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Seri, Atti and Auggie; This could be awkward.; PG-13 mild language

Life was becoming complicated. Worse, it was happening so fast that Serafino wasn't sure what to do about it. He'd only known Augusten Dunlevy for a week, and already he was worrying about him as much as he would one of his longtime friends. Moreso, even, and it was an inner struggle to keep from acting like a complete fool and texting him as soon as he went home. He managed not to, and after skipping school again on Tuesday he'd finally gone to school today but had spent the day being anywhere Augusten wasn't by spending the day hidden amongst library shelves finishing up work he'd fallen behind in over his long absence.

And now he was on his way to Atti's, because he was restless and the drive offered him something to do. And because he had a feeling he was going to have to make very large bribes to keep one very large mouth shut. He was tempted, very tempted, to text Augusten during the drive and see what he was doing since he'd only be a few houses down. He managed not to, but it was a feat. Which was kind of pathetic. Finally he arrived, without making any phonecalls and without sending any text messages and without messing around on his PDA to see if Augs was on AIM. He kicked violently at a stone on the pavement to vent his mood, and leaned on the doorbell of the Webb house in his usual obnoxious fashion.


Nodding, Augusten let Serafino put together the ice packs, sitting on one of the stools at the island. He stared down at his hands which were folded in his lap, still shaking and unable to stop.

"Why are you here?" He finally asked, voice soft and shaky like before, as though he were on the verge of tears. "Did Atticus make fun of you too? I told him not to. I'm sorry. If he did. I said for him to leave you alone. It was enough he made fun of me. I won't hang out with you anymore. Cause they'll just say things about you. They were already laughing at me at school today cause of my face. I don't want them to see you near me and laugh at you too."

Augusten finally started to cry, hot tears sliding down over his bruised cheeks. He started shaking harder, rocking back and force and gasping in deep breaths of air. "I'm sorry."
"Whoa, hey, what're you apologizing for?" Serafino asked softly, putting down the ice and crossing the kitchen to where Augusten was sitting. He never had any idea what the hell to do when people cried, and he was pretty sure he'd been absent from whatever class they taught that kind of crap in. He hesitated a minute, then wrapped Augusten in a light hug and pulled the other boy against him.

"Atti teases me all the time, he's got a fucking brain malfunction that only lets him communicate through teasing and mating calls. As for the rest of 'em...it's a fucking school full of low-class dickwads and talentless hacks, what the hell do I care what they got to say?

"Look, don't worry about it, all right?" He sighed, looking down at him. "I'm a big boy, you don't need to be stringing yourself out worse over what they'll think of me. And don't worry about your face...I've been fucked up before, there're ways to hide most of it."
"I should go home," Augusten whispered, resting his forehead against Serafino's shoulder, taking in a few deep breaths. "Papa will come back soon. I gotta...I gotta go home....I gotta make dinner and...and I can't..."

He let out a heavy sigh, whimpering and wrapping his arms around Serafino's middle, holding him tight. "I gotta go....thanks for trying to help...he'll be home. He'll be mad if I'm gone."
It was a very messy situation, and it was only going to get messier. The best course of action was to not get involved, and Serafino knew it. Getting involved only had the potential to make things worse.

He knew it, he just couldn't leave Augusten in his quickly deteriorating little Hell with no way out.

He sighed and rested his hands on Augusten's shoulders, pushing him away so that he could look him in the eye.

"Okay, look, I'm not going to stop you," he murmured, keeping his voice low in case Atti was eavesdropping nearby. "But you and I know that this isn't gonna be the last time he uses you as a punching bag. Once it starts, it doesn't stop and it doesn't get better. It's gonna keep happening, and it's only gonna get worse.

"So I want you to take a minute to think long and hard about whether or not you can stay there. Forget about going home just cause you think he'll be mad if you don't, I mean really think about whether you can go back and deal with it or not."
Augusten wanted to wipe his eyes but he knew that would hurt, so he held his hands tightly together to keep from touching his face at all. He stared up at Serafino with sad, wet eyes and his bottom lip was trembling.

He thought over what Serafino had just said to him, really considering it and mulling it over as quickly as he could. Slowly Augusten shook his head, looking flushed and ashamed.

"No," he whispered softly. "I'm...I'm fucking scared. He's....he's doing the drugs again, and he gets really mad. He only stopped today cause Adri came home. I can't...can't go back but can't leave neither. I don't know what to do. It's almost my birthday. I can leave them. I'll be 18. I can leave. I don't gotta go back. I can leave this whole place if I want."
"Yeah, you can leave," Serafino answered softly. "You're not trapped there, you can walk out that door and go with me if you want. Look, you turn 18 soon? Fine. You can stay at my parents' house until then, and then you can go back to school and everything and he won't be able to make you go home even if he shows up."
"It's...it's safe with your parent's? Will you be there too?" Augusten asked softly, wringing his hands nervously, breathing hard. "It's just four days. My birthday is December 2nd. You won't leave me?"
"Augs, the fucking military couldn't get to my parents' house through the security," Serafino assured him. "It's safe. And it's nice, you can just relax and heal up. I'll...make a call, get some doctor's notes, all right? We'll both stay there for a week. You don't even have to go back to your house to get anything, I'll take care of it."
Augusten nodded, getting up off the stool and pulling his jacket back on. "Can we go? Right now?" He asked softly. He knew he sound pitiful, but he couldn't help it. "I'm hungry and starting to ache. I just want to lay down. Please. Can we really go?" He looked at Serafino with wide, hopeful, eyes.
"Yeah, come on. We'll get you settled for the night and then tomorrow go and pick you up some stuff for the stay."

He pulled out his keys and led Augusten back through the house, taking the ice he'd put in a Ziplock bag along with them. He paused at the door.

"Hey, ATTI. We're goin', and we were never here."
"I got it," Atticus yelled from upstairs, silence following.

Augusten gladly climbed into Serafino's car, buckling up and sliding down in the seat. He knew running away was sort of a cowardly thing to do, but he didn't want to be hit anymore. "Where do they live? Your parent's?"
"Oh, it's...it's a drive," Serafino answered, handing him the ice. He'd also taken a clean dish towel, but he doubted Atti's family would mind. "Here, wrap that in the towel and press that to your eye. We'll take care of the rest of them later, but let's try to keep that one from getting too bad.

"We're going to stop for something to eat once we're well underway," he added. "It's a two hour drive. They live out in Conshohocken...but like I said, he won't find you there."
Atticus nodded, putting the ice pack to his eye, laying his head against the window. "Can we not stop? I'd rather just sleep until we get there," he whispered. "I'm tired. I'll eat something later. I'm not even hungry anyway."

He gave Serafino a small look before shifting around, curling up in the seat with his legs beneath him, closing his eyes. "Just wake me up when we're there."

It didn't take Augusten long to drift off once the car was in motion, glad to rest and keep his mind off things.
Serafino let him sleep, tossing his own coat over him as a blanket once he was out so that he didn't have to keep the heat blasting full force and suffocate himself. He was used to the drive, but was still practically bored out of his skull when they finally pulled up to the gates of his parents' house.

The place sat on a ton of land, fenced off with a high stone wall, and was practically a country in and of itself. Serafino remembered when he was little, when he hadn't even known that a world beyond the walls existed. And why would he have? There were woods, a lake, open clearings, stables, tree houses, pools, a small playground, and tons of square footage to the house...everything six children could have ever wanted to keep themselves occupied.

Only now all of those things, while well-kept, were no longer used. Only three of those six children remained, and only Angelo had a kid of his own. Celeste was a crazy anorexic supermodel, she was never having children. And Serafino's parenting days were probably very far in the future given his chosen profession in music. The three of them came to the house for holidays, and only Serafino ever actually visited just to visit.

He stopped at the guard house and chatted with the guard for a few minutes before the gates were finally opened so he could head to the house. Which was going to take a few minutes, since the road leading up to it was almost a mile long and wound through wooded land.

"Hey, we're here," he murmured, shaking Augusten lightly. "Come on, you've only got a few minutes to wake yourself up before you have to deal with crazy people," he added, sending a text message with his free hand to alert his parents that he was there.
"It's getting dark out," Augusten mumbled, sitting up and looking out the window of the car. He again refrained from rubbing at his eyes, shrugging the coat off of him, looking over at Serafino. He managed a small smile, adjusting his scarf and running his fingers through his hair, trying to tame it.

When the house loomed in to view, he just looked at it in awe, but didn't say anything. He hated when people did that, got all rambly about someone else's home or possessions. It was sort of rude, really.

Once they parked, he climbed out and smoothed down his wrinkled close, holding out his hand to Serafino. He bit his bottom lip and looked down shyly, hoping it didn't seem weird.
Serafino took it, but only because it was late and a weekday and not a time when any of his father's 'associates' were usually around. His mother wouldn't care, but holding hands with another boy wasn't something one did in the presence of conservative old Italian men whose homophobia registered off the charts.

He led Augusten through the main entrance, into the huge, high-ceilinged front hall flanked with curving marble staircases. It was insanely overdone, but nobody lived in this part of the house anyway. This was for Papa to impress people he did business with and nothing else, unless one counted sliding down the banisters, which was awesome if you managed not to ram your nuts into the marble globes at the bottom.

"Oh, my darling son returns," a female voice sounded from the top of one of the staircases, echoing through the hall along with light footsteps. Serafina Giovanni was on her way to greet them, looking just as at home in her short skirt and very high heels in her forties as she had in her twenties. Her tone was deceptively sweet, the only warning Serafino had that something was wrong. But it wasn't like there was anywhere to run that she wouldn't find him.

He was proven right when she reached the bottom and stalked across the hall, dark hair flouncing around her shoulders, to smack him in the head with a rolled up magazine.

"The fuck is wrong with you, ey?" She demanded, hitting him twice more. "What, I didn't raise to have some fucking sense? I raised a fucking idiot? Did I?"

"Ow. Ow, Ma," Serafino protested, trying in vain to block the assault. For being only barely above five feet Serafina had an uncanny ability to get past his defenses. "What the fuck!"

She stopped hitting him long enough to unroll the magazine and thrust it in his face. It was Origivation, a small local music magazine, and he was on the front. The picture was Serafino, lying on a white bed backdrop with an albino python strategically covering parts that couldn't be shown on the cover.

"Oh. That."

"Let's see it," Serafina said airily, crossing her arms. "Come on, hot shot, you wanna whip it out for the entire world to see, fine. I wanna see it."

Serafino winced slightly and let out a small huff. Reluctantly, he unfastened his jeans and peeled them down a bit to show the tattoo on his hip fully. Serafina looked at it and sucked at her teeth, clearly disapproving.

"It looks like shit," she stated. "What'd I tell you? I told you, if you want a fucking tattoo, you go to your cousin Richie. Where the fuck did you get that? One of those filthy places in the city. What, you wanna end up diseased? Fucking moron." She smacked him in the head again.

"MA," Serafino exclaimed, holding his nose where she'd hit him in the face.

She ignored him, turning to Augusten. Like a switch had been hit, she smiled sunnily. "You must be the friend Seri said he was bringing. Oh, aren't you precious? He said you were adorable. You hungry sweetie? I hope so, Marie just finished making her chicken scallopini. Get the fuck in the dining room," this last statement was aimed at Serafino and punctuated with another smack in the head.
Augusten watched the entire exchange with wide eyes, feeling out of place in the nice house already, and even more so after watching Seri's mother thwap him about the face with the magazine. He gave his friend a side ways look and then glanced down at himself, disgusted.

He was wearing worn out jeans and a pair of loafers, a white t-shirt and the hoodie and scarf Seri had gotten him. He was covered in bruises and was a total mess, and since when did Serafino tell anyone that he was adorable.

Managing a shy smile, Augusten bit his bottom lip and peeked at Seri's mom from behind his hair. "Hi," he said softly, playing with the zipper of his jacket. "I'm Augusten Dunlevy. It's nice to meet you. Thanks for having me over."
"Oh, sweetie, it's always nice to have company," Serafina assured him. "We take Jolee off Seri's hands twice a week, but the rest of the time it's empty here. Seri, go on and take him into the dining room, Im'ma go have Janice dig out some ice packs and finish getting one of the rooms ready."

She waved them off with one last smack to the back of Seri's head, which made him roll his eyes in annoyance, and sashayed off down the wide hallway.

"...she's not usually that violent," Serafino said after a minute, trying to flatten his hair now that it was sticking up from being beaten around. "Come on, let's go eat before she finishes and watches to make sure we have thirds. Then we'll go get you cleaned up."
"She seems nice," Augusten said softly, following after Serafino, just taking it all in. "I've never had a mom..."

The moment they stepped into the dining room he could smell the food and his stomach growled. He blushed a little, waiting for Seri to seat himself before sitting across from him, taking a plate. "Thank you for letting me stay here. You don't know how much it means to me. Really."
"I imagine having a mom isn't much different from having a second dad," Serafino answered with a shrug, passing the chicken platter over to Augusten and taking some pasta and salad for himself. "I mean, it's pretty much just two different parents, one just wears a skirt more often."

Since nobody was around he went ahead and helped himself to one of the bottles of wine that was resting on a wine rack across the room, pouring himself half a glass and offering the bottle to Augusten.

"And stop thanking me, really. It's as much for me as it is for you. I don't think I'd be able to get a decent night's sleep knowing you were stuck at home."
Augusten poured himself a little bit of wine but didn't overdo it, sipping at it before putting moderately sized portions of everything onto his plate. Picking up his fork and knife, he cut everything neatly and arranged it the way he liked it, napkin spread across his lap.

He'd taken a year of etiquette classes. He really couldn't help it.

"You told your mom I'm adorable," he said softly, unable to resist bringing it up.
Serafino glanced up at him briefly before flicking his eyes back down to the salad he was mixing croutons into. He'd known that would come up eventually. Augusten was just way too blunt and honest to not mention something if it crossed his little hamster wheel of a mind.

"Yeah," he answered, shrugging it off. "It was a...you know. A...thing. 'I'm bringing a friend. You'll love him, he's adorable.' You know."
"Uh huh," Augusten said softly, eating slowly and methodically, everything in a perfect order just like everything else in his life was. He sipped at the wine and tried his best to maintain a high level of politeness, even if there were no actual adults present.

Clearing his throat, he put his fork down and wiped the corners of his mouth. "Nice picture. That magazine cover. I still haven't shown you my pictures. Too much other stuff came up."
Serafino shrugged again. "It's for a concert next summer that the band I'm in was invited to play at, called Sleeping With Serpents. The article has a bunch of pictures of reps from different bands wearing nothing but a snake. Interesting experience, that's for sure."

He finished off his wine, but only picked at his food. He'd grabbed a salad from a drive-thru while Augusten had been sleeping. "And no, you haven't. I'm very interested in seeing these."
Augusten nodded, folding his hands back into his lap. "If you have a computer, I can show you," he said softly, shrugging a little. He wondered how shitty he looked, but didn't ask. He wasn't sure he even wanted to know.