Chapter 2:

Children Give and Children Take

Love and Destruction

     There wasn’t a day that went by that Sylas didn’t think about Actavio. Before their encounter, he had never really cared for the affairs of the Merids. And now? It was what he spent most of his time doing if he wasn’t watching or participating in fights. Some other things he used to do, like go to the red-light district on occasion, became completely barred off as he dedicated himself to Actavio and everything about him.

Actavio’s the same age as himself at a ripe 38, and his wife is three years younger at 35.

Five children. Three boys, two twin girls. Eirian 19. Aiden 18. Cynthia and Celia 17. Nolan 16.

While the oldest doesn’t identify as either now, they were originally born male. Nolan and Aiden are the rumored mistress affair children since they’re more on the tan side compared to their fair toned parents. Originally he had them privately tutored, but after the request of his wife to ‘give them a social life’ he moved them to a private school.

Nolan’s weak in the spine, maybe because he’s the youngest and likely gets babied the most.

Cynthia and Celia are the definition of two peas in a pod. They’re never seen apart and have femininity written all over them.

Aiden considers Eirian a rival since their dad gives them the most attention of the five.

And speaking of, Eirian is the biggest handful of the children. They didn’t bother going to college, no matter what Actavio did to try and force them to go, and is frequently seen picking fights with street gangs. Aiden tries to be the model child by following in Actavio’s footsteps the most, but for whatever reason he still makes it abundantly obvious that he loves Eirian the most since they’re the only one that can get away with their rebellious behavior.

His wife, Ceida, isn’t too often seen with him but she’s well known to do her own activities on the side, usually involving charities and fundraisers.

And last but not least, Actavio.

After their encounter he surprisingly revisited the bar, so whenever Actavio showed up Sylas made it a habit to put out his cigarette until he left. He’d only visit on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the same time range: between 12:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m.. Always orders red wine but never specifies the brand, then after two hours he’ll pay his tab and leave without a word. Every time Sylas tried to follow him afterwards he’d already be completely out of sight, so it was likely that he came by car. He thought about waiting outside to see but figured that’d make it too obvious that he was stalking him.

Saying it was difficult to find out anything else regarding his day-to-day affairs would be an understatement. Everything about Actavio was kept airtight and really the only lead he could use was his bar visits and his family. Trailing his family Sylas found out was not advisable in the slightest, considering that when they’d get picked up from school they’d have bodyguards everywhere, all of which would most definitely tell when they’re being followed. In the end, he really only had the bar to go off of, and after their first run-in, Sylas figured it’d be a long time before Actavio would be willing to even look at him again, let alone speak.

Still, Sylas didn’t lose hope.

Come another Wednesday he shot up with a delighted smile from the couch. It was only a little past noon, so he’d have to busy himself for a while, but regardless; today was another day he got to see Actavio! See was a bit of an overstatement since he never really looked at him except on his departure. With those eagle eyes of his, he’d probably know if Sylas kept glancing at him the entire time.

Pep in his step, Sylas made his way to the abandoned mall that his gang used as a hideout. The mall was a failed economic plan by the government to try and attract tourists to help bring the country out of its recession, but not enough stores were opened and subsequently the plan failed. Demolishing it cost too much so they ended up just leaving it there to rot.

Although he didn’t really consider himself their leader, he still liked to partake in their quarrels from time to time, though he was only watching the fights this time around. If he was going to see Actavio later, he didn’t want to show up with cuts and bruises ruining his pretty face.

Sylas sat on the roof on one of the taller stalls as the gang did their usual performance: between one and ten people would fight at a time ranging from a 1v1 to a 5v5 while the others would spectate, forming a circle around the brawl. It worked similarly to a tournament in the sense that the victor would keep going until defeated or they backed out.

Usually, the victors wouldn’t keep their winning streak for more than four rounds before they got exhausted and left or defeated, but today was different. This was already the sixth 1v1 match with the same winner and the crowd was raging wild. Every connected punch they threw had the gang cheering, and whenever they took a punch the crowd gasped in anticipation. Judging by their figure, they appeared to be fairly young too, but Sylas couldn’t be too sure. It was common for people to wear hoods or masks to remain anonymous and this fighter was no different.

Sylas almost never got engrossed in the fights anymore but even they had him invested to the point that he was debating challenging them himself. And just when he was right about to, the sound of rapid gunshots against cement echoed throughout the mall and instantly the gang was put on edge while the current fight ceased. Guns weren’t allowed in the gang, and generally that rule was respected. If someone did bring a gun, it was never more than a handgun and they were promptly restrained and beaten to the brink of death to get the point across.

The only thing Sylas could see was the crowd parting as they muttered between each other.

What’s he doing here?!

Did they come to shut us down?

Isn’t he the head of the Merids?

The more he registered what they were saying, the more the blonde hair came into view until it was fully visible, standing right in front of him in the center of the brawl. Actavio.

Wait, Actavio? What WAS he doing here? Did he finally figure out that Sylas had been digging into him? That couldn’t have been possible, at least for the time being since he didn’t do anything that would garner suspicion. Was this about his smoking habits? No, he always put out his cigarette whenever he was around.

What could he possibly have wanted?

A vast number of his men were behind him, ensuring that the crowd stayed parted and controlled as they held all manner of firearms. Actavio’s enraged scowl and blazing fury was discernible even from where Sylas was seated. Many of the gang members looked to him for some form of action, but for now he decided to see how it would play out.

The mafia boss stormed up to one of the fighters–the current streak holder that the crowd was previously rooting for–and jerked them by their arm. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Do I have to come get you every time you act like this? Go to the car.”

The fighter barked back immediately, “I’m not a fucking child! I can do what I want so stop babying me!”

“Go. To. The. Car. Now.”

They momentarily flinched at the piercing tone, then ultimately backed down and complied. As they began to leave with Actavio, Sylas finally found his moment to interfere.

He leapt down from the stall and spoke with an easy smile, “Hey, hey, wait a minute. You aren’t going to apologize?”

The immediate whip of Actavio’s head almost brought Sylas to apologize for even speaking to him, but he needed to maintain his ground. This was a perfect opportunity to make another impression on Actavio, let alone the fact he needed to keep up his reputation with his gang.

“Apologize for what?” If the Head had fangs they surely would’ve been flaring with wrath right now.

The fighter turned around as well and now that he was at the same level as them Sylas could tell that the fighter was Eirian, Actavio’s oldest child, despite the hood that covered their guise.

“Shooting off guns on my turf. You’re scary looking enough, I’m sure that if you just walked in without all that people would’ve stepped aside for you.”

Considering that Sly Fox had the largest street gang in the country, getting into a disagreement with him or upsetting his gang would end up being a major thorn for Actavio to take care of later.

Begrudgingly, Actavio sighs most of his vexation away then strikes the back of Eirian’s head with an open palm.


“Ow–fuck fine! I’m sorry.”


“Causing trouble.”

He rolls his eyes at the half-assed apology, then adds, “You have my word that it won’t happen again. Right?”

“Y-yeah, whatever.” Eirian rubs their neck, trying to quell the stinging pain.

Sylas debates pestering the mob boss more but figures it’s for the better if he lets it go for the time being.

Actavio doesn’t return Sylas’s smile as he leaves with his child. As soon as the coast is clear, he exhales the breath that he had unknowingly held and slaps the blush off his cheeks.

Fuck he’s hot when he’s angry…


After a few minutes of silence in the car, Eirian finally speaks under their breath, “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

“Excuse me?”

“I said why can’t you just leave me alone!” They repeat in a shout.

“Lower your voice when you speak to me.”

“The only thing you ever seem to understand or care about is aggression so why should I?!”

Actavio takes a second to calm himself before he snaps at his child. “...I’m just scared for you, Eirian.”

“Why! I didn’t ask you to be!”

“You’re my child, that’s why.”

“But I’m not!”

The harsh stab causes Actavio’s expression to shift from irritated exhaustion to shocked melancholy.

Realizing how cruel their words were, Eirian immediately retracts, “Look, I’m sorry I didn’t mean that. You really are a dad to me and the best one I could’ve ever asked for, and I know I keep causing you trouble and shit, I just…I know that’s not the only reason. It’s because of my mom isn’t it? Not Ceida, my actual mom.”

Actavio’s expression turns back into plain exhaustion. “And if I said yes, then what?”

“Then why? Why won’t you just tell me what happened to her?”

“And why won’t you just let it be? I told you before that I’d tell you–all of you–when you’re of age. It’s not something you should trouble yourself with at such a young age, just…try to have a normal childhood, Ria.”

Knowing that their father won’t budge on the subject, Eirian drops it with an unsatisfied glower, letting the car ride resume its silence.


     After the events earlier in the day, Sylas doubted that Actavio would show up at the bar, but he went anyway since it wouldn’t be a change in his routine. Sylas arrived at the bar at midnight, and to his surprise Actavio was already there, sitting in the same seat as always: the opposite corner of Sylas at the counter .

“Welcome. Are you drinking tonight?” Ruth asked the same question as per usual.

Since he couldn’t smoke with the Head around, and he needed something in his mouth, he went ahead and ordered.

“Sure, surprise me.”

While the manager worked on his drink, Sylas noticed Actavio take a glance at him in his peripherals. He’d have to thank Eirian later for giving him another opportunity to catch his crush’s attention.

“What, am I that pretty?” Sylas took a shot at teasing.

“Hmph.” Actavio scoffed and gave a disgusted groan, then returned to his wine.

Ruth slid his order over: a simple vodka. He preferred liquor that had more of a dry burn to them and she was well aware of this given the fact that he was a regular.

The delinquent promptly looked away, having his fill of Actavio for the day and then some. If he had anymore, it’d likely result in a highschool erection that he didn’t have the time to take care of right now, not to mention it wasn’t the place for it either. Asking about the affair with Eirian earlier did cross his mind but it’d end with his head rolling on the floor to bring something like that up in public.

Actavio stayed longer than usual at the bar, then like all the preceding days left without another word.

It might’ve been slow progress, yet it was progress. This was the second time they happened to cross paths, and if there was a second, then a third was highly likely.

Sylas swirled his drink with a hardly contained smile.

This Novel Contains Mature Content

Show This Chapter?

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon