A Brother's Duty


nick_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title A Brother's Duty
Synopsis "Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero." ~Marc Brown
Date January 9, 2010

Central Park

The sun has a deceptive effect on the chill in the air. It weakens that little bite taking the edge off the nip of Jack Frost's canines. People are out and about, doing their thing in the Park thanks to that little bit of sunlight— a small sign that perhaps winter won't settle forever.

Yet the bench around Brad Russo emits the chillier weather. His lips edge down into a small frown that never actually touches his eyes. Good humour is the host's modus operandi. His jaw tightens, his fingers ball, and his teeth clench as he shifts on the park bench. A single arm extends along its back, letting his gloved hand grasp the top. His breath steams from his nose in long wafts of hot air like some hellish demon sent to earth for retribution.

Fortunately Russo is a gentleman. Mostly.

He'd agreed to come, but Nick isn't too happy about it. Promises made to Delia feel like tethers tying him down, tying him to a world that he knows is too good for him — a world where good people have family members who care about them and don't hurt one another. It's not a place for him.

He doesn't look like the thug he's been portraying for so many weeks. On the Upper West Side, and also due to the colder weather of late, he wears a classic black wool pea coat, but today a gray cashmere scarf encircles his neck to keep him warm. The tuque's been left off today, which helps in making him look less like a criminal and more like an upstanding citizen, and the black sunglasses he wears help to hide the bruising and cuts on the one side of his face.

"Brad," he murmurs as he approaches the bench, his hands in his pockets.

"Nick," is returned with a shift of the host's eyes— ones that nearly match Delia's grey colour— to seek out Nick's. Although there's an edge to his own, even if they continue to smile, he has a near-dangerous way about them. He glances at the other end of the bench, an unspoken invitation to join him.

He forces an ironic curl to his lips, a near-smile that is grim from its inception. "Sit." Beat. "Please." He's never done this before. He grew up as an only child with a single mother who never dated. Not even once. Not that he knows of, anyways.

He lowers his hand from the back of the bench, linking his hands and setting them on his lap. "So. You visited Ca— Delia." Nicknames are for friends. After speaking to Eileen, Brad isn't convinced that Nick is. A friend, that is.

Nick catches that edge, his brow furrowing a little as he nods. Not choosing to sit just yet, he remains a polite distance away — close enough to talk, but also close enough to dodge should Delia's big brother decide to swing at him.

"Sorta," he says with a shrug of his left shoulder. "I went to drop off some stuff for her. I wasn't … trying to see her, exactly, but you weren't there to hand 'em off to and your housekeeper didn't seem to want to take 'em from me, kept talking at me and bringing me back."

He clears his throat. "If this is the whole familial third degree kinda deal? I ain't planning on dating the kid."

If the smile was grim before, it becomes downright wicked as it spreads across Russo's lips. His hands slide to his sides, grasping the bars of the bench underneath him as his throat clears authoritatively. He chuckles, a mirthless, staged chuckle, a trained distraction from his own actual emotional state while his gaze flits to the horizon rather than Nick. "I'm sure Rosa explained she's not a delivery person." There's an emptiness in the tone that isn't quite explainable.

With another twitch of his lips he tries to meet Nick's gaze again, "That isn't exactly the issue, now is it, Nicholas?" Nicholas. It's what Eileen had called him. It's who Brad had been warned about.

No one calls him Nicholas, aside from Eileen, and a lifetime ago, Sophia. Sunglasses keep his face mostly impassive, though there's a telltale twitch of tension in his jaw.

"She kept saying something about like… salads and you no acqui." No salidas.

He shrugs again, and tosses a glance over his shoulder toward the street behind him before looking back to Russo. "So what is the issue? I dropped off some shit for her, because I think that's what people do, when people are recovering from something like she is," he says evenly. "If that's a problem, trust me, it can be the last time."

"The shit isn't the issue either," Russo's tone is bland as his glance follow's Nick's to the street, he's never had to have a conversation like this. "Look, man.. it's not the stuff. It's not even the visit." Although it kind of is. "She's taken with you," the words are virtually spat. "Which leaves me in an awkward place." He clears his throat again, an internal fight against some inner demon.

His smile actually fades. There's no guise here, just a brother's concern about an already ailing sister. His hand strokes his chin as he sighs. There's a futility in the front. He may be capable of threats, but it's not who he is. "Your sister paid us a visit. And I have no idea what you did to earn such ire, but I was advised not to trust you. By your flesh and blood." His lips tick down as he growls, "And I could be done with you. Easily. But Delia is already.. she's… she's been laid up for nearly two months. Outside her brain. I can't kill her spirit."

Behind those dark glasses, Nick's eyes close as Eileen is mentioned. His hands curl into fists in his pockets. "Right," he says tersely. He takes a step back.

"S'fine. I promised her I'd come by if she needed me and all, but you can blame it on me. I won't come. I can be the bad guy so you don't have to, yeah? Just say I didn't return your calls, that you haven't heard from me." He shrugs his left shoulder. "It won't kill her spirit. She's stronger than that, and she's got other people to help her."

Turning to go, he tosses over his shoulder, "She'll forget me soon enough."

With a sniff, Russo turns his head, following Nick's motion with his eyes. Silent for awhile before he shakes his head, "She's not like that. I don't know her well, but she carries things more than other people. She's sentimental, easily attached, and not so easily dissuaded. Her opinion of someone isn't easily changed. And she's a fan. Maybe your number one fan." Especially judging from the hours she spent gushing over the basket. He sighs heavily.

"While I appreciate you offering to stay away from her.. " and he actually does, "she is in a fragile state. I don't think her dad," not ours, hers, "is even going to come visit. I don't know about our other sister. And there's no way she's going to up and moving around with the rest of us for some time. You might think this may not break her, but after everything— I'm not convinced." He clears his throat again as he leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees.

"So my request is simple. Don't come by if I'm not around. Eileen advised me to watch you. I intend to do so. If you choose to come back. I can't make that choice for you."

Nick stops, one hand coming out of his pocket to rub over the back of his head before he turns back to Russo. "Her dad's a good guy," he says gruffly. "If he isn't visiting her… it's probably because he's doing somethin' important. He's … they need him, you know? His expertise. Not that Delia's not important. Just… he probably trusts that you're doing right by her."

His hand shoves back into his pocket and his shoulders hinch a little. He usually looks older than he is, but there's something vulnerable today, something that makes him look more his age. He called Delia kid, but he's not much older than her.

"That's fine," he finally says, regarding only being there if Russo is. "I told her I'd at least visit to say goodbye, if I leave town. I might. Not much here for me right now, and work might need me somewhere else."

He exhales, a puff of white air lifting toward the sky. "You decide you don't want me around, I can tell her work's pulled me, yeah?"

"Maybe," Russo glowers about Ben as his fingers tighten around the bars of the bench, his own expression falls. His eyes lips and shoulders all slump downwards as he sighs again. With a heavier sigh he nods. "Good." If that's fine then there's nothing else to discuss here, right?

Nick's vulnerability actually has its effect on the older man. His eyes squeeze shut, "Look, I.." He shakes his head slightly, "I'm sorry." The apology is sincere, even after the random threat. "I want to trust you. I do. You stayed in my house, you carried her around in your brain, and she seems taken with you.. even after swimming around in there." He sighs again and frowns. "But.." The but is left to hang.

Nick swallows, shaded eyes studying his boots as he shrugs his left shoulder once more. "It's fine. I get it." He certainly isn't putting up a fight. He wouldn't trust him either.

"Speaking of…" This is going to sound wrong, he knows. "Er. Swimming. She was saying how everything feels heavy, and she doesn't like it, so I thought swimming'd be good for her. I didn't mean with me, man, I swear, just … if she had a pool. But that anyone could do it. You. Brian. Nicole. Whatever."

He swallows and looks up, the clouds reflected in miniature in his black lenses. "She was pretty adamant she wanted me, to, but I told her that only with you there, so, you know. She might expect that."

His cheeks color a little. "It's okay if you wanna say no. Use whatever excuse… that you can hire a therapist who knows what they're doing, or maybe that the Aussie might be jealous, to talk her out of it? S'okay, you know? Whatever works."

Clearing his throat, he glances over his shoulder again, then back to Russo. "I said I'd come by sometime this week. What time you there so I don't show when you ain't?"

Swimming. The notion of swimming has Russo rubbing his temples with both of his gloved hands. Oh boy. With a vague frown, his eyes narrow, "I'll figure something out." Although he's learning that once Delia gets an idea in her head, it nestles there, making a little home. And Delia is allowed to have friends.

"I'll be home after seven every night. Work. I'm putting together some new projects that need my attention so— " he'll be in every day. For once. It's been a long time since he was that committed to showing up. "But you're welcome to come any time after seven and before ten." There's a pause. "She still needs rest."

"Seven's good. Curfew's nine, so." Nick shrugs. "Make for short visits. Easy excuse." His voice is flat. "I'll come by sometime this week."

He stands for a moment, a little awkwardly before giving a short jerk of his head in what amounts to a farewell, then turning to cut across the snowy lawn of the park toward the street.

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