Better Left Unsaid


kristen_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title Better Left Unsaid
Synopsis After a filming disaster producer and talent have it out
Date January 15, 2011

Manhattan — Studio K, Brad's Office

It's a Saturday. Bradley Russo's mother had a motto Never come to work on a Saturday unless it's an emergency. This qualified as an emergency since Wednesday when it happened. When they'd filmed.

He's been surly since then. Leaving angry messages for a producer he couldn't get ahold of. Receiving equally angry messages from other crew members for not taking control of the situation.

He hisses out his breath as he stares down at the bottom drawer of his desk. The favourite drawer of his desk. His hand shakes. There's nothing else to do. His black Armani suit is wrinkled as he opens the drawer. It's been so long. Since Christmas. So long. He longs for the feeling of that amber fluid in his throat. He longs to swallow it. To taste it. To have that warm feeling of tingles when he consumes it.

He growls loudly as he yanks the drawer open. The bottle of Jack's is yanked harder than the door had been opened. Unexpectedly, he clasps the bottle. There's no fondness in the motion, not great regard for that which he's holding. The sacred had become profaned by its very existence in the drawer. Finally, angrily, frustratedly, he throws the bottle against the furthest wall, straining his shoulder, and shattering the glass against it. Whiskey trails down the wall beside his office door as he bitterly sniffs. It's unusual he loses his temper. Today would be one of those days.

The door opens wide to allow a fairly angry producer to storm in, just as the glass smashes against the wall, sending a shower of alcohol and glass toward her. Instinctively, she ducks to the side and brings up her arm to protect her face. While hers isn't as marketed as the host's, she still needs her looks and charisma to sway the minds of television executives, agents, and managers.

"HEY!!" The arm is brought down and two brown eyes that would shoot fire if they could are pointed directly at Russo in a glare. "This is not your building to destroy. Take your demons out on your own walls at home!" Kristen is dressed in rather casual attire this afternoon. The weekday suit has been traded for a long crochetted sweater jacket that's layered over a designer long sleeved tee and a pair of fashionably worn jeans. Her feet are fashionably set into a pair of wedge boots of the winter variety.

"Jesus Brad, what the hell is your problem? I take a few days to myself and leave the show to more than capable hands and what…" The woman's hands are lifted into the air at either side of her and shaken as though pleading to a God. "What… did… you… do?!"

Russo pushes away from the desk, rolling his chair from it angrily and stands to his feet. His lips twitch into a sardonic smile, "My problem…? My problem? What is my problem?! What the hell is your problem, Kristen?! I thought we were a fucking team in this together?! You know— college and all of them fucking ideas of equality and how we'll be this awesome crackpot team?! I get no warning anymore?! No head's up?! No regard?! Thanks for that. Real professional demeanour."

His throat clears as he approaches her. Closing the door once she's safely inside, and kicking the broken bottom of the bottle against the wall. It's a fierce action. She hasn't seen him this angry in a long time. But then he rarely lets himself get angry, he generally manages to dull that emotion. On the plus side, it doesn't seem like he drank any of that liquor.

"I didn't fucking do anything! I redirected. I tried to cover! Fucking Tracy Strauss ate my show! Like the lioness she is she picked on the remains of my guests— we'll be lucky if we can line anyone up after that bloodbath!"

"I know, I watched it." Kristen smirks and folds her arms over her chest, narrowing her eyes at the host of th show. Letting loose a sniff that acts like a silent laugh, she rolls her eyes toward the ceiling and shakes her head. "Didn't think I'd see the day when I'd see you lose control like that. To think, right in front of your new fiance…"

Her brown eyes slide back down to catch his blue ones and they narrow to nothing but slits in a cold stare. "Pity," she all but growls at him, her lip curling into an expression of amusement and distaste all at once. Tightening her hunched posture, she turns away from him, ready to head back out the door to shower off some of the fragrance that might get her mistaken for a bum on the street. Except that she's wearing the expensive stuff as opposed to mouthwash or boxed wine.

"Don't be a bitch, it doesn't suit you," Russo counters levelly. His arms cross over his chest as he bends down and picks up several bottle pieces from the floor. "And for the record— " it might be a delayed response, but he wants to set the record straight "— I bring in double your other talent combined. I think you can afford to let me ruin my office." His lips tick into a sardonic grin, "M'kay."

He plucks one of the smaller pieces into his glass pile, cutting his finger in the process. "Fuck," he curses as he sucks on his finger. He slides away from the bottle, "You left me with the single most incompetent producers in the business. Do you not care about this show or am I alone in this? If you don't care, then maybe I shouldn't either."

Kristen freezes, her fingers curling into a fist as he makes his little counter argument in regards to her behavior. "Shut the fuck up, Bradley Russo. You have no idea what I've been going through." Turning a glare toward him, she sets her jaw and tries to take in a few cleansing breaths, mentally reciting gooz-frah-bah over and over again. "This show is very important to me…"

She drifts off there, watching in stoic silence as he cuts his finger and makes his accusations and assumptions. "Maybe you shouldn't, maybe you already don't. How the hell would I know? You're so … caught up in your own … shit .. " Family. " .. that you can't even take control of a few guests? What the hell, Brad? Maybe I just couldn't deal with this show right now." Each enunciated word is punctuated by a gesture that is pseudo-Italian in nature, missing only the kiss of the fingertips and the shout of 'Bellisima!'

Brad sniffs.

He twists on his heel, abandoning the glass, still sucking on his finger, as he moves to the window, turning his back to her. He stares at the glass with rapt interest, letting it be the only thing in this room. "I'm not caught up in anything," he mutters angrily. "I have been fucking balancing everything. What the hell have you been through?"

He actually feigns to laugh at the notion he doesn't care, but it comes out as a choke, caught along the inside of his throat. His palms rise and are pressed against the glass. From Kristen's position she can't quite make out the reflection, particularly as he shadows his face through the arms on either side, making his expression completely indiscernible.

The producer's hard stare softens as Brad turns his back to her and her head twists a little to the side to avoid looking at him any more. "Balancing? Don't give me that shit. You've been living the high life. New family, new friends…" The fact he's leaving the old ones behind is left unsaid, as are the new responsibilities he's taken on. "Come on, isn't that what you've always wanted?"

Kristen's never been known to play nice when it comes to arguments. "I thought I could have just one show where I didn't have to hold anyone's hand and not be forced to send a rerun. The producers I left you with are good enough for every other show we do, maybe if you'd just put your ego away for sixty god damn minutes and listen to someone else for a change this shit you managed to create wouldn't happen."

There's a huff as the brunette tries to blow a long tendril of hair out from in front of her eyes. It always did get a little unruly when she's angry.

"Now if you'll excuse me, I have to waste my weekend in editing trying to salvage what I can." She spins on her heel and marches proudly toward the door again. Once the handle is reached, she pauses and leans her head against the door, breathing in the scent of the liquor. While not an alcoholic, it's times like these that tempt her to actually start licking the wall.

There's a painful silence from Brad's back.

His head rests against the glass and his eyes close tightly.

He sniffs again— the only sound breaking the otherwise silent room. He takes another large grasp and he exhales a single word, whispered, "Why?"

The why isn't explained as he finally twists around to face her his hand pressed tightly to his forehead. He sighs again, "You think this is some grand picture of joy for me? You think that suddenly having people in my life to care about is some joyous thing. I have a father my mother didn't see fit to know about me. I have a half-sister who almost died because of some wonky ability shit. I am sober. One of our producers disappeared to go on some mission with Humanis First. I continue to be the outward boyscout so I keep fucking keeping my word. And now I'm taking care of a young woman that I have no ability to care for." His arms cross over his chest as his eyes tick to her back now. "I am toxic. You know that."

Spinning around Kristen clenches her jaw and balls her hands up into little fists at either side of her. "No Bradley. You just want to be toxic so no one will ever expect anything from you ever again. You want to be the guy that's so damaged that he doesn't have to bother to reach out to anyone. Lucky you, it almost worked. No one except for me would have known any differently if you hadn't decided to take your monologues and use them for personal gain."

Clenching and releasing the tension from her jaw a few times, she takes in heavy breaths while staring at him. "Poor Bradley Russo," she continues in a sarcastic tone, "got caught and now he's got himself an instant family. Wife and kid… Even an old man to round out the collection." Her hands raise to clap loudly, slowly, and rhythmically. "Congratulations, here's your standing ovation. Now why don't you go home and cry about it to your fiance and let her make you feel better?"

"I. Am. Toxic," Brad counters again as he slides towards her. "You know it. There was a moment. Just over a month ago. I gave you everything. We could've had— " his lips twitch. It was a moment they'd refused to discuss. A moment they'd let pass them both by. Their guards had gone up. "But you knew. You know the terrible mess I am. You knew that I could never let go. That I would always be a mess. Toxic. Pained. Destructive." His blue eyes seek out her brown ones.

"A father I probably don't want. A fiance I can't love. A sister I barely know— who could crumble underneath it all. The liquor. The cocaine. The refrain." His eyes search for hers. "A store bought registration that implies I can't even visit a hospital without facing arrest thanks to SLC-testing. A propensity to lie everyday to everyone because I don't even remember what the truth is anymore. Or maybe I don't want to know."

His eyes flit away only to return, "Every time this almost happens you push me away." He's probably not talking about the show anymore.

"Don't even presume to guess what I know," Kristen snips back sharply. "Toxic? Heh.." Her sardonic laugh cuts through the air between them like a lightsaber through wedding cake. "What I know is that you wouldn't let go. Not for me. Ever. You let go for the fiance you won't let yourself love. The father that you'll push out of your life like you push me out. And your sister? You'll smother her until she runs. That's what they do, isn't it? The illegals? Yeah, I've done my homework. Your father's wanted by the federal government for treason, your sister for dodging registration."

Shaking her head, she curls her lip in distaste for the man in front of her. "I've supported you in every decision you've ever made, Brad. I'm done. You know what you meant to me and you know how much you hurt me. You're just too selfish and wrapped up in your own shit to bother with letting me down gently."

"Letting you down gently? Are you kidding me? We could've been something in university before Lina ever showed up and you know it. Hell, she knew it! She saw the way I looked at you! She— fuck. You think I don't care?! You think I haven't cared? Really?" Russo rakes his hand through his hair nervously. "She made me promise. Weeks before she died, she made me promise." Or she tried.

"And I am selfish. I am toxic. That's what it means. That's how I hurt everything and everyone. I am a disaster. A mess. I have nothing to offer except two houses I don't want to go into because they remind me of everything I lost. And do you know why I helped Delia? She deserved better. I don't."

He closes the distance between them, extending a single finger. "Never tell me how I feel. Never tell me what I do or don't know. You pushed me away. I.." His fingertips rise to graze her cheek extending just a little for a faint brush.

A hand comes up, ready to slap away his fingers from her face. But Kristen holds back, not allowing Russo's statement any validation. Frozen in place, she stares up at him, jaw clenched and mind reeling with new venom to spit at the television host. In the end, all that comes out is a strangled whisper, "…you what?" Yet another challenge. Allowing him time to actually put into words what they've both been dodging for the better part of a decade.

A sniff, much like the two he's given her is let off.

Her eyes drop and her head turns away from his fingers, just a fraction of an inch, brushing her hair against them. There's too much at stake for both of them but she doesn't say a word to discourage whatever comes next; half of her wanting to hear, the other half dreading the implications. "What?"

Russo's blue grey eyes don't move, staring forward where eyes had been, his fingertips momentarily displaced by the turn of her head. He leans forward, his breath is warm against and moist her skin as his fingers slide back to her cheek. He freezes there, allowing the full weight of his thoughts, emotions, and state of mind to fill this moment. His eyebrows knit together as he stays there, an inch from her. She presses for it though, his thought. The unuttered words between them that had kept them as friendly colleagues for so many years; that had kept them as best friends without all of the other drama. "I love you," he whispers.

Slowly, cautiously, he fills that inch. His lips meeting hers in what starts as a soft kiss. His arms wrap around her, tugging her close.

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