A Very Eligible Gay Househusband


nicole_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title A Very Eligible Gay Househusband
Synopsis Nicole wakes up in a strange bed. Russo reminds her of how she got there. The two make some rather heavy smalltalk and renew a promise.
Date December 21, 2010

Dorchester Towers: Bradley Russo's Apartment

Sunlight peeks through the blinds of Dorchester Towers number 504 while the smell of fresh made coffee wafts through the air accompanied by the distinct smell of cheese souffle cooking in the oven. Aside from the smells and sunlight the apartment itself isn't particularly warm feeling. The walls are stark white and desperately in need of a coat of paint, there aren't any pictures upon them, and the apartment itself is sparsely furnished. The television host appears to barely live here.

The guest room, though, is at least comfortable. In fact, the bed is freakishly comfortable. Where Brad may allow some things to fall by the wayside (i.e. decorating), those things that are important to him stay at the top of his list. Comfort and being able to sleep are two very important things.

Down the hall in the kitchen there's a clamour of pots and pans as a rather unsettled Russo works at making something else. But this is what he does when he's unsettled. Well one of things. Cooking and gardening are his modus operandi.

He whistles brightly, and entirely off-tune, while turning the bacon in the frying pan. Even if he doesn't feel chipper, something about a new day implores him to at least allude to a chipper state of affairs. If he's honest, yesterday had been far too eventful between 'Clyde's' visit, taking Nicole home, 'breaking up with' Lina, and having his first real conversation with his father such that he didn't sleep last night, despite his best efforts otherwise. After all, his instructions pushed him to it.

Inside the kitchen he looks somewhere between chef and homemaker. His white apron reads in big bold capital letters: BEWARE, CHEFS DO IT IN THE KITCHEN while it rests comfortably overtop a pair of faded blue jeans, worn at home solely for comfort.

His attention is on the bacon as it noisily spits up at him with the occasional POP! HISS!

Sunlight cuts a beam across Nicole Nichols' eyes, rousing the woman from her much-needed slumber. Something like eighteen hours of sleep shouldn't be unexpected from someone who professes not to have slept all month. While her brain may be rebooted and possibly refreshed, she feel like hell. A throbbing headache between her eyes and at the back of her neck, and even her skin feels too tight around her body, leaving her feeling supremely uncomfortable.

The light from the burning orb pressing through clouds and pollution prompts the woman to shut her eyes again immediately, and roll over until the spots subside. She pulls the blankets around herself tightly, feeling cold. It's not like her to feel cold. It has something to do with the dim, dark blue of her eyes when she opens them again, this time away from the offending light. Sounds of cookware clanging reach her ears, and register moments later.

This is not her bed.

Nicole's eyes grow very wide, if only as a substitute for sitting bolt upright suddenly. She scans the area in front of her for any signs of life, then slowly rolls over to check the other side of the room.

Okay, so she's alone.

Is that her dress hung up on the closet door?

Fists ball around the blankets and lift up so the confused woman can check her attire. Flannel pants and a rather cozy cotton long-sleeved shirt. All much too big on her.

Think, Nicole! Think!

She sits up, and a quick check of the trash can near the bed reveals no spent condoms or tell-tale wrappers, but that doesn't mean too much. It could mean she spent the night with an inconsiderate man. Or it could mean she spent the night with a woman. She finds the second option infinitely more likely, except for the fact that she's fairly certain she's wearing a man's pyjamas.

Nicole makes her way quietly toward the door of the guest room, finding her stockings in a ripped heap on her way. That doesn't bode well. She suddenly realises one of her nails is broken. She feels sick, but that might just be the hangover she's sure she's experiencing.

With all due caution, Nicole pads out of the room and toward the sounds of cooking. When she finally spies Bradley Russo in the kitchen, she swallows dryly. She opens her mouth to say something. Am I supposed to be here? or Did we…? or Do you know how I got here? all spring to mind before something as simple as Good morning. Did you sleep well?

But at least it isn't a scream, or a cry of Oh, fuck!

Barefooted steps go relatively unnoticed by the celebrity, but the gaping woman certainly doesn't. He tilts his head expectantly before resting his pancake flipper (which at this moment is being used as a bacon flipper) on the spoon rest of the oven. He holds up a single finger as he reaches into one of the many cupboards and extracts a periwinkle coffee mug that he promptly fills and then slides on the counter towards her just a little followed by the sugar bowl and the little dutch cow milker (yes, it's a creamer in the shape of a cow whereby the milk comes out its mouth).

That motion taken care of, he twists back to the bacon and flips it again. If he eats this, Kristen will kill him. But bacon is just soooo good. He manages a nearly bright, albeit very weary, smile while narrowing his eyes at her, his own mouth opening to speak, only to think better of it, lest it hurt her head. Of course, she is in his house. And so the morning begins, "Good morning, merry Sunshine~ How did you wake so soon? Scared away the little stars and shone away the moon~" Now may not be the time for rhymes, but Brad is innocent to how things appear. For now.

Coffee. Brilliant. Nicole manages a bewildered smile and crosses the kitchen to retrieve the mug. She considers drinking it black, but the container of milk is far too tempting not to use, and so she tips in enough to put some clouds in her coffee.

After a sip, she finds her voice again. "I don't remember how I got here," she says honestly. "I think I was in Manhattan. Or Brooklyn? Preeeetty sure my intention was to hit a bar in every borough." The absence of something glittering on her wrists draws a frown until she recalls seeing her diamond bracelet on the nightstand. She doesn't recall seeing her necklace there. So when she reaches up to fiddle with the gold chain around her neck, she panics for a moment to realise it's not here. She flattens her hand, giving her a better surface area for which to pat down her collar, and reaches for her neck. It wouldn't be the first time she'd fallen asleep in it and had it just loop around to her back, leaving the chain almost up to her chin.


"I… Have you seen my necklace?"

The question causes Russo's eyebrows to arch. "Right!" he wags his pointer finger as he traipses over to one of the kitchen drawers. "You were pretty adamant I should keep it safe and that I would need to remind you I had it." The necklace is laced over one of his fingers and held out towards her. "And it was Brooklyn. Terrible terrible bar in Brooklyn," his tone edges on concern while he shakes his head slightly. "And sorry I didn't let you have scotch once you got here, even though I'd promised at the bar. I've been there and one more drink wouldn't have made things any better— "

He twists back to the bacon, giving it his apt attention while shaking the pan slightly. "As far as getting here. I drove you. From the bar. You weren't exactly in a good way and I didn't feel good about sending you home in a cab." Beat. "Especially… well all things considered."

Nicole winces. Of course she told Russo to keep the necklace safe for her. Of course. She takes the over-long chain back with no small amount of relief, leaving her annoyance off her face, considering it isn't for him. She loops the gold over her head and then holds what dangles from the end of it between her fingers. — A man's wedding ring. A few seconds pass before she's tucking the whole thing down the neck of her borrowed shirt.

"Brooklyn," she repeats. "Brooklyn's better than Manhattan," she decides. If it were Manhattan, well, she'd have been too close to home. Her old home. "Did I really demand scotch?" That explains why she was so fixed on making sure he held onto a dead man's wedding ring for safe keeping, at least. "I'm… sorry."

A drink of coffee is cut short as Nicole tips her head back to stare at the ceiling with a groan. "Oh no. I'm remembering it. Oh, God I wish I couldn't." She pinches the bridge of her nose between two fingers. Finally, she murmurs, "Thanks. I… There aren't a whole lot of people who would have done what you did." At least not without expecting something in return. "I'm sorry."

"Yeeeeah… sorry," Brad cringes slightly at the memory himself, all too familiar with that feeling of what did I do last night? "The good news," and there is good news, "is you slept. Which from what you said has become a rarity. So…" he shrugs a little as he removes the bacon from the stovetop. Clearing his throat, he reaches for his oven mitts and uses them to pull his cheese souffle out of the oven. "So…" he finally continues, "What do you want for breakfast? I made bacon… egg and cheese souffle… I could whip up something else if that's what you want, but only if I have the ingredients on hand."

As an aside he forces a quick smile, "It's a comfortable bed in there, isn't it? Sometimes I'll sleep on it just to change things up. It's been a long time since I had that where am I? wake-up feeling." At this he winks. "A very long time." Mostly because he doesn't. Wake up in places he doesn't know, that is.

Nicole blushes and shakes her head quickly. "Souffle and bacon are fine. More… More than I usually eat." When she eats. And she doesn't do much of that either, drawing her energy from electricity rather than protein. It's leaving her undernourished, save for the mutli-vitamins she swallows down nearly every morning.

"I find it hard to believe," she informs him, "that you've ever had a morning where you woke up and didn't now where you were. I haven't had one since college." Nicole shrugs, and decides to amuse the man with some elaboration. "I did too much coke and woke up in this German girl's dorm without any clothes." Her lip curls. "I stole a bath robe and crawled out through the window. And if you repeat that story to anyone, I'll deny it."

Nicole's story actually has the television host laughing, not just his usual quiet polite chuckle but an all-on laugh. The comments however, "Seriously? You can't believe it? I must be going soft," Russo murmurs quietly as the oven mitts are returned to the counter and he reaches for a couple of plates. "I used to have a lot of them." Reflecting on his early years on the Advocate and before— when he was just a glorified political disc jockey, "I mean, why else do people want fame? It's all about the hoes and blow." Until Lina came along.

"Someone inspired me to change. I haven't had a night like that for a long time." He raises a single finger, "The last one though— the last one was after a night of partying. Me and some buddies were out and about and that flash of red hair on the dance floor— " Mhn. The noise reverberates in the back of his throat. "I'd already met her. She'd been on the show— this avid animal rights' activist." He coughs now as he suppresses another chuckle, swallowing it down with a gulp of coffee from one of his many periwinkle coffee mugs. "She'd refused to give me her number then, but that night… " his eyes turn up as a reminiscent smile overtakes his expression. "The next morning I had no idea where I was and was pleasantly surprised to wake up in her bed…"

"I idolised you in undergrad," Nicole admits. "It's hard for me to fathom you ever fucking up." A blush creeps into her cheeks, embarrassed with herself for being quite so honest.

His story of the redhead brings forth a chuckle from Nicole. She isn't where where to go from there. What to say to segue into the next topic. So she says, "Thank you. Again. I mean… You probably saved me from waking up in a gutter, or a holding cell for a curfew violation, or a strange man's bed… with the man still in it." She bites her lip and asks, "Who inspired you?"

One of the plates, overloaded with food that Nicole probably won't finish, is passed to her along with a fork. "The redhead, actually. She told me she was what I'd been missing for so long. Turns out I had a romantic streak after all." He pauses as he forks some of his souffle. "That and actually caring about something that mattered. I cared about politics insofar as it got us ratings. And I admit, I'm unnaturally competitive. But… Karolina changed some of that. In a weird way we needed each other, but for entirely different reasons." He hmmms quietly, "She rescued me from me. And I? Well, I rescued her from prison." Beat. "More than once. She needed a wealthy gentleman to front her bail. Those animal rights people are intense…"

Nicole should know how this story ends, except that her own story was ending at the same time. For two years after the bomb, Nicole Nichols simply didn't exist. Living a double life will do that. "I've done the bail thing more often than I'd care to recall," she tells Russo, loading up her own fork with breakfast. "But never for anyone I cared about. You care about politics for the ratings. I care about posting bail in so far as it keeps my organisation running smoothly."

It's somewhat bold, perhaps, to admit that Nicole does this on behalf of the Linderman Group, but she knows where the money for the Advocate comes from. She knows Brad Russo is smart enough to read between the lines of rumour and truth when it comes to the Group. She sees little point in dancing around it with him. "What happened to her?"

Russo sighs heavily while the smile fades, there's parkour here, a blatant avoidance of some seemingly unseeable obstacle in his way. In this case it's the elephant in the room, even if Nicole is unaware of its presence, Brad had just cut the strings from said elephant, choosing to roll off its back last night, giving himself some semblance of peace. Maybe. Or at least, a way to search for it. "She died. In the bomb." There's a pause as he manages a tight smile, "With my mother." Which is why he barely lives here. It has never really been his home. His home was somewhere else with Lina.

"I was going to marry her. Like actually, the wedding would've been this week four years ago." Instead Brad gets to dwell alone with his drugs and liquor. "Some people touch us once and it barely matters. Others… well their mark is left for good. Lina haunts me. Or she did."

He frowns a little while his thoughts search for a new topic of discussion and then he finds it, Ah-ha! "I don't know if you remember, but last night I made a promise to you. I'm going to try to keep you safe through all of this. I realize…" with 'Clyde' showing up yesterday morning and the news that Heller murdered Marjorie Mihangle, "…we may both be in over our heads on this one. But… I think we can weather it. You just need to trust me in this. I have a plan, but for it to work, you'll need to follow my lead— "

"I'm sorry," Nicole says after a moment. It's the expected response, but it doesn't make it less sincere. "I… lived with my sister in Midtown before…" She presses her lips together. "I still don't know how Colette survived. I… Funny story," that isn't very funny at all, "we both thought the other was dead for two years."

It doesn't compare to actually losing your fiancee and your mother, but it's something. "I know what it's like to feel like you've lost everything, and everyone. And think you're alone." She still does, if last night was any indication of Nicole Nichols' state of mind. She lets it go. It isn't her place to say she understands fully, because she doesn't. Just has her own experience to draw from to say that his misery has found good company in her.

She lets him change the topic to his promise. One fuzzily remembered. "You asked me to be on the show. Pretty sure I agreed." She chews her lip after having chewed some egg and cheese. "Breakfast is good, by the way." She smirks at his apron, "You must enjoy it." But she's stalling, Nicole engaging in a little parkour of her own. "What's the plan?"

"In a lot of ways, I am alone. I lost the only woman who had the gaul to set me straight. Not the only one to tell me off, mind…" Russo shovels a little bit of the egg into his mouth, chews, and then swallows. "I didn't lose everyone." He didn't lose Kristen although in a lot of ways the pair have done this song and dance for years— well before Karolina ever showed up on scene.

"Yes. You need to come on the show," this is not arguable. "And you will be the last interview." He clears his throat expectantly while he raises a single eyebrow at the question. His grip tightens on the fork as he contemplates telling her. Yet… "I can't tell you. If it's going to work, you'll need to be surprised. Seriously. If you're not surprised— there's no point." He shrugs a little while his face pales slightly. "I know it's a lot to ask, but I swear it'll keep both of us somewhat safer. But we're going to have to be… smart about it. I mean really smart. So smart that everyone will call us fools because they won't know the difference."

"I think if there's anyone who knows so smart, it's foolish, it's probably the two of us," Nicole notes with some amusement. And a dig at herself. "I'd argue that I can look surprised with the best of them, but…" She holds up one hand, palm out in surrender, "I will trust your judgement in this matter. If you say I have to be in the dark, then that's fine. I trust you."

There's much food left on Nicole's plate, but it's time to take a break from it. It's set aside, the periwinkle mug replaced in her hands. "You know, this is one of my favourite colours," she tells him in a soft voice. "I like green the most," like Colette likes blue, "but this is a very close second."

Unlike Nicole, Brad actually finishes his plate of food and places the empty plate into the sink. Regarding the mugs, "They were my grandmother's," Russo raises his eyebrows and shrugs slightly. "She's not dead or anything, just… can't live on her own anymore— her mind, it's— " he raises his finger to his temple and turns it in a small twirly motion symbolic for crazy. She's been losing her mind for years.

"Anyways. It's a great colour. I'd bought them for her when I came back from the army." He was trying to make reparations for being such a hellion in years past, he'd been easily forgiven by his family, especially when his education got back on track at an Ivy League school.

"And thank you for trusting my judgment. I know what I'm doing here, I just hope you don't— " his face flickers with a smile as he presses his lips together. No giving away the secret.

"Now you're just teasing me," Nicole mock-gasps with false indignation. She drains her coffee and sets the empty mug on the counter, rather than in the sink. She'll be wanting more later. "Gonna leave me on pins and needles playing guessing games until the end of the week, huh?"

"I live to tease," he replies lightly before spinning in a small circle and holding out his hands in a voila motion. "It makes the blood move and the laughter flow~" He chuckles again as he shakes his head, "You will be shocked, surprised, and you'll have to run with it because you promised~" And there it is. The rest of the small taunt. "And at the end of the week it's Christmas. God-willing everything will just… work itself out…"

"Are you… doing anything for the holiday? Celebration-wise, I mean. I'm looking at spending it alone. Not… that I care much." Nicole maybe doesn't, hard woman she's reported to be. But he's starting to see a different side of her. One in direct opposition to her reputation. "But, you know. If you wanted to grab lunch or something, I can pretend that I'm not such a loser."

"Nothing," he replies quietly. "But. You need to come over here." The words are adamant almost like its some life and death situation. "We will not eat bad Chinese food on Christmas day." The declaration is imperative, not a question or request. "Look I can make good food that I know you'll like. Something Christmas-y. But not a turkey… that would require a lot more people…" With a glance around he adds, "And a lot more furniture…"

"How do you feel about pot pie?" Nicole asks with a smile. "I have this great recipe that I don't get to make for friends often enough." At least she's finally acknowledging Brad as a friend. "You can make the side dishes. Fair?" She lifts a finger to pause him a moment. "Do you prefer cake, or pie?"

"I like pot pie. In fact, that sounds wonderfully Christmas-y for two friends that have nothing to do on Christmas day," Brad chimes. "And I can make something awesome. Maybe French sides. I love French cooking…" His eyebrows arch at the question however, "Oh. I can make a cake." The statement is nonchalant as his fingers drum on the table. "You know… whatever.." He'd looked at her license last night so, he's aware of the importance of a cake. "I have a great chocolate cake recipe. Unless you're one of those weird vanilla fans…"

"Weirder," Nicole admits with a shrug. "I'm a big fan of spice cake. With cream cheese frosting. It's either that or chocolate cream pie as my Christmas traditions." She doesn't even suspect for a moment that he knows the significance of cake beyond it being a good dessert.

"Christmas Day, then. It's a date." Dark blue eyes close in a wince. "I mean… You know." Not that Nicole is calling sharing a meal with Bradley Russo a date. Never ever. She should be so lucky.

"Spice cake with cream cheese frosting it is then! I'm a really good baker. Seriously. I know that people may think that that I'm just a pretty face, but I'm talented too. I garden. And I cook." Russo nods emphatically at this point. "In another lifetime I would've made a very eligible gay man. Or housewife. Or gay househusband."

Nicole laughs at Brad's assessment of himself. "I can tell I'm going to have to fight you for the right for who gets to cook what." She shakes her head and sends a glance to her plate, still half-full of food. "Where's your Saran? I totally have to save the rest of that for later. It's too good not to eat. But I am way too hungover for that much food right now." She's a little sheepish at that bit, at least. "And you make a fine gay househusband. It can be your second calling, once you retire." Nicole gives Brad a wink that shows she's been watching him do the same.

"I like cooking," Russo insists as he reaches into a drawer next to the fridge for the saran. Ahhh. Total win. "I'm glad you like it, I told you, I like good food. I'm actually a foodie, I just avoid telling people that." His eyes flit to the hall, "Look. Go have a shower, there's a lot of women's shampoo under the sink," a ridiculous amount really. He's been trying to figure out what Lina used since she died. "Then… maybe you'll be hungry again." He winks.

The idea of using Brad's shower leaves Nicole with a healthy blush to her cheeks that she tries to hide by turning her head away so she can peer toward where she suspects the bathroom must be. "I suppose I would feel more like a human being after a shower," she admits almost reluctantly. "But I'd better not find a camera in there, or I'll beat you up. Promise."

There's a small salute as Brad packages any leftover food. "Duly noted, ma'am." With that he winks, leaving her to wonder whether there's a camera in the shower or not.

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