2007-05-01: My Brother, The Grim Reaper

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Manuel_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Armando Bautista, from the illegal drag racing incident a few weeks ago.

Summary: In an attempt to defend her brother from his violent, former best friend, Elena is caught in the crossfire between two, volatile youths. Violence used against her unleashes Manny's terrifying abilities. Ramon returns to find blood on the walls.

Date It Happened: May 1, 2007

My Brother, The Grim Reaper


The Gomez Apartment, Queens, New York

It was quiet, at the very least. Elena is prepping ingredients for dinner, chopping up some vegetables on the large, wooden chopping board that their mother used to use rather often. She's got several out - carrots, potatoes, lettuce, onions and garlic. Some water is boiling on the stove, and the meat she was using for dinner is already defrosted and seasoned. She'll do the meat entree last.

She's dressed like she just came back from school. She has on a simple, fitted sweater, black with a v-shaped neckline, and a pair of hip-hugging jeans. She's got socks on her feet, but she's not wearing any shoes. Her hair is pulled up in a loose twist, and so far she looks like she's relaxed, if not somewhat contemplative - she doesn't seem all here today. In fact she seems a touch preoccupied about something.

Getting back home himself, but less likely it being from school, Manny pushes the door to the apartment open. The smell of Elena's cooking, even if it is only in the beginning stages, draws a grin from the younger Gomez sibling. He paces through the room, though, not saying anything just yet. The less said about the day the better, quite frankly…

When the door opens, Elena looks over her shoulder. Seeing Manny, she gives him a small smile. "Dinner's paella today, not seafood sadly……food's getting so expensive." She doesn't look too happy about it, and she says what she does in fluent Spanish. She wrinkles her nose - she was going to have to go shopping tomorrow. Maybe Wholefoods had a few deals going this week. "How was school?" Hey, she had to ask. She can only hope he actually went, even though she knows better by now. Still, she had to be optimistic.

Just before he makes it out of the room, Manny has to laugh…somehow, his sister had a way of stopping him, even if he didn't want to talk so much. Responding in just as fluent Spanish, the younger sibling turns to his sister and shrugs, "Mm…usual day, I guess." He stops and thinks a little bit, grinning and adding, "Think Armando's still a little pissed about his car, though."

"I restocked some Pepsi in the fridge. The diet's mine though, not like you actually drink it," Elena responds, setting aside the prepped vegetables and cleaning off the knife with a piece of cloth. She looks over at him - she's sharp enough to discern that Manny probably cut class again, but the thought of arguing about his education just gets her tired. When he mentions Armando, she instantly looks annoyed. "Why, is he harassing you again?" she demands. "-God -. Doesn't he have other friends or something? I mean, he was annoying before and now he's just being an asshole."

A sigh escapes the younger Gomez when Elena actually looks over at him—she'd probably be the first to notice the…new shiner below Manny's left eye, and the torn skin in his right hand. He shrugs a little bit, though, "I can handle Armando, Ella…" Settling back against the wall, Manny doesn't really say anything more just yet.

When she finally looks at Manny, Elena's jaw drops, seeing the bruise and the torn up hand. When she curses, it's in Spanish, heated and angry and red burning on her cheekbones as she stomps over to her little brother. "What the hell? Did he do this??" she cries, checking his face, and then his hand. "We're going to need to bandage that before it gets infected— GOD, I could kill that bastard!" Okay so she probably won't kill him, but she's certainly mad enough to say it. She walks to the bathroom so she could get the first aid kit.

"God…" He can't even get anything out before Elena goes into 'worried big sister' mode. His head actually falls a little bit, shaking side to side as she head toward the bathroom. Sticking to his favored language, Manny explains—not that it makes it any better, "To be fair, the hand was me…" As a bit of a joke, he adds, "…you outta see him, anyway."

"You really shouldn't aggravate him," Elena says with a frown, gesturing for him to sit down on the couch. "He's dangerous. You know the sort of guys he runs with. And he doesn't fight fair. Remember what happened to Ricardo? The nasty asshole just rammed him with his car one day while he was leaving the corner store." When Manny sits down, she opens up the kit, and starts using a cotton pad to swipe peroxide on Manny's torn hand. It will probably sting, but somehow…..it doesn't hurt. Weird.

Manuel sighs as Elena tends to his hand, shaking his head, "I can handle him. He's not as tough as he acts, anyway. He just wants to look like Mr. f*ckin' badass…" He rolls his eyes a little bit, not seeming to notice that, hey, this outta sting just a little bit. "…Fact is, he never does his own shit anyway. He sends one of his little yesmen to do it."

"I know that, but I don't care," Elena mutters, tending to his wound. "You're better than him. You're better than -that-." She says this vehemently, like she wants so hard to believe it herself. She finishes disinfecting the wound, and then she starts rolling the gauze around his knuckles. She applies it like athletic tape, but it's gauze, and meant to keep infection out.

Suddenly, there is a loud banging at the door. Elena stands up. "Wait here," she says, walking over to the door and before she could open it, it is suddenly kicked open, the wooden appandage swinging to CRASH violently in the other wall. And inside? Stalks Armando, his hackles up and his muscular shoulders tense. His face? Looks like pulverized meat. Clutched in a shaking hand is a baseball bat.

"What the hell, Armando!" Elena cries, the curse flung in rapid Spanish. And true to form, she gets right up at the bigger man's face. "Get out! This is our house!"

"Where the FUCK is your punk brother? He in here?! I'm gonna cave his fucking skull in for what he did to my face!"

Hearing Armando's voice causes Manny to smirk, shaking his head. By now, Elena's seen what Manny did to Armando. And thus proves a certain point; Armando? Not as tough as he acts. At least, not in Manny's eyes. Knowing he probably isn't alone in some way, though, Manny doesn't trust leaving Elena alone with him…and true to form himself, disobeys his elder sister, leaning himself against the wall by the elbow, arrogantly replying, "I'm right here, puta."

In what might be considered stupidity even for Manny, he raises both hands, bandaged or not, and beckons Armando on, knowing Elena is probably going to be doing everything she can to keep him out. "Need reinforcements this time? You're a good fuckin' actor, pendejo. Playin' up the tough guy, then bringin' a bat."

"I'm gonna feed this goddamned bat through your fuckin' mouth, cavron!" Armando roars, taking a step further even as Manny beckons. Yes, there was going to be a round two, and Manny's smirk isn't helping matters any. He tries to push his way into the apartment, but Elena is steadfastly blocking his way. "Goddamnit! Get off me!"

"Get out!" Elena insists, pushing her hands forward to try and shove him towards the door. "Right now! Don't make me call the police, Armando!" She looks at her brother. "And you, don't make it worse, go back in the living room and you ignore him! You've gotten in enough trouble already today." Oh god. Why now? Why again? Manuel didn't used to be like this!

"You have -no- idea how much trouble your punk ass brother is in," Armando snarls nastily. "Now step the fuck off, 'Lena." And when she shoves at him, his eyes flash. The girl wasn't all that strong to begin with, but the fact that she tried causes his temper to snap further. So his hand just suddenly lashes out, his large hand pressing into the front of the older Gomez sibling's face and gives a shove, sending the girl flying back and sprawling on the coffee table.

Watching as his sister steps up to Armando impresses Manny…but when she's pie-faced down to the coffee table, the younger sibling charges his former friend, all but spearing Armando out of the Gomez apartment. The bat clinks to the ground, neither man reacting at first…but when one does, it's Manny who has the advantage, a foot on either side of Armando's body. His temper gets the better of him, and he throws a few shots with the already bandaged hand, right to the nose of the intruder, cursing the entire time, "If…you EVER…put your hands on my sister again…I swear to god, I'll rip your head off faster than anything you've ever seen."

Punch after punch, five, six, seven in a row before Manny's satisfied. He gets up to his feet and grins, Armando's blood soaked into the gauze. He peels the bandage off, looking down…and grabbing the bat for insurance, Manny slings the wooden tool over his shoulder, "Now you've got two options, cavron. One, you can get the fuck out my house. Two, I can break your skull with your fuckin' bat. Make your pick, and make it fast."

It was odd to see Manuel actually -care- about something, not when he seems so crazily apathetic about everything else. So when Armando steps back, looking a little shocked that he did that to Elena - and he didn't mean to, really - he's suddenly charged at. The bigger teen, and the slighter teen, slam outside of the apartment and into the opposite wall. With a grunt, Armando shoves at Manny, and with the bat out of the way, he swings and punches the lither boy. The resulting brawl is brutal, and violent, flecks of blood flying as Armando's already ruined face is pummeled further.

The fight continues a bit, until the bigger, older boy manages to step on the bat he dropped, the thing sent flying as he's sprawled down and Manny gets on him. After a few more punches, and when Manny gets up to smirk at him, Armando pushes up, bloodied mouth curling back in a sneer. It'll take more than -that- to get him down, and he grips the bat lying near him. "Yeah? Guess what?" he growls menacingly, standing up slowly. "-I- got the fuckin' ba—"

And then, something happens.

It's gradual at first, the blood running down his face a gradual trickle….and then, it starts pouring, crimson rivulets sliding down his cheekbones and down his neck, staining the wifebeater clinging to his chest. And then, they start gushing. "Wh….what the hell…what the HELL?" Blood pours into his hand, down his arms, he could feel his injuries worsening as he staggers back. His wounds….was it his imagination or are they opening further?

Blood runs down his mouth. He starts choking on it, smearing blood on the wall as he leans against it. "Wh…what…what the hell did you do to me?!" he screams, bravado falling away into something more akin to fear.

Several footsteps come running, Elena appearing at the doorway and wielding a frying pan in her hands…..but when she sees Armando bleeding heavily, with too much blood pouring down to be healthy, she gapes in horror, frozen in the doorframe. "Wh…..Manny. MANNY! What did you do?!" she cries, the frying pan dropping with a clang on the floor.

There's…a stunned silence as Manny watches the results of the brawl. It certainly wasn't just Armando's imagination…the wounds opened further. Much further, to the point of one looking like he'd been cut with something rather than just punched. The bat slung over his shoulder, Manny just…stands there…too stunned to wonder what it is that might be happening.

Elena's arrival, the dropped frying pan…for a minute, they're ignored, Manny just staring, almost expecting Armando to get up and fight even with the blood pouring down. Turning, for a moment, to face his sister, Manny points inside, "Go back inside, Ella…" There's only a moment, almost movie-esque pause by the younger sibling before his voice raises at his sister, "NOW!" Yeah, no? Not an answer he's taking right now.

Shaking his head and turning back to Armando, Manny smirks, that apathetic voice returning as he points, "Get the fuck out. Go to a hospital, go get one of your boys to patch you up, go do whatever it is you do. But don't you ever come back here." Done with the exchange, Manny leans over the porch, dumping the bat to the ground, "If you do, this is gonna look like nothin', got me?"

She's trying to process what she's seeing, Elena staring at Armando's face as it gradually…..deteriorates right in front of her eyes. She stares at Manny, even when he yells at her to go back inside, but she doesn't move. And then, his words. Like nothing? The wounds were -still- opening. What was going on? What was she seeing? She looks at Manny again, and then at Armando, who was staggering backwards and clutching at his face to try and stem the bleeding. He was in way too much pain, and way too much horror, to say anything.

Except one word, in Spanish.

"Demonio. DEMONIO!" is the last, frantic cry, because this? Is UNNATURAL. There had been rumors that there was always something weird with Manuel - that he tended to win a lot of fights simply because he injured people so brutally that they were always left bloody in the end. But he didn't think…and so he staggers to the stairs of the building, but drops on his knees, breathing heavily. It was too much. Too much.

Realization clicks…..and it doesn't just click. It hits her with all the force of a Mac Truck plowing through a nitroglycerine tank. "Manny, stop it," Elena whispers heatedly from where she is, and throws her own ability straight for her brother. It isn't pain. She would never hurt her brother in the excrutiating way she has hurt others before when necessary. Instead, it is something gentler. Like a gentle, warm touch that lulls people into a dream-like state, colors getting more vibrant and the body growing slack in quiet drowsiness until the urge to sleep is overwhelming.

There's a smirk on Manny's face as he leans against the door frame, watching as Armando retreats. There was something about watching the supposed tough guy run for his life that gave Manny a cruel version of happiness. The last, frantic cry of Armando's makes Manny laugh, but it's too late to *stop* necessarily…

And then, Elena's own powers plow over him. Going from an almost sadistic smile to asleep on his feet, Manny just as quickly stumbles backwards into the house, falling over as the suddenly, almost too rapid sleepiness overtakes his system.

With Manuel down, Elena turns to look at Armando, who manages to ….get up. She can't see how it affected him, she -hopes- putting Manny down would reverse the effects of…whatever the HELL her brother just did! With the thug scrambling quickly down the stairs with renewed energy, the older Gomez sibling turns to Manny's sprawled form on her feet. She also looks at the pools of blood left on the floor, and then at the walls. "Oh my god…" she whispers, lifting her hand to rub her face. Oh god. She was going to have to clean up. And…what the HELL did Manny just do???

She was going to have to TALK to him later. If her father doesn't decide to kill him!

First thing was first, she picks up the frying pan she dropped, and sets it to the side. She then starts dragging her little brother inside of the apartment. And then she'll grab a bunch of paper towels and some bleach. She can get Manny to a couch later. Right now she had to get rid of the evidence.

She pauses when she thinks that, and GROANS. Evidence.

And here's when Dad gets home.

The big blue RTS van comes pulling up in front of the house. Ramon's actually had a good day. He's looking forward to being home. Some of that exhaustion has lightened away from his eyes. He pauses to make his routine thought check, sweeping both in and around the house, looking, as usual, for puppets or the bad guy himself. Skimming on the surface of thoughts like a stone on the water, before he even gets out of the van.

He would hear it. And the thoughts come from a very familiar voice - his own freaking daughter, who was at present on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor with bleach to get the blood out. It's small, quiet, and more than just a little bit afraid. ~Oh my god, oh my god. What did Manny just do, there's so much blood…~ comes Elena's whispery thoughts in Ramon's own mind.

Which is what produces the OH SHIT reaction. Ramon goes barrelling out of the car and bursts through the front door. "He's still supposed to be at Mamacitas," he roars in Spanish. Not that he hasn't already slipped the leash once, given the whole drag race incident. But Ramon had sent him /back/. "What the Hell happened?" But he sounds more scared than angry. Blood? His son? He comes charging through the apartment in search of daughter and son alike.

She looks up from the floor, and when Ramon comes barging in, he'll see….Manny, sprawled on the ground and somewhat bloody, but his breathing is deep and even - like in a deep sleep. Her hands are covered in blood, but it doesn't look like Elena's. She's busy trying to clean up, and on the way through the hall, he'd notice pools of blood too and smeared on the wall. "You know him, he doesn't listen!" she cries to her Papa. "I put him to sleep…I had to, I'm sorry. He almost killed someone— but I don't know what he did exactly. He was beating up this guy trying to pick a fight with him…" And if Ramon looks at the doorframe, he'll see someone kicked at it because the doorframe is cracked. "And then…he wouldn't stop bleeding, and he just started bleeding out faster in his face even though all they did was just punch each other. It was—" It was horrifying. She saw someone's face -degenerate- before her very eyes.

"Go set the security system," Ramon orders, kneeling down beside his son. More to reset Elena and make her do something else for a second than because he truly needs it set. "And then I want you to go drink a glass of water." He thumbs the boy's eyelids open and tilts his face from side to side. Convinced the boy is going to live, he proceeds to start cleaning up the mess as well.

As always, she obeys her father. Elena stands up on shaky knees, and moves towards the door. She closes it, and locks all the locks. She also sets the security alarms. And then, she walks to the kitchen to drink a glass of water. But this is when she sicks up. She doesn't actually spew chunks, but she leans over the sink, putting away the water and taking a deep breath to calm herself down. She tries to shake the image away from her thoughts. Thoughts that her father could be picking up. She sees Armando's already puffy face, and all its wounds from the fight, peeling back and open and blood pouring down like fountains.

For a moment Ramon recoils visibly, but he pulls himself together. If he had the Haitian on speed dial so he could soothe /that/ out of his daughter's brain, he would. Instead, he goes into stoic mode. When he's done cleaning Manny up, he scoops the boy up just as if the boy of sixteen were still a child. He goes and tucks the kid into bed the same way. Tying the kid there would be child abuse, he reflects sourly, but he's damn tempted.

When Ramon steps out of Manny's room, and the door closed, Elena is not in any shape to make any dinner. All the trimmings are there. Looks like she was prepping vegetables and meat when the trouble occured. Once again Manny's troubles had invaded their home, and the young woman didn't leave unscathed. While she was more shaken about what she saw, what she KNOWS her brother did because of what he said, she's got a bruise forming on her forehead where she hit the coffee table. She's busily pouring a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice for her father, and thanking -heaven- that Desiree was out and didn't have to see all of that.

"Sit," Ramon growls, striding in and taking the bottle of OJ out of her hands. He takes her shoulder and guides her out to the couch. He gets her a blanket. "Just sit," he rumbles again. He starts picking up dinner — who the fuck has appetite after that. Then he starts racking his brains. He reaches into the freezer and locates a whole gallon of ice cream. He opens it up, and sticks a spoon in it, and brings it to her. This, he thrusts awkwardly at her. Then he plops down next to her and puts his arm around her shoulders, squeezing.

She's led to the sofa. "Dinner…I can't just…" Elena says faintly, led to the cushions where she's made to sit down, with the blanket draped over her shoulders. And then? The ice cream. She cradles it in her hands, staring at the spoon for a bit, but she doesn't eat anything. Not yet. Who could -eat- after that? There is a few moments of silence, the young woman trying to get her head straight. "He didn't…" She pauses. "….he didn't even hesitate, Papa," she says to him quietly. "It's like…he already knew it."

Girls like ice cream when they're upset. Ramon is sure of it. So he looks faintly bewildered when she doesn't touch the stuff, but doesn't address it. He is silent for a long moment. At last he says, "Try starting in chronological order, if you can." He squeezes her again. "I'm right here."

She nods. Like a good girl, Elena does what her father tells her. The tale pours out slowly, and to the rattled girl's credit, her voice is clear, and her account precise - trying to distance herself away from her emotions. She was cooking dinner, when Manny entered through the door with a shiner, and a bloody fist. He implies that he got into another fight with Armando, someone he used to be friends with but fell with a rough gang who tended to order Manny around until he rebelled. And then Armando, who apparently lost their brawl, invaded the apartment with a baseball bat calling Manny out.

Elena doesn't detail to her father that she was shoved back into the coffee table by a hand to the face, only that she was pushed back and it set Manny off. Both teenaged boys flew into the hallway, and started brawling and punching each other so hard blood was drawn. And then Armando slipped on the bat he had dropped. Before he could swing it at Manny…..his face started to…

And this is when Elena falls silent. "And he just stood there, smirking and telling Armando to go to the hospital or he'll do worse. Armando ran off calling him a demon."

Ramon is silent for awhile. "I had truly hoped," he says at last, "that your brother was a normal human. He has enough problems without all this shit, and he doesn't have the sense of responsibility for all that power. Especially not a dark power such as his." He leans forward, removing his arm from Elena's shoulders and grimacing. "Or the discretion."

"What are we going to do?" Elena asks her father softly. "He doesn't listen to you, and he disobeys me all the time. I don't know what I could say to him that he just wouldn't….dismiss as me being his older sister and just go on with what he's doing. And we've had enough run-ins with….weirdness. If Manny doesn't try to keep his abilities under wraps…"

Ramon closes his eyes and thinks it through. At last, he says, "I'm going to tell him the truth. And then I'm going to offer him the opportunity to be a man. And I'm going to ask him to work with me on taking down Catalina's killer. A man needs direction, Elena. Purpose. He needs to protect his own. He did good, protecting you today. That was a good thing he did and it tells me my son's still in there. He needs respect, and he needs to strike back at those who harm his family. That's what a man needs. Maybe the problem is I was still trying to hold on to a boy. I don't like," he admits, slowly, "seeing you all grow up."

She looks over at Ramon, Elena smiling a little bit from where she sits. She nibbles on a bit of ice cream, and sets it down. "….I just….I hope you're right, Papa." After all, what the heck did she know about being a man? She was a girl! Someone who wasn't even twenty at that. She looks over at him, and she nods. "I hope….he believes you. I'm just a little concerned. He wasn't the same when Mama died." But if he could be given an opportunity to do something about who took her from them, then maybe, just maybe, Manny will straighten out. Even if it's just a little bit she'll find it a blessing. She reaches over to hug her father tightly.

Ramon threads his fingers through her hair and strokes it like he used to do when she was six or seven. "I think its the only option," he mutters. "If I try to order him around and shout at him, not only does it not work, but it also makes him mad, and then he's peeling off one of our faces by accident. I'm going to convince him to work with you and Cass, so start thinking about how something like /this/ can be safely tested. He obviously has some sort of control, chiquita. You did good, thought quick, getting him in here and cleaned up. I love you. It's going to be alright." He expels a breath and holds up his hand to briefly stare at his wedding ring. "Its my fault he's been so wild." Its the first time he's ever offered any responsibility for that.

"I love you too, Papa," Elena says softly, her eyes closing when Ramon strokes through her hair. When she pulls back, she watches him look at his wedding ring, and nods, a determined expression on her face at what he says. "I will. I'll talk to him about that too," she says softly. "I'm going to have to trust him…his powers are…if he can do -that-, then…" She falls quiet. When Ramon blames himself, she speaks up quietly. "You do your best, Papa. Always you did what you could. You were hurting too, it's not just him who's suffering. I think he needs to realize that at some point."

"He's going to think I'm trying to replace her. Dezi, here…making fondant and cupcakes and whatnot, and me — " Ramon lets that trail off. He grimaces, his mouth twisting sourly as he drops his hand. "That's going to be a complication and I'm not sure how to deal with it. I'm not kicking out the woman who saved my life twice."

"No. And not just because we owe her something fierce, Papa. We -need- her, she's important," Elena says softly. And judging by her father's reaction - in more ways than one, in terms of importance. She exhales a breath, and she shakes her head a little bit. Finally, she takes a deep breath. As always, traumatized or whatever, she could get back on her feet, figuratively, relatively quickly. She was like the Energizer Bunny. "I'll make you some dinner, Papa. Even just something small," she says. "Meanwhile I'll start thinking about how I can test him safely."

"You do not have to make dinner all the time," Ramon protests. Ok, so he's worthless, WORTHLESS in the kitchen, but still. And then, without knowing why he says it, he says, "I asked her out." He pauses. "I haven't looked for that guy, save for checks around the house, in awhile. I should be more focused."

"I know," Elena says, smiling winsomely over her father. "But I like cooking. It relaxes me." The kitchen were the memories she closely associated with her mother, who tended to have a very soothing presence over everyone. Of course she would cook, even if she was tired, because it soothed and reconnected her to something she lost. But when Ramon says what he does, she pauses, and looks over at him. "….you…did?" she says, blinking. With the news, she manages to banish the image in her head for a bit to GRIN broadly at her father. "…and she said…?" she prompts.

"Mixed signals," Ramon mumbles. "Women aren't clear about anything. This long long pause, and then she made a joke about not knowing what one was, and I told her, and she paused long again and then said yes real casually. I'm trying to plan something good. With my luck, her ex-husband will show up to try to whale on my face about five minutes in and someone will put it in the paper, but, you know."

"I see!" Elena turns away and blinks - the water has been boiling for a while now, and half of it was gone. So she picks up a pitcher and gets some warm water into it. She pours it in, and then puts the vegetables she had sliced and diced into the pot. "Well, she's from Mississippi right? She mentioned she's only been here in New York one other time. I don't know if she's been yet….but…..why don't you take her to a show?" she asks, looking over at Ramon. Yes. A less manly way to spend the evening, but Desiree probably hasn't seen anything like how they do shows in Broadway yet. "Something in Broadway. I don't know if you'll like Chicago." Because it's all about women screwing over their husbands and killing them. "But there's a lot of other stuff like the Lion King…too bad they're not playing Les Miserables or Miss Saigon anymore, but…oh! Oh! What about Phantom of the Opera? It's a love story, but it's…not your typical love story. It might be quirky enough for her to like."

Ramon considers this. "Does it have a happy ending?" he wants to know. He turns a chair around, thumps it down, and straddles it. Elena did not translate. He eyes her narrowly. There's some girl code at work here, he's sure of it.

"….well…sort of," Elena says, seasoning the vegetables with salt and pepper. She'll let them boil and release stock before adding the chicken and make some sort of stew. "See, it's about this girl who grew up with this guy. Her father is this famous violinist. But when he died, she got taken in by this madame and her daughter, who's a dancer for this performing troupe that played in a certain opera house in France. So she learned to dance, but she also knows how to sing. She got discovered when the first string opera star walks out of the present production. And then while she's onstage, this rich guy who happens to be a childhood friend of hers recognizes her. He falls in love with her right then and there, but he doesn't know that the person who taught her to sing is the Phantom of the Opera - this brilliant composer who lives in the opera house and hides his face behind a mask….and he's in love with the girl too. So the entire thing is basically two guys fighting over this one girl."

"And rich dude is too much of a pussy to pop a cap in the creepy mask guy's ass?" Ramon asks.

Sometimes he and Manny are more alike than either one of them would want to admit. But he manages to convey that the story would be over pretty freaking quick if he had been in there. Even though everyone already knows what happens when Ramon is in the story is that he tells the mask man to go fuck his mother and then storms off.

"Well no. He knows the opera house very well, so it's hard to catch him. But the rich guy, Raoul, he tries so many times to get him in an actual brawl. It's just that the Phantom keeps slipping away because….well. He's the phantom." Elena looks over at him. "In the end, the girl gets kidnapped by the Phantom, and Raoul goes to rescue her, but he gets trapped by rope. The Phantom tells the girl, Christine, that he'll kill him if she doesn't promise her love to him. So she does….to save his life. I guess he realizes then that Love isn't really Love when it's coerced, so he lets her go and tells them both to leave. They leave just as the lynch mob finds the lair where he was hiding….but they never find him. He just disappears, never to be heard from again."

"Sounds like a happy ending to me," Ramon decides. "Good idea." Evening decided. Then he can take her to somewhere to eat and then the date mission will be accomplished. He thinks for a moment, and then he says, "Any man ever tries to do that to you? I want you to make him hurt so bad he wishes you were cutting his balls off instead."

She laughs, and walks over to drop a small kiss on the top of her father's head. "I promise," Elena says with a grin. "And you can break out all that nice stuff you wore at that club where you were dancing with Cass. That jazz club?" She wonders if he still remembers that night. "And then maybe something to eat afterwards? A lot of places are open late at night. Maybe someplace close to the park?" So they have a scenery to go with the dinner. Hey, the girl just had her first date a while back, and she's always got a chockfull of ideas anyway.

Ramon nods his head and allows himself a brief, fond smile. He then gets up, restless, and goes to check on Manuel. When he sees the boy is still asleep, he trails back. He ends up dropping right back down at the kitchen table. He eyes Elena as if wondering if she's really starting to relax after all of this much less serious discussion, or if she's faking it. He does not barge into her mind to find out, however.

And it looks like she's just fine. Elena seems rather relaxed by cooking - and by the fact that her father, at long last, is going out on a date. WITH A WOMAN. Then maybe he wouldn't be so lonely anymore. While she's trying not to think about what she saw today, there's a bit more energy to her movements. At least the day ended with a sort of good note.

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