2007-06-06: Para Ti

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Manuel_icon.gif

Summary: After the unforunate accident with Peter, Manny's talk with Desiree spurs the Black Sheep Gomez to make a surprising change his life. But at what cost?

Date It Happened: June 6, 2007

Para Ti


Translation Notes: Para Ti = For You in Spanish

The Gomez Apartment, Queens, New York

It's been a day or two since the incident with Peter. Manny had gone to stay with Jack, but Ramon's phone call drove the young man home. And, as per Manny's habit, the teen pulls up at a pace usually reserved for street racing, speed-shifting his car down to first gear and coasting through the street, pulling in in front of the apartment complex.

It takes him a minute or two, but eventually Manny gets out of his car, shutting the door and making sure both are locked. Spinning his keys on his finger, Manny takes a look up toward the apartment, not exactly wanting to deal with what may be coming when he gets there…

Upstairs, Elena, as always, was doing something nerdy. It isn't reading this time, however. Instead she's tuned into the television, watching a documentary. The History Channel blares, and this is what Manny would be hearing when he steps through the door. His sister is on the couch, legs curled underneath her, in a pair of shorts and a tanktop with her hair pulled up and watching Egyptologists unearth a mummy that may or may be not the lost queen Nefertiti. To someone who's never left New York and one who's only gone as far as the New Jersey border, Egypt was a fascinating land to her. Whenever the door opens, she looks up towards the doorframe to see her prodigal brother step in.

She is quiet for a moment, and then, she gives him a small smile. "Como es?" she asks.

When he finally steps into the apartment, he can't say as he's totally surprised to see his sister dressed fairly casually and watching some documentary on TV. That typical, sly smirk passes over Manny's face, a slight chuckle as he takes in the typical scene. Looking over at his sister again, Manny runs a hand over his head, breathing out a sigh as he stops to consider how, exactly, to say what he needs to.

That brief moment is solved, though, when Manny looks over at his sister again and, without the usually cocky look on his face, just says, "Lo siento." He doens't know a bitter way to phrase it. That's about putting it as simple as he can.

"Bueno," Elena replies, standing up slowly from the couch and stretching. She can feel the little pops from her joints, and she groans. "(You hungry?)" she asks, padding towards the kitchen. Of course, when Manny comes back home, the first question she asks him is inevitably about food. They've always bonded over food, even as children. Hell they often fought each other for the last slice of pizza. But she's already opening for the refrigerator, poking around the contents to see what she could feed her brother. And herself, of course. The Gomez family members tended to be big eaters - she secretly blamed Grandma Gomez's cooking.

Manuel laughs a little bit, dropping and shaking his head a little bit. He should've known it would come up; it always does. Looking over, though, Manny undoubtedly surprises his sister, "(Not right now. Just need a drink.)" He follows his sister into the kitchen, folding his arms across his chest as he settles back against a counter.

"(You're not hungry? Are you serious? You're not sick are you?)" Elena asks, lifting her head from the fridge and staring at him. After a pause, she gives him a smile. "(Alright, drink it is.)" She drags out a couple of cans of Pepsi, one diet, for her, and one regular, for him. Because Manny, despite appearances, was a lot like her Papa….diet drinks and rabbit food weren't their things. She drops a couple of ice cubes in some glasses, and pours the drinks. She doesn't say much though - she knows Manny wants to talk to her, so she'll let him. Moving over, she hands him the glass.

Manuel laughs a little bit, shaking his head, "(Not sick, Ella. Just…)" He stops and thinks for a minute, clicking his tongue before taking the glass and taking a sip, "(Short version, I ate before I got here.)" Long version, of course, being he was putting it off to figure out what to say. "(I…did some thinking, the past couple days…)"

"(About what?)" Elena prompts, slowly taking a seat at the kitchen table and nudging a chair out to Manny slightly so he can sit down and join her. Swirling the diet pepsi around in her glass, she takes a thirsty sip, but her eyes don't stray from her brother. What's going on in his head now?

"(Myself.)" He stops, mostly a dramatic pause as he takes a seat with his sister, sipping his drink as well, "(My life. This…gigantic clusterfuck that's going on…)" Another sigh escapes the younger sibling, his hand running through his hair again as he stops to consider, "(I want out, Ella. Armando? His gang? I want out…but it ain't that easy…they ain't cool to let me out after Jack's stunt in the race…)"

"……" Elena knows he sent her that voicemail before, but he seems serious about it this time. "(Really? I figured it wouldn't be that easy)," she says. "(You know how Armando is. You're one of the best drivers in his crew, he's not going to let you go that easy.)" She props her heel against the edge of her chair, folding her arm over it and giving him a glance. Finally, she speaks up…. "(….is that why you holed up at Jack's?)" she asks slowly. "(You wanted to ask his advice? Jack was….when he was younger, I heard he was a lot like you. Or did things a lot like you did. He's out now, has a respectable business.)"

Manuel shakes his head a little bit, "(Had nothin' to do with it…I needed a place, and I got no cash for a hotel.)" He leans back in his chair, sighing and nodding, "It's why I came up with something…" Sudden switch of languages…he's never sure which to use with Elena, "Race him. One circuit around Hartsdale. If…" He pauses, shaking his head, "WHEN I win…" He leaves it at that, knowing Elena knows the ending.

"What happens if you don't? You know he's going to make it bad for you," Elena murmurs, switching to English this time. "Especially with what you did to his face the last time. Manny, he might try to kill you for having the audacity." And her concerns are legitimate. The Gomez children might have grown up with Armando and most of the guys who made up his gang now, but time and the streets have changed them. Manny had been like them at first, but now…..now that he's rebelling against the big bully, she's a little worried.

"Ella…how many races have I lost? Legal or not?" Manny can count on one hand the number, a couple of them Elena didn't know about. "I know Armando's a son of a bitch. I know that…believe me. I've wanted out for longer than I can explain. I just didn't realize how much until recently." He looks over at his sister, a solemn look in his eyes as he looks to reassure his sister, "I won't lose. It won't happen…" Knowing Elena knows what this means coming from Manny, the teen explains, "I'll wreck her…I'll total her if I have to. I'm not losing.."

"Manny it's dangerous," Elena says quietly. "I know you wouldn't want me anywhere -near- that crap but….at least bring somebody. Back up. Did you want me to talk to Jack? He's got a stick to shake at Armando too." She inclines her head at him, her expression soft and serious. She can't help but feel the glimmer of pride somewhere inside her. Her little brother was growing up. Straightening out. She couldn't be more relieved despite her misgivings about the entire enterprise.

Manuel shakes his head just as quickly, not even stopping to think, "No." He doesn't leave much room for doubt, looking over at Elena, "If I bring backup, Armando won't take it serious. If I show up alone, call him out, he's got no choice but to answer…"

"I don't like it," Elena says, shaking her head. "You should at least have -someone- there. What if they gang up on you anyway even if you -do- win? What's going to happen then?" He can't just kill them all, that would get the Company on his ass faster than Cookie Monster on a chocolate chip cookie.

Normally, Manny hides the fact that he's only a little more streetwise than his sister. This time, though…he sees no point. Reaching back to the waistband of his pants, Manny pulls the plain, black 9mm he carries with him, laying it on the table, "Between what I can do with that…" He settles back again, sighing and looking over at Elena, "And what I can do in general? Armando can send his whole army after me…"

"No. -No-. Manny you've already got a record, if you kill them all do you really think the cops are going to turn their heads the other way just because you're a minor? They're going to try you as an adult if you get caught!" Elena might not be as streetwise as everyone else, but she knows enough about the law thanks to Jane and Xander to know they're not going to go easy on a kid with a record. Especially one who can do some major damage to people's faces by just thinking it. Couple that with dangerous street racing and having an illegal handgun….

"I won't get caught." Confidence; if there's one thing Manny has, it's confidence. "I won't get caught. I won't get beaten." Manny pulls the pistol back off the table, tucking it back where he usually keeps it, "But if anyone shows up with me, it won't be taken seriously." He knows the one person that WILL make it a deal…but there's no way in hell Manny's bringing that fact up. No way…

"Manny," Elena groans, rubbing her face. "I don't know what you expect me to say here." She looks at her brother helplessly. "It's not like I'm not being supportive of you trying to get out, but….I'm your -sister-. I'm supposed to be discouraging you from stuff like this, not the other way around." And Manny was -16-. How the hell does he know he won't get caught?? Then again she doesn't know of the other person. "It's -dangerous-. THEY have guns too. And your powers….you don't have full mastery yet even if you COULD incapacitate all of them at the same time."

"I know…I know…" He's really not trying to arue with Elena…but he doesn't want to bring up the one option he has. Avoiding actually saying it, Manyn puts it as simply as he can, "I have one option…ONE. One option of a person to show up with me. That's it…" He looks over at Elena, thinking his look has to give it away…

"So who are you thinking?" Elena asks, folding her arms on the table as she looks at her brother seriously. But at least they're having a real conversation now - the first they've had in….god. Quite possible since before their mother died. Before Manny changed.

When it doesn't click, Manny's head drops, a sigh escaping the teen. "That one option?" He looks back up, so not wanting to say what he's about to, "She's sitting across the table from me." He shakes his head, though, just as quickly, "But /that/ isn't an option. Not even close. And that's all there is to it."

"…………." Elena drops her forehead on the table. Not this again. She looks up at Manny. "You're telling me the only way to get you back-up that won't ruin the deal is me to stand-in as collateral again?" she asks. Great. Just what she needs, the gang members half-leering at her for being a female, and half-heckling her for being a hoity-toity college girl who thinks she's better than all of them.

"No." Manny leans back in his chair, knowing Elena's reaction was going to be just that, "I'm telling you I won't have backup. You're NOT going, Elena. That's it." There's no flexibility in Manny's tone., obviously not about to sway on this, "You're not coming, you're not showing up. If Armando so much as sees you the rest of his life, it'll be too soon."

"You can't just -ask- me to leave you to those bastardos!" Elena says, sweeping her arm to the side as if she could physically dismiss the notion. "You're outnumbered if it's just you and you might have to do something you'll regret. At least with me there I can put them ALL OUT without killing them."

"Elena…" Manny gets up out of his chair, moving over to sit on the window sill right beside his sister, "Listen. I can handle Armando and his thugs…" He looks to his sister, practically begging her to let it go but knowing it's difficult to do so, "…I'm not putting you in any more danger than I already have. And leaving you with…them? Just asking for a fight at the end of this…"

"Just what choice are you giving me, Manny? If you bring Papa, he'll just do the same thing YOU'LL do if they decide to fuck with you." Only worse. Images of Armando and Guillermo playing tea party with little plastic cups and dolls after her father's reduced their mentalities into five year old girls causes her to shudder just a bit. "And I can't just leave you with them, like I said. I'm the eldest child. My job is to watch out for the younger ones. That's how Mama would've wanted it."

"This time? I'm not giving you a choice." Manny puts it as simply as he can, "You're not…going. Unless you can give me…" Those last 6 words or so? Yeah, they shut Manny up real fast. And the younger Gomez's hands cup his face, sighing and shaking his head, pausing and thinking before finally giving up the argument, "Fine. I hate it…but the option is that or nothing. And we'll both argue until the seasons change." He looks over to his sister, placing a hand on her shoulder, "But if one of them so much as LOOKS at you wrong, you're telling me. No questions asked."

She exhales a breath softly. "Okay," Elena says, making that concession. She takes another sip of her pepsi. At the hand on her shoulder, she takes it with both of her hands and squeezes gently. She doesn't say anything for a while, nor does she look at him. When she speaks up, it's preceded by a sigh, looking up at her brother's face. "Te amo, Manuel," she says simply. "You know that, right?"

Mentally? Manny's screaming curses at himself for acquiescing even a little, let alone allowing his sister to win the argument. Verbally, though, he's silent, just nodding at his sister's words. He pushes himself up to his feet, turning to hug his sister—whether SHE knows it or not, he's not so much doing this for his own good. A few moments of quiet pass before Manny echos, "Te amo," his other hand turning up to hold around Elena's collar bone.

Her arms curl around to hug her brother, Elena resting her chin gently on his shoulder and squeezing his tight. "Mama would be proud, you know," she says in English. She doesn't say why - but he was always a smart boy. He would know. He was growing up. He was taking charge. He was becoming so much like her father it was hard to see the differences between them these days. But she is proud of him, and she's sure the ghost that lingers in the apartment would too.

Silence. It's all the greets Elena's comment. Manny reaches up, holding the back of his sister's head for a moment, just hugging Elena for a moment, somewhat protectively. He's already worried about this, and he hasn't even made the challenge yet. He shakes his head, eyes closed for the moment.

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