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Baccano! 1954: The Kids Are Not Alright

Chapter Text

New York City, New York

1954

The sun rose over the rooftops of the buildings in New York City, as it always did, and Scout Genoard-Gandor cursed his luck as he walked up to the door of his home.

The boy had been out all night, though he certainly didn't intend to. Sneaking off to go see his best friend Sean should've only taken a few hours, but he had effectively been trapped there when it started to rain. There was no way he was going to walk the five mile distance from his friend's house back to his home in the rain. However, by the time the rain stopped, the stars and moon were already disappearing from the sky as light crept in, turning the navy blue sky a lovely shade of bluish-purple.

Scout cautiously turned the doorknob and stepped into the hallway. He looked this way and that, and upon seeing no one, started to make his way towards the stairs. He was stopped in his tracks by a voice coming from the living room.

"Scout." He winced at his mother's voice, turning around slowly. Scout offered a little smile to his visibly upset mother, but Dallas Genoard was having none of it. "The hell have you been?"

"Just, um, out," the boy stuttered.

Of course, he should've known his mother would be afraid when he went out. Though Dallas wasn't one to show it, he often got very worried whenever his children were out of his sight. He'd woken up earlier that morning to find his oldest son's bed empty, with no note to indicate where he'd gone. So Dallas had been waiting quietly in the living room for him to inevitably return.

"Oh, don't give me that bullshit," Dallas snapped. Anger and underlying fear showed in his voice when he spoke, and Scout flinched again. The cursing wasn't a problem. Scout had long gotten used to his mother's loose tongue. It was the tinge of fear in Dallas's voice that gave him pause. Ever since he was little, Dallas fussed over him like a mother hen, especially when...

Scout let his thoughts trail off. "I just went to see Sean, Ma. He wanted to tell me something."

"An' it couldn't wait for your Dad, or me, to take you over there?"

"No, it couldn't." A hint of irritation crept into Scout's voice, which pushed Dallas's volatile temper even more.

"You better watch that attitude," Dallas warned him. "What were you talkin' about?"

"It was about Shane," Scout said exasperatedly. "Sean's worried about her, says she's getting worse. More violent."

Well, she is Ladd Russo's daughter, Dallas thought, but he bit his tongue. It was obvious from Scout's tone alone that there was more to the story he wasn't getting.

Deciding not to press his son any further, Dallas sighed and waved a hand. "A'ight, go upstairs. I'll deal with you when your Dad gets back."

Scout went up the stairs, as he was told, and Dallas sighed. Scout was a boy on the cusp of becoming a man, and in his heart Dallas knew he wouldn't be able to keep him close much longer. Unlike most teenagers, the boy had stayed close to his mother throughout his childhood, without Dallas really having to make him. But now that he was seventeen and so close to being at the age where he would no longer need his parents, Dallas found that they were drifting apart.

Lost in those thoughts, Dallas almost didn't notice when the door opened again. He had sat back down on the couch, which gave him a decent view of the front door. When he looked up from intensely studying his feet on the floor, he did notice his husband making his way through the door, hair a bit ruffled from the wind outside but otherwise fine. His face was impassive, but his eyes lit up when he saw Dallas.

"You found him?" He asked, when Dallas got up to walk over to him. He closed the distance between them, tilting his head a bit to meet Dallas in a greeting kiss.

"He came home," Dallas said when they parted, leaning against Luck. He wanted to stay in his husband's arms for a bit while he forced himself to calm down from the fear that had gripped him. It was irrational, he knew. The Runoratas hadn't made a move in years, and after the incident when Scout was little there were no other people who were actively looking for him, but that didn't and couldn't stop both Dallas and Luck from worrying about their son whenever he decided it was time to fly the coop, so to speak.

"Where was he?" Luck asked again, shrugging off his coat and hanging it up once Dallas finally allowed him to let go.

"With Sean," was all Dallas said in response. He didn't want to totally violate his son's privacy by telling Luck what they'd been talking about before Scout himself saw it necessary to tell him. "He was fine."

"We have a right to worry," Luck reminded Dallas, walking back through the living room and towards the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee. "After what happened when he was seven..."

Neither of them liked to talk about it. It only reminded them how close they'd come to losing their son for good.

"I just -- " Dallas paused, swallowing heavily before he said his next words. "He's gettin' older now, y'know? He'll wanna spend more time away from us. Away from the family."

Scout had been steadily putting distance between himself and his family ever since it had become apparent to him that Luck and his uncles wanted him to, in a way, follow in their footsteps. Mafia ran in his blood, and though Dallas hadn't wanted his children getting involved with any of that, it was inevitable. Scout wanted to know what his father did, and they had finally told him, once he got old enough to know. Ever since then, there was no stopping his slow initiation into the mob.

Still, there seemed to be a part of their son that rejected that side of him. He'd asked on more than one occasion why his younger sister, Lira, couldn't take his place. At ten years old, Lira already knew about her father's line of work, and seemed much too interested in following in her father's footsteps.

Realizing he'd gotten lost in his thoughts once again, Dallas swallowed. "I just -- just hope he don't turn out like me."

"Dallas," Luck started to say, but Dallas cut him off.

"We both know what I was like when I was his age," Dallas muttered. "We know what I did when I wasn't much older than him. I gotta good reason for not wantin' him to be like that."

Luck went quiet, and the silence stretched on between the two of them as sunlight filtered in through the windows.

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Five miles away, a similar, yet different scene was playing out.

It had been a while since Scout left, and Sean Laforet-Russo was stretched out on his back in the bed, thinking. Scout's visit hadn't calmed any of Sean's restless nerves.

Across the room, Shane slept as peacefully as she could in her bed, sides rising and falling evenly while she did. She seemed so blessedly normal when she was asleep, but it was the only time she seemed so.

When Shane was only six years old, she'd suffered LSD poisoning at the hand of an assailant, a man who wanted to see Ladd Russo and his children dead. By all means, she should've died that day when she was poisoned, but somehow she pulled through. She did not come out unscathed, however. Shane was prone to suffering from hallucinations and bouts of violence; a callback to what had happened to her.

Rubbing a hand over his face, Sean sighed and turned onto his side, watching his sister as she slept. Even though he was younger than her (only by a few minutes), he always took it upon himself to take care of Shane. Shane was definitely the rowdier of the twins, to put it nicely.

In harsher terms, she'd already started killing people, and it didn't seem like she was going to stop anytime soon.

In fact, that was exactly what Sean had been worried about. Shane had been getting more and more violent lately, allowing that dark side to control her, and quite frankly it scared Sean. Seeing his father carry out violent acts with glee was normal. Seeing his sister do the same thing?

That was much more terrifying.

Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, Sean made his way over to Shane's bedside and crouched down, pushing a few strands of hair away from his sister's face. Her mouth was curved in a small smile, and Sean couldn't help but smile along with her, wondering what she could be dreaming about.

"I promise, I'll keep protecting you for as long as I can," Sean whispered, so low he could barely hear it.

He knew she couldn't hear him, but that didn't stop him from smiling wider when she buried her face into the pillow, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like "I love you, too."

Chapter Text

The Runoratas hadn't given up in their pursuits of the immortals. At least, not entirely.

Bartolo Runorata had a careful way of keeping an eye on those he wanted to keep eyes on, without the watched even knowing they were being watched. So when Scout snuck out of the house that evening, he had no idea he was being watched.

One of his men had returned back to speak with him once Scout went home.

"Boss, don't you think it's time we made a move?" The man asked him. Bartolo folded his hands on the desk and leaned back in his chair.

"Perhaps it is," he replied. His fingers tapped against the wooden desk. "The children will not stay young forever like their parents, this is true. However, all attempts to capture the immortals or their children so far have been unsuccessful." The other man grunted in agreement. "Then again, all of those attempts were done by amateurs."

"Of course we can do it better than they could," said the man proudly. "You think we'd be able to catch them?"

"Yes, but first, to catch the monster, you must first control its cubs," Bartolo explained. "We will get the children. And then we will get their parents."

Chapter Text

Chapter One: Two Boys, Nearly Men, Discuss Their Lives

Scout and Sean had made arrangements that night to see each other for lunch, so despite not getting any sleep the night before, the two of them met up at a little restaurant in a very familiar place.

The Alvere had served as the Martillos' meeting place for many years, but the Gandors (and the Genoard-Gandor children) were not barred access to it. The Martillos and Gandors had been on friendly terms since before Scout was born, and he'd always been in close contact with them. Firo Prochainezo was his father's best friend, after all, and it wouldn't have been right for Luck to keep him out of his children's lives, even though he and Dallas were not on the best of terms.

Despite his earlier confrontation with his mother, Scout was allowed to leave again to see Sean at the Alvere, and for that he was grateful. He was sure his parents wouldn't let him go after he stayed out all night, but things were slowly changing for him.

When Scout was very young, he wasn't allowed to go anywhere without supervision. His young life included many guards and closely supervised play times.

It still hadn't been enough to keep him from getting kidnapped when he was only seven years old.

Scout didn't remember much from his kidnapping. He mostly remembered being tied up in a closet, and then some man called James holding a knife to his throat. The last thing he could remember from that day, however, was his father devouring James.

That day, he had seen a side of his father he didn't know existed. The side of the dark mafioso, the side that would ruthlessly kill and destroy anyone who dared lay a finger on his family.

He had never seen that side since that day, and even now it terrified him.

Scout tried not to think about it as Sean settled into the chair across from him. He had ordered a Coca-Cola to sip on, telling them to put it on his father's tab, while Sean got a water for himself. The other boy still looked like he had a lot on his mind, so Scout jumped right to the chase after he had finished taking a few gulps of the soda.

"Still worried about Shane?" He asked, tapping his fingers in a steady rhythm against the top of the table.

Sean's head bobbed up and down. "Yeah. She slept okay last night, so I don't think she had another one of those nightmares. But she woke up this morning saying she had a headache, so I'm worried." He leaned in a little closer to Scout. "What if the poison messed her up more than we knew?"

"It's just a headache, Sean," Scout said, taking another sip of his soda between his words. "She's probably fine."

"I know, but..." Sean trailed off, looking down at his hands on the table. "She's been getting so much worse lately. What if this is another symptom?"

"Has your mom checked her out yet?" Scout asked.

Sean shook his head. "No. He doesn't think there's anything wrong with her on that front. Usually I trust Mama, but... I just feel like something's really wrong this time." He looked at Scout pleadingly with wide blue eyes. "You believe me, don't you?"

"There's a lot wrong with your sister, Sean," Scout replied simply. "But, yeah, I believe you."

The two of them went quiet after that.

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Back at the Genoard-Gandor household, a different type of turmoil was unfolding.

It was inner turmoil, the worst kind to have. At least, it was in Eileen Genoard-Gandor's mind. She held the scissors in one shaky hand and her hair drawn up into a ponytail in the other.

She was contemplating cutting her hair, obviously, but in doing so she would have to acknowledge a part of her she had been avoiding for a long time.

You see, Eileen Genoard-Gandor was not a "she" at all, but rather a "he."

Born the youngest of the Genoard-Gandor children, Eileen had been doted on all of his life. He was told from a young age that he was a little girl, but somewhere deep inside of his heart, he knew otherwise. He just knew, he couldn't explain why, but he knew that he was a boy.

Cutting his hair should have been easy, then. And yet, Eileen hesitated, the scissors still shaking in his hand. He had borrowed them from Tick, who didn't seem to mind as long as he returned them when he was done with them. He had briefly considered asking if Tick himself would cut his hair, because he didn't really care what it looked like, as long as it was done.

Eileen didn't even hear the footsteps coming up the stairs and towards the bathroom where he was currently stationed, standing on a step stool over the sink, until they were upon him.

"Eileen?" He recognized the voice as his father's, and the scissors fell from his trembling hand into the sink as he whirled around. He let go of his hair, too, allowing it to fall down his back in a cascade of reddish-brown. "Sweetheart, what are you doing?"

"Nothing," Eileen murmured, stepping down from the step stool. "Not anymore."

Later on that day, Eileen returned to the bathroom. This time, without hesitation, he grabbed his hair and cut it off with a single snip of the scissors.

Chapter Text

Another member of the Gandor family had already come to terms with his turmoil long ago.

Ten year old Lee Gandor sat on the front steps of his home, swinging his legs absentmindedly. Beside him sat a rather odd and peculiar animal for the setting: a huge brown Timber Wolf, who looked to be as big as the boy himself. Still, Lee showed no hesitation or fear when he flung an arm across the wolf's shoulders, burying his face into the animal's neck.

"Lykouros..." Lee only spoke one word, muffled by the wolf Lykouros's fur.

The wolf tilted his head to lick his boy's cheek. Lee curled his hands into the wolf's fur, closing his eyes and allowing himself to be enveloped by the creature's warmth.

Lee had always had a fascination with wolves, so when he learned of someone down the street selling "husky" puppies a year ago, he had jumped at the chance to get one. Without his parents knowing, he took what he had been saving up from past birthdays and went down the street to get his very own, very wolf-looking husky.

When he returned home with the pup, his father, Keith had been visibly upset with him, but Kate had convinced him to give it a shot. If Lee had been responsible enough to save up the money for such an occurrence, then he would be responsible enough to take care of the pup. At this point, they all still thought they had gotten a husky, so Keith reluctantly agreed under the conditions that Lee would be the sole provider of the animal. It seemed like a lot of responsibility for the then nine year old boy, but he had brought it on himself.

And then, as the pup grew, it soon became obvious to the family that what they had gotten was indeed not a husky, but a full-blown Timber wolf. Even so, Lee continued to care for the wolf, having grown too attached to send him off to a zoo. He had been named Lykouros, a name which meant wolf King. It seemed fitting for the huge animal.

Lykouros was something of a lifeline for Lee. He had trouble making friends; being the son of the head of a Mafia family didn't help with that. The wolf was Lee's best friend, and had sometimes helped the boy open up when he needed to. And, Lykouros had helped Lee through the toughest time of his life, as well.

For you see, much like his cousin Eileen, Lee too had been born with a different name and assigned a different gender at birth than the one he currently identified as.

Born Ceralee, Lee had also been told he was a girl from a young age. Unlike Eileen, however, Lee had rejected this label almost as soon as it was put on him, much to his father's dismay. He longed for a daughter, but when Lee had confronted him, sobbing, one day, Keith had been forced to accept that the child he knew as his daughter was gone.

That had only been a week ago. Lee let go of Lykouros to run his fingers through his newly-cropped hair, cut and styled to look more like his father's than anything else. He pulled his fingers out and curled them, looking down at his hands almost in wonder.

And then, sitting there on his front steps with his wolf by his side, Lee was at peace with the world.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: 1936: Dallas Genoard Discovers Something Life-Changing

It was a cold September day when Dallas Genoard found out about something that would change his life forever.

It had been two years since the worst day of his life. He could still remember that day, could still picture the faces of all of the men who had tied him up when he closed his eyes. He could remember how utterly helpless he felt. He could've been tied up in that bed forever, he thought, at the mercy of the whims of whatever man stumbled upon him.

That was, if it hadn't been for the one man he thought he hated the most at the time: Luck Gandor.

He had freed him from the hell that was that dingy apartment, and at first Dallas thought he'd only done it because he felt some sense of guilt. It had been Luck's men, after all, who had tied him up and raped him for three months.

But as the days went by, and Luck kept Dallas around even after he'd heard the whole story, Dallas was forced to realize that maybe, just maybe, he didn't have ulterior motives to freeing him. Maybe there was still some goodness in his heart. Maybe...

Maybe Luck didn't hate him as much as he thought he did. And maybe Dallas didn't hate Luck as much as he thought he did, either.

They had transitioned from enemies, to careful friends, in a cautious way. Dallas was still scarred from the river and what had happened to him, and Luck knew that. So he decided to tread carefully, and offer him a hand in friendship before he asked for anything more.

Surprisingly, it was Dallas who initiated the more intimate side of their relationship. Dallas had known little more than violence when it came to those kinds of relationships, but Luck seemed willing -- eager, even -- to help him learn how to live in a healthy relationship.

And so, their relationship grew. It had grown so much, in fact, that Dallas could now call Luck his husband. The ring on his finger was evidence of that.

Still, Dallas had no idea how their relationship was going to take this.

When Luck had offered him the full elixir, the one that stopped aging along with physical harm, Dallas had taken it without thinking about the repercussions. He had no idea what the side effects of the elixir could be, which landed them in their current situation.

Dallas Genoard was pregnant.

He still couldn't find it in him to admit it to himself, even with Maiza's conformation. He'd gone to Maiza instead of a regular doctor once symptoms of his condition started to show, knowing that he would have more information on the body of an immortal than any other doctor. He also didn't want it getting out that he was a man who was pregnant, because that certainly wouldn't go over well. It had been hell just trying to keep his and Luck's marriage on the down low.

Now with a baby on the way, they would have a lot more to think about.

The thought that their relationship might not be able to stand this test was one that Dallas didn't think he could bear. The thoughts of what Luck might do, what he might say, circled around in his brain as he approached the apartment they both shared, putting his hand on the knob. Dallas was overwhelmed with a feeling of insecurity, which was a feeling he hadn't had in a very long time.

When he thought about Luck leaving him, bile rose in Dallas's throat, and he knew what he had to do.

He was not going to tell Luck.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Her Mind Races In Circles

Ever since she could remember, Shane Laforet-Russo had a restless mind.

It was always running in circles, like a dog chasing its tail, never able to stay in one place at once.

If you asked her what she thought her mind was doing, Shane would have no answer to give you. Or rather, she would, in the form of a shotgun to your face.

Shane had no qualms with death, or killing. It had been a constant in her life, ever since she was little. She had embraced it as a normal part of her life, had allowed violence to become a part of her.

There was still a part of her, though -- the little six year old girl inside of her -- that was terrified by it. By what she had become.

Sitting on the edge of her bed, Shane stared down at her hands, curling them into fists and then letting them fall flat against her knees, as if she couldn't believe she were staring at her own hands. They were wrapped in bandages, evidence from the last fight she'd been in. She had hit the other person -- a boy a little older than her who thought it was okay to put his hands on girls -- so hard her knuckles had split open.

The only reason he had survived was because Sean got between them, yelling about the police, and Shane had bolted, dragging her younger brother with her down the street and back towards their home.

Her father, Ladd Russo, had helped her bandage up her hands when she got home. He was no stranger to those types of injuries, and had laughed about it once Shane told him the story, bouncing from foot to foot. It was his praise she craved, after all. There was nothing more Shane wanted other than to hear her father say he was proud of her.

A smile crossed her face as she laid her hands flat against her knees. Her father was happy to indulge her, and always heaped on the praise when she was deserving of it.

It almost made up for her mother being more than distant.

Even having lived with him for sixteen years, Huey Laforet was still a mystery to Shane. It seemed as though he favored Samuel -- her younger brother -- over Shane and Sean, but if he did, you would never hear him say it. He, too, praised his daughter, but not in the same way that Ladd did. Never in the same way.

Shane had tried many times to figure out her mother, with no success. She couldn't figure out why he looked at them the way he did, with hesitation and reservation in his face. All she knew was that he'd had two other children before her and her brother -- her older sisters, Chane and Liza -- but that he'd effectively abandoned them after she and her brother were born. That didn't bother her, though. Her mother had the right to do what he wanted.

Lifting her thumb to her mouth, Shane started to chew on her thumbnail. It was a habit she'd started when she was very young, and had never grown out of. She always did it when she was deep in thought.

She had just gotten up to go downstairs when her brother came through the door, looking like he hadn't slept in days. That wasn't uncommon, though. Shane had long gotten used to her brother not sleeping, staying awake in favor of watching over her while she slept. Ever since she'd started having those awful nightmares, it had scared him apparently to the point where he would rather stay up and watch her rather than go to sleep himself.

"Where've you been?" Shane asked, standing up and stretching. A quick glance at the clock on the wall told her the time. "It's almost noon."

"With Scout," Sean replied, taking off his coat and throwing it on his bed. Although they were both sixteen now, and definitely old enough to have their own rooms, they preferred to sleep in the same room still. It didn't bother either of them, as long as they both stayed on their sides of the room.

"Well, don't think of taking a nap just yet," Shane told him, running a hand through her jet-black hair. Her golden eyes met his blue ones. "I'm going to go see Erin. She called the house and said she wanted to see me." Her eyes narrowed. "You're coming with me."

"Okay," Sean agreed without hesitation. Shane's eyes softened, and her lips curled into a smile. He was so obedient. Sean would do whatever she asked him to, without hesitation.

The same could not be said for the rest of her lackeys.

Shane had her own little group of followers, much like her father had, and she was also put in control of her father's men. She remembered once, very clearly, Ladd putting her on his knee and announcing that she might as well be him and that his men were to listen to her no matter what.

Even so, every once and a while, someone got out of line. But never Sean. Never her brother.

"Alright then. Let's go!"

Chapter Text

The walk from the Laforet-Russo residence to the garage where the Specter children spent most of their time was not a long one. Ever since she could remember, Shane had always been introduced to Graham Specter and Shaft and their family in a place with plenty of cars and things to take apart. She remembered finding it fascinating, and then a for a short period of time she remembered wanting to take things apart like he did.

And then she met Graham's oldest daughter, Erin, and suddenly she'd found something much more interesting.

Erin was younger than her by only a few months, and the girl was captivating. She mostly emulated and imitated her mother, having inherited his propensity to take things apart and never bother putting them back together (that was her twin sister Emmi's job). It wasn't just the things Erin did that caught Shane's attention. It was the way she moved and spoke, the things she did and the way she did them. It also added to the fact that Erin was stunningly beautiful, despite both of her parents' otherwise plain looks.

Neither of them really knew when their relationship shifted from just being friends to being lovers, but it happened so seamlessly that nobody questioned it.

The walk to the garage seemed shorter than usual, Sean thought once they arrived. Predictably, Erin was in the garage, sitting on the floor and fiddling with something small in her right hand. In her left she held a tiny screwdriver, slowly unscrewing even tinier screws and letting them fall in her lap.

Shane thought she looked beautiful that way, with her neck craned down and blonde hair falling across the front of her face.

"Hey Erin," Shane greeted as she and Sean walked into the garage. The screwdriver in Erin's hand clattered to the ground, causing Sean to flinch and jump. "Whoa, dollface, no need to get so excited. You see me every day."

"I'm always excited to see you, my darling, my love," Erin exclaimed, running up and practically jumping into Shane's arms. The other girl supported her, gripping her under her legs and laughing loudly. "It would be a sad day where I wasn't excited to see you!"

"Of course, of course." Shane buried her face into Erin's hair, letting the smell pull her wandering mind back to earth.

"Erin," she finally said, a soft sigh escaping her. "Let's go find someone to kill."

Chapter Text

They waited until nightfall to make their move.

Sean sat in awkward silence, looking down at his hands and feet as Shane and Erin talked quietly. They were talking about who they wanted to kill, and while Sean would say nothing against it, he also wouldn't have anything to do with it. He would stay back in the garage while they roamed around the city like lionesses on the hunt.

Shane had lifted her thumb to her lips again, chewing on the thumbnail while she thought and spoke out loud. “There are plenty of awful people in the city who need to be taught a lesson,” she said, bouncing from foot to foot. “So who do we choose first? I don’t know how Papa does it all the time. There are so many people who’re deserving.”

Despite her own parents’ reluctance to kill, Erin seemed to enjoy it almost as much as Shane, though she enjoyed the more technical side of killing rather than the act itself. “We could always just kill ‘em all,” Erin suggested, clenching her hands into fists. Strands of blonde hair fell wildly into her eyes. “Right? Wouldn’t that be so exciting!”

“We can’t do it all at once,” Shane chided, as if she was gently scolding a child. She held up one finger and tilted it from side to side. “No, that would be no fun at all. Maybe exciting, but not very fun. That’s why I do it one at a time. Now that’s fun.” She turned her head with a wicked grin. “Right, Sean?”

“…right,” Sean finally murmured, pulling his coat a little tighter around himself. “Can I go home while you have your fun?”

“Say it isn’t so,” Shane gasped, obviously playing up the dramatics. “Is my little brother — abandoning me?”

“All you had to say was no,” Sean muttered. “I’ll stay. You need someone to watch over you anyway.”

After all, that was Sean’s duty: to watch over his sister.

Shane and Erin set off, with Sean reluctantly trailing behind as they headed for a seedier part of town. Sean couldn’t help but feel nervous as the setting around them steadily deteriorated. Even though his parents weren’t exactly stand up citizens, Sean did his best to stay in the metaphorical light. It was Shane who was drawn towards the darkness, towards the seedier underbelly of the town they called home.

Sean was trailing about twenty feet behind Shane and Erin — far enough that he was keeping his distance, but close enough so that he still had an eye on them. He watched as a man — rough looking, dirty, and unkempt — walked up to the two girls and put a hand on Erin’s shoulder.

It would be a mistake that would cost him his life. No one touched Shane Laforet-Russo’s girlfriend.

Sean got close enough to hear the conversation that unfolded. Shane was eerily calm as she stared at the man with an expression of a cat about to pounce on a piece of prey.

“If you would kindly remove your hand from my girlfriend’s shoulder,” Shane started to say, voice laced with a falsely sweet undertone, “that would be greatly appreciated.”

“And what’re you gonna do if I don’t?” The slur of booze was heavy on the man’s voice. Sean winced as Shane lifted her hands and studied her nails, as if she was thinking.

Sean knew her well enough to know that she had made up her mind before she even saw this man that she was going to kill him.

“Why don’t you follow me into that alley over there and I’ll show you?”

Erin was trembling by now, though not with fear. Her big blue eyes were wide with excitement, ready for what she knew would inevitably come.

The man followed Shane into the alley.

The next morning he was found with his throat slit ear to ear, mouth carved into a permanent smile by a sharp blade.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Bellatrix Walken Rants About Her Aunt

"I hate her."

Bellatrix Walken spoke to the air as she paced about in her empty living room. Her parents weren't home. They wouldn’t be for a few more hours. Her father, Claire — no, excuse me, Felix — had a meeting with his brothers. Her mother, Chane, had gone along with him. That left Bella and her two younger brothers — Antonio (Toni) and Felix, Jr. — alone in the house.

It gave Bella the perfect outlet to vent her frustrations.

Toni, who had been curled up in the armchair doing a crossword in the paper, turned his head towards his older sister when she spoke. Bella was standing in the middle of the living room now, head tilted up to look at the fan spinning above her. Her eyes narrowed.

“Who?” He asked, slightly bleary-eyed. As if he really didn’t know.

“Who is it every time?” Bella snapped. “It’s Shane. She killed another person last night, I know it. Who else would it be? His throat was slit and his mouth was carved.”

“So what if she killed someone? Mom and Dad do it all the time.” Toni bit his lip, strands of red hair falling in front of his face as he wrote in another word in the crossword. “I’m sure she had a reason.”

“Whose side are you on,” Bella growled. Then she shook her head. “Anyway, I don’t hate Shane for killing people, that’d be silly. I hate her for what Huey did to Mom.”

Bella hated her maternal grandfather with all of her being. “If it hadn’t been for Sean and Shane, he would still be with Mom. It’s because of them that he abandoned her — abandoned us.”

“Isn’t it kind of unfair to hate Shane for what her mother did?” Another word down.

“…just shut up, Toni.”

Bella resumed her pacing, and Toni finished his crossword.

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Chapter Five: 1938: Huey Laforet's Experiment Gone Awry

It was nearing nine months since the beginning of this experiment, and Huey Laforet was more than ready for it to be over.

In fact, Huey couldn't remember ever wanting an experiment to end as much as this one. He could barely see his feet, much less feel them, and when he did they ached like he’d just walked from Hell and back. He was convinced that his back was slowly killing him, and with his temporary loss of immortality…

Yes, Huey was very, very done with being pregnant.

Just like many other things in his life, this was made possible by the elixir that had given him his immortality. The possible side effects of the elixir were ones that Huey had studied intensely, and once he found out that it may have given him the ability to bear children, he’d wanted to test it and see if it was possible.

Dallas Genoard had set a precedence. With his son being born only a few months before Huey started his experiment, the immediate circle of immortals already knew it was possible for an otherwise male human to carry a pregnancy to term, and deliver a live infant.
Huey never wanted to get that far. He just wanted to know if he was fertile, if he was even able to conceive.

It was a strange experiment, with an even stranger partner.

Currently, Huey was propped up in a chair in the living room, doing his best to pay attention to the medical book he was reading. In the days before the inevitable birth of his children, he decided to do a bit more reading up on the subject.

He had been present for Chane and Liza’s births, but hadn’t paid much attention to the whole process. He hadn’t needed to. Renee knew what she was doing, and there was really no need for Huey to do anything other than be there. He almost wished that he’d paid more attention now.

But, then again, he never expected to end up in this situation.

Huey paused in his reading when one of the unborn twins inside of him delivered a hard kick to his ribcage. Setting down the book, he ran his hands over his swollen stomach, trying to calm the restless life inside.

“Relax now,” Huey murmured softly. “Your father is almost home.” Logically, he knew the words wouldn’t register to the twins, but it seemed as though they were calming, their movements becoming less painful.

As he was speaking, the door opened. Ladd Russo pushed the door open with his shoulder first, then smirked as crossed over the threshold and saw Huey in the chair.

“Right where I left you, huh?” He said, tugging off his coat and shutting the door behind him with a bit more force than what was required. “I bet you haven’t moved all day.”

Ladd’s voice came out in what sounded like a rumbling purr as he made his way over to where Huey sat, putting his hands on either side of him and leaning down for a kiss. Huey met him with some difficulty, hands still on his stomach.

“I don’t have much of a choice,” Huey replied. “These two won’t let me do so much as change positions.”

“Good.” Ladd’s voice lowered to a soft growl as he pressed his forehead against Huey’s. “You shouldn’t be moving around.”

“And when did you start caring so much?” Huey chuckled. It was apparently enough to send the twins back into a flurry of kicking, and he winced, shutting his eyes as he exhaled sharply through his teeth. “Ah — calm them for me, would you?”

Ladd replied by moving one hand to rest on Huey’s stomach, and he leaned down closer to him. “Hey, quit giving your mom trouble, eh? There’s plenty of people for you to kill when you get out here, so leave your mom to me.”

The twins settled again, and Huey smiled. “I don’t understand. They love your voice so much.”

“What, are you afraid they’ll like me more than you?” It was Ladd’s turn to laugh, pushing himself back up so he could meet Huey’s eyes. “Wouldn’t that be a tragedy.”

“Indeed. But these two will not be like the others,” Huey reminded him. “Whether they love me or not is irrelevant. I still haven’t figured out a use for them, but it will not require them loving me.”

Ladd frowned for just a second — it was there and gone so fast — before his face returned to its usual unnerving smile. “Yeah, yeah. I’m heading to the kitchen, you want anything?” Ladd finally pulled away from Huey and walked towards the kitchen, looking over his shoulder for Huey’s response.

“There’s nothing I need,” Huey called back. “Other than these two to be out as soon as possible.”

He would get his wish.

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The next morning, things were definitely off.

Huey's body felt strange. That in and of itself was not unusual, though; this whole experience had been strange for him. But he did note that the twins felt a little lower than usual, putting more pressure on his pelvis than there was before. Of course it hurt, but Huey was determined to shoulder through the pain. After all, he’d been through much worse.

He came out of the bedroom later than he normally did, and was surprised to find Ladd still there, reading the paper at the table. He looked almost like a normal man for a few moments. Upon noticing he’d walked in the room, Ladd looked Huey up and down critically.

“You look… different,” Ladd finally said after a few moments.

Huey narrowed his eyes. “Yes. The twins have dropped lower.” He rubbed at his back with one hand in an attempt to relax his cramping muscles. “We’re getting close now.”

A flicker of emotion crossed Ladd’s face, but it came and went so quickly Huey didn’t have time to process what it was. “Alright,” was all he said in response to that, voice gruff.

“Are you — nervous?” Huey asked quizzically. His lips tilted upwards in a smirk. “Don’t tell me you’re having second thoughts about this now.”

Me? Nervous?” Ladd laughed, but it felt slightly forced. “Nah. It’s just — this is weird, y’know?”

“I suppose.” Huey’s mouth now curved into a smile. “As I’ve told you before, you don’t need to be there. I can handle this myself.”

“No, I’m gonna be there,” Ladd said quite firmly. “If something goes wrong, you could die, and we wouldn’t want that, now would we?” His face curled into a grin. “And you know I’m the only one who gets to kill you now.”

“I know.” That had been a part of their twisted deal from the beginning. “But this isn’t going to be pretty. I’m not sure if I want you to see me so vulnerable.”

“It’s fine, Huey.” Ladd had done surprisingly well throughout the whole pregnancy, considering Huey had told him at first that he wouldn’t be carrying to term. A change of plans had come along with a change of heart once Huey knew definitively that he was pregnant, of course, but even then Ladd didn’t seem to mind. He took his upcoming fatherhood in stride, though it wouldn’t stop him from doing what he did best.

“I’ve seen a lotta people die,” Ladd continued. “It can’t be much different, right?”

“Well, for one thing, you’ll be bringing life into the world, not taking it,” Huey sighed, sitting down in the chair in the living room. He didn’t feel hungry, so there was no need for him to stand around in the kitchen. “I’m sure that’s going to be quite strange for you.”

“This whole thing has been strange,” Ladd muttered. It was quiet, so Huey barely heard it. “But, hey, I agreed to it, didn’t I? We said we’d be doin’ this as partners, so that’s what we’ll do.”

Huey didn’t know whether to be relieved, or terrified. So he chose neither.

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Huey stayed in the chair most of the day, not having much energy to move. The twins felt more restless than usual, and with them pushing down so hard on his pelvis, he was in quite a bit of pain.

Distracting himself by listening to the radio, he had just started to nod off when a sudden, sharp pain gripped him for a few moments. Huey tensed, realizing that this might be a contraction, but he breathed through it and stayed calm, face impassive.

He wouldn’t break his cool, calm composure, even in the face of labor. At least, not yet.

“Ladd,” Huey called from where he sat, knowing the other man wouldn’t be far away. His head poked out from around the bend leading to the hallway. “Bring me a glass of water, please.” He was going to need it.

“You alright?” Ladd asked while going to fill up the glass. Huey didn’t respond to him until after he’d brought it back, and only then did he answer.

“I had a contraction,” Huey replied simply. “It might be nothing, but this late in the pregnancy there’s no telling.” He sipped at the glass nonchalantly while Ladd tapped his fingers at his side. “I’d like you to stay close.”

“What’re you gonna do?” Ladd asked, crossing his arms. His leg still bounced with nervous energy.

“I am not leaving this chair, for now,” Huey said. He glanced at the clock on the wall, timing the minutes between the last contraction to see if he would have another, and how far apart they were. “Just stay on the couch, and try to do what I tell you.”

Ladd didn’t seem all to pleased at being told what to do, but he settled down on the couch anyway, keeping his eyes trained on Huey.

Twenty minutes later, the pain returned, and Huey gave a muffled grunt before he could stop it, squeezing his eyes shut to ride out the pain. He breathed in and out slowly, though he had to remind himself a few times to do it.

“I’m fine,” Huey muttered before Ladd could say anything. “That’s twenty minutes. Not quite active labor, but we’ll see if it picks up — ” He was cut off suddenly, going silent for a moment, and Ladd started to push himself up off of the couch.

Huey sighed heavily, finally, and said, “My waters broke.” He struggled to get out of the chair, but Ladd was on his feet in a minute, offering his hands to Huey to help him up. The smaller man leaned heavily on him for a moment, and Ladd could see that his pants were totally soaked.

“Geez, you weren’t kidding when you said this was messy,” Ladd huffed. Still, he supported Huey until the man could stand on his own, breathing heavily and resting one hand on his stomach. “You need help?”

“Yes,” Huey admitted, gripping onto Ladd’s arm — the good one, not the metal one. “I — need you to start the bath for me.” He had to admit that the water might do him some good while he waited for the process to speed itself along. “And help me get in it.”

“Of course.” Ladd kept an arm around Huey as they both made their way to the bathroom, albeit a bit slowly. Once Ladd got the water started, Huey wasted no time in getting off his soaked and possibly ruined pants. Helping him into the bath once the water got to a reasonable height, Ladd looked down at Huey with hesitation on his face. “What now?”

“Bring me my water,” Huey sighed, leaning back in the bath. “I’m going to be here for a while.”

He leaned back into the water, sucking in another breath through his teeth as pain raced through him again. The pain felt like it started in his stomach, then spread rapidly to the rest of him. The warm water was helping a bit, but not much.

Huey stayed there until the water got cold, which took about an hour or so. Ladd continued to check on him, but he was flighty, not staying for more than ten minutes at a time. Huey didn’t blame him; he hadn’t seemed keen on sticking around anyway, no matter how much he said he would be there.

Everything changed, however, once Huey got up and headed back to the bedroom to get a clean shirt.

Once he had changed, he rested in the bed, propping himself up with pillows and laying back against it. If Huey was going to go through this, he was going to at least be comfortable while he did it.

Ladd returned shortly after with more water at Huey’s request, setting it down on the bedside table and sitting on the bed next to him. There was something about the way he looked when he did that gave Huey some pause, but he decided to ignore it.

“You — doing okay?” Ladd finally asked.

Huey narrowed his eyes at him. “What do you think,” he finally said flatly. “No, I’m not okay. I’m not going to be okay until this is over.”

“Yeah, that was a stupid question,” Ladd laughed, scratching behind his head. “You think it’ll be over soon?”

“Unfortunately no,” Huey sighed. He curled his hands into the sheets. “They’re not very low yet, and I haven’t dilated very far at all.”

“Guess we’re in for the long haul then, huh?” A little smile crossed Ladd’s face, notably devoid of its usual homicidal glint. Huey started to open his mouth, as if to protest, but Ladd cut him off. “No, I’m not goin’ anywhere now. I’ll stay right here with you.”

That would end up being a very good thing.

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Six hours later, and things had progressed agonizingly slowly.

By now, Huey was on his hands and knees on the bed, gripping the sheets like he was holding on for dear life. Ladd was doing his best to help, getting up to get him more water when he asked for it, and running his hands up and down Huey’s back to relieve some of the pain.

Eventually, Huey looked up at Ladd from his position on the bed. His sweat-soaked hair clung to his face and neck, and his eyes were wide, reflecting pain with every movement.

“Help me onto my knees,” Huey said between breaths. “I need — to push.”

“Are you ready for that?” Ladd asked, somewhat surprised.

Huey nodded, then groaned as another contraction gripped him. They were so strong now, coming every two to five minutes now, and barely gave him time to rest or prepare between them. Huey had considered getting on his feet to push, but knew he didn’t have the strength now. He would have to settle for the next best thing.

Ladd held out his arms, and Huey gripped his upper arms, steadying himself as he pushed himself up. The sudden shift in position put more pressure on his pelvis, and Huey wailed when he was finally on his knees, holding onto Ladd like he was the only thing tying him to Earth.

“I’ve got you,” Ladd told him, possibly in an attempt to soothe him. “Just remember, I’m the only one who gets to kill you from now on. So you stay alive, you hear?”

“Yes — of course,” Huey huffed, a sliver of a smile appearing on his face for a second as he looked into Ladd’s eyes. Ladd’s jaw was set with determination, and he looked… prepared. More prepared than Huey was for what was to come next.

The next contraction came, and Huey pushed, screaming as he did. It was now that he was glad that the two of them had moved into an actual house, away from other people. He had no idea what he’d do if the two of them were still in an apartment.

Ladd held onto Huey, keeping him grounded while he pushed. When the contraction ended, Huey leaned into Ladd, putting his forehead on Ladd’s shoulder and shaking. He still didn’t let go of Ladd’s arms, so he reached forward a bit and ran his hand up and down Huey’s side.

Tilting his head a bit, probably to monitor what was going on as best as he could, Ladd finally said, “You’re doing fine.”

Huey panted through the next contraction, gathering his strength to push again. He spread his knees apart a bit more to make up for the pressure on his pelvis, pushing down with all of his might. It felt like every muscle in his body was straining, as he felt the contraction through his whole body. Another scream tore from his throat, and he closed his eyes, not wanting to see Ladd react to that. Part of him was glad that he was here, because he was helping somewhat, but the other part of him wished that he wasn’t.

He didn’t want anyone to ever see him this vulnerable ever again.

A persistent burning pain was present by the time he had finished pushing, and Huey’s body trembled as he leaned against Ladd for the second time, still panting heavily.

“Is that — ” Huey started to ask, knowing Ladd would pick up on what he was asking.

Ladd nodded. “Yeah, I see the top of the head now. You’re doing great.” Again he rubbed his hand up and down Huey’s side, his finger tracing circles on the side of Huey’s stomach. “Gettin’ real close now.”

Huey groaned again, once again feeling the very primal instinct to get these kids out of him now, feeling very tired of waiting for them to show up. Still shaking, he pushed yet again.

It hurt like hell, worse than anything Huey had ever felt. Yet another scream, this time higher-pitched, came from him as he pushed, this time feeling like some progress was being made. The first one’s head was finally out with another good push, and after checking to make sure everything was alright, he focused on getting the shoulders out.

“I’ve got it,” Ladd said, shifting his arms forward and supporting the baby’s head with his palms. Huey still clung to Ladd’s upper arms, so it was a careful arrangement.

Huey grit his teeth and pushed hard, one of the shoulders finally slipping free towards the end of the contraction. “Keep supporting her head,” Huey growled through the pain. He didn’t want to have to suffer through all of this only for something to go wrong right at the end.

In all honesty, Huey barely noticed as the second shoulder was freed. All he cared about was getting them out, and a final, desperate wail left him as he gave the last push.

Huey fell back against the pillows behind him, legs giving out as they were no longer able to support his weight. His body shook as he waited to hear the baby cry, closing his eyes as he did.

Ladd toweled off the newborn, and finally, it gave a few wet coughs, before the sound of crying filled the air. Huey finally opened his eyes, looking towards his partner and the wailing infant in his arms.

“It’s a girl,” Ladd announced, shifting forward so he could hand the baby to her mother. Huey’s arms shook, whether from exhaustion or nerves he wouldn’t know and didn’t bother finding out, but he took the baby anyway. Her face was red, and scrunched up as she cried, her tiny hands clenched into tinier fists.

Huey thought he’d never seen anything more beautiful.

“Hello, darling,” he cooed before he even realized he was doing it, letting her cling to one of his comparatively huge fingers. “Oh… she’s…” Huey trailed off, not knowing what he wanted to say, or what he was going to say before he stopped.

Ladd was smiling again, looking down at the tiny newborn and her mother. “She looks just like you,” he said, a laugh in his voice. “I dunno what I expected.”

“There is still a second one,” Huey murmured, voice rough and strained from his screaming. He cradled the newborn in his arms for a moment, then said, “Her name will be Shane.”

Ladd just nodded. They had come to the agreement long ago that Huey would name the children, as he would be the one going through the ordeal of birthing them.

Huey spent a few more minutes with Shane, before asking Ladd to put her in the bassinet they’d situated in their room a few months back in preparation for the birth. The contractions were starting up again, and Huey knew he’d have little time before the next one came.

He was right. The first one had prepared him for the second, and though he still cried out, he didn’t cling to Ladd like he had the first time. Almost an hour later, the second one was born, a little boy.

Huey held him longer than Shane, murmuring his name — Sean — as he did, cradling the baby’s head in his palm.

Ladd didn’t know how to feel. He had never seen Huey act this way, and it felt almost wrong in a way. He knew he would never treat Chane or Liza this way —

So what was different now?

It wasn’t long before exhaustion overcame Huey, and Ladd took little Sean to rest with his sister. He suspected they were probably as tired as Huey was — the birthing process had been difficult for all three of them.

Ladd managed to change the ruined sheets and blankets on the bed before Huey finally passed out. Once he did, Ladd draped a clean white blanket over him, deciding to settle on the edge of the bed for the moment. He was a father.

For the first time in his life, Ladd Russo felt almost utterly lost.