But You Can See It From Here


nicole2_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title But You Can See It From Here
Synopsis It's not the end of the world…
Date January 27, 2011

New Jersey

The Department of Evolved Affairs released him. Nobody at Studio K has seen him. He's not answering his phone - texts or calls. He's not at his grandmother's house. He hasn't turned up at the morgue. That leaves a very short list of places one might find Bradley Russo.


A snowball pelts the window pane of the man's old bedroom, hitting hard, and exploding to cascade white powder back down to the ground, while some of it sticks wetly and slides down the glass and onto siding.


The noise draws stirring within the room. Bradley Russo, murmurs indiscernibly to himself at the thud against his window. He runs a hand over his face, trying to wake up from whatever stupor he'd drunk himself into. With another murmur, prior to the second thud he kicks the covers from his body. His feet find footing on the floor and he presses a hand to his forehead, it's throbbing.

There's a distinct groan as he reaches for a t-shirt from beside the bed. His high school track shirt. While it 'fits,' it's tight now, almost like he'd left it in the dryer too long, or he bulked up overnight through his incredible hulk personality. "Stupid kids," he murmurs quietly as he finally stands— only to crumple under his own weight. An eye is cast to the now empty bottle on his desk and he shakes his head. He doesn't remember finishing it. Or eating. Which is really unfortunate when he begins heaving. He grasps the garbage and tugs it underneath his face for a moment, willingly expelling bile from his stomach, there's nothing else in it.

With another groan, he finally makes his way to the window and tugs back on the blue-hued drapes only to rest his forehead on the glass.


Just as Brad's forehead presses to the pane, another snowball smacks against it.

"Open the window, asshole!"

That's not a kid.

That's Russo's very acerbic fiancée. Nicole Nichols' Buick is parked on the street, having left the city at 5:02 AM, after curfew lifted. (Two minutes to load the car with snacks and an overnight bag, just in case.) The woman herself is standing in the yard with an absolute mountain of snowballs for her arsenal at her side, a cigarette between her lips. She has another projectile in her gloved hand, just waiting for the excuse to lob it.

Squinty blue-grey eyes fight against the brightness of the light outside while Brad's face contorts to try and make the figure come into focus. Sharp pain behind his eyes actually feels somewhat better at the cool of the glass. Relief. Even if it's short lived. He peels himself from the pane and moves a hand to unlatch the window from its secure setting. Except it doesn't move.

His eyebrows knit together as he presses a little harder. The house is old enough that he's hesitant to use full force, but this is ridiculous. His fingers slide along the edge of the glass. He'd painted it shut all those years ago when he'd redone this room for his mother. "That's safe, Brad," he mutters as he reaches for a letter opener off the desk. With a few strategic slices at the already chipping paint the window is free— or able to get free.

Again, his hands put pressure on the glass, opening it a crack. Not all of the way. It's too cold for that, especially for a man in only his boxers and a t-shirt.

It goes without saying that Russo has seen better days. His normally well-shaved face is graced with several days growth, heralding the less than popular mountain man appearance. His eyes are red— bloodshot— with the hangover that lingers. "Hey," he manages to call down to draw that same throbbing sensation from his head. It's been a long time since he's felt this bad.

"Hey," Nicole calls back more gently this time. "You look like hell," she informs him, as if he didn't already know. "Can't believe you had a party without me. You're so inconsiderate." She's joking. Mostly.

The cigarette is extinguished in the snowball, then tossed on top of the pile with the others to roll down. "Can you let me in?" Nicole's brows come up and she gives the man her best doe eyes. Which could be lost on him entirely in this state. "I'll accept you letting down your hair, Rapunzel."

"I bet you twenty bucks a look better than a feel," Brad flashes her his most winning smile, sullied by his already unkempt appearance. The pile of snowballs is examined and he nods a little, closing the window and then disappearing from sight. With a heavy sigh, he treads out of the room, traipses down the stairs, and, after heading to the entrance, unbolts the front door before opening it just a crack.

The entrance opens onto the living room— that is still dressed in white drop cloths to which Brad attends. At least the chairs and couch underneath aren't dusty. All in all the townhouse is small, but it has that power of memory that he can't quite describe. He sits on one of the chairs, allowing his elbow to rest on his knees and his face to bury into his hands. It's just easier to deal with a hangover while bending forward.

Nicole carefully hop-steps back through her own footprints so she can reach the front door. She shuts it behind her, locking it as well. "You know," she murmurs as she slips out of her shoes and pads into the home in her stockings, "I pelted like every other window before I finally found you. I was beginning to think you weren't here, and worried someone was gonna call the cops on me for a minute or two."

The woman presses her lips together and comes to crouch down in front of the man she's meant to marry. "Hey…" Nicole reaches out to brush her fingers through Brad's hair soothingly. "Tell me what you need. Manifesting was hard on me, too. But it turned out okay. This will, too. Being SLC-Expressive isn't the end of the world, Jester."

The fingers in his hair actually prompt him to lower his hands, the smell of liquor still lingers on his breath, virtually wafting from his pores. He forces her a fake smile, weak, pained, perhaps, in lieu of his normal defences. There's a heavy sigh as the smile fades, retreating into some darker part of himself.

There's another faint curl of lips, exasperated in a way, as he shakes his head. "No. Manifesting isn't the end of the world." He hmms quietly, his voice gruff against his dehydrated throat and mouth. "It just feels over." The ambiguous it is left to hang amongst another sigh. "I sold my soul. I swore I never would."

The scent doesn't make Nicole recoil. She knows how it feels to wake up like this. It'd be hypocritical to wrinkle her nose at him. "Let me get you some water, okay?" She plants a kiss to his temple before she rises and heads for the kitchen. "Tell me everything," she entreats quietly before she's far enough way that she should have to raise her voice.

A bottle of pills is pulled from the pocket of Nicole's leather jacket, three shaken out into her palm to go along with the glass she fills with water. She returns then, offering painkillers and hydration.

The pills are tossed into Brad's mouth and swallowed before the water is regarded, but he drinks that too if only to put something into his stomach. He issues her a tick of a smile, a silent thank you as he tries to process exactly what happened. "It was.. fine. Too fine." His throat clears and he drains the story of his value judgments, they only make it less bearable as a story in general.

"I talked to an agent early on," his eyes drift towards the ceiling as he recalls, "insisted that I must have gotten a false negative and then Praeger suggested that they had 'found'" around that word he gives air quotes, "a number of faulty test kits." Now he smirks ironically, "They threw out test kits for my voice. For my face. For my advocacy. I'll be officially on contract with the DoEA by the week's end." He groans.

As Brad continues to explain the situation, it's time for Nicole's head to drop into her hands, a shuddery breath betraying her dismay. Or disappointment. "That's okay. We can work with this." She pushes to her feet again to start pacing the floor, dragging her fingers through her dark hair.

"We can use this." Her head bobs up and down quickly as she processes how to turn this situation into one where she has the advantage. "We can use it for an endorsement for your campaign. People have doubts about Lockheart after the faked Pause interview. It was enough to make people scrutinise her credibility a little more than they would have otherwise. The DoEA should be eager to cast her aside in favour of someone far more charismatic." Nicole stops pacing, her head swivelling so she can put the full of her stare on Russo. You.

Brad presses a hand tightly to his forehead. "Do I have a hope in hell getting in against someone like? Someone who has these latent anti-evolved sentiments?" His tilts to the right. "Did you see the footage? I have no idea how to clean up that mess, and did you see what.." his eyes track to his hands which he holds out in front of him. "How do I learn to control something like that? I wasn't thinking when it happened— I wasn't considering anything would happen to Dirk— I.." He frowns while his eyes close again.

"C'mon, Brad. Dirk's a scumbag. All you have to do is get him talking on camera for five minutes and no one will blame you for what happened. Larry King would try to break the man's jaw." Nicole pulls off her jacket and tosses it onto one of the cloth-covered pieces of furniture, tucking her hair behind her ears. "Listen. You were issued a faulty test. That's not your fault. You had no reason to believe anything would happen when you lost your temper. It could have happened to anyone. The Evolved public are going to look at you and have sympathy. You need to be their voice."

Rather then crouch down, this time Nicole just sits on the floor with her legs folded up beneath her, resting her head against Russo's knee. "I never told you the story of how I manifested, did I?" She smiles gently, tilting her head so she can peer up at the man's face.

"Dirk is… ugh." He clears his throat as he finishes off the glass of water. "I hate that guy. I should almost ask for the tape." Brad wrinkles his nose now as he considers it all, "Ha. The public is made to believe I had a faulty test." He tongue dabs his lips, they're cracked and dry, and now sore underneath the motion. "Praeger knew. I swear he knew. They made it up, they swept it under the rug and now I'm left to pick up the pieces." He slowly exhales his breath, "I suppose I haven't lost all of my credibility. I mean, not all non-evolved people are so narrow minded, right?" His eyebrows tick upwards, "And no, you've never told me that story. Was it on live television?"

"Of course Praeger knew." She isn't sure how she knows that he knows, but she knows it. "But you have got to keep saying it was a faulty test. You need to be consistent with this lie. You tell it to everyone. If the wrong person finds out you knew the truth all along? You're fucked." Nicole shakes her head, "Praeger knows. And he wants you to know he knows, without saying it. He wants to own you."

Perhaps she knows the tactic so well because it's one she's employed herself.

"The trick is to walk the line. Petrelli was good at it. You can be, too. We play like we're in the Department's pocket, but we keep our sights on our own goals and agendas until we can amass enough dirt of our own to use as leverage. Consider it aggressive negotiations. I shouldn't have to be explaining to you that this is how politics works."

She lets it drop. There's nothing they can do about it sitting here, right now. "No, I did not manifest on live television. Thankfully." Nicole smiles a little ruefully and curls up a little tighter. "I was in Las Vegas, at the Corinthian there, recruiting from their employees to staff our new hotel here… And I was called back to New York. Kain Zarek and John Logan," I believe you know both these men is left unspoken, "came to pick me up. It started to storm out of nowhere and…"

Shifting on the floor, Nicole's cheeks puff out a moment as she exhales a heavy sigh. "I got fuckin' struck by lightning. It stopped Kain's heart. I had to play human defibrillator to bring him back." Gave him more time. "You should've seen the look on Logan's face when I told him I was going to do that," the woman laughs. "I thought his eyes were gonna bug outta his skull." Blue eyes study a seam in the flooring, rather than peering back up to her fiancĂ©. "That's how he and I got to know each other so well. He would negate me with his ability. I was blowing up light fixtures in my building every time I flicked a switch. Power company couldn't figure out why there were so many surges in my area. So… Logan had to be around me anytime I had an important meeting to get to."

Brad's eyebrows arch at the story, "That's.. quite the story." He takes a slow deep breath. "He has a thing for you. Obviously." As evidenced by the attempted rearranging of Russo's face. There's another slow exhale as he leans back in the chair finally, considering the words, the story, everything. "Be thankful you didn't manifest on television. My saving grace— which is really not that great— is that Gram's dementia means even if she did know what happened, she couldn't remember it." His last living relative has been in a home for some time now.

He sighs again, "Did you talk to Delia at all? She's.. she's gone. Rosa told me that much— I sent a colleague to contend with her while I went with the DoEA instead of ditching the set of my show…"

"No… I haven't… I don't know where you put her, Brad." Nicole leans back and gives Russo one of those insincere smiles - not like his where he tries to sell them as sincere and she knows better, but a bit of a nasty one. "You don't tell me shit." Slender shoulders come up in a bit of a helpless shrug. "You fuck off without telling me where you're gonna be, and leave me to find out you manifested while I was upstate from the paparazzi."

An accusing finger is jabbed into the man's knee, brows coming together in an annoyed expression. "That was shitty, Bradley."

There's an overemphatic roll of Brad's eyes, "I didn't plan on manifesting and I've been sorely out of communication thanks to DoEA custody." And then he didn't go home. Hasn't gone home. Has no desire to go home. His hands press over his eyes again, "I considered quitting. For the first time in years. I don't think they'd let me anyways." He lets out a quiet breath now, somewhat deflated. "And for the record I've been working. Pretty much non-stop." There's a quiet sigh as he shuffles in the seat, pressing himself to slide off it.

"I would have accepted a phone call from Dirk in this case. The photo alone that they managed to snap of me is… I should have-" Nicole stops, and she sighs heavily. "I'm sorry. This isn't about me. It's about you. And I'm sorry you went through this. It sucks. For all parties involved, but especially for you."

The younger woman pushes herself to her feet and places her hands on the man's shoulders to keep him in the chair. "You can't quit. You're like me. You need a purpose, and you need focus. Mine is to make sure you're the best man you can possibly be. If yours needs to be scaled back to something as simple as make it through another show, then that's okay. But you need something to be held accountable to." Nicole's eyes find Russo's, different shades of blue, and watch for understanding or dissension.

A single eyebrow quirks now as Brad sighs. "I've worked too hard to quit. They won't let me anyways." There's more silence as he considers the why. "I just think— " he begins just to cut himself off. "It's fine. I'll go back. And maybe… maybe we can run on this or something." He groans, "I just hate that it was so… public." His cheeks blush a tick. "It just feels purposeless. I've probably lost her now, you know. The family I'd just found— they're probably gone for good. They're all wanted."

"You and me both, babe. S'why we're well suited, right?" Nicole smiles down at him for a moment, but it's somewhat unsteady. He can see that there's gears turning behind her eyes. A decision being weighed.

A decision being made.

Nicole dips down and crushes her lips to Brad's, eyes shut tightly as if to block out the visual memory that may accompany this mistake. If it's a mistake. It's probably a mistake. (It is a mistake.)

The kiss catches Bradley off guard. He tenses underneath the touch of her lips, his eyes widen until he lets himself melt into it. His hands move to her cheeks, fingertips grazing them as he lets himself relax against the kiss. His face is scratchy with the bristle like whiskers.

Nicole reaches for the hem of her shirt, tugging up the fabric of the heather grey v-neck tee until she has to part to peel herself out of it. Then she reaches for his track tee as she closes the distance again. The taste of whiskey and morning-after is familiar. Comforting in its own way.

Tugging Brad's shirt over his head is easy enough, particularly as his lips find the line of her neck, slow, laboured, and then.. stalled. His eyes close as he leans away. His lips curl upwards only to let the smile falter. "I.. can't," he whispers before shifting his weight to move to his feet.

The breath hitches in Nicole's throat with his lips over neck. Then releases as a shudder when she backs away to give him the room to stand. "Oh, my God." One hand flutters up to half-shield her face, flushed pink with embarrassment and other expected emotions.

She staggers further back and her hand comes away again, making a strange little motion through the air not quite unlike the unpredictable movement of a piece of paper caught in a stray breeze. It's like a physical attempt to grab at words. "Jesus Christ," Nicole mutters, "I'm standing in your living room in my fucking bra and— " To stop herself from further abstract movement, she stalks over to where she threw her shirt and busies herself with alternating between attempting to smooth it out enough to pull it back over her head, and wadding it up in her fist due to nervousness. "I'm— Sorry. Jesus. Christ. I'm sorry. I don't know— "

"It's— it's fine, Nicole, I— " Brad's own cheeks flush now as he pulls that too tight for him track shirt over his head again. He issues her a smile not one of the charming fake ones, but a soft one, gentle, non-reprimanding. "I— " his eyes clamp shut. "It was— it's…" they're engaged. In a way, anyone else would think such things expected, but there's something inherent in their arrangement that precludes such contact. "I— it's okay," he insists. "I.." he glances at the stairs, "I should shower. And then.. we should go and get back to the inevitable— " Reality.

"No. That… That was not fine." Nicole shakes her head emphatically, even if it's just to shake her hair back into (out of?) place after tugging her shirt over her head again. "You're in love with someone else, who actually loves you back. And… I did that." Her eyes shut tightly and she makes a disgusted little sound in the back of her throat, her hands coming up to cover her face entirely now. "I'm… under a lot of stress right now, too.

"That's no excuse." Hands go up in surrender. "Go shower and feel like a human being again. We'll stop at McDonald's on the way home. You can… stay at my place for a few days. I can pick stuff up from yours. You can have my bed, and I'll stay in my sister's room." She nods her head once as if coming to some sort of agreement with herself.

There's another tick of a smile, good humoured as it is that has Brad treading towards the stairs. "That sounds good.. for tonight for certain. I can't.. I can't stay here forever." Well he could, but considering he's out of liquor, he'd have to leave anyways if he's to keep in the same vein. He shoots her a salute before retreating upstairs. Once he's at the top, he blows a slow breath, inflating his cheeks and then whistles. It's been a weird few days.

Once Brad's out of sight at the top of the stairs, Nicole falls into his previously occupied chair heavily with a groan. "Really, Gidge?" she mutters under her breath self-deprecatingly.

It's been a weird few days for both of them.

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