Famous Last Words


delia_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Famous Last Words
Synopsis A camping trip is cut short by rain and illness; as the weather darkens, so does the outlook for the future.
Date May 15, 2011

Harriman State Park

The deep breathing of sleep is interrupted by a sniffle and then a soft groan of a woman that doesn't like to get up in the morning. She's a greedy sleeper, he's like a furnace, and sleeping under the stars makes for a very chilly morning. This is why Delia is half splayed over Nick, her cold feet tangled in his legs, her face pressed into the curve where his neck meets his shoulder.

It's too early. The birds need to be quieter.

Her hand glides down his side. As she's still in the last vestiges of sleep, she's not completely sure why she can't feel her nails scratching her thigh and though she's scratching, why is she still itchy. Letting loose another soft murmur, she grips Nick a little tighter and threatens to fall back into pleasant unconsciousness. Except what she's feeling isn't a pillow.

This is when Delia's eyes fly open, her lashes tickling the side of his neck. She's still for a few moments as she tries to remember where she is, it takes a little while. Then her lips curve into a rather satisfied little grin and she curls her shoulders in, trying to get even closer.

He's sleeping now, though earlier in the night, he tossed and turned and apologized in low murmurs for bumping his head into hers or kicking her or elbowing her with wayward limbs with each time his tossings and turnings disrupted their rest. While the weather is cold and moist, air coming off the lake chilling Delia enough to make her shiver, Nick's skin is flushed, his face glazed with sweat.

When Delia clings a little closer, his lashes flutter before eyes open, wincing and squinting against the light of the morning. One arm comes up to let his forearm block out the sun, and he shivers, his other hand reaching around her to tug the blanket up higher around both of them.

"Morning…" she murmurs into his skin when she feels the blanket come up over her shoulders to half bury her head. The covers are so skewed from the restless sleep that when he pulls it up, it exposes their feet and legs up to their calves. In response, she pulls her legs up higher and locks against his side, twisting until she's almost right on top of him. From her there's a grunt of protest, she'll allow him the pleasure of straightening it out, if he so chooses.

She's much too sleepy.

Her hand smooths back up to his shoulder and curls around as she presses her lips against his pulse. It's much too quick, which has her opening her eyes and lifting her head a few inches to stare at his profile and his glistening skin. "Nick— " Drawing in a deep breath, she rises to press a kiss against his forehead and then falls back down. "— You have a fever…" Delia sounds a little panicked about this.

Socked feet rise to kick the end of the blanket to cover them; his hands wrap around her waist and he murmurs something that sounds negative in ton — "Nnn," is murred into her hair. "Just hot from bein' close."

The words might be more believable, but the last is broken by a cough, and Nick rolls away so as not to cough into her hair, facing the "wall" of the truckbed and pulling the blankets with him as he coughs into his arm. It sounds thick, wet, worse than the day before.

He sits up and tosses the blankets back over her form before rising to stagger to the end of the truck, climbing over the tail gate and hopping down.

Too much effort.

He leans against the tailgate, bending forward, hands on his knees and staring at the ground a moment before closing his eyes.

Not accepting the silent offer to sleep while he gets up, Delia crawls from the warmth of the covers and toward the tailgate. The sudden briskness of the morning air against a body too warm is shocking and goose pimples rise up on her arms. Worry washes over her features as she stretches a hand out to tangle in his hair, feeling the damp of sweat that's soaked it during the night. It's different in temperature and texture than the dew that lightly dusts her own.

"I saw Benji yesterday," she starts, finally divulging the visit after spending so many hours silent about it. "She asked if you were healthy— Nick, tell me what's going on." There's a small tremor in her voice, not because she's about to cry but genuine fear.

"I'm fine," is Nick's terse answer, turning around and reaching into the bed to grab his jeans, tugging off the sweatpants he wears on top of boxers to slip his jeans on instead. The exertion from the small task has him breathing a bit heavier, the air coming out in small clouds of white in the cool air. "It's just a cold."

His eyes sweep out wearily over the campsite, assessing how much work there is to be done. "You wanna eat here or head back early? The rain looks like it might hit any time," he murmurs, before the cough rises again, longer this time, something wet coughed into his hands before they drop to wipe across the legs of his dark jeans.

“You don’t have to be such a grouch…” Delia shrinks back to sit on the covers, sounding a little meek but quite defensive in comparison to his terse tone. She turns her back to him, deciding that the pillows are in need of packing, as is the rest of the bed. Still kneeling on the pad, she begins to roll it from one end, blankets and all, mostly to hurry the clean up. It’s a shortcut — the real stuff can be taken care of later.

His question to her back receives the lift of one shoulder to her ear as an answer. Maybe the mumble of a few words, to the effect of ‘whatever you want’. While she didn’t initially wake up on the wrong side of the bed, she certainly seems to have rolled into it. The lung butter that’s brought up and wiped away on his jeans has thankfully gone unnoticed by the redhead. If she acted worried before…

Without looking at her, he sighs at the tone of her voice before moving toward the picnic table where the cooler is. His steps are slow and weary. Looking over his shoulder, he shrugs. “I’m not hungry, so it’s up to you. Want to eat or just go?”

While waiting for her response, Nick opens the cooler to peer in, grabbing a bottle of water for himself, before sitting on the bench, resting his arms on his thighs and his head in his hands. His too-long hair is touseled from sleep and damp with sweat; in the gray morning light, he’s pale, eyes bloodshot.

"I can get something at home, I don't want to look like a pig when I eat the entire world and you just have water." It's a dig at her own ravenous appetite at times, apparently today is one of those days. Once the bed is completely rolled up and the pillows stuffed away, Delia jumps from the back of the truck and plods toward the picnic table.

Picking the cooler up by the handles, she tests the weight before letting it go again and opening it up to unpack it. For her, it's much easier to carry the empty cooler and repack it rather than carrying the full load. Once all of the drinks are piled onto the table, she tests it again and hefts it over to the back of the truck. "Nick? You'd tell me if there was something wrong, wouldn't you? I mean— you'd expect me to tell you if there was something wrong with me, right?" Not that there has been in the time that they've known each other— apart from her coma.

He doesn't notice the packing and unpacking until her voice cuts through the haze of whatever he's fallen into, and he looks up, frowning as he sees her carrying the cooler. He rises to follow, stumbling a little. He wipes at his face and then glances back to notice the contents of the cooler there.

It brings a soft huff of a laugh, a sincere one borne of fondness, and he grabs a couple of the six packs by their plastic rings and begins to move toward the truck once more.

"I'm okay," he says gently, when he meets her at the tail gate, reaching to open the cooler and dropping in the drinks. "I feel a bit stuffed up. It's probably just sleeping outside and by the water. Hay fever maybe. Not used to the wilderness, ya know? I'm not trying to hide anything, Red. Not lying. I feel like shit, but it's prob'ly nothing. I've almost died a few times in my life — never from a cold."

"We should have driven back last night instead, I'm sorry…" Looking at the ground between them, Delia tries not to look sullen by pasting a wane smile across her face but it drops quickly. "It just sounded so fun, out here with you. I should have insisted we go back yesterday after the nap." Keeping her head lowered, she lifts her eyes to meet his, her eyebrows knitting together as she gets a better look at the state he's in.

"We should stop by the apothecary so you can get some herbs for teas and things to make you feel better." She lifts herself up onto the tailgate to sit, streatching backward to grab her backpack. Pulling it closer, the redhead opens it and begins pulling out fresh clothing for the day. "Are you still taking antibiotics for your leg or has it mostly healed?"

He reaches for her a moment too slowly, as she's already hopping up into the bed of the truck, and he shakes his head. "Not your fault." He moves gingerly, stepping on the tail hitch to boost himself up and over the tailgate and onto the bed, reaching for his forgotten boots to pull onto his now dirty-socked feet.

Boots are pulled on and tied — the henley he slept in and his jeans are good enough for the drive back. "It's mostly healed. I finished the ones you gave me. It should heal all right," Nick says quietly, then reaches to catch her hand, stilling it amidst all her industry of finding the day's apparel. Fingers interlace and then he pulls her closer, bringing his lips to her forehead and kissing it lightly.

"Thank you," he whispers, lips too warm against her face. "It's nice to have someone worry. None of it's your fault. I'd stay out another night if you wanted, but the rain's coming anyway. If you want, we can tent it, if you'd rather stay. I'm not trying to get rid of you so soon."

The bag is dropped and Delia's newly freed arm moves to wrap around Nick's waist. "I always have," she admits, giving him something of a silly grin. "Even when I first met you, your shoulder was hurt. You're like a magnet for bad luck or you dive into it head first… I can't decide which. I'm hoping it's the last bit and it's just a phase you grow out of."

Her red curls shake at the suggestion and she gives him a rather guilty look. "No, I'd love to stay with you but you're sick. You should get somewhere warm and get better…" The little frown that formed earlier returns, this time a little deeper as she looks up at him, pursing her lips to ponder a problem. "I don't think it's a cold— you've been on antibiotics for so long. It's practically impossible. It could be allergies— everything's pollinating right now. I'm just— I don't know— worried."

The heat of his skin and the wet cough are enough to tell them both it's not allergies. He kisses her forehead again and then leans his head on top of hers. "I'd forgotten that," he admits — about the fact his shoulder was injured when he'd first met her. "It might be a bit of both," he adds with a smile before grabbing the side of the truck and pulling himself up.

"I'll get the rest of the stuff and you a moment to change, and we can head out." As he speaks, a drop of water falls from the sky onto his hand, then her cheek. He raises a brow. "Good timing."

Once at the table, he sits, back to her, watching the water. A few seconds pass before another cough racks his form, this one longer and more intense. He spits something into the dirt, then kicks more dirt over it. A shaking hand reaches for the water bottle, and he drinks from it thirstily before standing again and heading back to the truck slowly.

Rather than change right away, Delia hurries to stuff the bedding into bags rather than letting it get wet. It probably would have been easier if she hadn't procrastinated and taken the easy route in tidying. A few more large drops hit her, peppering the shoulders of her flannel pajama top with dots before she's finished. When she is, she hurries to grab her pack and change inside the cab of the truck.

Rather than getting undressed completely, she pulls a sweatshirt over the pj top and then races to pull on her jeans. Her height forces her to open the door to get them on and she suffers through the slight shower to change her socks and pull on her boots. Once they're laced, she slides out of the cab to rejoin Nick at the table. Meeting him halfway along his slow amble to the truck.

"Is there anything more? We have the food and the bed packed…" Looking around the site, she zones in on the two sticks they'd used to roast hot dogs and she jogs over to grabs them up. "Okay, I think this is it!"

"Thanks," he says again with a smile of gratitude as he moves to her door to open it again, waiting for her to get in. This close, it's easy to see he's a little sweatier from the coughing fit, his face a bit paler.

Once she's seated, the door is closed and he moves to his side, climbing in. "I'll make it up to you, Red," Nick murmurs as he starts the engine and backs out of the campsite, following the winding road out to the highway that will take them back toward Manhattan.

"You can make it up to me by getting better fast," Delia smiles, though it doesn't quite reach her eyes. Once the truck is in full gear, she reaches across the cab to lace her fingers with his and rests her head against the window to watch him. "And find Calvin… before he hurts Benji any more than he already has?"

She squeezes his fingers a little and lets her eyelids drifs down halfway as her false expression drops from her face. "He rescued M— Logan from Amadeus, and Benji told me that he's not clairvoyant… He can move metal with his mind. Also— " this part has her turning her head down to look at the floorboards rather than gaze across at him any more. "Also, Benji said I was never in any danger. That it was a lie.. probably to keep me away from Pollepel."

The shift of topic to Calvin and Benji draws a frown from Nick. "I don't think he's trying to hurt Benji, not … directly. I think Benji's hurt, if hurt is the right word, that one of his friends is doing bad things," he says vaguely. He glances at Delia out of the corner of his eyes; the white of the right is marred by a pinprick of blood that wasn't there before.

And the connection of the two conversation slowly becomes clear, as if the thread between the topics suddenly became a visible strand.

Jaw twitches. Fingers tighten around the steering wheel.

"Aside from Logan," Nick says carefully, "who are you living with?"

"There's a brother and sister, Sasha and Tania," Delia supplies, glancing up from the floorboards to study Nick again. Worry painted across her features as plain as day, perhaps not because of the topic but because of his growing list of maladies. "Sasha's a doctor and Tania, she's still a teenager. She's had dreams, from Benji, that she'll be Logan's wife one day." Licking her lips, she swallows audibly before going on. "There's the man from my television, Luka Oolyasomethingorother, he pops in from time to time but he doesn't really live with us. Not really."

She pauses there, risking to inch closer to Nick and hug the arm of the hand she's holding. "What are you thinking?"

Nick sucks breath through clenched teeth that a teenager will be Logan's wife in the future but exhales shakily as he follows the road, eyes steady on what lies ahead of his truck. "Are they all evolved?" he asks, trying to make it sound like a curious question. "I mean, I know Logan is and I know TV guy is."

"The doctor, his sister?" is asked, and he reaches to flip the heat on — something he has rarely done, even in colder weather.

Delia shakes her head at the question and lifts her shoulder in reply. "I— I don't know. I don't think so? They've never really— If they are evolved neither of them has said anything and Logan hasn't either. I don't think Tania is, I think she would have told me if she was."

The woman is quite certain that she's mentioned the girl in conversation to Nick before but… Studying him a little closer, her fingers tighten just a little around his arm. "Why… Nick— tell me please? I don't care if it's a Ferry secret, I'll take it to the grave. I promise. Why do you want to know if Tania's evolved?" Delia's voice quivers a little at the end and her eyebrows are already pulled together in worry.

The young man shakes his head, and suppresses a cough, keeping his mouth closed and loosening his grip on the steering wheel so that the shaking doesn't make him steer off the road. Once he's recovered, swallowing whatever he's coughed up with a grimace, he glances at her again.

"That Calvin tosser released that flu," he says finally. "I'm not sure this is it… but if it is, you can't… I don't know how flus work, like how it's carried and stuff. At the least, you need to get a shower, get clean clothes, I donno. I'll go somewhere I won't infect no one else, if I can help it. I can drop you off at my apartment in Brooklyn if you want?"

A strangled sound somewhere between a gasp and a whimper is sucked into Delia as her eyes widen in alarm. Then all of the air escapes her all at once and she holds there, not taking another inward until her ashen skin turns pink from lack of oxygen. "No… No, you can't have that flu. You can't." But it makes too much sense for it not to be, or at least something similar… like Ebola.

She pulls away from him and hugs herself tightly around the middle, bending forward as her pale face takes on a sickly tinge. Pressing her lips together she squeezes her eyes shut and rocks a little in her place. Like a child willing herself to wake up from a bad dream. "I’m— I want to stay with you, you're going to need me… I— I've taken care of people with the flu. Our flu… I know how to take care of you."

Nick glances at her and back to the road, finding it much easier to focus on the ribbon of asphalt than her tortured expression. "No. You can't … it'd take you away from everything for too long. Your work and your studying. If I have it. I might just have a cold, Del. It's okay. It's just precaution, just in case."

One hand the wheel to rub his face, then drops to find her hand, squeezing it lightly. "You can't tell where Calvin is from dreaming, right? You can't tell when you wake where their body is — that's why you were lost from your self, yeah?" he asks quietly.

"I might be able to, Benji taught me how to make maps— sort of. By looking at their memories just before they fell asleep, I can see a few seconds or minutes, not much…" It's also difficult for her to tell what's reality and what's not in that state, but she doesn't say it out loud, preferring to be as useful as possible. "I couldn't do it with Eileen when she was lost— because where she was, she couldn't see. I didn't know where my body was because I was always too far away. I'm better now, I can reach farther.. but back then, I'd already been with you so long that it felt more like home than my own skin. I couldn't find my anchor because I was already there— with you."

His refusal of her wish— or need— to nurse him back to health gives her already sullen mood a further dip and she slumps her shoulders, defeated. Unwilling to argue the point, as much as she'd like to, she just accepts his wishes rather than upset him. "I promised Benji that I wouldn't go looking for him, she said he's smart. If he found me lurking— " The words stop there and she points her head toward the door of the cab.

Nick's fingers tighten on hers and he nods. "You're stronger now," he agrees with a smile. "And I'm glad you felt home with me, even if it kept you from you. And Benji's right. Don't look if Calvin knows what to look for. Benji probably knows from experience, so I agree. Never mind. Scratch that idea." Even if Benji and Nick are estranged, they share at least one priority — keeping Delia safe.

He drives for a few moments, now and then coughing into his sleeve, each time looking a little worse for wear. His brows knit together and he casts glances at her now and then before returning his gaze to the road.

For most of the trip Delia's head is turned toward the window, the only thing visible is the mess of unruly curls that haven't been tamed from sleeping. It isn't until they pass the first few neighborhoods into the city limits that she turns her bloodshot eyes and tear stained cheeks in his direction. She doesn't offer to take over the wheel, her lack of driving skills would likely stress him to the point of collapse.

When they cross the bridge to Manhattan, she juts her chin toward a random street corner and lets off a hoarse whisper. "Just— just drop me off anywhere. I don't care."

"I'm not dropping you off at a street corner," he snaps. The drive is quiet, both upset for different reasons. Sunday morning traffic is fairly light, and it doesn't take long before he's in front of Fort Greene apartments. He nods toward the glove compartment — he hasn't touched it in days, he knows; it should be clean-ish.

"There's gloves in there. Once you get out of the truck and shut it, put 'em on, it might help at least on the way in. Clean up after that, and if you can, go back through and wipe down anything you touched with some bleach or whatever. There's a lot of people in that building." His directions are terse, clinical — a rare look at what the 'professional' Nick might be like.

He reaches for her, kissing her cheek lightly. "I love you, Czerwony. Delia. So much."

A cough wells up in him, and he turns away again, this time coughing into his hand, fist closing around the gleam of red.

"Go," he says weakly, turning to lean his face against the glass, closing his eyes so as not to see her exit.

So as not to see her tears.

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