focused on the entrance for any sign of danger.
Ty was about to protest but Luigi gave her a hard look, "Kid, you're in enough trouble as is. Get in the car."
"Listen to him," Luca said from the driver's seat.
Ty obeyed and slid in but stared out the open door for any sign of Drew or Carlos. The boys were looking over her shoulders as well, all with bated breaths.
Finally, after what felt like forever, Drew appeared with Carlos, Dante, and the man that had saved Jimmy and Ty.
"Oh thank god," Ty breathed in relief.
Ty's relief was short lived when, suddenly, Drew went to the floor with a yelp of agony, clutching his left shoulder. Dante and the others stopped to see what had happened with guns raised.
"Guns down or the kid gets his brains splattered," a new man said as he stepped out from the trees.
Dante and the others gritted their teeth but nonetheless lowered their guns, dropping them to the floor and putting their hands up to show they were unarmed, defenseless, vulnerable.
"Hand over the girl and you can have the boy back. I'd say unharmed but it's a little too late for that," the man drawled.
Ty didn't even think about it. She stepped out of the car but Luigi held his arm out, barring her from taking another step to the man holding Drew hostage.
"Luigi, let me pass," Ty demanded. She was terrified, but Drew was much more important. Besides, this is all my fault.
"Listen to the girl, dog," the man jeered.
"Don't you fucking move, stronza," Dante ground out. He wasn't facing the brunette, but he knew she would throw her life away for her friends' safety.
"Shut up," Ty replied putting her hand on Luigi's arm in an attempt to move it out of her way.
"No talking, dammit!" the man growled. He moved the gun barrel towards Ty and it was as if a switch were flicked in Ty's brain the moment Drew was no longer the target.
Ty dived to the floor and picked up the gun. Before anyone could even blink, she pointed the barrel at the man and fired. The man dropped his gun to clutch his now bleeding arm, groaning in pain. After that, everything went by in a flash. Dante was the first to pick up his gun and fired at the man, getting him right between the eyes. Carlos and Mario went for Drew, picking him up and rushing him to the car. They put him in, Carlos going in as well and Luigi directed Ty back into the car as well, taking his gun back.
In minutes, they were on the road, everyone safe in the car.
"Let me see him," Carlos demanded. They were slightly cramped but they managed to lay Drew on one side of the car along the seats, stomach down, his cheek against Ty's lap.
"Shit," Drew groaned. His left shoulder was burning and he could barely think past the cloud of pain.
"Luca, step on it!" Dante called out. They had the black screen down and Mario had his neck craned to see the situation in the back.
"C'mon stay awake, Drew. You're gonna be fine," Ty said but she couldn't remain calm. Her worry was palpable.
"Hold this against the wound, we need to halt the blood flow," Carlos directed Ty. He had removed his shirt and bundled it up to press against Drew's shoulder.
When they reached the hospital, Drew was rushed to the emergency room and Carlos called Roberto. He returned and after speaking with the nurses, saying that Drew got caught in an attempted mugging, he went to Ty who was freaking out in one of the waiting chairs.
"Oh god, what am I going to tell Drew's parents?" Ty asked. She was nearing hysterics.
Carlos put his hand on Ty's shoulder and tried to reassure her, "I told the nurses that it was a mugger and you guys just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He's going to be fine, dolcezza."
"This is all my fault," Ty cried out. She was close to tears.
Carlos didn't know what to say. He knew that no matter what he said, Ty would not stop believing that it was her fault that Drew was getting a bullet pulled out from his arm. He had to get up anyway when a nurse called him over.
When he left, Ty's friends came to her, trying and failing to reassure her that it wasn't her fault. Soon, Drew's parents arrived at the hospital, Mrs. Callahan's eyes rimmed red from dried tears.
She immediately went to the nurses who told her and Mr. Callahan that the injury was not as serious as they all thought and that Drew would be fine after a few weeks of rest. He had to remain in the hospital for a few days just to be checked on but there was nothing life threatening or damaging.
"Oh my gosh, are you all alright?" Mrs. Callahan rushed to the group. She enveloped Ty into a bone-crushing hug and it unleashed the tears the brunette was so desperately holding back.
"I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry," Ty kept repeating.
"Ty, sweetie, it wasn't your fault. You couldn't have prevented it," Mrs. Callahan said, rubbing Ty's hair and squeezing the young girl to her chest.
Oh but I could have, Ty thought to herself, her guilt drowning her.
After the waterworks were cleared up, everyone kind of drifted off. Ty wanted to be alone with her thoughts so she wandered around the hospital until she found an empty hallway with a bench. She sat down and put her head in her hands, elbows resting on her knees. That was how Dante found her.
Silently, he sat down beside her, leaving a few inches between them. Ty made no effort to acknowledge him.
"I shot a person," Ty whispered to herself eventually. "I actually shot another human. Oh my god. He's dead."
Dante was at a loss. From his point of view, Ty did the smart and logical thing. She saved her friend by shooting the man, but from her point of view… she shot another human being. She may not have had the intent to kill and it was just fear and adrenaline that directed her actions, but she was feeling guilty, something Dante wasn't familiar with in such scenarios. It was bad enough she was already beating herself up about Drew's predicament.
"Don't beat yourself up about it. He would have killed your friend and wouldn't have thought twice of it. Besides, you're not the one who killed him."
"But I shot him!"
"In the arm!" Dante argued. "I'm the one who shot him in the head. I killed him, not you. You were afraid and just wanted your friend to be safe. If anything, your friend owes you his life. You saved him."
Ty was still not convinced. She couldn't shake the feeling of overpowering guilt, not only from shooting the man, but also because the whole situation was because she was reckless and didn't think clearly.
"Ah, cazzo," Dante cursed under his breath. He put his arm around Ty's shoulder and pulled her into his chest, his other hand going to rub her head as he hugged her tightly as they sat. "You have no reason to feel guilty, Sierra. You're safe, you're friends are safe, and the blondie will be perfectly fine.
Ty buried her head in Dante's neck and turned her body so she could hug him back. Her eyes were watering again and Dante felt his black shirt get a little wet but he didn't mind it. He just continued to rub her back and head, his lips pressed to the brunette's head. His racing thoughts and palpitating heart be damned.
"She's going to blame herself for this," Fred said to Carlos as they walked down a white hallway.
"I know," Carlos said. "What were you all even doing so late and why didn't she tell any of us. We're lucky you called me."
Fred sighed and rubbed his neck, "Ty was having a little bit of an emotional crisis, and she didn't want any of you to know about it. She wanted our opinion and help and physical presence."
"Can I ask about what?"
"You can ask, but I won't tell you."
Carlos smiled, "Loyal friend to the end, huh? Do I get that kind of loyalty as your boyfriend?"
Fred blushed and looked away from Carlos, not answering the question since he knew he would stutter and turn even redder.
Carlos laughed and after a quick glance around to see if there was anyone, he quickly turned Fred's face and pecked his lips before continuing to walk as if nothing had happened.
Fred was a tomato.
"You-I-just," he spluttered and Carlos chuckled at his cute little redhead.
They rounded the corner but stopped dead in their tracks before quietly backing away.
"That idiot, and he still doesn't realize his feelings," Carlos muttered. He had to admit the scene was rather cute though but his frustration with his brother muted the cuteness.
"Dante?" Fred asked.
Carlos sighed, "The idiot doesn't realize he's in love with Ty."
Fred laughed and Carlos gave him a quizzical look.
"Oh boy. Irony at its finest," Fred chuckled shaking his head.
"You know something," Carlos said.
Fred nodded, "And because I'm such a loyal friend and as a little bit of payback, I'm not telling you a thing."
Carlos smirked, "I'm sure I can get you to tell me."
Fred matched his stare even though the thoughts running through his head made him almost as red as his hair.
"I'd like to see you try," the redhead grinned.
Stronza - bitch
Dolcezza - sweetheart
Cazzo - fuck (lit. balls)