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Under New Management

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"WHAT'S THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?! LENIENT?!" Ghiaccio yelled at the laptop screen.

"Just what it sounds like. My management style isn't up to par with Passione's." Risotto said calmly, pushing the laptop away from Ghiaccio towards a safer distance where it wouldn't be thrown. Or more likely, smashed.

"I have to agree with Ghiaccio on this one. That's a load of shit, boss." Formaggio shook his head, frowning.

"Just ask what he thinks you're doing wrong, and adapt." Melone hummed, focused more on his own laptop.

"What, he wants you to be tougher?" Prosciutto huffed.

"He doesn't want me at all." Risotto shrugged.

"WHAT MORE COULD YA DO?!" Ghaccio slammed his fist down, just short of the laptop in question. Again, Risotto calmly shifted the laptop away.

"You know about as much as i do. But apparently it's beyond time to simply take review and change. So we're taking orders from the Boss himself. Through someone the Boss has dictated." Risotto shrugged.

"So what?! You're gettin' demoted? We going under someone's brat?! What?!" Ghaccio huffed.

"No name. Just an address." Risotto set a small business card on the table.

"What's this? A house?" Prosciutto picked up the card, looking it over.

"We can assume." Risotto shrugged.

"How lame! Probably the Boss's favorite. I say leave 'em hangin' and keep goin' about as usual." Sorbet huffed, falling back into Gelato's lap.

"They're just going to get this address and find their way here. There's no avoiding it." Risotto sighed.

"It wouldn't hurt to just tell you what you've been doing wrong? There's no such thing as human error to this guy?" Illuso huffed from his spot in the wall's mirror.

"No. Nor should there be. It doesn't matter what i've done wrong. Nor should i be in a position to be pleading for a 'second chance'." Risotto shook his head, standing. "I expect you all to treat them the way you would treat me. I want no harassment, pestering, or insults. I signed us onto this because we were promised a good deal, here. We want to be seen as reliable, yes?" Most of the room nodded in agreement. Most notably, Sorbet and Gelato seemed to have taken the words personally, refusing to look at Risotto.

"Something wrong, you two?" Risotto glanced at the two.

"Ah, nothin. Just......." Sorbet started, looking uncomfortable.

"Sorbet! You're so forgetful! Did you forget already?!" Gelato huffed, running a hand through Sorbet's hair. "God! You'd be lost halfway to Paris if i didn't have to remind you all the time!"

"Yeah, yeah." Sorbet huffed, but accepted the head patting.

"With that said...." Risotto's eyes narrowed slightly, but didn't pursue the issue.

"What, you're goin' now, Boss?" Pesci started to stand out of habit.

"Might as well, right? Sit down, it's probably better if i do this alone." Risotto shook his head as Pesci was pulled back in his seat by Prosciutto.

"Alone?! Like hell you are! We got as much right to see the brat as you do!" Ghaccio snapped.

"That may be so. But in the event that the Boss is there to oversee things, we need to be as professional about this as possible." Risotto stood straighter, making himself even taller.

"Screw professionalism! The man just called you incompetent!" Formaggio huffed. "You're gonna take that sittin' down?!"

"Hardly. But perhaps through observation i can learn the standard. And eventually we can get back to business." Risotto said simply.

"Just go up to the tightass and remind him who he hired!" Illuso rolled his eyes. "You've gotta flex a little, for these big dogs. That's how you get shit done, in the Mafia."

"He's not gonna do that, Illuso. And what the hell do you know about 'Flexin' for these big dogs?" Formaggio laughed.

"A lot more than you do, 'Little Feet'." Melone held back his own snicker as the usual argument started between the three, Melone narrowly dodging a pocket knife thrown his way.

"Go ahead and go get him. Or her." Prosciutto waved him off, already standing to break up the fight as Formaggio was already elbow deep in the wall mirror.

"Oooh! Let me know if it's a her!" Melone perked up, already drooling at the thought.

"Oh, go soak your head in some bleach." Prosciutto scoffed, smacking Melone up the jaw and making him bite his tongue. "Go on. Get outta here."

Risotto quietly excused himself, leaving Prosciutto to handle the dynamic.

 

~

 

The house was.... less than he was expecting. It was old, for sure. Probably as old as Naples itself. Finely made though. Practically the picture of a typical, small family hope. A crudely painted 'Zeppeli' was painted on the mailbox. He had to wonder if it was a family home. Or if he really was just being handed over into someone's brat's hands.

Part of him wanted to believe Passione was more professional than nepotism.

But why would they be?

"MARIA! WHAT IS THIS?!"

There was a loud bang from the garage, followed by a series of swears and a black haired girl in a tank top and shorts running out of the building and into the house.

He could only hope he was looking for the elder 'Zeppeli'.

"Eh?" 'Maria' stuck her head through the front door, snatching a kitchen towel and wiping her face with it. Whatever had been apparently discovered between the two quickly turned into a heated argument, with rather angry screeching from inside and petulant whines from her. Apparently through this, she apparently noticed him at their front gate, and paused. Apparently this further angered the resident inside, Maria just barely dodging a heavy wooden ladle being thrown at her head.

"Damn, bitch! You trying to make a scene for the whole town?!" Maria huffed, snatching up the ladle and throwing it back at it's recipient. "We got a guest and you're throwin' shit at 8 in the morning?! Damn! Have some courtesy!"

"A guest?" Suddenly the house quieted down, followed by a much older black haired woman coming out of the house, wiping a pan out with a dishcloth as if the fight had never happened.

"If i'm interrupting...." Risotto started to back from the gate. The older woman looked him over with a critcal eye, as if he were an art piece on sale, before growing much friendlier.

"No! No. Sorry you had to see that. If you're needing a piece done...." The woman walked up to him, lowering the pan at a much less hostile angle.

"A piece?" What kind of business were these women in?

"A furniture piece? A chair? A table? I don't normally take walk ins, but since you had to see that...." The woman said, straightening up and taking a much more professional look. Furniture makers, then?

"If you've got a couple a' guns need fine tuning too, hand 'em right over. Just write your name and address and i should have them by either the end of the day or tomorrow, depending on if she gives me the time a' day." Maria followed, wiping her hands of a black substance. Grease, then. She dealt guns, then?

"Get back inside, girl." The woman snapped, the tension back in the air as she cracked the towel like a whip towards her daughter. Maria just shrieked, jumping away as the towel left a red welt on her thigh. This was.... an interesting family, to put it lightly.

"Mom!" Maria whined, holding her leg.

"Get your booty-shorted ass inside and give that shop a sweep like i asked!" The woman snapped, holding the towel again threateningly. Maria just gave a dramatic groan, turning back towards the house. Just as she turned she was met with yet another towel smack, this time right where her shorts met her tank top.

"Faster than that! I have to open in an hour, you know?!" her mother snapped, sending Maria running across the lawn. "So sorry you had to see that. Teenagers." the older Zeppeli sighed, turning back to Risotto with a smile and a friendlier tone.

"Uh... ahem. I... don't need a piece done, no." Risotto coughed, trying to cover a small laugh. "Someone actually sent me, here." Risotto pulled the business card from his pocket, showing her. Fishing a set of glasses from her pocket, the woman hummed reading the paper over.

"I don't recognize this writing, sweetie. Did someone else send you to get a piece for them? I have a lot of orders backed up at the moment. i might or might not have it done." The woman shook her head, starting to hand back the business card.

"Er... no. I wasn't sent to collect anything, no. In fact.... i need to speak to someone, here. I assume since you don't know who i am... Is your husband home?" Risotto shifted on his feet.

"Oh, dear.... No, Maria's father died.... a very very long time ago. I suppose you can see a bit of the scars it's left. On both of us." her green eyes softened, looking a bit sadder.

"My apologies, ma'am. But i presume if it's not the father i'm looking for...." Risotto shifted awkwardly.

"You're with Passione, then?" The woman sighed, looking a bit worried. "If you're here to take her.... please. Bring my little girl back in one piece, would you?"

"I don't know if i'm taking her anywhere. That's what i need to ask." Risotto nodded.

"Okay then.... I suppose..... Well. It does us no good to leave you standing out here. Come in. Sit." The woman opened the gate for him, politely guiding him up to the house. "Maria! You've got a visitor! Finish sweeping and come greet them proper, would you?!"

"A visitor?" Maria yelled back, confusion in her voice.

"It's.... The gang!"

There was a sound from the back of the house, a push broom sweeping faster and Risotto was hit with the smell of pine and maple wood as he awkwardly ducked into the small doorway and seated himself at one of the well-made chairs of the table.