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Title: Ways To Change The World (we are powerless)
Fandom: In The Heights
Pairing: Sonny x Graffiti Pete
Theme set: Delta
Rating: PG
Notes: Underage cousins of bodega workers, unite! …I love these two to a ridiculous degree. Mostly BFF-ness with slashy undertones, plus a healthy dose of Usnavi for good measure. Mostly set within the show, a little bit of backstory and future stuff mixed in. Totally BSed the ages because the boys really do seem like they're in the same age bracket to me even though I read somewhere that that's not true. Numerical, not chronological, order. Abuse of punctuation.


01. Air
Sonny sits on the stoop and watches; Graffiti Pete takes a long, deep breath before picking up the first can of spray paint.

02. Apples
Even though Usnavi hates it, Sonny still lets Pete walk away with free sodas or apples or candy bars – what's the point in working at a bodega if you can't help your friends out once in a while?

03. Beginning
They met the first day of fifth grade: Pete (not yet Graffiti Pete) got in trouble for drawing all over his books and had to sit out recess, and Sonny felt bad and gave him his cookie at lunch; from that moment on, they were friends.

04. Bugs
Graffiti Pete doesn't mean to irritate Usnavi so badly, especially since Usnavi means so much to Sonny, but sometimes it seems like no matter what he does, the guy dislikes him that much more.

05. Coffee
They experiment in the evenings when Sonny's in charge of the store, trying to recreate Usnavi's secret recipes, but nothing they make tastes quite the same.

06. Dark
When the lights go out, Graffiti Pete's impulse is to run to make sure Sonny's okay, and so he does; but Sonny won't leave the store, and the only thing Pete can do is break out the fireworks and stay with him – the idea of finding safety without Sonny never even occurs to him.

07. Despair
Sonny's despair is enough to make Graffiti Pete forget how much he'd butted heads with Usnavi and wish the man would realize that his cousin honestly needs him to stay.

08. Doors
Pete paints a mural over the school doors one weekend in ninth grade; Sonny comes down whenever he gets a free minute, bringing snacks, offering opinions, getting rid of empty paint cans.

09. Drink
The continuing saga of Sonny's quest to get Usnavi to let him have free sodas never fails to entertain Pete.

10. Duty
Part of him knows that Pete is right, this is stupid and dangerous and he's going to get himself killed and do no one any good; the rest of him just knows that Usnavi left him in charge, and this is their livelihood, and he says, "I gotta defend the store, man."

11. Earth
Usnavi says, "We're gonna give a third of the money to you, Sonny," and Pete comes crashing down to Earth; what the hell's going to happen to him if Sonny's got the cash to leave?

12. End
Graffiti Pete isn't sure which feels better, Usnavi's dazed and awed reaction to the mural or Sonny's proud beam.

13. Fall
By September, the barrio doesn't look like the same block; the faces have changed, the salon's gone, the dispatch belongs to someone else; but Usnavi is still pouring café con leche, Vanessa is still coming around, Benny is still working himself half to death; Graffiti Pete's artwork spreads across the walls and awnings of the neighborhood, much of it paid for and commissioned by Sonny.

14. Fire
Nobody, least of all Pete, expected that his backpack full of roman candles would be drafted into service as weapons, but he can't stop to think about it as he struggles to keep the looters at bay, because Sonny needs him right now.

15. Flexible
"I just wish he'd be less strict with my work hours," Sonny complains, expecting sympathy; he's surprised when Pete shrugs and says, "He just wants to make sure you turn out okay."

16. Flying
Pete watches Sonny dancing wildly with Carla and Daniela and can't escape the imagery: Sonny looks like he's flying, untouchable.

17. Food
"I'm hungry," Graffiti Pete grumbles; Sonny throws a Diet Pepsi at his head and says, "Then go get yourself some lunch, dork."

18. Foot
In eighth grade, they ditched school together and walked the George Washington Bridge for no real reason, talking about ways to change the world.

19. Grave
Vanessa teases Sonny about how serious he is, and he blushes and stammers, embarrassed by his own passion; Pete doesn't know how to tell him that it's one of his greatest qualities.

20. Green
The best days are the ones when Graffiti Pete shows up covered in color, red green blue, paint staining his clothes and hands and face, exulting in his newest piece; those are the days when Sonny knows that one day everyone will know his friend's artwork.

21. Head
Sonny isn't exactly at the top of the class, and if Usnavi didn't make him go he'd probably drop out of school altogether, but Graffiti Pete still believes that Sonny's the smartest guy he knows.

22. Hollow
Usnavi pulls the grate down, and Sonny watches anxiously, and the world stops – Pete's heart hammers in his chest as he tries to read Usnavi's expression: he hates it.

23. Honor
Graffiti Pete counts out the money for his supplies and tries to calm himself; Sonny's counting on him for his most important piece yet.

24. Hope
They both want to give the barrio the same thing, really, Graffiti Pete through his art, Sonny through his protests; they want to give their neighborhood a future.

25. Light
"And what am I?" Sonny asks; Pete looks at him thoughtfully and says, "You are a light in a dark and confusing world, my man."

26. Lost
In the blackout, Sonny doesn't know what to do, alone and lost and frightened, and he doesn't know who he's praying harder for, Usnavi or Pete.

27. Metal
The grate is cold and blank and empty, and Graffiti Pete can feel the excitement of a new project stirring in his belly as he looks at it.

28. New
Sonny starts a new rant about how they need to rearrange the power structure in the country; Graffiti Pete smiles as it puts a picture of a new mural in his head, and his fingers itch for a spray can.

29. Old
There's something about the way Pete looks at his ruined, tagged-over painting that completely breaks Sonny's heart.

30. Peace
Sonny thinks he'll never see anyone look as perfectly centered as Graffiti Pete does with a can of spray paint in his hand.

31. Poison
"Yo, your cousin been turnin' you against me?" Pete asks, half-joking half-not; Sonny doesn't look at him but snaps, "He ain't like that."

32. Pretty
Sonny is speechless for a long moment, staring at the wall as Graffiti Pete watches him anxiously; finally he manages to say, "Whoa."

33. Rain [followed by 34 Regret]
It rains the day Sonny leaves the Heights for a place he never thought he'd go – college, to major in political science – and Pete fails to meet him at the bodega to see him off.

34. Regret [follows 33 Rain]
Sonny swallows back the thick feeling in his throat and follows Usnavi out the door – only then does he see the mural painted on the walls opposite the bodega, the word goodbye dancing over the bright pictures.

35. Roses
Sonny gives Nina roses as a going-away present and Graffiti Pete digs his hands into his pockets and pretends not to see.

36. Secret
The first time Graffiti Pete takes him along on an overnight art project, Sonny has to work to contain his excitement; it feels like he's being trusted with an important secret.

37. Snakes
"Yo, man," Sonny says, "It's like…like…like snakes and rats, y'know, the whole system's…?" and Graffiti Pete answers truthfully, "You drunk, man."

38. Snow
It snows at Christmas, and Vanessa laughs herself sick watching the two boys playing around in the street like children again.

39. Solid
"So we still good, man?" Sonny asks worriedly, and breathes out a sigh of relief when Graffiti Pete nods and says, "Yo, we cool."

40. Spring
Sonny daydreams about school ending for the year, the long summer full of possibilities stretching in front of him, and his schoolwork goes undone a little while longer.

41. Stable
Graffiti Pete tries, for a little while, to resent Usnavi as much as Usnavi appears to resent him; but he can't, because he knows that if Sonny has a chance at something more in this life, it's because of Usnavi.

42. Strange
Everything changes, too fast for Sonny to do anything about it; the salon's moving to the Bronx, the Rosarios are selling the dispatch, Vanessa's moving, Usnavi's leaving the country, Abuela's gone, and all Sonny can do is stand in the middle of it, begging for someone to hear him.

43. Summer
Sonny tells an involved story about a friend of his getting trapped in the subway; Graffiti Pete wipes away sweat and laughs as the others groan aloud.

44. Taboo
"Why don't you ever paint on canvas?" Sonny asks once, curious; Graffiti Pete makes a face and says, "This is real art."

45. Ugly
Usnavi calls Graffiti Pete a vandal and a punk and a criminal; Sonny looks at Pete's paintings and at the disfiguring gang tags and doesn't understand how his cousin can't see the difference.

46. War
It's a good-natured, ongoing war; Sonny's attempts to get better working conditions and extra benefits, Usnavi's attempts to teach Sonny a work ethic and make something of him; Graffiti Pete sits on the sidelines and alternately cheers on both sides.

47. Water
Benny's busy with being a big businessman, so Sonny and Pete loyally open up the corner fire hydrant in his stead; Pete expects Usnavi to call him a vandal again when he finds out, but instead the bodega owner laughs and lets it go.

48. Welcome
Usnavi and Vanessa pick him up from the airport, and Benny meets them at the dispatch to say hello, but Sonny doesn't feel like he's truly back at home until he walks into the bodega and finds Graffiti Pete waiting for him.

49. Winter
It's gotta be about a hundred degrees outside, but Pete still feels frozen inside, as Sonny stubbornly avoids looking at him, jaw clenched.

50. Wood
Sonny feels the grain of the wood under his fingers, catches Graffiti Pete's eye, and knows that this is worth it, what matters in life, what the two of them are fighting for; this community has to be preserved, somehow, and right now they have the power to do it, with nothing more than a backpack full of fireworks and a baseball bat.

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