Almost Domestic


melissa_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title Almost Domestic
Synopsis Melissa pays Russo a visit, and is surprised by how almost domestic they turn out to be.
Date October 6, 2010

Russo's Apartment

It's been two days since Melissa called Russo to pick her up from jail. Two days since Russo's heard from her. But then, she had to move into her new and entirely unwanted place, so maybe that's not at all surprising. But now, early Wednesday evening, there's a knock on his door, and a Melissa stands on the other side of it.

She's back in her basic black, corset and skirt this time, her hair pulled back and french braided down her back. The scars on her shoulders, forehead and arms are clearly visible, but it seems she's well beyond trying to hide them. However, the odd part is that she's holding a package in her hands, something vaguely picture shaped, and wrapped in plain brown paper.

There's some stirring at the knock on the door as Russo shuffles towards it. While some men have masculine hobbies like working on cars or building models, Brad likes to cook. Scratch that: lives to cook. When the door opens, he's dressed in a pair of jeans and a red t-shirt underneath a Kiss the Cook apron.

When the door opens, the smell of garlic wafts from inside, flooding the hall. He leans against the door before tilting his head at her, "Hey." The smile turns a little lopsided as he inspects her, "You know, you look good in other colours too. Not that there's anything wrong with basic black. I'm pretty sure my producer would make me live in a black suit if she could." He arches his eyebrows before stepping backwards to let her in. "Come in."

Lips twitch as Melissa takes in the apron, then her nose twitches as she smells food. There's a quick sniff, then she grins and steps inside, shrugging. "I like black. I look good in it. I tried colors, but it didn't work out for me. Should've seen me when I had rainbow hair. Blonde, blue, black, red and purple. It was odd."

She glances towards the kitchen, then back to him, smiling. "Would it be rude of me to invite myself to dinner since I got here at what smells like just the right time for it? Smells good, whatever it is. Guessing…Italian? 'Cause of the garlic?"

In another lifetime, Russo could've made an awesome housewife. "Oh. You have no idea," once the door is firmly closed he's essentially skipping into the kitchen to open the oven. "Stuffed mushroom caps with homemade — " he points to the counter " — three cheese tortellini," the hint of prize can be heard in his voice as he adds after closing the oven, "that I stuffed myself. The trick is learning to make your own pasta. It's an art rather than a skill. And it is… c'est magnifique," alright, so it's the wrong language. Considering he knows politics, food, and gardening, he can't speak Italian as well.

"And yeah, you're welcome to stay. I… mostly was making it to…" to make it. He shrugs instead of spelling this out, turning to the pot simmering on the stovetop, "This is the white wine sauce to go with the pasta — " Which when he'd pulled out he couldn't help but pour himself a glass.

He's followed, Melissa seeming to forget about the package in her hands. The smell of yummy food is tempting her forward. And okay, cute guy too. "Sounds as yummy as it smells," she says, smiling at him. "And you keep mentioning this producer. Should I be jealous of her?" she asks, leaning against the counter, resting the picture on the top of her booted foot.

"Fancy food though. I'm jealous. One of my goals in life is to learn how to cook one meal without ruining it. I mean, it's bad when the dog won't even eat my cooking, you know? Oh! And I got you something. Since your walls are so bare," she says, offering it out to him. When he gets to opening it, it's a framed print of the Dogs Playing Poker.

"K and I have been a team for nearly ten years. When the show started a college radio show," he dips a wooden spoon in the sauce and holds a single hand beneath it which he lifts towards her lips, meaning for her to taste, "so I was the natural host for when it managed to get onto television. Never thought we'd be syndicated though."

He hmmms quietly, "Is it too salty or okay? I can add more cheese and milk if it's too salty. I can fix nearly anything with the right mix of ingredients." He grins broadly, "And thanks, I try to cook different things…" With that the spoon is abandoned to the spoon rest and opens the picture, "Hey, thanks. Yeah… I… don't entertain much. Kinda got used to the blank walls after nearly four years of it."

Melissa smiles before tasting the sauce and following it with a nummy noise. "That's good. Really good. Don't add anything to it. And you're welcome. Was just out avoiding my new place, saw that and figured you might like it. And I like giving presents, so…" She trails off and shrugs. "K though, huh? And ten years? Hard to compete with a decade of…friendship or teamwork or whatever."

"Her name is Kristen. Kristen Reynolds, I just… I don't really use people's real names unless on camera. I just remember names that I make up better than ones people are given by their parents," Brad shrugs nonchalantly. "And yeah… ten years is awhile. Honestly, she gets the brunt of my practical jokes, teasing, and the like. Probably the closest thing I have to family still." Beat. "And I don't doubt she'd throw me under a bus if she thought it would boost ratings. She's a smart cookie that one, and damned good at her job."

At once he's clucking his tongue and adjusting dials buttons and dials on his oven and stovetop. "Although. I guess I have a father out there somewhere. But there's a difference between the basic job of a turkey baster and a dad, right?" He arches an eyebrow.

"Like Missy instead of Melissa?" she asks, smiling. "Though I guess if she's all about ratings, then I should avoid her. Niece of DHS operations director or whatever arrested for failure to register and all that, gone out to dinner with you? Might boost ratings. And don't think too bad of your dad. It didn't sound like he knew about you, after all."

"Known or not… Mom wasn't exactly the protective type. Not in general. I ran a fight club in the basement of my school and at home I just got grounded with few other consequences. School gave more of a punishment than that mind," Melissa is shot another lopsided smile. "Theoretically Mom kept me a secret for a reason. And him a secret for a reason. I mean, especially post school, you know?" Brad shrugs, always rationalizing the situation.

"You ran a fight club?" Melissa asks, sounding instantly surprised, and a little impressed. "Never would've pegged you for that sort. And yeah, theoretically she did, but it could've been an emotional reason rather than a logical one. Maybe she wanted you all to herself. Or they had a fight right before they found out. Or who knows."

Instinctively with a playful smirk, Brad shrugs, "I can't talk about it." Fight club, that is. "And what sort did you peg me for? I'm an all American boy. Homegrown, military service… and fight club. Normal, normal childhood." He winks dramatically before rethinking, "I don't know. All of that time and she never said a word about him. The only thing we have in common is a name. Benjamin."

"I guess I just don't think of you as the military type." Melissa considers for a moment before grinning. "That's kinda hot, actually. So long as it wasn't even FRONTLINE service. Then I might have to bash you in the head with your wooden spoon and steal your food." Speaking of, a finger is dipped quickly into the sauce, then licked clean. Mmmm. Yummy. "But yeah, food, politics, gardening…guess that's mostly how I see you. Not the fighting and military stuff. You still do any of that anymore? Or you all good boy now?"

"Nah. I was done with the military more than ten years ago. It was a short-lived career to find myself and grow up. I dunno… always felt like I never really knew myself," even now, if Brad was honest, he still wouldn't be able to define himself in simple terms. "Any fighting? I workout, but no Fight Club anymore. And I have good aim and a good trigger finger." He swallows hard as he watches her and shrugs a little. "I… I found out I can be more effective at bringing about change in the world through less violent means. We have a strong viewership and when I'm so inclined I can tilt opinions one way or another." He lifts a finger, "Of course… you didn't hear that from me."

"Don't suppose you'll tilt opinions towards the pro-evolved side?" Melissa asks with a half-grin. "You do any sparring though? Even if you don't do fight club? I've been lookin' to find a new person to teach me to fight. Hand to hand. My last two teachers didn't work out on account of them being total douchebags."

"That… sounds like a story. I don't think I'm a total douchebag," Brad shoots her the most charming grin he can muster. "Maybe half 'n half." He winks at her again before moving to the stove to stir the sauce. With a few rounds, he's returning the spoon to the rest and shrugging, "I do some sparring still. Not often anymore, but I hit the gym." There's a short pause, "So… you do hand-to-hand combat? Or do you just want to?"

"You're not a douchebag. And not really much of a story. They're just idiots," Melissa says, shrugging and hopping up to sit on the counter. "And I want to. I know how to shoot, and I've got the whole pain from afar thing, but if I'm negated and gunfree, I'm helpless. I don't like being helpless, especially with all the violence I've been involved in over the last few months."

There's a slight narrowing of Brad's eyes at the notion of needing to know hand to hand combat because of the violence in someone's life. His jawline tightens as he turns to the sauce once again, giving it a couple more stirs. "So… what kind of violence?"

Melissa studies him for a moment at the question, then she shrugs. "Well, take a look at me, hon. I'm not exactly scar free. Plus Humanis First hates people like me. They've beat me before, I'm sure they'll try again. And I don't want to be defenseless when that next time rolls around. Once was plenty."

"Everyone has scars. Some are just more visible than others," Brad tells the sauce. He's still focusing his attention on the cooking, it's just easier to have serious discussions with. Finally he turns to face her, "When I see you, I don't see the scars, I see the strength." He clears his throat, "Sorry. That was very after-school special of me. Next thing you know my sauce will be brought to you by the letter S. Like on Sesame Street." His lips twitch with something akin to a smile as he swallows hard.

After-school special or not, it has Melissa smiling warmly at him and shaking her head. "No, it wasn't. It was…nice. Probably the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me. Last person to mention my scars just said they didn't like scars. And me…I hate them. At first I hid them, all the time. People'd stare. Then I just figured…fuck it. They're part of me now. Marks of things that couldn't kill me. And they say what does kill you makes you stronger, so…"

"Everyone has them. Scars are what they are. Rough skin over something healed. I think more people are scarred than they let on. And most fade with time anyways." His scars kind of faded. Until he had a bad day. Now his issues are rearing their ugly heads again. With another tight smile he turns to stir the sauce one last time, lowering the temperature after doing so. "It's almost ready."

Cocking her head, Melissa frowns a little and motions for him to come closer. "Come here. What's wrong? Did I bring up a bad memory? If so, I didn't mean to. And I…don't like seeing you upset. And you seem to be upset now," she says softly.

A moment passes before he's sliding beside her, closing that distance. "I'm not upset. I'm… just…" He shakes his head slightly. "Irreversibly messed up. Scarred differently. You know, you may have lots of physical scars but you haven't let it stop you from living." He shrugs, there's an implicit thought in all of it, unspoken, but there.

"You'd be surprised," Melissa murmurs, lifting a hand, hesitating, then resting her palm against his cheek. "So scared to try to have normal things. So scared I'll mess up and get someone I care about hurt. So scared all the time. And so lonely. Even at home, when I'm surrounded by people, or at the club, with hundreds around me, I'm lonely. I'm scarred too, hon. I just do my best to hide my emotional scars."

The hand on his cheek draws a softer and somewhat easier smile. "But you live a life that isn't dictated by fear," Brad counters quietly. "You have a family — people who care. You've let yourself live. I… I've run my show and barely lived for some time. I found meaning not long ago when I found faith. It gave me purpose… but…" He presses his lips tightly together.

"I've made my family. Not intentionally, but I made it all the same," Melissa murmurs with a faint smile. "Kendall I took in 'cause I felt bad for him. His parents kicked him out of the house when he got the evo flu and it came out that he was evolved. He had no where else to go. Ling and Edgar both needed places to stay, and I took them in."

Her thumb brushes lightly over his cheek while she looks into his eyes. "What is it you're afraid of, Brad? Losing people? Or is it more than that? Because I'd…like to help."

Brad manages a brave smile, "I'm a man, I don't fear. That's for… children and… puppies." His tone is far from convinced even as he swallows hard and attempts to sell it. "Actually I do fear. Tarantulas. And sometimes snakes. Depends on how big them are…" the diversion tactic is just that, a diversion as his eyes try to avoid focusing on hers. And then more seriously he adds, "I lost everything. All at once. There's nothing to fear after that." Other than living on.

"I fear," Melissa says quietly. "And not just spiders. There's nothing wrong with being afraid, or admitting it. But I'll understand if you're not ready to admit it to me yet." She smiles and leans forward to brush lips lightly against his. "Let's just focus on dinner. Dinner is good. And the smell is making me hungry."

The kiss is reciprocated as his arms wrap around her, drawing her tighter to him. When it's broken, Russo's breath is warm on her face. His fingertips move to her cheeks, gently running along her hairline. The insistence that he has no fears is momentarily forgotten as he turns back to dinner. "Right. Dinner." He points to a cabinet above the sink, "Plates are in there… and I will take the pasta and mushrooms to the table." But only after he dumps the sauce over the tortellini shells.

The reaction has Melissa smiling. It is a big leap from the hesitance they both displayed before. "What about glasses? Wine go with this, or something else?" she asks, sliding down off the counter to grab a couple of plates, then checking cabinets for the glasses.

"Uh…" the notion of wine gives Russo pause, especially after Kristen called him out yesterday. "I'm…" how he wants it that nearly clear liquid to wet his tastebuds and loosen his inhibitions, but then, he's supposed to be getting another sobriety pin in a couple of weeks. Maybe. If he lies. "I'm good today. But there's a bottle in that cabinet if you want some. I recommend the Chenin Blanc." His lips twitch indiscernibly as he disappears to put the pots on the table.

"If you're not having any, I won't have any," Melissa says with a smile and a shrug. She takes the plates to the table, setting them down then sitting in a chair in front of one of them. It's only then that she seems to hesitate, then looks up at him. "This is nice. Even if you weren't expecting me, the whole showing up and being welcome thing, and being comfortable. It's…nice."

"Why? Not generally welcome?" Brad arches a suspicious eyebrow although it's teasing rather than serious. "I think whatever this is you should feel free to stop by?" His eyebrows furrow slightly, "I don't know much but that just seems… right?" He sighs quietly. "I still need to take you out again." He clears his throat. "On like a real date. Or something."

"It's the whole package. Not just the welcome thing. I mean hell, this was almost domestic," Melissa replies, shrugging a bit. "And I like being free to stop by. And I really like the idea of a real date. Just let me know when and what sort of dress is required, and I'll be ready. I may even wear bells. But for now…Let's eat."

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