Degrees Of Happiness


kincaid_icon.gif russo2_icon.gif

Scene Title Degrees of Happiness
Synopsis Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness. — George Santayana Quotes
Date March 6, 2011

Kincaid's Apartment

The smell of coffee is the first thing that hits Bradley Russo upside the nose as the door to the generic apartment door opens, letting warmer air into slightly chilly hallway. Not quite cold enough for heavy coats, it's still certainly coat weather. "Brad— I, Russo— I wasn't expecting you this early," the young Producer says, as he pulls the door open even more. Despite the hour, it looks like Kincaid August has been up for some time. Many of the cuts and bruises have faded away, leaving only the mostly healed evidence of the beatings. The laccerations on his wrists will likely take the longest to heal, of the injuries he has revealed. Considering his ability, who knows how much is hiding under the freshly cleaned and even pressed clothes he wears.

Someone knows how to use a clothing iron.

One would think he was expecting to go into work, though the lack of tie makes it less formal than a suit. A little.

"Come on in. You want some coffee?" he asks with a gesture towards the kitchen, one of the few places in the apartment that has heavy accessories. All useful appliances or spice racks and other useful things. From a glance, the rest of the apartment looks fairly bare. No throw pillows on the used couch, a table with no placemats or table cloth, a television sitting off to the side with a cable hook up. Oddly a two-way radio of some kind has more attention than the television. Odd, considering his job.

And there's a pin-up board. With many, many newspaper articles, most recent, within the last year.

”You really are a coffee fiend,” Russo observes with bemusement and a twinkle of mischief in his grey-blue eyes. “And yes. I would love a cup.” The smile wins out on his features, even with the vague weariness hidden behind his eyes. “Although— “ he holds up a hand only to shake his head to whatever he was going to jump into— never mind is the implication; his stomach can handle coffee despite his odd dreamings.

Like Kincaid, he’s dressed well enough, although not suited— and certainly never tied— when off set. His light tan khakis and royal blue sweater peek out from underneath is not-done-up heavy black trench. “You’re looking well,” he observes, perhaps too formally, always a sign that the host is in fine form— his defences are up, even though he’s the one that paid this visit.

His eyes linger on the two way radio before they flit back to the producer. The question is left unspoken, instead refocusing on the being here so early, “Couldn’t sleep, I’m afraid. Too much,” a pointer finger taps against his forehead, “just couldn’t silence the thoughts.” His eyebrows knit together slightly as he lifts his chin. And then, magically to change the subject he points towards the radio, “Unusual piece of equipment. For a house, I meant.”

Rather than take care of any other business, Kincaid first goes to pour some coffee into one of his many cups. The cupboard seems to hold a good handful, though he skips over the ones with an odd Hawaiian theme and instead grabs one of the more normal looking ones, or more normal for a tourist to buy. A coffee mug with the empire state building and New York on it.

"Oh, yeah, that's— it's just something I use for a hobby. You'd be surprised the kind of information you can get from one of those things," he says in a dismissive fashion, before he hands the mug over, just like Russo likes it. Something he's taken a point to know.

"You look like you're not feeling very well."

There's a quirk of Russo's brow, and that same mischief reflects in his eyes as he continues to eye the radio. His lips part twice, curling slightly each time, only to finally tease, "A bit of voyeur?" both of his eyebrows arch high atop his forehead. With a quiet sigh, he shakes his head and raises a hand; he's kidding.

The coffee is accepted gratefully, held in two hands as the room itself is put under inspection again. The liquid is brought to his lips and sipped at carefully. After a long swallow, he grins, although this smile is far more weary than the one previous. "I didn't sleep well," he reiterates as if this explains everything. His eyes narrow slightly while a glance is given the television, causing another quirk of his brow, "Have you ever had a dream that just…" his lips twitch into a smile complete with a mirthless chuckle. "It's silly."

"More like an audieur," Kincaid says to follow up the joke, taking it in stride rather than looking insulted. It seems to be funny to him, from the smile that touches his eyes. Though not funny enough that he stops himself from walking over to the radio and turning the volume down.

A soft staticly noise that could barely be heard disappears. The radio is actually on it seems. Possibly sending, possibly just recieving, possibly both. But now the soft white noise won't interupt them.


"I've had lots of dreams, but I'd never really call them silly, especially not the ones that rattle me. Do you want to talk about it?" he motions toward his used couch, and also a similar used chair. Both look presentable and clean, but neither would fit in in a nicer apartment.

he radio is eyed again, particularly as it's turned down. "Trying to call ET first thing, Caid?" he jokes lightly before taking a deep breath and turning to the couch to sit. The coat that clings to his shoulders is shrugged off, laid beside him before he sits down. With his coffee in hand he shifts. Twice over. The settling isn't easy, not when he's already so unsettled in general.

"Delia walks through people's dreams. Did she ever tell you that?" his eyes narrow a little. "I can only imagine what it would be to remember someone else's dream let alone your own." There's a pause as he sips the coffee again. "This one though.. I remember it. I remember it in detail.. I remember the sounds. The smells. The cool feeling of fall air in my nostrils and lungs…"

"She mentioned it," Kincaid says, letting the ET question drop, though he does smile faintly as he turns around, choosing to sit on the chair rather than the couch so that he can face the man better. With his strange pineapple shaped coffee mug pulled up from the counter from the expensive brewer that he has. All gifts, but ones he's not wanting to talk about.

"She even demonstrated once, when she was staying with me," he adds, taking a thoughtful sip from the top of the pineapple, smile moving toward a thin line of a frown.

"I don't recall it being that vivid, though, but… it probably wasn't Delia. I don't think she's close enough to do anything with your dreams right now. Or at least she hasn't been visiting me any…" And he'd made the offer.

"What happened?"

A tight-lipped smile is shot back to Kincaid as Russo shakes his head. "She wasn't there. Delia, I mean. When she's visited me, she's always been there. I mean, I knew she was there. This was.. different. It was like— like I was living it, not dreaming it," the coffee is brought to his lips again as his elbows are made to rest on his knees.

"I was on the phone with my agent… or a lawyer…" his eyebrows knit together tightly. "someone. Other than he wasn't my agent. Like. I know he wasn't either. Because.. he just wasn't. It was someone I knew in the dream, but didn't know in real life.."

He sighs deeply before taking a long drink from his coffee. "And I was trying to get out of my contract or something. I'm guessing it was still for the show because— the ad. There was an ad on a billboard. My face. Smiling brilliantly." He sighs deeply.

There's a pause while his jaw becomes tight-set. "What if a dream tells you the direction you're supposed to go? Is that possible? I've always believed in a higher power. What if this is a sign?"

"I think dreams work in a lot of ways," Kincaid says, though there's something careful about his hesitant voice, like he's choosing his words before he says them with more thought than a normal conversation might entail. "Dreams can show you want you think you want— or what you're afraid of. It really depends on what you think the dream means, I guess."

The young Assistant Producer looks down into the dark coffee with equally dark eyes, before he continues, "Maybe you're seeing yourself still on the show because part of you doesn't want to leave— or you want to leave, but you keep finding excuses not to— as in the agent who argues with you about your contract. What do you think it means?"

"I think whoever the guy on the phone was.. I get out of it. Like. He mentioned this invitation from Madam Secretary to discuss my future," Brad crinkles his nose before focusing on his coffee again. "Mayoral elections. Evidently I was particularly good. Or something. He said something about me being good. And he called me B-rad. I only ever use that at the end of the shows because it's what we did back in college." He cracks a small toothy grin. "Old habits die hard. I haven't even been using it as much as I used to."

He frowns slightly at the question. "I have no idea. Oh! I didn't even get to the scary part. There were planes. And robots. Or something." He tilts his head a little, "Cyborgs, maybe."

"Mayoral elections…" Kincaid repeats quietly, frowning more visibly down at his dark coffee as if he's not sure what to think of that. And robots. There's a grimace at the mention of them, almost as if he finds it silly, or crazy.

Or because robots bother him. Who can tell, really.

"I don't know much about robots or cyborgs, but… maybe they represent something." Or maybe he overheard the stories about the robots in Midtown. There's a glance toward the bulletin board he has set up, looking toward the blank area, where he took down the maps he'd had laid out. Those maps.

With a shake of his head, he looks back at the older man. "You'd mentioned possibly venturing into politics. Is Mayor something you think you'd want to do? Do you think you'd be able to make a difference there?"

And that’s a question he hadn’t considered for a long while, but that’s not to say he wouldn’t consider it at all. “I had Lockheart on the show awhile back. October.. November, maybe?” His gaze turns up to the ceiling, trying to remember, but then it doesn’t matter. Not really. “It was the first time I really engaged with the issues.” The truth drives him to distraction as his eyes rest on the the radio again, “For a long time I basked in my neutrality. Basked. For years before.” He swallows hard. “And then? After. After Karolina and September— “ not mom, and not Lina… not when he discusses the politics of his decisions “— I wasn’t what I ought to have been. I fuelled the fires.” Now his gaze turns down to the coffee in his grasp. “Until I changed. Kind of.”

His lips press together again, regret vaguely crosses over his features. “That day with Lockheart tipped the scales again. She sat there and approved of a teenage girl’s thoughts. A confused teenage girl’s thoughts…”

"Late November," Kincaid says quietly, remembering that particular moment, when he sat in the Producer's box with Kristen, watching a girl who his research stated was a Registered Evolved, who just hadn't manifested, hating her own kind. And how the Mayor of the city supported such hatred.

"Neutrality can sometimes be as harmful as choosing a side, though I know it's the goal of media to be as neutral as possible— even when they're not." Most news groups have an opinion, something they report on. A system they support.

"And what do you think now? That you should take up politics and do things differently?"

"I think.. " Russo taps on the side of his coffee mug as he sucks on the inside of his cheek, the tourist nature of the buildings noted with a smirk, "I think I've been on the outside of the issues longer than I'd ever intended. When we took this venture together I wasn't going to stay. It's longer than I'd thought it would be…"

His cheeks puff outwards as he releases a quick breath. "I wonder if things can be done differently. At the very least someone like Lockheart is a poor role model for young people trying to find their way. It's hard enough with the hatred the world has for people like us." His eyebrows tick high on his forehead as a weaker smile creeps over his lips, "But then, questions remain as to whether anyone would vote for an evo-er anyways."

"You likely would have had a better shot if you hadn't manifested on television and were able to hide the fact that you're Evo," Kincaid says quietly, as he stares off trying to tackle the topic in question. Many different levels to tackle with this, he knows…

"You might be able to, under the right circumstances, with the right support— though in this government, the right support may not be the kind that you want." There goes his eyes toward that pin up board. Articles about the Department of Evolved Affairs seems to be promanent among them.

"You already kind of owe them. You don't want to owe them too much."

"They're not wrong, you know. Not entirely. They're not right either— " Russo's eyes trail after Kincaid's, moving to the board and staying there to consider each of the articles in turn. "It's complicated. There are more sides to the issues than proponents of either would generally have the public believe. Registration isn't the end of the world, it's merely governmentality— disciplinary power enacted through individual consciousnesses to keep the masses at peace. If we don't feel like people are watching, we'd live anarchy. Like the dome."

He clears his throat before bringing the coffee to his lips again. With another quiet sigh his head shakes, "People who think this merely control aren't wrong. Someone could very well abuse the information, but there isn't another way to maximize peace. It's just the reality of things." His tongue dabs at his lips while his head shakes again, "The world would be a different place without such intervention. Population controls come out in forms of hygiene. We've staved off disease because of governmental control. People who disagree fail to recognize the alternatives." He shrugs slightly. "And how are they to respond to the warring terrorist factions? What else could be done?"

"Inspiration," Kincaid repeats quietly, as if he's not quite convinced that's what it is. "It could also be a warning, too. Did you seem happy? I mean you describe robots… And that doesn't exactly strike me as the kind of world we might want to live in. How many movies talk about evil robots in the future? Are there any movies or TV shows where they're not eventually evil?"

He doesn't really wait for an answer, though, because he leans forward and looks the older man in the eye. "Mayor is too far off, I think. But City Council could be a possibility— A way to get a voice heard, if you don't want to continue doing the Advocate— or if you think the Advocate isn't capable of making the impact you want to make."

”The robots are a symptom of bad sushi, not impending doom. And.. I wasn’t unhappy about moving beyond the Advocate. Although there was something— “ Russo’s eyes narrow a little. “Someone I was missing. Something unsettled about— “ someone. But who? It seemed so normal at the time. He swallows hard, “And a blonde. With mistaken identity. I don’t trust blondes.” A single finger is uncurled from his mug as he points a finger, “Don’t trust blondes. They’re a tricksy breed. Mom,” now she’s mom, “taught me that. Lina has red hair. Had red hair. Has red hair.” He rests his now-empty mug on his knee.

”I’m not sure I could work for Lockheart’s council. But maybe.” A tight lipped smile conceals his true thoughts on the subject. “Maybe. And it’s not about the Advocate’s impact anymore. His lips press together tightly, “I’m leaving for personal reasons.”

"It's not the job of the Council to approve everything the Mayor likes— It's like running for Senate even if you hate the President. Someone has to vote against them, or control their ability to pass things," Kincaid says, but seems to nod with understanding. "And it could be a step up for later as well. It's your decision, really. I'll be with you every step of the way in this."

There's a hint of a cough after he says that, as if embarassed by it, and he straightens even further in his chair, almost to the point where it looks like he may stand.

"Because of what's going on between you and Ms. Reynolds?"

"It's true. She needs to be challenged. All areas of government need to be challenged. And let's be honest, I love New York. Some places just eternally feel like home," Brad clucks his tongue as he reasons through the logic of it all. "And I think so often we forget that power doesn't merely repress, it builds. It creates. It creates truth, and reality. That's just the nature of it."

The comment about Kristen draws Russo's eyebrows together. "It's weird to me you call her Ms. Reynolds. Actually, it's perpetually weird to me anyone calls her that. Children could call her that and it would be weird to me." It's almost a welcome distraction from the question itself. "It's like people calling me Mister Russo. Makes me look for my grandfather. And I buried him a couple of years ago…" He sighs quietly, however, as he actually considers the question itself, "Because of what's not going on. Or what's unacknowledged but going on…" His lips purse slightly. "We worked well because we got each other. The moment we start ignoring each other is the moment it stops working."

"I think that's true of most things, actually," Kincaid states, rising to his feet and going to wash out his emptied coffee cup. He doesn't even remember finishing it, but such is the way of drinking his coffee. Often he forgets he drank it at all.

Probably because he drinks to much.

"I think the main question you need to ask yourself is if you'll regret letting whatever it is you have with Ms… with K… fall apart. Course you getting engaged to someone else probably did not help the situation any…" There's a rather pointed look.

The pointed look is countered by Brad's raised eyebrows. "K couldn't handle me long before I proposed to Nicole. There were moments, all avoided. All negated. And.. marriage is hardly about romance," from the lips of a cynic. Brad slowly rises to his feet as he follows Kincaid to the kitchen. "And as far as K is concerned…" he whistles sharply as he rinses his mug in turn.

"The point is, K and I don't have anything. We've done this dance for years, even before I met Karolina. Back when we were still grad students we considered.. we ran away from each other for years. Years. Even Karolina could tell when we didn't acknowledge it." He clears his throat gruffly. "She even had the gaul to press me to promise never to pursue my producer if Lina bit the bucket."

"It should be," Kincaid says as he paces away a few steps, toward the radio, which he touches with his injured hand, as if tempted to turn it back on, or is just fidgeting. "A political marriage will never make you happy, either you or Miss Nichols. I asked you about this, if this was what would make you happy and…"

His hand tightens briefly, almost in anger, before he let's it loosen.

"I guess I'm old fashioned. Marriage shouldn't be about politics or paper work— it should be about love or at the very least, strong understanding and companionship. If you don't have either of those, then you shouldn't get married."

"It's not merely about politics," Brad counters as his hands retreat into his pants pockets. "It's fulfilling a promise. And believe it or not, that actually means something to me. But then, the terms of the agreement have changed." The agreement. Not the proposal. Not the engagement. The agreement. "And I'm not sure if life intends everyone to be happy."

He clears his throat again after abandoning the mug to the sink and choosing to let the bulletin board become the focus of his attention. "If people loved each other, they could stay together without a contract," he observes quietly. "Contracts bring legalities to the forefront, and if the legalities become the concern, then it's based on clauses and fine print rather than love or tradition."

"Well, I technically don't believe in marriage in the first place because of that," Kincaid says quietly, still looking down at the desk that the radio sits on, touching the table top instead of the instrument. "But if it's going to happen it should be more than concerns of paper work and legalities… and even promises and agreements."

He doesn't ask what the agreement or promise was, but perhaps the whitening of his jaw shows the desire to ask.

"Either way, while I do agree not everyone can be happy, I don't think anyone should be completely miserable. There's various degrees of happiness…" Biting down on his lip, and doesn't draw blood this time. His wounds have had a chance to heal most the way, he looks back over his shoulder. "Do you want to go do something besides work and stressful conversations? No matter how messed up the world may be, they still have sports— and if all else fails, we can shoot each other with lasers."

”I’m not completely miserable, nor do I intend to be. I am… content.” Ish. Kind of. “Besides, I have what I need. If we don’t work together, K and I have can have an amiable— “ something. Whatever. “The tension will be gone and we can maintain whatever it is that we have.”

”And yeah. Let’s get out of here. I’ll buy you a drink,” Russo turns his head towards the door before his lips crack a smile. There’s a faint shake of his head. “I’m kidding,” it’s the kind of joke those closest to him tend not to find funny. Like his grandmother. He shuffles towards the couch and retrieves his jacket. Tugging it on, he heads to the door, “C’mon. We’ll see where the world takes us.”

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