delia_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Flashback
Synopsis Being surrounded by products from "home" sparks an unexpected reaction and sudden mood swing in one Brit.
Date August 10, 2011

Greenwich Village

What once seemed odd is growing gradually more the norm — which is the oddest thing of all — for Nick Ruskin. Seeing Delia almost every day, holding hands, sharing sodas… being a couple is something that both fills him with wonder and terrifies him.

She can see the two emotions at war with one another in his fleeting glances as they walk side by side past brick buildings and beneath the canopy of green trees that make West Village so picturesque. Their destination today is Tea & Sympathy, a British grocer, where Nick shops now and then for such things as Hob Nobs, British tea, and HP sauce. His Capstans used to be on the list.

They reach the store, its quaint green striped awning easy to see from afar, and Nick holds the door for Delia.

Slipping inside the shop, Delia's eyes widen as she takes in all of the different products on the shelves. The fact that they aren't dusty is even better, meaning the shop sees enough business to empty the shelves every once in a while. She draws in a long breath as she tries to identify the assortment of aromas and different flavors that drift through the air. One thing that she can identify right away…

"I smell rhubarb!!" Another deep breath is drawn and she squints toward a small aisle with some teas stuffed on the shelf. "And lavender…" Smiling over her shoulder at Nick, the redhead waits for him to catch up. There's a light blush on her face as she jams her hands into the pockets of her jeans. It's too warm for a jacket but the threat of rain made it a necessity.

"Are you looking for anything in particular?" The question is posed as though she worked here, perhaps a habit of working too much retail in her relatively short life.

"Oy," says the man, perhaps a decade or so their senior, manning the register, with a familiar nod to Nick. "You come in for yer snouts, mate? Been a few." He's already reaching for the cigarettes but Nick shakes his head.

"Just some grub. Quit a bit back, but thanks." Nick puts his hand on Delia's back lightly.

"Biscuits and tea mostly. Stuff you can't get in the stores. Take a look around. Anything you wanna try, you can get."

"Biscuits," she murmurs in return, her eyebrows dropping just a little before she points toward the shelf stocked with assorted cookies and glances back at him questioning. "Those kind, not the kind they make for stew, right?

"Nevermind, it's a dumb question," Delia answers for herself with a bit of a grin. One hand comes out of her pocket and she slips it behind Nick's back and leans against his side. Lately, she all but ignores the terrified looks he sometimes gives her when she gets too close. Moving away from him without losing face has developed into something of an art form.

The hand drifts by way of sliding off his back until it swings up and into a pointed finger at another shelf. "They have scone mixes, can we try making some— sometime?" She doesn't seem to hold out any hope that it'll be soon. Her time with him always seems to run a little too short when she's trying to be home before curfew.

"I told you you'd want some of my scones," Nick teases, but he picks up one of the baskets and starts tossing things into it. "No scones without cream, no cream without either lemon curd or raspberry jam."

Looking at the mixes, he taps at one. "Sultanas are yellow raisins. Not a fan. Currants are brilliant, though."

He moves on to the savory shelf, stocked with soups and sauces. Blue eyes fall upon the selection of Pot Noodles before his brows furrow together and he brings a shaking hand to his temple.

"You gonna be pat and mick, mate, go outside, willya?" says the cashier, though he looks a little concerned. "He doesn't got that flu, does he?"

"What? No!" Delia exclaims somewhat defensively to the shopkeep as she rushes to Nick's side and ducks her head a little to look up at him. Raising her hand, she touches his with a few fingers to steady it.

Biting her lower lip and chewing on it, she lowers her eyebrows into a deep vee and glances toward the shelf. "Ramen noodles?" It's a little more than obvious that she's confused by his reaction and she shakes her head and reaches for a dustier one hidden at the back of the shelf. "Christmas Dinner… Boy, you guys go all out with these… I'm usually happy with plain chicken." It's an attempt to make the man smile just a little but when she looks at him, the concern is more prevalent than the humor.

Placing the little styrofoam pot back onto the shelf, the redhead reaches for his elbow and she attempts to guide him over to where the tea is. "I found some tea that I'd like to try… It'll go great with your scones."

He may not have the flu (anymore) but Nick has grown pale, sweaty. He jerks when she touches his elbow before he finally turns from the shelf.

Catching the worry on her face, he shakes his head. "I'm fine," he mutters before she can ask, but reaching for a bottle of HP sauce, his hand trembles, knocking the bottle to the ground where it splatters its brown contents on the tile. "Fuck."

"You break it, you buy it," says the storekeeper, though he hurries over with a rag and a trash can in a hurry, giving Nick an odd look.

Delia flinches when the bottle hits the floor and jumps back a step to avoid glass and the brown sauce that has a tendency to stain. Stretching her arm out, she reaches for a new bottle and places it gently in the basket. The worry in her expression only deepens with every passing moment that his color doesn't return.

Taking the handle of the basket with both hands, she makes a small attempt to lift it out of his grasp. "Here, let me," she says gently, quiet enough that it's out of the shopkeep's earshot. A little louder, she gives the other man a wane smile and shrugs one shoulder. "Sorry, I think I bumped him when I was pointing at the tea… You have so many nice things here."

Nick stares down at the floor, eyes far off and jaw muscles twitching. He lets go of the basket without protest, then finally shakes his head and reaches into his pocket to pull out his wallet, tossing a wad of cash in with the boxes and bottles they've selected.

"Get what you want. Take your time. I'll be outside. Need some air," he mutters, before backing away from the mess. "Sorry about the mess," is offered to the clerk before Nick strides out of the store, bells jingling as the door closes behind him.

Delia's chin raises, drawing in a short sniffle as the door jingles to a close and she's left alone in the shop. Abruptly turning away from the man cleaning the aisle, she ambles toward the front while absently putting items into the basket. Once at the register, she pockets the money, leaves the basket, and returns to help clean.

"Sorry," she explains to the stranger, trying to keep her tears of shame from filling her lower lids. "He's had a bit of a bad year… You know?" She's not sure exactly how much of Nick's life the man's already guessed, if he cares at all but she doesn't volunteer more than that.

The man tosses bits of glass into the waste basket. "Don't worry about it none," he assures Delia reaching with his clean hand to pat her shoulder. "People've broken worse in 'ere. We're ordering the plastic bottles of that stuff from now on, anyway."

He gives a wink and stands, bringing the trash can back to the other side of the counter before ringing and bagging their items. The extra bottle of HP sauce is not rung up. "He'll be fine. He always seems to land on his feet, that 'un," he says, handing the redhead her bags.

Outside, Nick sits on the stoop of someone's apartment building, his head in his hands, his elbows on his knees. Sunglasses block his eyes but he seems to be staring down at the ground beneath his Docs.

It’s a hesitant step that brings Delia almost toe to toe with Nick. She’s silent, still, holding the bags from the grocer, and simply waiting. Questions, they can be asked in the privacy of Nick’s home. Bending down to one knee, Delia places the groceries on the ground at either side of her and raises her hands to touch them to Nick’s knees.

Unlike the warm and humid weather, her hands are still a little cold from the air conditioning inside the little shop. “Nick?” His name is whispered, not said out loud, in case of headache or maybe just that she doesn’t want to disturb him too much. A glance behind her to the shop is more to check in case the clerk is watching them. She gives an audible gulp before continuing. “I finished the shopping, we can go… I’ll make you tea. You can lie down.”

“Delia…” Nick begins, tipping his head to look up at her; his own eyes are hidden from the sunglasses. “Tell me why Eileen is afraid of me.”

His voice is flat, all the emotion that might be in the words is coiled tight in his posture, his muscles, his bones. He ignores the passersby, most of them ignoring the couple as well; it is, after all, New York. The tension between the two is no more rare a sight than the cigarette butts on the sidewalk or pigeons pecking at crumbs near the trash bin.

"You know why," Delia begins in a whisper, her eyebrows quirking just a touch upward at the inner edges as she squints at him; not because the sun is too bright or because she's smiling. Turning her head away, she looks down at one of the bags and grips the handles with one hand before straightening to a stand.

She extends a hand to him, reaching for his fingers to lace them with her own. The request from the man, the subpar answer she gives, all of it has her worried enough to purse her lips into a thin line. Glancing over her shoulder at a man passing, she follows him with her eyes until he's out of earshot and then turns back to Nick. "Come on… let's go?"

“No,” he murmurs, but it’s to the statement that he knows why rather than the request to go. Either way, he stays put, hand lax in hers despite her curling fingers. He shakes his head. “I told you I had some memory problems from being sick,” Nick says flatly — it had sounded like he meant just the weeks he was ill, that they were foggy and unclear.

“Things haven’t… there’s things that don’t make sense to me. Things that I’ve sort of accepted but they don’t make sense if I think about ‘em. Did… did you do this to me?” Nick’s face tilts up at her, her face reflected back at her in the lenses of his mirrored shades. His tone is neutral, not accusatory.

"I thought it was just from while you were sick.. Things like when I visited.. How.." There's a crack in Delia's voice, too high pitched for her to even try to be as neutral and focused as Nick. Some might call it unfeeling. Her fingers slip away from his hand and she lets them fall to her side. Staring into the lenses, she blinks a few times to dissuade any tears from making an appearance. It's for the same reason that she clears her throat.

Turning away from him, she looks down at her shoes, the sidewalk, anything but him. "Please don't make me do this here," she whispers, slowly reaching down to grab the other bag. "I'll tell you everything I know, if you don't remember… but please don't make me do it here." Her head hangs a little lower still and she gives it a shake. The shaggy mane of red hair ruffles out before it settles down again. Her answer to his query. "I can't do anything like that… and I'd never do anything like that to you."

Nick nods once. “That’s enough,” is said. “You don’t got to say it.” He looks down the street — anywhere but her for a moment.

Finally he stands, reaching for the bags to take them from her. “I remember some,” he murmurs, his long legs starting to stride down the sidewalk to where he parked his truck.

“Not everything,” he adds. “But enough that things make sense again.” He swallows and looks down again. “And not. Not like that could ever fucking make sense,” is added in a lower voice, bitter and sad.

Delia remains still as Nick begins walking toward the truck. Her head hangs so that her hair hides her features, she doesn't argue or protest. The sudden shift in mood unexpected, as is her own. "Thank you," she whispers, for the reprieve in having to help him remember what he's lost.

"I didn't know.." she ventures further, taking a few steps toward him and tucking her hands into her pockets shyly. Her shoulders lift nearly to her ears as her back hunches in a self conscious posture. "I should have.. I just thought.. I thought you were happy to be alive. I thought maybe that you and Eileen— " until she saw them together.

Delia's voice dies as she begins to trudge after him. Whatever she's thinking, she doesn't burden him with it.

Nick’s head turns away and slightly upward when she says “you and Eileen,” reminding him just what he’d seen in the small grocery store. He walks in silence to the truck, shifting bags to find his keys, tossing the bags in the back seat once the door is opened for her.

When she’s gotten in, the door is closed with a dull thud. His face through the window is pale and grim before he turns away, taking a few seconds to enter his side of the truck.

Once he’s sitting, he starts the engine, but doesn’t pull away.

“How?” he asks, facing straight ahead, hands gripping steering wheel and stick shift hard enough that his knuckles turn white. “How can you… how can you love me?”

"Because you're not that monster anymore," Delia begins in a weak voice. She turns to look in his direction, focusing on his hands and allowing her eyes to travel the distance up his arms and then finally to his face. Her blue eyes bore into his temple before she finally lets it drop again. "Because… You aren't him."

It sounds like a lame excuse.

Folding her hands onto her lap, she lowers her chin until it touches her chest. "When I started getting to know you, I didn't know.. You.." Closing her eyes, she turns to her window and blindly reaches to touch the hand on the stick shift. Letting her fingertips graze his skin, she curls them into a fist and lowers it to the seat. "Everything you didn't do for her when she needed it, you did for me when I did. That's why I love you."

Nick sits still for a long moment but finally his hand twitches beneath hers, turning to take it and squeeze it for a moment.

“That you know and still love me…” he whispers, shaking his head before looking up at himself in the rearview mirror. He lets go of her hand to push the car into gear, pulling away from the curb and into traffic.

“I’m afraid of what else I’ll remember,” he whispers, not finishing the first thought. “But if you know — you know the worst of it, and you’re still here…”

Nick swallows again, and shakes his head again. “I can’t believe you’re here. And that you stay with me. And I leave you.” He turns the truck into the next street sharply, almost violently, tires chirping.

“You deserve so much better.”

Of all the times not to wear a seatbelt; Delia slides across the seat, only to with Nick's arm. Scrambling back toward her side, she uses the opportunity wisely and then next thing Nick hears is a small click. "Don't say that, don't tell me I deserve better. You can be better if you just— " she pauses and chews on her lip before looking down again. "We've talked about this before, Nick… It's all different now." Her voice shakes just a little with confusion, uncertain of exactly what he doesn't remember.

"I don't think I stayed with you when Benji is from," she continues in a somewhat rushed manner. Once again she reaches for his hand but settles on his arm instead. "Nick, calm down, please? Or pull over… you shouldn't drive when you're— " is he angry? "— feeling like this."

Though she's not certain on how he should be feeling.

“I leave,” Nick growls through his teeth. “Benji told me. And I saw it. I saw how I act when you tell me you’re pregnant. I’m a fucking coward, and I’m … you said it. A monster.”

His hand curls into a fist on the steering wheel and he pounds it once.

“I ruin everything that’s good and sweet and I … you know why I fucking hate Logan so much? I mean besides what he did… “ Nick’s cheeks are flushed with anger as he drives, fast but controlled.

“Because I thought that’s what he was doing. To you. That that’s what he did to me. But I’m worse. I’m bloody worse, and at least he doesn’t fucking pretend to be different, to be better than he is.”

He huffs out an angry, humorless laugh, before taking another turn — this time less violently at least. “Maybe he’s better for you. You asked him to leave with you?” This is asked a little more softly. A little more sad.

Tears spill down Delia's cheeks as she listens to Nick rant and rave. Her lips move, a few silent, practice syllables, before they're finally given voice. A meek, childlike thing meant for someone much smaller than the redhead in the passenger side of the truck. "Stop, Nick, please just stop," she begs, both driving and speaking. Her grip around the handle on the door is white knuckle, as though she's threatening to open it and jump. Probably an empty threat because of the seatbelt that she's got fastened. "You're so… so wrong…"

Angling her head in his direction, she curls her lip into a bittersweet grimace and shakes her head. "If what happens can't change.. Why would Benji send me to you when I was lost? I didn't find you on my own— not the second time— it was Benji that did it." The hand on his arm tightens for a moment, squeezing his forearm before she lets go.

Holding her gaze on his face, Delia continues, this time her voice is a little stronger but gentler. "John Logan is not who I want, I want you…" The smile turns a little more genuine and she unclips the seatbelt, taking the chance that Nick won't just crash the vehicle and kill them both. Inching across to him, she wraps both her arms around the arm controlling the shifter and leans against his shoulder. "Of course I asked him to leave with me. I can't just run away knowing they're hanging people in there. If Tania was still with us I would have asked her too… Same with her brother."

It’s hard to tell with his glasses on but the sniff suggests Nick may have gone from anger to tears. The truck is pulled over awkwardly since he can’t use the arm she leans against very well. Slamming it into park, he reaches for her, fingers curling into her hair and face pressed against her shoulder.

The sunglasses press down, biting her through the fabric of her shirt, no doubt pressing as uncomfortably against his face, but he ignores it if it hurts. His shoulders shake. Her shirt grows warm and wet at the shoulder.

Nick Ruskin cries.

Her arms reach around him, one hand at his back and one into his hair where she lightly massages his scalp. Nick's sunglasses don't seem to bother Delia, not as much as his tears. Pressing her lips against his shoulder, she breathes out through her teeth, trying to soothe him as one would a small child. Perhaps its fitting, considering that was the time his life started going wrong.

"Ssshhh… I'm here.." she whispers, turning the cloth at his shoulder hot with her words. "I'll be here as long as you want me to be. I'm not going to leave you." Not willingly. "You don't have to be that guy that Benji remembers either. It's not written in stone."

She pulls back a little ways and tries to smile through her own tears. Pulling the hand out of his hair, she tugs off the sunglasses and looks into his eyes. "The future isn't fixed… I'm not pregnant with Jaiden's baby, right? So there's one huge thing that's different."

One hand goes to the necklace beneath his shirt, touching it like the talisman it’s become for him. Nick nods, eyes cast down, tears on the lashes. “I’m afraid of hurting you. I’ve let down the one person in this world I was responsible for — let down is a fucking ridiculous thing to call it, but I can’t… I don’t have the words…”

He swallows back the anger that’s rising in him again, lungs shuddering out a sigh. “I promised her I would try to make you happy, Del. And I will. But I think you just don’t know — there’s something about you that wants to be unhappy, if you’re choosing me. What if you can’t be happy with me — what do I do then?”

"Nick." Moving her hands to either side of his face, Delia's eyes slowly close as she presses her lips softly against his. One kiss. Then another. When she draws back, she looks him in the eye and shakes her head. "There's nothing about me that chooses to be unhappy. If there was, I would take your advice and stay far away from you. It breaks my heart to think that you're already torturing yourself for something you haven't done. You have so much on your shoulders already… don't add this to it. Please."

Leaning forward again, she tucks her head against his neck and slips her arms around his waist to draw herself tightly against him. It's an awkward position, sitting in the truck, but somehow she weathers through. "Don't worry whether or not I can be happy with you. You've made me so happy already… You're not going to hurt me, I have faith in you."

“But I did do it… I mean… I haven’t yet, but … but Benji grew up. There’s a past there, even if it’s not ours yet,” Nick whispers. “It happened. Because of me. Because I’m … broken. Like you choose to be fundamentally good and trust people and see their best. There’s no changing that, because that’s you.”

He releases her to lean back in his own seat, his hand still curled around the medallion. “I won’t leave you,” he mutters, not looking at her. “But you have to promise, Del. If I make you unhappy — you have to leave me.


The one word answer is accompanied by her head resting on his shoulder again and her hand smoothing over his lean waist until her fingers curl around his side. Delia lays there for a while, not saying anything, just listening to his shaky breath and his heartbeat.

"I'm not going to promise that…" she doesn't have to, not really. What she does is offer a sort of compromise. "What I'm going to promise is that if you make me unhappy, I'm going to talk to you about it. I'm not going to just run away. Even if it's hard. I'm not going to take the easy way out of this."

Nick doesn’t speak for a while. She can feel each breath he takes as it lifts and drops her head on his shoulder.

Finally, he turns to kiss her forehead, then shakes her gently up so that he can pull away from the curb once more. This time, he doesn’t take his anger out on the steering wheel.

When he does speak, it isn’t with an ‘okay’ or ‘alright’ that would seal her promise to him — if he doesn’t acknowledge the contract, she can break it, if that’s what she needs to do.

“McDonalds or pizza for dinner? We have a couple hours before you turn into a pumpkin,” changes the subject to more mundane and less conflicting matters.

If only they lived a life where dinner options were the worst of their troubles.

"Can I stay the night?" Delia doesn't ask very often; in fact, since the anklet was put on, she's been very good about making it home before the gates close at night. Reaching a hand up, she pushes a few curls of red hair around her ear as she looks over at him. "I'll text Logan to tell him that I'm staying out… I just.."

Her voice drifts off again and she twists the curl around her finger absently as she tries to come up with reason or excuse to put the both of them under scrutiny. Perhaps to make it worthwhile.

"I don't want to be alone tonight and you don't sleep well enough to stay with me." It's the truth, whatever she does manage when she finds him, it's fleeting at best. Were she more powerful, like one of her mentors, she could force Nick to keep inside his dreams, or wherever she wished him to be. Something another one of her teachers despised. A violation of the worst sort.

“Yeah,” Nick says quietly before adding, “I’m not likely to be good company. Fair warning.”

He reaches over to pull one of her curls. “Feel like I’m a teenager, you needing to ask mum and dad if you can stay out late,” he teases. Not that he “dated” much then.

The truck’s direction is changed again, this time to head toward his apartment instead of toward the water. With a stop at McDonald’s to get her her favorite burgers.

She stays quiet for a while, the small smirk and blush that colors her cheeks telltale that she's hiding something from him. Possibly just an internal edit that may or may not be appropriate at this point in time.

It's only until they exit the truck for the apartment. Somewhere between when Nick holds the door for Delia at the entrance and the short walk to his doorway. She transfers everything she carrying; shopping bag, little paper sack from McDonald’s, and sweater to one hand and tucks her free hand into his back pocket. Close enough to murmur into his ear and risque enough to make him blush if a neighbor happens to be spying at them through a peephole.

"I can try to lighten your mood…" There's a huff of a laugh between the first statement and her continuance. "Someone told me not to long ago that a night with me is amazing, I need to keep up that reputation."

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