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The Million-Dollar Question

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The Million-Dollar Question

Post by Guest on Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:40 pm

Roma, Roma, Roma. He almost felt bad for leaving Napoli behind. Leaving Antonio, Constanza, Santino... though his son was in charge of things for a couple of days. It was a tester, to see if he'd get used to the seat of power. The first set of many tests stretched over many years to see if his firstborn son, of his wife's womb or not, was fit for the title of 'Don', and the throne that he, today, sat in.

The pair of them sat in an up-market, prestigious restaurant of repute. Marco produced a thin box of miniature cigars from the inside of his coat, and offered one to the other, first; one Michael Reed, a new prospect to work under Emilio, their Roma capo. However, as much as it would have been easier to delegate this to the aforementioned Mr. Drago, the man-in-charge, two things were different in this scenario. First, Marco hadn't been to this city in a long, long time, and he was long overdue a visit. And secondly... well, Marco's rule was just as absolute, but vastly different. He came alone; he walked alone. Because of his power, he needed no bodyguards. He enjoyed to meet every man and woman who became a part of the organisation working under them. And Mr. Reed certainly had a colourful sheet of experiences and likewise.

Whether the younger man took the cigar or not, Marco took one for his own, and propped it upon his mouth. Esparian. Pre-cut. He removed his fedora, and set it down on the windowsill their table was against as music played quietly in the background, and the piercing afternoon sunset washed the room with orange-yellow light. It was around three; the establishment itself was a fine place known as Salvatore's. A place within which Marco was heavily recognised. He always ate here, when he came to Roma; he and the eponymous Salvatore were on very good terms, indeed, and had been for nigh-on thirty years.

No-one turned heads and stared as Marco struck a match and torched the end of his cigar. He was fair, and kind, but did what he wished, and demanded respect. If anyone tried to stop him; they'd end up with a broken leg. That was the rule. And if they came back and pulled a knife, he'd pull a gun. If they sent one of his to the hospital, he sent one of theirs to the morgue. It was the Family methodics like that that kept them alive. "So," He began to remark, before pausing.

"Ah, ah, I forget," The Cerisian tones hung heavily on his flowing, romantic Cretan. "You are not one of us by blood, but still one of us by Family bonds," He remarked, taking a long draw on the cigar and puffing out smoke to the right. The matches still sat on the table beside the cigars; Marco shrugged off his coat, and a waiter quickly darted in to grasp it and hang it on his chair behind him. "This, I can deal with," He remarked.

Salvatore's was Marco's favourite in all of Roma for one reason and one reason alone, bias aside. Their prosciutto! It was delicious. They prepared it, wrapped around ciabatta, and lightly grilled the dish, before stuffing it with sun-dried tomatoes. Oh, it was exquisite; an antipasto that far outweighed the main courses. Such a brilliant ice-breaker; in his younger days, Marco had wooed many a young girl in this restaurant. "Anyway, it is good to finally meet you, Michele. Emilio has told me much of your prowess," He remarked. "I would like to take an opportunity today simply to get to know you, and so we can relax, and enjoy our meal. Of course, it's on me," He gestured out with his hand, smiling kindly; this was a side of Marco all his siblings and children saw. A man who would do anything for his Family, and his family; gladly die for any of them. But when one of them betrayed him? There was another side, a ruthless side, that all who met him hoped never to be on the receiving end of. A side that was both protector and avenger.

Another long drag with his cigar, and he slipped the match back into the box. A waiter appeared, and Marco knew what he would order despite the menu sitting upon the table. "Whatta' can I-uh' get you two gentlemen?" He spoke in Cretan; obviously having heard Marco, who smiled and rapped the table quickly.

"I will take your prosciutto and bread for starter," He looked to Michael. "Two, infact, you need to try it, Michele," A dastardly smile; his voice was kindly, he remembered this waiter. He was trembling a touch, obviously aware of the Don's title and influence, regarding the other man with just as respect as he did Marco. Marco's honoured guests were just as important as he. "I will take a glass of your finest Rouenian cognac on the rocks, Rémy Martin or Courvoisier, as old as you have, and my good friend will have whatever he wishes," An open-handed gesture to Michael. Their starters were confirmed, now to ascertain their drinks.

His name was... Giovanni? The nametag asserted Marco's suspicions, and he nodded slowly, removing a twenty-dollar note from his pocket and slipping it into the man's pocket, slapping his leg and flashing him a smile. The waiter, silently, inclined his head and hurried himself off to get a drink, as Marco sighed and took another long drag of the cigar smoke, swirling it around in his mouth before puffing it into a cloud and letting it float away. "Trust me on the prosciutto," The Don spoke, before continuing, his brow furrowing and brushing onto more serious matters. Still just as important, however.

"So," He spoke after a long pause of a few minutes, interrupted and interjected by a sweating Giovanni who appeared once more with their drinks, informing Marco that his was indeed Rémy Martin, before departing. He rose the glass, and took a momentary sip, moving the liquor around in his mouth, before nodding and staring down into the deep, brown maelstrom of the glass, cycling it in his wrist. The liquid swashed over the ice and created a light ting noise as he did. The Don set it back down after a moment, concluding that the cognac was, indeed, exquisite. A strong taste; but a sweet taste, the age shining through above cheap wines and simple scotch. Exceptional drink. Marco moved forwards and interlocked his hands, still holding the cigar, setting them on the table as he hunched over, in no apparent discomfort. "Why did you choose to join my Family, Michele?"

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Re: The Million-Dollar Question

Post by Michael Reed on Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:38 pm

There were some people on the streets. Not as many as in London though. Michael had noticed this fact when he was briefly looking at the streets. It would have been longer if the host for the dinner hadn't offered a cigar to him. "No, thank you". Michael didn't himself smoke. Although he had tried it as a teenager. It didn't continue long though. Bringing fire that close to his face was painful in most of the cases. Marco had just lighted his own cigar. This wasn't relevant in any way. It just caught Michael's attention simply by being hot enough to cause a visible outlet. It would always catch his attention.

"So". This, on the other hand, raised Michael's gaze from the cigar towards Marco's eyes. He hadn't understood what that word meant, but it must have been Cerisian. "Ah, ah, I forget. You are not one of us by blood, but still one of us by Family bonds". Michael nodded in response to this statement. "This, I can deal with"

"Anyway, it is good to finally meet you, Michele"

...even though this person seemed a much more pleasant personality than Mako, the nickname was even worse. Still, better than using Michael's middle name.

"Emilio has told me much of your prowess. I would like to take an opportunity today simply to get to know you, and so we can relax, and enjoy our meal. Of course, it's on me".

Michael was already acting quite relaxed, considering that he was having a dinner with a head of Falzone family. "I see", was Michael's response to Marco's declaration of intentions. He didn't really have anything else to add. Although while he didn't feel any unusual amounts of nervousness, he was still a bit more careful than with Mako.

"Whatta' can I-uh' get you two gentlemen?" Michael turned his head as he heard a familiar language. This waiter was observant as well. "I will take your prosciutto and bread for starter". Michael hadn't himself been there before, so he was about to check the menu. "Two, infact, you need to try it, Michele". Or you know what? Never mind that. Apparently he already did order. "I wonder if he's aware that that's a girl's name in Creta?"

"I will take a glass of your finest Rouenian cognac on the rocks, Rémy Martin or Courvoisier, as old as you have, and my good friend will have whatever he wishes." Well, he seemed to have choice over something. That's a start. However... "I'm not exactly used to drinking at this time of the day. On the similar vein, I don't have that much knowledge of alcoholic beverages either". His head was turned from Marco to the waiter. "Cold water will do". There was a slight delay on the waiter getting their orders and rushing to deliver them due to Marco's tipping. It seemed to make the man even more nervous. On the other hand, that was probably the point. "Trust me on the prosciutto". "I guess that I have no other choice".

After a few minutes, the waiter came with their drinks. Michael could tell that the drink was cold, even without interacting with it. Perhaps their cold water always meant that it was with ice? "Or perhaps it's the company". Nevertheless, he took a sip as soon as he could. And soon after this refreshing event, Marco was taking a different posture. Similar to what an employer did when he wanted to discuss from something that mattered. Perhaps it was just the small amount of light reflecting from the glasses, but he looked a bit ominous. "Why did you choose to join my Family, Michele?"

Michael's head bobbed slightly up, as if the question was surprising in some manner. It really wasn't. Michael just hadn't thought it that way, for it was so obvious to him. "There are many types of light that aren't visible with the naked eye. For example, infrared can be..." Michael abruptly stopped his analogy. Like mentioned earlier, he was more careful with Marco than with Mako. Therefore he was a keener eye on what he could understand and what others probably could not. "I'm sorry, I have issues with explaining. What I mean is that not all knowledge is available for everyone. It's the same reason I was with my previous company... Well, partly". This was followed by another pause to re-think all that in case of misunderstandings. Which, on the hindsight, seemed a good idea. "Might I add that it's for personal search of data only. I'm not actually stupid enough to try spreading it. Or intelligent enough to succeed. Not that I can prove that". Michael took another sip from his water. His finger on his mechanical arm, currently hidden by a glove and sleeve, as he remembered another thing to confirm. "And you're using that name in purpose, no?" Michael placed his cup down and waited for an answer. He went even as far as to lean on his left hand while doing so.
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Re: The Million-Dollar Question

Post by Guest on Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:52 pm

Another long, powerful drag of the cigar, exhaling gently through the corner of a mouth as Marco nodded slowly, listening to everything his soldier said. "I'm not exactly used to drinking at this time of the day. On the similar vein, I don't have that much knowledge of alcoholic beverages either." A frank smile, and a slow, steady, dry and hoarse chuckle.

"There is always time for one to learn," Marco continued to speak in that same tone; as slow as ever, though the rich and strong smoke of the fine cigar, whilst as silk, had tainted the skin of his throat, his voice evidently deeper. "Alcohol is an art, a custom, and very much an ice-breaker," The Don murmured, holding the glass and swirling the liquid within. "Not to mention a good way to pass the time and stop all that irritating 'thought' nonsense, eh?" Another slow chuckle. He let Michael speak. "I guess that I have no other choice."

The Don shrugged apathetically. The boy had come out to dinner on his treat. If he was going to be ungrateful, that wasn't going to score him points in the Cerisian's book - but thus far it had perhaps been observation. Marco scanned the boy again; he certainly... seemed the observational type. "No, you don't," Marco spoke slowly. "But I implore you to trust me, Michele, for it is truly a fantastic dish."

"There are many types of light that aren't visible with the naked eye. For example, infrared can be..." Marco arched an eyebrow as the boy stopped, seemingly talking himself into a pit. He took another casual puff of the cigar, exhaling the smoke upwards, careful that it didn't drift towards his comrade, who had since declined. And then, another sip of the Rémy Martin. Divine. Soothing. "I'm sorry, I have issues with explaining. What I mean is that not all knowledge is available for everyone. It's the same reason I was with my previous company... Well, partly,"

Marco nodded. "The Yamaguchi-gumi," The Don murmured. Their eastern equivalents. Not as classy, not as stylish. Suits, bikes, automatic weaponry; too much like the Triads for the Don's liking. Business was done with dinner and a cigar; not with jerrycans of diesel and a nine-millimetre sub-machine gun. "I'm... sorry to hear of their dissolution," He stated, before considering it necessary to explain. "Oyabun Kiyoshino was an old friend of mine."

"Might I add that it's for personal search of data only. I'm not actually stupid enough to try spreading it. Or intelligent enough to succeed. Not that I can prove that." A grim nod as reminisced over many interlopers and would-be whistle-blowers that had tried to protrude unto their society over the years. Old Sciroccos bitter from their time, external police undercover operations, even the old Ballzini trying to conquer the Falzones when they were a smaller organisation...

"Many have tried," The Don spoke glumly, before looking up and matching his comrade's cold stare, eyes wide open through the haze of cigar smoke. Something dangerous flickered in those crimson orbs of his. "None have succeeded," Marco rose the cigar, very, very, very slowly, and placed it upon his lips, taking another drag and arching his eyebrow. Hawk hung heavy at its waistband holster. "All were killed. You seem intelligent enough not to wish to join them."

"And you're using that name in purpose, no?" A sly, coy smile. The name. Here came a point, an extension of an offer he couldn't deny. Necking the last of the Rémy Martin as Giovanni rushed back with their prosciutto on the finest platters Roma had, and taking a last few drags of the cigar before stubbing it out on the table's ashtray, he smiled.

"As I said, Michele," A gentle smirk as the platters slid atop the table. "If not one of us by blood, you are one of us by Family," And to stress the fact that this Family protected its own. "You may not be of our isle from birth..." A sigh, as he rose his hand upright to call the waiter once more. "...but over the coming months, you will become a part of La Cerisé by bonds. Perhaps you do not know of what I mean, but I assure you, by the end of your tenure with us..." There was the clincher, and the reason Marco was Don. That convincing voice, that serpentine silver tongue. "...you will."

"One more Rémy Martin, Giovanni," Marco commented, never breaking his gaze, as he picked up the cutlery and began to cut slices of the bread open, the crushed tomato oozing out from within the baked ciabatta. Faint, gentle, and sensual aromas filled the air; a mixture of the finest olive oils, freshly-baked bread, sun-dried tomatos, and fresh, smoked ham. "You are out to further your own interests, Michele, this I can understand," A pause, as he gestured for the man to begin, tucking a napkin into his shirt and smiling as he finished his sentence. "But your interests will become the Family's, and so it must be also, but vice-versa," His Cretan wasn't perfect; almost too formal, a touch jagged, but it was somehow strangely befitting the man's calibre and position. "Understood?"

With that, he rose his glass, and lazily spoke a phrase which has since the dawn of La Cosa Nostra been widely regarded as an ice-breaker and deal-maker. "A cent'anni." A hundred years. A hundred years for Marco to live. A hundred more for his legacy to prevail. And... a hundred more for the Family to stay functional and intact.

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Re: The Million-Dollar Question

Post by Csilla Angelis on Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:33 pm

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Re: The Million-Dollar Question

Post by Michael Reed on Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:13 pm

While Michael couldn't disagree with all of Marco's points about alcohol, he couldn't agree with all of them either. After all, sake was in relatively important in Yakuza. ...or at least he had gotten that impression. It might have been different on different sections of Yakuza.

"The Yamaguchi-gumi". Huh, so he even knew the name of the certain part of the Yakuza he was in "I'm... sorry to hear of their dissolution. Oyabun Kiyoshino was an old friend of mine". Oh? "I didn't really meet him myself. Makoto, on the other hand, seemed to be always around". Michael didn't want to talk about his time in Yakuza. Not because of anything confidential, but because, deep in his head, he knew that talking about it could bring one particular memory out. About that night...

"As I said, Michele: If not one of us by blood, you are one of us by Family. You may not be of our isle from birth..." He hadn't really answered Michael's question. Rather, it seemed to be more of those convincing words of his about this Cretan man joining the mafia. "...but over the coming months, you will become a part of La Cerisé by bonds. Perhaps you do not know of what I mean, but I assure you, by the end of your tenure with us..." But, to be fair, they really were convincing words. "...you will." VERY convincing words. His earlier action of leaning had been reversed as his own opinion was made clear. "I can believe that. Organizations seem generally more effective if something along those lines is established". But whether it worked or not was always unclear.

As Marco ordered another drink, Michael started to wonder whether or not he could start eating or not. He started to feel that the time he spend on Yakuza had not been well on his manners. "But he's starting to eat his own, so...". "You are out to further your own interests, Michele, this I can understand". Words accompanied with a gesture, or rather permission, to eat. "...on the other hand, perhaps it was better that I waited". He did follow that permission, although he didn't rush. He wasn't starving to death, but curious about the taste of the said meal.

"But your interests will become the Family's, and so it must be also, but vice-versa". Michael was starting to feel that his part in this social interaction was nearing. But the food tasted good, so he didn't start rushing now either. "Understood?" The timing was near perfect. Michael had just swallowed the food in his mouth, so he could talk back swiftly. "Certainly. I personally don't have any issue with that. Otherwise I probably would have hesitated more in decision to come here".

There wasn't a long pause, if any pause at all, between his reply and Marco's action of raising his drink. "A cent'anni". Now, Michael didn't understand what Marco had said, but he was assuming that this was a toast of sorts. So without further thinking, he rose his glass as well. He didn't try to try and replicate what he had said. Mispronouncing it, whatever it was, didn't seem like a good idea. But he did have a hint of smile on his face. This was due to the fact that toasts were something a bit familiar, as they had had them in Yakuza as well.

...on the hindsight, there probably were too many of them.

Michael spoke again after getting a bit further into his meal. Again, there was no rushing. "I'm curious. Do you always meet new members like this? I'm not meaning to sound ungrateful, but it does seem a bit odd for a leader himself to introduce himself to a mere "foot soldier" in this manner".
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Re: The Million-Dollar Question

Post by Guest on Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:00 pm

"I can believe that. Organizations seem generally more effective if something along those lines is established." Marco arched an eyebrow. Organisations? A smirk slowly drifted onto the Don's face. That's what some people didn't get. What it took the new recruits a few weeks to understand and comprehend in full. They weren't an organisation. Perhaps on paper, that's what the police, the military, the few Cerisian civilians not involved wanted to call them... but, no. The Falzones were a family. A family running along a swift and precisely-executed system of quid pro quo. And nothing more. "Certainly. I personally don't have any issue with that. Otherwise I probably would have hesitated more in decision to come here."

Marco nodded again. "That much I can understand," He cut through a liberal slice of the ciabatta, making sure to catch the ham and tomato beneath, before slipping it into his mouth and briskly swallowing down the food as the flavour danced along his tastebuds. Exquisite. "But if my words mean anything to you, Michele, I can assure you I am a man of trust, and a man to be trusted." For most, that was already clear; but Marco was wise, and he knew that a lot of fresh blood didn't quite know where to stand with the Don. Whether to keep him at a distance, smile and pay respects and tribute, and just leave, or whether to try and impress him, appeal to him... Marco admired both, but the latter would get anyone places. The closer you were to him, provided you had the talents or knowledge to back up your being in the family, the more lucrative arrangements would swiftly become.

"I'm curious. Do you always meet new members like this? I'm not meaning to sound ungrateful, but it does seem a bit odd for a leader himself to introduce himself to a mere "foot soldier" in this manner." Ah. The age-old question that came along with these meetings, and one that Marco and his subordinates were definitely not strangers to. A valid concern and an issue of confusion amidst the lower-ranking members of the Family. In response, the black-haired Cerisian finished the last of his ciabatta and set his knife and fork together, before raising the Rémy Martin to his mouth and taking a sip, letting the strong brandy wash down the lingering, exceptional taste of the food.

"You would be surprised as to how much this issue is brought to me," Marco smiled briefly and sat back against the fine chair. Giovanni swept in quickly, a hawk awaiting the Don's command, and fetched the plate before dragging it back to the kitchen, doing the same with Michael's when the man indicated he was finished. "And it's a concern I can understand. Normally, when the Don comes to you, it's either for one of two things; an offer of sorts, or murder. And I have neither for you, Michele."

Marco sighed and knocked back the last of the brandy before continuing. "I suppose you're deserving of an answer, after all," The smirk only widened, keeping its subtlety with every inch of the Cerisian's face it further occupied as time passed. "Tell me, Michele," Marco inched forwards. "What, for any leader, is better?" His face was barely two feet from Michael's as his head swept in further and his voice lowered from its usual tone to having a darker and more philosophical undercurrent. "An army who know who they fight for... or an army who know who they fight for?"

Silence hung between the pair for a moment before Marco finally leant back into his seat, satisfied with his own answer. "You were an anomaly, a blip on the map. An ex-Yakuza member of no Cerisian blood with an extensive history of professionalism," A pause. "You raised flags and arched eyebrows. You were of personal interest to me. But I digress," Marco left a moment for Michael to process what he said before continuing. "Every "foot soldier", every made man, everyone whom I and my Family see fit to welcome into our humble embrace, deserves a chance to meet and get to know the men or man they fight for," Another pause. Another smile. Another hand reaching to the box of cigars and breaking off the top.

"Whether it's myself, my son, or any of my Caporegimes."

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Re: The Million-Dollar Question

Post by Shula Brighton on Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:39 am

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Re: The Million-Dollar Question

Post by Michael Reed on Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:31 pm

"You would be surprised as to how much this issue is brought to me". Michael responded with a nod. That was the type of sentence that was followed by a more elaborate description. He also saw it was a good time to continue eating the meal, which he had generously been brought. And probably free of charge as well. "I wonder what kinds of things this man can get away with?"

"And it's a concern I can understand". Thought process = completely lost. "Normally, when the Don comes to you, it's either for one of two things; an offer of sorts, or murder. And I have neither for you, Michele.". Michael would definitely have to keep that in mind. He made this mental note a bit incorrectly, as he mumbled it out loud. Only mumbled though.

Michael's glass had still some water in it, but his plate was already empty. This resulted in the waiter to quickly clean it away. "I suppose you're deserving of an answer, after all". Michael drank some of his remaining water at this point. However, this action was very brief. He wanted his whole attention on the answer. "Tell me, Michele, what, for any leader, is better?" Michael couldn't notice that he wasn't blinking.

"An army who know who they fight for... or an army who know who they fight for?"

A silence fell after those words. In Marco's case, it was probably to listen for the possible response. But the truth was that that question was an answer. Impressive answer nevertheless, at least when used to answer someone who generally disliked authority figures. Michael also noticed the lack of blinking as a slight dryness, so this was fixed.

"You were an anomaly, a blip on the map. An ex-Yakuza member of no Cerisian blood with an extensive history of professionalism" Michael nodded to all this. "You raised flags and arched eyebrows. You were of personal interest to me. But I digress," Michael decided to take another sip of the water at this point. "So in short, he has this meeting with every new member, even if he doesn't have any interest in doing so?" This summary, although a bit generalized, was still good enough for Michael. Usually this kind of summary wasn't even necessary, but as he had been a bit absent-minded lately.

"Every "foot soldier", every made man, everyone whom I and my Family see fit to welcome into our humble embrace, deserves a chance to meet and get to know the men or man they fight for. Whether it's myself, my son, or any of my Caporegimes."

"I see". Michael kept a small pause. "Your principles are rather solid. Or rather, your and your family's principles are solid. Which is always a good thing". Another pause was kept, although it was used to finish off that glass of water, rather than for the sake of having a pause. "Although that is just stating the obvious. What I'm getting at is that people with principles tend to stick with them. They can be trusted". Giovanni seemed to have noticed that the glass was empty as well. This resulted in it being cleaned swiftly away as well, which Michael followed with his eyes. "You mentioned that you are a man of trust. A man to be trusted". His sharp, usual gaze returned back to Marco. "And I believe that".

Michael leaned back on his chair a bit, making his posture a bit more relaxed. A waiter walked past their table in a hurry. It wasn't Giovanni. But this observation, made from the corner of the eye, would have been irrelevant even if it had been him. "And I can only hope that none of those flags were red ones".
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Re: The Million-Dollar Question

Post by Guest on Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:05 am

Marco, immediately after finishing his spiel, rose a hand from the box of cigars, with a pre-cut sample sitting ready in his hand. Striking a match against the side of the box, cupping a gloved hand about the flame, and slowly holding it to the edge of the cigar as he had done not fifteen minutes previously, the Don quickly lit the thin coil of prepared, dried tobacco leaves in a circular motion before propping it up against his lips with a sly smile. "Your principles are rather solid. Or rather, your and your family's principles are solid. Which is always a good thing."

The Cerisian smiled, and took a long draw of his cigar, taking it slowly away from his mouth, and lowering his gaze to look at it. "I try and instil that same sense of principle in all of my men, all of my family..." Marco nodded. "It is good you notice that, Michele." He lowered the hand bearing the cigar to the table, and rose the other to clutch the glass, raising it gently to his mouth. "Observation is, in this game, a highly beneficial skill. I have no doubt you will be a fine addition to the group in this beautiful city."

"Although that is just stating the obvious. What I'm getting at is that people with principles tend to stick with them. They can be trusted." The Don nodded. Michele was smart. He exhaled the smoke in a shallow jet, before raising the cigar back to the mouth, the dull crackling of the embers at the end barely audible beneath the low, chattering ambience of the restaurant. It had slowly attracted more people; a number of which stared at Marco apprehensively from afar.

"Michele, you will soon find that my family-" Marco stopped himself with a smile, lowering the cigar again. "No..." He mused. "Our family... is an organisation and structure built upon reciprocating." He hoped he hadn't confused the man; but Michele was smart, this much was truly obvious. Smoky, white tendrils disappeared into the sky. "To put it simply: if you do something for us, we'll do something for you. And in this case: if you trust us, we will trust you." It was the most base of principles that the Falzone family possessed, and the most straight-forward. The law of equivalent exchange that alchemists so avidly worshipped. For the Don, it was a worldly and simple law he took for granted and lived his life by.

"You mentioned that you are a man of trust. A man to be trusted. And I believe that." Marco slowly chuckled, taking another drag of the cigar with that pleasant, daytime smile of his. Michele was clearly a fine addition. Antonio and Dimitri had done well in finding this one; he was surely a good recruit, and if only had a touch more Cerisian blood, he would make a perfect caporegime. Alas, but a shame. The world is not fair with things like these. "And I can only hope that none of those flags were red ones."

"You are an interesting man, Michele, and your hopes are more or less truths, in that regard." Marco nodded, pointing the finger that clutched the cigar towards the Soldato and slowly jabbing the air. "I wish to see much more of you. We will have to do this again," The Don spoke slowly and softly, with omen in his tones. As if by magic, in his pocket, a slow buzzing lanced through him. The steady vibration tone of a Blackberry.

Marco didn't move immediately to open the phone and howl through it. Instead, he propped the cigar against his lips, rose his hand, and spoke first to Michele. "Excuse me for but a moment," A lithe, gloved hand slipped into a pocket and dug out the sleek, black PDA, pressing against the answer button immediately. A gentle sliding noise as the Don got to his feet and strayed from the table a touch.

"What is it, Antonio?" The crackle of distorted, unintelligible speech on the other end. Marco sighed ever-so-gently, ever-so-slightly. The brow on which his single eyeglass sat furrowed. "You can't find him?" More muffled, crackled words. Another miniature imitation of a sigh. "I will be back in less than two hours. Please look for Santino in the usual places... you know my son's wellbeing is important to me..." The Don trailed off before immediately hanging up and slipping his phone back into a jacket pocket.

Slowly, he lowered his hand to stub out the cigar, and exhaled his last, before extending that very same palm to Michele. "Unfortunately, I must leave," Marco sighed. "It appears my friends cannot locate my son. He is... something of an airhead," The Don explained. "He gets lost about the very home he lives in. Truly unfortunate," He rubbed a gloved finger against the smooth, unshaven surface of his chin, before bucking down to raise the hat he'd set down back upon his head, and then deigning it important enough to tie up his coat. Outside, one of his most trusted drivers, Eduardo, pulled up in Constanza, his Rolls-Royce. Pale, Cerisian, afternoon light danced along the black gloss sheen of the car's surface. For a moment, all traffic stopped. And yet no-one complained. "For now, I must bid you adieu, Michele,"

Finally, a smile cropped onto the Don's face. Marco Falzone extended his hand with that sly grin of his, and shook his newest Soldato's swiftly, before pivoting on his heel to head straight for the doors. "I hope we meet again." In London or Central, the sound of angry car horns and Cretan or Amestrian shouting would have filled the air like a plague. In La Cerisé, everyone simply put up with it. They knew who this man was. He was their protector. And delaying their journey to the butcher's, or the baker's, or even their very home, where their wife and children awaited... it was a small price to pay for having Don Falzone guard each and every one of them.

[EXIT THREAD]

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