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Little Lion Man: RP #3
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Thaddeus Duke Offline
Anti You
TITLE - Hart


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The 'cool' kliq fans

(booed by casual fans; opportunistic; often plays dirty while setting the trends)


Post: #1
09-14-2021 05:25 PM


Trinity School || Upper West Side Manhattan – New York City || 3:27 PM


Recently, I decided it was best to move Frankie out of the city. At least during the school year. I have a lead on a place in Rhode Island that I want to look at. That’s where we’re heading today as soon as Frankie gets his little ass out here. His education is important to me but so is his peace of mind and his overall happiness. It kind of goes without saying that he’s had it rough. My job as his dad, adoptive or otherwise, is to make sure things are as easy on him as humanly possible… though this does pose a dilemma to me.

On one hand, I hate to take him away from Trinity School. It’s the number one ranked prep school in the city and he’s doing so well. Frankie is an extremely bright and intelligent kid and I don’t care what it costs to give him every advantage I can. Tuition for Trinity alone is almost sixty grand a year but to be clear, no amount of money is too much. When he’s all grown up, I want him equipped with everything and anything he needs, to do and be, whatever the hell he wants to be.

On the other hand, he suffers from crippling anxiety and the noise and busyness and the endless sea of people for a boy his size, in the metropolis that is New York, causes him even more frequent attacks. There’s always the option of him commuting by helicopter. That gives me what I want and what he needs. I’m not sure that I’d give up my New York lifestyle though. At least not entirely. Maybe we’ll split time like we did with the Compound. He was doing well with that.

The car door opens, startling me out of my thoughts as Frankie jumps in and slams the door closed. While putting on his seatbelt, I notice a little dried blood on his nostrils and a blood stain on his upper lip.

”How was school today?” I ask him.

”Fine,” he says quietly, briefly looking up at me with his eyes. Only then do I notice the bruise forming on his forehead.

”What’d you do? Trip over your own feet in phys ed?” I ask him facetiously.

”Something like that,” he says quietly as he starts to stare out the window.

”Frankie,” I say to him, concern beginning to wash over me. ”What happened?”

”Nothing, let’s just go,” he replies, obviously trying not to answer my inquiries.

”Did someone hit you?” I ask of the boy while my blood starts to boil.

”Is it a weekday?” he asks me sarcastically.

”Stay here,” I instruct him as I throw open my door and step out.

”No, Thad! Wait!” he pleads but I ignore him, slamming the door shut in mid sentence. Making my way around the car, he barrels out of his door, jumps up on the hood and runs the length before leaping off and into my arms.

”Frankie, what the hell!?”

”Please don’t,” he pleads with a shaky voice.

”What do you want me to do!?” I begin to plead my own case with him. ”Once a week you come home with a bloody nose or a black eye or some other bullshit and I’m tired of it Bub! Your Head Master is gonna hear...”

”You’ll just make it worse!” he cries out as he grips me tight.

Sighing with exasperation, I lean against the fender of my car and Frankie hops down before taking a seat on the fender. ”I’m done with you coming home like this Frankie,” I inform him. ”The first time this happened I told you I was gonna teach you how to stand up for yourself. We tried and you protested the whole time.

“You have a choice to make because you’re not gonna get pushed around your whole life. You either start giving me the names of these kids and I make their families lives a living fucking nightmare… or you learn to defend yourself.”


He looks over and up at me quietly for a moment.

”No one is afraid of me,” he says quietly. ”I’m too small to be intimidating. And you’ll just go in there and bitch out the Head Master for a half hour and things will be fine for a few weeks and then it’ll just start up all over again.”

”Your choice Frankie,” I remind him. ”I defend you or you do.”

He looks down for a moment, considering the two options I’ve given him.

”Okay,” he concedes.

”Okay what?”

”Teach me to fight,” he says, looking up at me.

”After breakfast in the morning, meet me in the gym,” I tell him.

”We’re not gonna start tonight?”

”We have a three hour drive to Newport ahead of us kiddo,” I inform him. ”We won’t get back home until like midnight.”

”Where’s Newport?” he asks as he hops down from the fender. ”And what’s in Newport?”

”It’s in Rhode Island,” I answer question number one. ”And a house I heard about that you might like.”

”Can we stop for Italian food?”

”Yep,” I answer him enthusiastically. One of many things we have in common is our mutual love for Italian cuisine. ”After breakfast Francis… in the gym,” I remind him after filing back into the car.

”Yes sir.”



Three hours later, we pull off the interstate toward the coastal section of Newport, Rhode Island. Creeping along Beechwood Boulevard at a snails pace in search of the particular house, Frankie opens his eyes after his nap.

”Are we there yet?” he asks while rubbing the sleep from his eyes. ”I gotta pee.”

”Of course you do,” I say with a chuckle as I slow the car to a stop. ”And yes, we’re there yet.”

”Is that it?” he asks while staring out the window at Beechwood Mansion.

Killing the engine, I step out of the car and the boy follows suit. Like back at school, we both lean on the car as we take in the estate.

”What do you think?”

”It’s a lot smaller than the Compound,” he replies.

”It is, but we wouldn’t have so many people around in this house,” I remind him. ”Us. Berta. Essential personnel and aids, ministers, protection detail… that’s about it.”

”How much land does it have?” he asks as he looks up at me. Immediately, I know exactly what he’s hinting at.

”I’m not sure but there’s definitely enough room to have a dirt bike course put in,” I say to him while pulling his shoulder close to me. ”I know you miss it. I miss it too.

“Thank you for staying patient Bub.”


That revelation causes him to smile wide.

”It’s still huge,” Frankie says, looking toward the house again. ”But probably like a fourth the size of the Compound. And there’s like three other houses on the property. What are they for?”

”Probably the help,” I answer him. ”Groundskeepers, caretakers, maids, things like that.”

”So Berta could probably have her own house again,” he assumes correctly. ”And maybe Liz and T.J. and Caty can live in one of the others.”

”You like when they’re around?”

”You kidding?” he asks incredulously. ”I love them. And I love being a big brother.”

”You’re an awesome big brother,” I tell the boy. ”I knew you would be.”

”Is it for sale?” he asks and I just shrug in response.

Pulling my cell from my pocket, Frankie looks at me. ”Who you calling?”

”Robert,” I answer him as the line starts to ring.

”Main?” he asks with a smile.

”Why the fuck would I ever call Robert Main?” I ask him as Robert Zane, my personal attorney, answers the call. Meanwhile, Frankie shrugs with a smirk.

”Thad,” the high powered attorney greets me. ”What can I do for you?”

”Frankie and I are looking at the mansion,” I answer him. ”What can you tell me about it?”

”It was completed in 1853 with Italianate architecture, rebuilt twice over since then...”

”Boring. Next.”

”At the time of construction, it was the epitome of luxury and grandeur, a staple of the Gilded Age...”

”Gilded Age… just another way of saying Golden Age right?”

”Is that important?”

”I’m a sucker for symbolism.”

”More than 16,000 square feet, the house and the property were reunited with three adjacent properties and the homes that rest on them to restore the estate to the original nine acres that Old Man Astor had envisioned when he bought it in 1880,” Robert continues.

”That’s a lot of feet... and plenty of acreage.”

”The Astor thing didn’t pique your interest?” Zane asks of me.

”No,” I reply. ”Should it?”

”The house once belonged to John Jacob Astor,” he answers, and it’s evident even in a phone conversation that he’s giddy about that fact.

THE John Jacob Astor?”

”One and the same,” he answers with a bit of a laugh.

”I have no idea who that is.”

”You’re kidding?” he asks incredulously. ”You’re a movie star and you never watched Titanic?”

”I watched it for like 20 minutes. This might be an unpopular opinion but Leo is way overrated as an actor… and Rose coulda let the fucker on that door. She barely even tried.”

”I thought you said you only watched twenty minutes?”

”I did, but I didn’t say which 20 minutes. Why suffer through two hours of a stupid love story when you can just get right to the sinking and the break up?”

Robert sighs deeply.

”Is it even for sale?”

”Are you kidding me?” he asks. ”You’re Thaddeus Duke. Everything’s for sale.”

”Yeah true… Buy it, put it in your name.”

”Why my name? Taxes?”

”I don’t care about the taxes,” I admit to him. ”Fact is if the Ares Project finds out I have another coastal property they’ll hit it. No distinct markings, no flags… I want this as low key as possible.”

”Is there a price limit?” he asks.

For a moment, I just look at Frankie who has made his way to the fence and is figuratively mapping his dirt bike track.

”Whatever it takes Robert,” I finally answer him. ”Call me when it’s done.”

Without another word, I end the call.



On the way back to New York last night, I honored my pledge to Frankie to take him out for some Italian dinner. We had a great time just he and I. It’s been months since we’ve spent real quality time alone without cameras around or without the life we lead weighing either of us down. To be perfectly honest, I think we’ve turned a corner. He still sees his therapist twice a week and a lot of his aggression has subsided. He doesn’t act out at home as much as he had been. His states of depression are lesser and lesser and stay for shorter periods of time.

This morning though, it’s gonna test him.

And me.

In my gym at Woolworth Tower, Frankie meets me as he was instructed. I’ve already been at it for about an hour but I let him relax after breakfast for a little while and play some video games first.

”Alright kiddo,” I begin as I place the strike pads on my hands. ”Let’s see what you’re workin’ with.”

Hesitantly, he enters the sparring ring. ”What do you mean?”

”Take your hoodie off dummy, you’re gonna sweat a lot and you’ll get dehydrated quicker,” I inform the boy and he takes his shirt off, tossing it out of the ring. ”Flex.”

”Thaaad,” he protests with a shy smile.

”Like this,” I say before removing my own shirt and flexing my arms.

”You disgust me,” he says with a laugh.

”I get that a lot,” I reply with a laugh of my own.

”I’m never gonna be built up like you,” he says quietly.

”Yeah you will, if you wanna be,” I tell my little sidekick. ”You’re just a little young yet for weight training.”

”I’m nervous,” he admits as he straps on some fight gloves.

”Don’t be, you’re not gonna get hurt,” I try to reassure him. ”Not physically anyway.”

He grunts with dread as I hold out my strike pad clad hands.

”Alright, start slow and easy,” I advise him. ”Get a feel for the distance and the timing.”

He throws a half assed first punch at my left hand, then a second.

”You need to put more effort into it than that,” I warn him. ”Fuckin’ Caty would laugh at those punches.”

”You told me to start slow!” he protests.

”Well, start faster than that,” I plead with him. ”And keep your hands up because I’m about to start hitting you back.”

”I thought you said I wouldn’t get hurt!” he cries out, dropping his hands to his side.

”You’re not, but you gotta learn to avoid and block too,” I say before giving him a light strike upside his head.

Scowling at me, he starts taking off his gloves.

”What the hell are you doing?”

”I’m not doin’ this,” he says with noticeable anger in his voice. ”You said I wouldn’t get hurt and now you’re gonna hit me back.”

Throwing his gloves to the mat, he turns around and starts to walk away from me. With no warning, I lightly shove him in the back and he falls to his knees on the mat.

”Get up, put your gloves back on,” I instruct him.

”No,” he says quietly without looking at me.

”Frankie, you’re a god damn Duke now start acting like one!”

Climbing to his feet he takes a second to brush off his knees before turning to look at me.

”I’m not a Duke,” he says quietly. ”Not by blood.”

”You are a Duke,” I tell him before smacking him lightly in the head.

”Stop,” he pleads.

”Duke’s stand and fight, Frankie,” I tell him before smacking him again. That time, I got a little overzealous and he falls to the side.

”I said STOP!” he shouts at me.

”Then make me stop,” I warn him. This is NOT easy for me. Not in any way. He’s shy and doesn’t like confrontation. He doesn’t like fighting and the one time he did stand up for himself, it was him that got in trouble, not the other boy.

”I’m not moving,” he says defiantly while sitting on the mat and folding his arms in front of him.

”Get up,” I instruct him. He flips me off. ”Really?”

”I told you, I’m not moving.”

”How does it make you feel when the other kids say mean things to you?”

”Like shit,” her answers honestly.

”How do you feel when another kid hits you?”

”Like I wanna cry Thad,” he yells at me. ”But I wait until I get home.”

”Don’t you ever wanna hit them back?”

”Yes.”

”THEN GET OFF YOUR ASS AND LEARN HOW TO DO IT!” I shout at him. Still defiant, he sits staring at me. ”YOU are a Duke Frankie, through and through and its time you learned what the hell that really means.”

Piquing his interest, he looks up at me.

”Being a Duke means you have the heart of a lion inside you boy, now stand up and let it fucking roar!” I start in. ”Do you think I got where I am today by being a little pussy?”

”You’re not little,” he argues.

”Not compared to you, but I am compared to a lot of my opponents,” I argue back to him. ”Did you think being a Lionheart was just a gimmick? An act? Just something I say because it sells t-shirts?

“I earned that nickname by refusing to stay down, by fighting back when my back is against the wall, by taking on anyone at anytime no matter the odds! That’s what a Lionheart truly is.”


Finally relenting, he climbs back to his feet and brushes off his backside.

”But none of that makes me a Duke. I’m not like you.”

”It’s a mindset,” I learn the young boy. ”It’s a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. It’s the refusal to say I quit. It’s a willingness in a ‘you or me’ scenario to say ‘it may as well be you.’

“Buddy I’m not asking you to change who you are. I love who you are. All I want from you is for you to demand the same treatment and respect from others, that you afford them. And if they’re not willing to give you that fair treatment, then you beat it into them.”


”I don’t think I can,” he says to me with a tear rolling down his cheek.

”What’s the worst that can happen?” I keep pleading my case. ”Worst case is they keep beating you up every damn week like they’re already doin’ but at least if you go down, you’ll go down taking your pound of flesh with you.”

”I don’t like fighting,” he continues to protest. ”Did you know I cried more that time I did fight back than anytime I didn’t?”

I shake my head. No, I didn’t know that.

”I don’t like being hurt, but I don’t like hurting anyone even more.”

”I know you don’t,” I tell the emotional ten year old. His emotion typically invokes my own and this time isn’t any different. ”But I won’t have you getting beat on every week Francis. So you’re either gonna stand up for yourself no matter how much you don’t like it… or you’re gonna start giving me names and I’ll start defending you by going after their parents.

“There’s no other options.”


Frankie caves. Reaching down to the mat, he picks his gloves back up and starts to put them on.

”I’m only gonna fight if I have to,” he says as he tightens the Velcro straps.

”You try to diffuse the situation with diplomacy first, and if that doesn’t work you raise your fists, you understand me?”

”Yes sir,” he replies as he adopts a very poor fighting stance.

”I always got your back,” I remind him.

”I know,” he says quietly as I lightly kick apart his legs a bit.

”Keep your hands up and your head tilted forward, otherwise I’mma smack you in your head. Got it?”

He nods and throws his first punch. He did well for his first lesson. I only had to smack him about five times. The first few times, he’d stop and reset himself, gather himself, so I’d smack him again. Each time I did, it pissed him off and just made him even more determined to get it right and protect himself.

Think whatever it is you want to think about me. Judge me for whatever you want to judge me for, but I will protect this boy with my life. I will help him and love him every step of life because he deserves it. I do bad things to people because they deserve those bad things. Him? His brother and sister? They’re the world to me and no one will ever hurt them as long as I’m alive.

”You did good,” I tell the sweet ten year old kid afterwards. ”I know you don’t like it, but sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to.”

He nods as he starts removing his gloves.

”Now go shower. Later, will fly down and see Talon and Caty.”

He smiles at the revelation and throws his arms around my waist, burying his head into my stomach.

”Thanks Dad,” he says warmly. He doesn’t call me Dad often. I can probably count on one hand how many times he has. It just hits different. It just warms my soul.

Once Frankie departs I grab my cell and place a call.

”Linc, hey its me… I want your team to get me set up to monitor the cameras at Trinity…

“Yeah… Frankie’s school…

“Nah, I think I set him right but… you know him man, he doesn’t want to…

“Thanks man, see ya soon.”




[Image: NDdOtwO.png]

[Image: BkEkhvm.png]
47-16 | 107-38-2

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**Inducted as Sebastian Duke, fix that later.
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