Vanessa sat on Daniela's ratty couch with a drink in her hand and her mind completely numb. Nothing made sense. This couldn't be happening. Everything felt surreal, like she would wake up any second and find herself back at home with her usual trivial worries. Any second. She had to- this simply couldn't be real.

Abuela was gone, and Usnavi was inconsolable.

They'd all tried to reach out to him, to help, but he wouldn't come down from the fire escape and he'd barely spoken a word since his eulogy in the street. He'd been closer to Abuela than anyone- she'd been his only guardian, after all, after his parents had died, and they'd had a bond from the beginning. They had always understood each other, been somehow apart from the rest of the neighbourhood- and as much as Vanessa had loved Abuela, she had never quite had what they had.

Usnavi needed time, they had decided. He needed to grieve, and they needed to let him. It hurt, though: the hollow look in his eyes as he stared out over the city, as if all the lights spread out before him had been snuffed into darkness. He looked so lost.

Dani and Carla had invited her over for company, and the three of them were sat in silence, still trying to make sense of what had happened. Abuela had been old, yes, they'd all known that- but she had been so bright, so full of life, they had never really thought about... They had never considered it. The idea of her motionless and cold in the ground was as incomprehensible as it was harrowing.

Carla was tear-stained, and Dani was quieter than Vanessa had known she was capable of being- out of all of them, she'd said the least since it had happened.

After a while, Vanessa's phone rang. She picked it up- seeing Nina's name on the screen.

"Nina?"

"Van, thank god- I need your help." Nina's voice was panicked, her words rushed, and Vanessa felt fear jolt through her.

"Of course- what is it?" she said quickly. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine- it's just- it's Sonny."

Her blood went cold. Immediately her mind was flung back, searching- when had she last seen him? Where had he gone after the news?

"Oh God, what's happened?" She got to her feet, shifting Carla off her and ignoring the other two women's stares. "Is he alright? Is he- ?"

"I don't know!" Nina's voice was tight with panic. "I saw him in the street- he was running down the block and I couldn't catch him- and we've looked everywhere, we don't know where he is, who he's with- we've got to find him, Van, what if he's-"

"I'm on my way." Vanessa cut her off, trying to keep her voice level and steady. "Dani and Carla too, we'll find him, I promise."

"I'm just scared, Nessa. We were all so busy with Usnavi- we didn't even- I mean… She was his Abuela too."

Vanessa bit her lip, nodded, then remembered Nina couldn't see her and spoke.

"I know, I know- We're on our way." Pocketing her phone, she turned to Dani and Carla, who were staring at her from the couch.

"Get up, we need to go. Sonny's gone missing." Their eyes widened- Carla's mouth falling open- and they quickly got to their feet. "I don't think anyone's seen him since the news." Vanessa continued, pulling on her shoes. "We've got to find him as soon as possible. We meet with Nina at the dispatch and then split up, ok?" The girls nodded quickly. Fear was clearly written on their faces. They barely spoke through the journey.

When they got to Nina, they found that Benny was with her, and he was almost as worried as she was. They really had looked everywhere- the bodega, Abuela's apartment, the park, the dispatch, and they'd called his cell nearly sixty times to no reply. Knowing that it was useless, but struck by a desperation to do something, the five of them retraced those steps, combing the side-streets and alleyways and leaving increasingly frantic messages when their calls went straight to voicemail. Climbing up to Nina's fire escape for the third time, Vanessa could feel herself losing hope. There was nowhere else that he could be, unless he'd run right out of the neighbourhood and into streets none of them knew, but she didn't want to think about that. She'd done it once herself. Just started running without looking back and ended up lost, frightened- She shook her head, warding off the thoughts like smoke. Leaning on the railing, she stared out over the apartment blocks, as if scanning the streets for a bobbing grey cap could help their search at all.

Sonny couldn't just be gone. They'd find him. They had to.

She met Nina soon after at the door to the bodega, cell phone in hand, calling yet again. The helpless look on her face told Vanessa that she knew exactly how much good it was going to do.

The pair of them sat side by side on the steps, among the littering of broken glass, unspeaking. Vanessa found herself returning to the dazed thought that this simply couldn't be real. Sonny, gone. He could be hurt, or worse, and- her stomach twisted almost painfully- what if they didn't find him? What if this was it, and he was gone.

Nina was close to tears, gritting her teeth together furiously, as if refusing to let her worry get the best of her. She and Sonny were close, she knew, their relationship far more sibling-like than anything. The kid's childhood crush on her that had followed him surprisingly far into his teen years had become much more admiration and trust than anything romantic in the recent months- though whether Nina was really aware of that was hard to know, and she still teased him about it as they all did. Either way, Nina was chewing through her lip, and only Benny's arrival a little while later brought her out of her silent worry.

"I checked the dispatch again," he said. "- and the parking lot, and the drugstore. Nobody's seen him." Nina got to her feet, holding back tears.

"I'm going to check the park," she muttered, ignoring Benny's "Nina, wait-" and hurrying down the street without another word. Benny let his hand drop and looked to Vanessa helplessly.

"I'm guessing you two didn't have too much luck either." She shook her head. They stood in silence for a few seconds before Vanessa voiced the thought that had been pressing on her mind for the better part of an hour.

"Someone needs to tell Usnavi."

Sonny's cousin was still up on the fire escape, lost in thought, completely unaware that the kid was missing. They hadn't wanted to disturb him with more bad news- had hoped to find Sonny quickly and have him home safe before Usnavi knew anything was wrong- but the way things were going, it didn't look like that was going to be an option. Benny nodded in agreement.

"You should do it," he said. "If anyone can give him this news without the whole place going to shit, it's you." She didn't argue, just returned his nod and smiled weakly when he squeezed her shoulder.

"Sure."

"I'll go find Nina. Someone needs to stop her before she starts going through trash cans." He was trying to smile, but the expression was horribly strained.

He raised a hand in farewell as he headed off down the street in the direction Nina had gone, and Vanessa was left with the rather unappealing prospect of telling Usnavi the news. It would be too much, she was sure of it. Losing Abuela had already taken enough of a toll on him; the possibility of losing Sonny, too, could break him. Still, he deserved to know. This was his family- she couldn't keep something like this a secret.

With a sick trepidation in her gut, Vanessa made her way up the stairs at the back of the bodega, stepping over shattered glass and bits of broken shelf to get there- they still hadn't managed to clear it all up- trying to think of how best to put it. There was no good way of explaining. His cousin- his only family, now- was gone, and he might not be coming back.

When she had almost reached the top of the fire escape, she called out, hesitantly, to no reply. Taking a few steps further, she peered around the corner, and, unable to see the man's crouching form at the railing, was seized with the sudden, horrible thought that he'd thrown himself off- but then she turned, and there he was. With his back against the wall, his legs swinging freely in the air over the edge of the metal grid, he stared out blankly over the city. The sun was setting, staining the river blood red- like running paint, she thought dazedly. Something stirred at the back of her mind, but she pushed it back down. She had to tell him.

"Usnavi?" She reached out and tapped him lightly on the shoulder, cautious of any sudden movements. He didn't respond. "Usnavi?" She tried again."It- It's Sonny. Have you seen him anywhere? We... We can't find him." The question was pointless, of course- Usnavi had been up on the fire escape since before the kid had gone missing- but it might help to ease the blow, she thought, to treat it like something smaller. An 'Oh, I'm sure he's around' as opposed to the hours of helpless, frantic searching. At her words, he flinched, turning to meet her gaze at last. No part of his face moved for a second except his eyes, which widened almost infinitesimally but were immediately flooded with panic.

"He's missing?" he croaked. Shit.

"Well- I mean, we don't- "

"Oh- mierda! " Usnavi spat, and scrambled to his feet, stumbling through the door without looking at her and frantically grabbing for his phone. Vanessa followed, trying to calm him down, to explain, but he took no notice- he had the phone to his ear- Sonny didn't pick up, of course- and she pried it away from him as she heard it go to voicemail. His whole face was sallow with fear.

"Usnavi, listen to me- " she started, but he pulled away from her, panic making his movements clumsy. He was muttering hurriedly under his breath- snatches of words, as if his thoughts were scattered completely.

"I've got to- Van, we have to- I shouldn't have- God, what if he's- shouldn't have left him alone- not again, not again- "

Desperately, Vanessa tried to follow his thoughts, get his attention. He started to make for the door, but she took his arms firmly and pulled him back.

" Again? Usnavi, what do you mean- 'again'? Has this happened before?" He shook his head, looking distractedly over her shoulder.

"No- He just- fuck, I- "

" Usnavi! " At the look on her face, he closed his mouth. He closed his eyes, too, and shied away from her, freeing his hands and running them frantically through his hair. He took a breath.

"In the blackout. He... He was by himself. At the bodega."

Vanessa felt her chest tighten.

"He was what-? "

He had left him? The bodega had been looted- wrecked completely, they'd all seen it- but she hadn't even considered the possibility that anyone had been there. She felt her mind flash back to Sonny's uncharacteristically long sleeves and pants that morning- he'd been hurt, he'd been hiding it- oh god- Usnavi spoke desperately, shaking his head with his eyes screwed shut-

"I know, I know, I know and I hate myself for it- and he was all beat up and frightened and then he wouldn't talk to me and- "

"He wasn't talking to you? God, Usnavi this could be- "

This could be bad. If they hadn't been talking- if there'd been a wedge between the cousins already, if Sonny had really run away…

"I know- I have to- " He seemed to make a decision, suddenly, and pushed roughly past her to the door. "I'm gonna find him." he muttered. "I'm gonna- I'll check the park."

Without looking back as he stumbled down the stairs, he pulled on a jacket- and grabbed Sonny's from the hook on the wall, too- and pushed through the door. Vanessa followed at a run, grabbing at his shoulders, but he was driven to distraction in his worry and didn't even look around. Before he could stop him, he was sprinting down the street just as Nina had done, and she knew it was hopeless to follow.

Groaning, she sat down on the sidewalk and pulled her phone from her pocket. Daniela's phone was engaged- she was probably calling Sonny again.

"Hey, Dani," she said, monotone. "No dice here. Usnavi's hit the streets. Call me back. Love you."

As she sighed and looked around her, that sense of dread and hopelessness settled over her still more firmly. What more could they do? Sure, maybe he would turn up, maybe just come back by himself- but Vanessa had never been one to rely on hoping. Not being able to do anything to solve the situation made her feel like she was about to boil over. It was going to be dark soon. A breeze picked up a little around her ankles and a police siren wailed in the distance. If she held her hand flat against the sidewalk she could imagine she felt the rumble of traffic across Washington Bridge. Life went on. Without Sonny.

Without Abuela.

Vanessa took a sudden breath and shook her head- it wasn't the same. There was no way of bringing Abuela back but it wasn't the same thing; they would find Sonny. They couldn't just give up. She pulled out her phone again, but just as she was about to try calling Sonny's cell, Daniela's face popped up on the screen.

"Hey, Dani," she answered it.

"Van, I just called Pete and I'd bet you anything Sonny's with him."

"What?" Hope stirred instantly in her chest, like a pair of fluttering wings. "What do you mean? What did he say?"

"He was definitely pissed, and when I told him about Sonny he didn't even react- he'd have been out of his head if he thought that kid might be in danger. Sonny's with him."

"You think so?"

"I'm positive." There wasn't a note of doubt in Dani's voice. "Benny managed to corner Usnavi," she continued, "and we're on our way to him right now- you go see, alright? His apartment's number 17B on the corner of Fort Washington." Too exhausted and anxious to ask how Dani knew Graffiti Pete's address, Vanessa agreed at once and picked herself up from her seat at the side of the road. A lead was so much more than she'd expected; she didn't want to get her hopes up, but it was difficult not to. Dani knew Pete a lot better than she did, and if what she said was true… She could really be about to find him. It would all be okay.

The area wasn't one she knew well. She didn't pass this way often- only ever in a rush to get to the station, and early in the morning- but knew it wasn't a friendly neighbourhood and found herself rather uneasy as dusk started to fall.

She didn't really know Pete, either. Sure, he hung around the bodega and vandalised their walls from time to time, but she didn't actually think they'd ever held a meaningful conversation. She didn't know him- wouldn't have considered him a friend- but that hardly mattered now. This was a shot at finding Sonny. She shrugged off her inhibitions and carried on forward, hoping to God Dani had given her the right address.

When she reached the apartment block she buzzed up for 17B, but didn't get a reply. Standing on the sidewalk in front of the grimy doors, Vanessa tried hard to hold on to the hope she'd had only moments before. Okay, so maybe Pete just wasn't answering. If Dani was right and Sonny was up there with him, that didn't change the fact that Sonny was alright- he was safe. Perhaps he just wanted time alone. If no one was home… Well, Sonny could still be with him, right? They were just somewhere else. But they hadn't run into them on their search- they could be further into the city, they could be… They could be anywhere.

What should she do? She could call Dani. Or Nina. Call someone, find out if they'd got any further, and how Usnavi was doing. Dani was closer with Pete than she was- perhaps she'd be able to get him to answer if he was up in his apartment, or know where else he might be. Frustration ate at her, and fear. The sky was darkening. She'd really thought they might be getting somewhere, and now… Perhaps it really was hopeless.

Just as she was about to start heading back towards the bodega, a sound caught her attention, and she stopped short to listen, that fluttering, hopeful feeling stirring again in her chest. The hiss of a spray can cut cleanly through the air. Someone was painting- Pete, Pete was nearby? She frowned, trying to figure out where it was coming from. A low, uneven wall barred her from the alley at the side of the building, and the sound seemed to be coming from the other side of it; she could hear the movement of feet, too- someone was definitely behind there. Climbing the few pseudo-steps that the uneven bricks formed, she hoisted herself half over it, looking down at the opposite side.

As soon as she did, Vanessa was flooded with a mixture of great relief and renewed worry. Sonny was down there, a can in each hand and what looked like a tea towel tied around his face, painting something huge and misshapen on the vast stretch of brick. There was an awful lot of red in it. Graffiti Pete was sitting propped against a pile of rubble, tossing an empty soda can up into the air and catching it again at a steady pace, getting higher and higher each time. He was letting his head loll back, staring up at the sky with low-lidded eyes. His face and arms were littered with bruises, but her eyes flicked quickly back to Sonny. She had been right about the reason for his clothing choice- having traded in the long button-down he'd been sporting that morning for a large, baggy tank top that showed both his binder and his ribs and definitely didn't belong to him, his arms and shoulders were on full show. A few scraps of cloth had been bound around some of the nastier cuts but it did nothing to hide the angry red grazes on his skin, the bruises on his collarbone- the way he'd shifted all his weight onto his left leg didn't escape her notice either and she cursed herself for not seeing it sooner. She'd barely had a glimpse of him that morning, but still. She should have known.

And Pete was injured too. Had he been there, then? Had he been with Sonny in the blackout? She'd have thought he'd take the opportunity to plaster their walls in the panic- no one would have taken any notice of one more vandal among the riots- but then, Sonny had come here, to him, in his grief. That had to say something.

She continued to watch, worried, as Sonny took a couple of steps back and looked up at his work. It was all jagged, outward slashes with a festering crimson centre- smeared with black and purple, twisting like something alive. Across it flew lancing white spears, poking at the edges and spreading out across the space. He stood motionless for a moment, and then grabbed another spray can from a small collection at his feet, letting the first two clatter to the ground. This one was a harsh, sickly yellow- he painted long, bleeding tracks with it, running up and down the wall and smothering the picture. As she watched, the swiping motions he was making grew shorter, sharper, and more urgent- swift, overlapping marks growing closer and closer together. Slashing violently, he let out a yell with every stroke and stepped closer to the wall until his nose was almost pressed against it- one hand up against the bricks and the other holding the can barely an inch away, keeping the nozzle down firmly, letting the stream of ochre run down and pool at his feet. With a grunt that was almost a sob, he slammed the can into the brickwork- and then did it again, and again, and then the can slipped from his grasp and he carried on hitting, smashing his fists into the wall and starting to sob outright- and then- before she had even seen him move- Pete was holding him.

He had leapt to his feet in an instant and gripped him tightly from behind, trapping his arms by his sides and pulling him away- and Sonny was still grunting and struggling, but Pete was strong and he held him fast. Vanessa got a good look at his face for the first time and saw an oddly resigned expression there. Holding Sonny firmly, even when the kid managed to twist around and pound against his chest, he moved in a way that felt practiced. There was no surprise about him in the wake of Sonny's outburst. Still half over the wall, Vanessa watched the fight drain out of Sonny as his punches gradually slowed to weak swats, saw him collapse against Pete with a broken sob and bury his face into his chest, curling into him as they both sank to their knees.

She could only stare. Pete was running his fingers gently through Sonny's curls, rocking gently back and forth and rubbing his back- and for some reason, the most prominent thought in her mind was still that he'd done this before. His arms were placed too comfortably, his fingers moving too easily, for this to have been something new. His body had slipped into place like a puzzle piece- like he was used to having Sonny curled into him like that- and she had to take a second to wrap her head around that thought.

Again she was reminded that she didn't really know Pete, not well. He was Graffiti Pete, neighbourhood vandal, a little gruff, a bit of a nuisance, a warning to other kids if their grades weren't up to scratch in school. He was part of the barrio, yes, but it struck her quite suddenly that she'd never held a real conversation with him- never bothered to ask after him; he was little more than a part of the scenery that formed their home. Like the fire escapes. Like his own sprawling graffiti, splashed across their walls. And here he was, whispering something into Sonny De la Vega's hair as he shook and sobbed against his chest, one hand making patient circles between his shoulder-blades and the other combing through his tousled curls- and Sonny's breath was steadying. His tears were drying. He sighed and curled further against the man, and the fond, involuntary, sad little smile that slid onto Pete's face looked as natural as anything she'd seen. Yeah. He was no stranger to this.

After a few seconds, Sonny pulled back, and Pete held him at arm's length, hunching down so their eyes were level. They were still on their knees. He was saying something, quietly, and Sonny was nodding, reaching up an arm to wipe away his tears- Pete used his own thumb to catch the rest of them. Sonny muttered something- she thought she caught the words "leaving" and "don't matter" - and then Pete was pulling him up to his feet again and crushing him against his chest. As he shook his head, murmuring something she couldn't hear, she caught sight of his face- and saw that he was crying, too.

Feeling that she was intruding on something that should really have been private, Vanessa climbed down cautiously from her perch on the wall- trying not to make any sound. After a moment's thought, she made her way down the street, and she pulled out her phone and called Nina again, the panic that had gripped her all afternoon beginning to recede. Sonny was alright. Well, perhaps not completely, but he was safe, and he had Pete. Pete… it sat so oddly in her head. Pete, cradling Sonny and whispering reassurances to him- the one Sonny had gone to at his lowest point- and he had been crying as he held him…

She was jolted from her thoughts when Nina picked up the phone.

"Vanessa? What is it? Are you- "

"I'm fine, I'm fine- I... I found him, Nina." she said quickly, and heard the sharp intake of breath over the receiver.

"Oh thank God! Can I speak to him? Is he- " Vanessa winced a little.

"He's- uh- he's not with me. But he's safe- he just needs some time alone." There were a few seconds of silence before Nina replied.

"Alright…" she murmured. She still sounded concerned. "If you're sure he's okay?"

"Yes, I'm sure."

"Right. Great. Well- are you on your way? Carla found Navi running round the park and we're all back at his apartment with him- you can calm him down, if anyone can."

"I'm just coming." she assured her. "I'll be there in ten."

When she reached the little flat, the man himself met him at the door. He grabbed her arm urgently, the movement contrasting with the blank vacancy of his eyes.

"Where is he?" His voice was hoarse and desperate. Vanessa smiled at him as reassuringly as she could, and directed him back inside, to where the others were waiting. Nina and Benny had both leapt to their feet upon her arrival, while Dani and Carla were already standing, and all fixed wide, worried eyes on her as she gently pushed Usnavi into a chair.

"He's fine." she told them. "Well- no worse than after the blackout- but- "

"The blackout?" Nina stepped forward sharply, her eyes widening further. "What happened- what do you mean?" Vanessa hesitated, looking quickly at Usnavi- would he be comfortable with her telling them? He grimaced, and nodded, so she continued.

"He… He was at the bodega, last night." she said. "He got into a fight trying to protect the store from looters- he's got some nasty bruises, but otherwise alright. I think… I think Pete was with him?" She glanced to Usnavi again for confirmation and, again, he nodded. It was Benny's turn to look up at her in shock.

"Graffiti Pete?" he asked, incredulously. "Really? Not that I- I mean- why would he…?" He trailed off. Vanessa could only shrug. She noticed that neither Nina nor Carla looked at all surprised, and that Dani was smiling slightly in what looked like satisfaction.

"I don't know. That's where Sonny went today, though, so he must trust him."

"He was with Pete all day?" Benny looked still more astonished.

"Yes- down at the dump. He was painting. I- uh- I didn't talk to him, or… He looked like he needed some time." This last comment was directed mostly to Usnavi. Numbly, the man nodded. His shoulders sagged and he slumped forward over the counter with his head in his hands.

Vanessa herself was starting to feel a little giddy- the reality of it catching up with her at last. Sonny was safe. He was going to be ok.

It was getting truly dark, and they were on the brink of starting to worry again, when the front door swung open and Sonny shuffled in with his hat down low. In an instant, Nina had leapt to her feet, Benny had yelled out, and Usnavi was upon him, throwing his arms around his cousin wordlessly and choking out a sob. Sonny froze in shock, wide-eyed, and stared at the faces surrounding him.

"G- Guys- you- "

"We were worried sick!" Nina cried. "You could have been lost, or shot, or- "

"We've been looking all day, man! You weren't at the park, or the dispatch, or the drugstore- it was like you vanished! You can't just up and leave like that, you scared us to death!" Benny was striding over too, looking as though he wanted to throw his arms around both Sonny and Usnavi, but had thought better of it. Dani and Carla's voices blended into and over each other- a mixture of scolding and "thank goodness you're alright!"s- and Sonny looked completely bewildered.

"You guys… I'm ok- really. I just needed some time, you know?"

They all fought for words. Vanessa had asked them not to mention the fact that they knew where he'd been; she suspected he might be embarrassed by what she'd seen behind Pete's apartment. None of them were bringing it up, therefore, but that certainly didn't mean they had nothing to say.

"How could you expect us not to worry? You just left- !"

"I was still in the neighbourhood- "

"Pretty good hiding, if you ask me- you could have been- "

"You weren't answering your phone- !"

"It was dead, I- "

"We couldn't find you anywhere- !"

"What the hell were you-"

"I didn't think you'd care!" Sonny shouted suddenly, breaking away from Usnavi.

They all stared.

"I… I didn't think you'd notice, ok? You were all… with Usnavi, and… I just… I didn't think it'd matter to you."

A beat.

"Not matter to us?" Nina half-whispered, sounding horror-struck. "Sonny…" Apparently unable to find the words, she took a few tentative steps forward, holding out her arms. Sonny seemed to hesitate- but then all but ran the foot towards her and threw his arms around her neck, screwing his eyes shut. Nina hugged him back, fiercely, and Benny wrapped his arms around the pair of them. Vanessa, Carla, and Daniela went and joined the hug too, though Usnavi stayed by the door where Sonny had left him. They stayed like that for as long as they dared, all five of them trying to communicate to the boy without words just how much he meant to them- how worried they'd been, how they were here for him, how much they loved him. It couldn't have worked- the feelings were too much, but they could hope that at least some of the message got through.

When Sonny broke away, he managed a weak smile, and rubbed his eyes.

"Sorry, guys, I… I shouldn't have run off." Benny shook his head firmly.

"No- we're sorry for making you feel like we didn't care about you. We're here for you, man, no matter what. That's not gonna change." There was a murmur of agreement from the others, and Sonny's smile became a little more sure.

"I know. I… I'm gonna turn in. Pretty tired." He took a few steps back towards his room, and Benny reached out and squeezed his arm.

"Alright, kid. See you tomorrow- and if you need to talk, you know we're here."

"Goodnight, Sonny- try and get a good night's rest, ok?"

"Sweet dreams, chico!"

"Sonny?" Sonny turned. Usnavi was in the centre of the room, holding out a shaking hand. When the kid spoke, his tone was guarded.

"Yeah, cuz?"

"I…" He shook his head, and let his hand drop to his side. He took a breath.

"I'm sorry."

A few seconds passed. Sonny stared at his cousin with a strained expression, as if a fierce battle was raging behind his eyes- and then he softened.

"S'ok," he muttered. "I forgive you."

He retreated into his room without another word, and closed the door behind him.

Gradually, the girls and Benny took their leave- promising to stop by as soon as possible the next morning, offering more condolences, telling Usnavi to make sure Sonny came and talked to someone and didn't bottle up- and Vanessa watched all their retreating footsteps from the door. She had pulled on her coat, and had been about to leave, when she remembered something she'd meant to ask Usnavi earlier.

"Usnavi?" He looked up from where he was sitting on the couch.

"Hmm?"

"You said… was Pete with him? Last night?" Usnavi looked back down at his knees.

"Yeah." he murmured. "He was at the store when I got in this morning. Patching Sonny up- it- it was just them last night. Christ, Van, he- They could have died. I keep thinking- why was he there, and not me?" Vanessa didn't have an answer to that- but Usnavi continued anyway. "He really… He really gave me a piece of his mind- he was furious about me leaving Sonny- and I don't know…" He trailed off, and shook his head. "Maybe I've been underestimating him. He really seemed to care about him. About Sonny, I mean"

Yeah. Yeah, he really did.

"I guess that's why Sonny went to him today." Vanessa said quietly. "I mean, Pete was there for him before, so…"

The unspoken 'and you weren't' hung between them. She took her leave without another word.

Passing the graffiti on the corner of the street, she tried to shake off the confusion, and the curiosity- so what if Sonny found comfort in Pete?- and of course Pete would be worried about Sonny- he knew him well enough and he had been in real danger- but… What she'd seen today had looked like more than that.

The thoughts lingered at the back of her mind as she made her own way home.

Thank you for reading ! please comment if you liked and tell me why ily