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Dante Niccolo Manzoni
Shipyard Manager/Italian Mafia Soldato
Brewer Capri Marina
Dante sees things in a simple, black and white way. It's us or them. If you're not with us, you're against us. He doesn't like complications or gray areas, only the clean cut efficiency of a yes or no. He is aggressive is his 'us or them' approach, temperamental, and imposing. He is very aware of his own physicality and he uses it to dominate and intimidate his enemies. Guarded and slow to trust, Dante likes to distance himself from other people emotionally. Despite the fact that he is naturally drawn to companionship and uncomfortable being alone, he has a lot of trouble sustaining healthy relationships and he shields himself through belligerent overtures and sexually manipulative behavior. To anyone outside of la famiglia, Dante is domineering and controlling. He won't yield, he is incredibly stubborn. He is prone to intense but short-lived romances with women, displaying excessive possessive behavior towards his lovers and often in disrespectful ways; he is unwilling to compromise or negotiate, always insisting on his own way. As a teenager, he was a bully and he performed poorly in group activities. He was not a team player and he didn't like taking orders from people he didn't respect. While he is obedient to his bosses and smart enough not to talk back, Romeo is the only person he willingly partners with.
Dante has a great capacity for loyalty, and this is most obvious as pertains to his family and to Romeo. He is steadfast in his dedication to the mafia, willing to undertake any task that needs to be done, no flinching. Once he accepts someone, he is protective of them and quick to act as their defense and shield; his instincts for self-preservation go out the window when someone he cares for is in danger. The trick is winning him over, because Dante is openly skeptical of others, rarely goes out of his way to socialize, and is difficult to impress. If you're looking for him, your best bet is to find Romeo because he is not far behind. Dante has a strong sense of pride in his physical appearance and his association with the mafia, but this is intertwined with feelings of inferiority and alienation as regards other aspects of his life. Believe it or not, Romeo is actually the more charismatic of the two of them. If he wasn't tapped to join the mafia, he knows he wouldn't have made anything of himself. He is okay with that knowledge, but it means that his sense of self-worth and purpose is wrapped up in organized crime.
Dante Manzoni grew up next door to the Morettis, and he was raised with Romeo so it's not an exaggeration to say he's known his best friend his whole life. His father, Pierpaolo, was a soldier turned made man turned capo and his mother, Miriam, was a homemaker. After the death of Romeo's mother, she took a particular shine to Dante's best friend and effectively treated (and spoiled) him like her own son. Like Romeo, Dante learned the value of his fists early in life - and more importantly, the other kids learned that messing with one of them was messing with both. When he was 14, Dante's dad was arrested on an illegal weapons charge; because of a previous criminal conviction he had from robbing a convenience store, the prosecutor bumped up the charge to Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and Pierpaolo was sentenced the maximum of seven years. He didn't get out of jail until Dante was 21. His dad's arrest was hard on his mom, even though the rest of the family pitched in to take care of them; it also pissed him off.
Dante was angry through most of high school. And while Romeo went out for football and dated the head cheerleader, he made no effort to expand his social circle. Romeo's friends and teammates became his if only because they were always around, not because he cultivated it intentionally. Too sullen to play nice with others, Dante was known in high school for bullying the underclassmen (either to do his homework for him or just because they looked at him the wrong way); the only reason he didn't end up in detention more often was because most of them were too scared to rat him out. And while Romeo was at football practice, Dante spent his time on his dad's car. He basically inherited it while the man was in jail, and he took very good care of it. He's always liked cars. It might be the closest thing he's ever had to a hobby, unless you counted messing around with the girls from the Catholic high school in Morrisania a "hobby".
When Romeo wasn't busy with football or his annoying girlfriend, he and Dante were getting into trouble and/or making themselves useful (sometimes both) - enough to come to the attention of the capo. The two were given invitations when they were seventeen, joined the mafia at the same time, and were paired together as compadri. A little over two years later, they were assigned secured positions at one of the shipyards controlled by the Italians ( Brewer Capri Marina in the Bronx). And he has been there ever since, coming into his own as a soldato, as inseparable from Romeo as ever.