Goldilocks and the Bear


melissa_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Goldilocks and the Bear
Synopsis Injured and spooked, Nick asks for a favor from a stranger, and gets more kindness than he expected from Melissa.
Date August 22, 2010


Sunday nights are the slowest nights here at the club, though it is a little more full than usual after the auction Thursday night. It always brings in more people for a little while, which is part of why Melissa organizes them. All two of them. But luckily, it's still quiet enough that she can do some observing rather than addressing issue after issue or holing up in the office to deal with the oh so dreaded paperwork. The bane of any manager anywhere.

She's chosen the bar for her observation point, standing beside it in a black corset and leather pants, her arms folded over her chest as she scans the room for any signs of anything she may need to jump in on. A lit cigarette is held, but she seems to be paying it little attention, much like the drink that rests beside her at her elbow.

Pale skin, red-rimmed eyes, and black shaggy hair might allow Nick to blend it at a quick glance, but the man who just entered the bar stands out from the typical patrons in quite a few ways. The clothing he wears is dark: black leather jacket, a black T-shirt, dark jeans, black boots — but none of it is ornate enough to be considered Goth by any means. The only "accessories" he wears are not piercings or collars or the like; a belt at his waist is utilitarian, and the sling that keeps his right arm tucked against his chest is even more so.

The man glances at the dance floor, his eyes narrowing a little at the thrum of the bass and the wail of the singing through the speakers, but when those bloodshot eyes move to the bar, he notices Melissa at the bar. He takes a deep breath and heads that way.

Nick Ruskin, aka Nick York, doesn't ask for favors from anybody — not counting those he asks for on the job — but he's about to swallow what little pride he has left and ask for one tonight.

With the lights dim, and Nick's black clothing, he blends in well enough that Melissa doesn't instantly pick him out of a crowd. When she does, however, it's blatantly obvious. She takes in the sling, brows lifting in surprise, then eyes softening in sympathy. Been there, done that. She's got a nice black sling with skulls on it that she keeps just for those occasions. But as surprised as she is about the sling (which isn't really that surprised), she's more surprised that he's actually here.

The cigarette is put out, the drink sipped, and Mel waits for him to make it across the room towards her before she gives him a wry smile. "You look like hell, Nick. I hope the other guy looks worse." A pause, then she motions for a bartender to come over towards them. "Why don't you have a seat and a drink? On the house."

"If I drink anything worth drinking, I'll probably end up unconscious," Nick says, that generic American accent still in place despite the fact he knows she knows better. When the bartender nears them, he looks up with weary eyes. "Jack and Coke," he says, despite the fact he really shouldn't be mixing his medications with alcohol. The Coke will dilute it, right?

He nods to the ash tray. "You can smoke, Goldilocks. You know I do," he points out, in case she put it out or his sake. "And the other guy looked… oh hell, I donno how he looked, I was trying not to bleed out. And pretty much failing."

"Unconscious?" Melissa asks, frowning as she gives him a second looking over. "What the hell happened to you, Nick?" she asks in a murmur, even as she's wagering on him being in pain, and doing her best to take it all away. "And, well, sure you can imagine that I'm pretty shocked to see you here. Even with the invite, I didn't think I'd ever see you darken the doors of this place with your presence."

"Long and boring story that ends with me being shot and taking a dip in the harbor," he says. While the pain eases up, he doesn't notice right away, though the tension in his brow lessens a touch. He runs a hand through his rumpled hair. "Shoulder. Through and through. Been in the hospital the last few days." That sort of wound should require a longer stay, but they can't force a person to stay against their will.

"On antibiotics and vicodin, so you know. This?" he picks up the drink that the bartender slides in front of him, pulling out the little straw and taking a long swallow, "not really a good idea. But if a rifle didn't kill me, I doubt I'm gonna overdose so easy." Nick makes an attempt to smile, a crooked quirk of just the right corner. "Too mean to die so easy."

Mention of the type of wound has Melissa's lips curving in a more amused smile. "Ahh yeah. The fun-filled shots to the shoulder. Been there, done that. They're not fun," she says, nodding her head slightly to her left shoulder which, with the corset, is exposed. Scars and all. "Feel better now though?" she asks, likely meaning the now absent pain. "And that doesn't explain what you're doing here. Shouldn't be you be at home taking it easy or something? Sleeping like a rock on your pills?"

The now has him frowning and he glances at his shoulder, as if he's simply forgotten about it, and that if he looks at it the pain will return. He sets down his glass, then lifts the arm in the sling up and down — not enough to disturb the healing process or stitches in his shoulder, but just to see if he can without pain.

"Nice little trick, that," Nick says, looking impressed when his blue eyes move back to her face. "Makes what I came to ask even more genius of me," he adds, a glance away as his pride bristles at what he's come to ask. "The guys who did this, they know where I live," he lies easily enough. "They left something at my apartment, so I know they been there. I'd go crash somewhere like a motel, but…" He shrugs, clearly forgetting without the pain that he shouldn't be doing so. He doesn't want to admit he's afraid to be alone, but if it's that dangerous, how can he ask her to put herself in danger?

"I was thinking I could just catch a couple hours maybe, if you have a couch or something in a backroom here?" He nods toward the door to the back, and then shakes his head immediately after. "Ne'er mind. It's a crap idea. Forget it." He picks up the drink, taking another swallow, and reaching for his wallet.

His initial response to her ability has Melissa smiling. That fades as he explains his reason for coming, and she shakes her head and reaches for his arm to try to stop him. "Nick, it's not a crap idea. If you need someplace to sleep in peace, without worry of being shot or something in your sleep, I can help. And I can make sure that you get to sleep without any pain," she says, tone a bit more gentle than it was a moment before.

"Do you really just want a few hours though, or would you like to actually sleep? Real bed, access to a shower, all that good stuff? Because if you do, it's yours." Damn her wanting to help people. Especially broken guys that she barely even knows. But her tone and expression are sincere.

He pulls the wallet from his jeans anyway, using both hands to unzip and pull a bill out, since it doesn't pain him to use his right arm for the time being. His blue eyes stay down, fiddling with the wallet for a moment, then zipping it back up. "A few hours is fine. I gotta get back to Staten in the morning anyway, if I'm gonna keep one of my gigs going. Can't work the docks like this," he says, jerking his head toward his shoulder, "but I can still do some work."

He finally looks up as he tucks that wallet back in his jeans. "I don't wanna endanger you at all, nor do I expect you to bring home a bear to your house, Goldie. I figured this was safe, 'cause it's public. Your bouncers can make sure I don't rip you off or nothin' and you can kick me out when it's time for them to go home."

Lips twitch in amusement, and Melissa leans against the bar. "Cutie, first off? I live on Staten. Second, you're not endangering me, trust me. At least no more than I'm in danger just by walking around with my life. Third? Compared to some of the people who have crashed in my place, you're a teddy bear. The pain I just took away? I could easily give it back if you did try something, but I'm willing to bet you wouldn't. At least nothing more than snarky words or killing looks. And I can survive those easily enough."

She straightens, leaving the bill where it is. The bartender will just get a nice tip. "So just wait here, and I'll be right back. And no arguments." She waits for a moment, giving him a stern look, then moves behind the bar to talk to one of the bartenders, to let them know she's leaving for the night.

"Too many numbers. I can't think that high," Nick says when she gets to three. "Okay, okay. If you live there and you trust me, which, by the way, you totally fuckin' shouldn't, but if you give back my pain, all you have to do is throw a straw at my front or back and I'll cry like a little bitch and fall down," he mutters, finding that most of it is to her back as she heads away without even listening. Women.

He takes another swallow of the Jack and Coke, and sets it down, turning to look at the rest of the bar. If he weren't just a little high from that Vicodin, the buzz setting in from the alcohol, he'd probably make some jokes about the strange colors of hair and the fact half the men are wearing skirts. As it is, it's all a little blurry but at least he's not feeling any pain.

That has Melissa laughing as she moves down the bar to have a brief conversation. It's taken care of quickly and she returns to him, grinning. Luckily she never moved out of the range of her ability, so the pain didn't return even for a moment. "I do, and I do." At least she trusts herself to handle him if he gets too grumpy. But the result in the same thing tonight.

"Okay, c'mon Brit Bear. My car's outside. And I hope you like left-over pizza and Chinese, 'cause that's all I got at the house beside nukable food," she says, grinning impishly and waiting for him to follow.

His eyes narrow a little, but not dangerously. Merely in disbelief. "Brit Bear," he echoes, giving a nod to the bartender and turning to follow the woman out of the bar. "Anything's better than gelatin and that Salisbury steak they feed you at the hospital," he says, dodging Goths as they move through the club.

"Hey, I donno how your little Vulcan mind trick works, you know, and I appreciate it, but if it's taxin' you at all, you can ease up, right? I've been in pain since last Tuesday, I can deal with it, and I don't want you to get all knac— tired, on my behalf." Drugs and alcohol make for another slip of jargon, though his accent is still in place. "I owe you any money at all, let me know, too, I mean, if you just gave up some wages to play Florence Nightingale, let me know."

"Nah. My hours are flexible. So long as I keep the club running at a profit, the owner's happy," Melissa says, shaking her head and leading the way towards the door. "And it's not bothering me right now. One person's pretty easy to help out."

Just outside the door she pauses and flashes a grin at him. "You realize that you don't have to pretend to be American around me, right? You've slipped enough that I know. Hence the Brit Bear comment. But anyway, no prying. I promised. My car's this way," she says, leading him to a black four door. Keys are pulled out, a button pushed, and the doors unlock so they can get in.

He grunts at her a little for calling him Brit Bear again, opening his door and gingerly lowering himself inside. He knows she's only taking away the pain and that moving too swiftly is dangerous for his still-healing wounds. "Fine," he says — the single syllable just a little rounder around the edges as he gives up trying to sound American. It's tiring.

"But in public, I'll be soundin' like a Yank. Got a past that I don't want comin' back to 'aunt me, if you know what I mean. I'm just gonna give it up for now since the drugs make it 'ard to concentrate, and 'm likely to babble at ya like a Londoner once that booze kicks all the way'n. Another reason not to 'ave it, right?" The accent is of the East End, though diluted a little from a few years of traveling. "Where you from — not New York, yeah?" he asks, leaning his head against the headrest and closing his eyes. The pain might be gone, but he still doesn't feel right.

The engine is started up, and Melissa starts the drive from the Lower East Side to Staten Island. "You're right. I'm from Georgia originally. Only been here since February. And I can totally get not wanting your past to haunt you. Been there, done that too," she says with a wry twist of her lips.

She glances over at him briefly, noting the pose, the closed eyes. "I like your accent, by the way. A hell of a lot better than mine. And if you wanna sleep on the way to my place, you can go right on ahead. I'll wake you up when we get there so you can get inside and horizontal."

Nick huffs in a light attempt at a chuckle. "It's just an audio reminder of where I come from. Most of the time I'd rather forget, Goldie." He doesn't open his eyes, clearly trusting her to drive and not worried about where he ends up.

"Listen, I meant it when I said you shouldn't trust blokes like me. I'm not gonna do nothin' bad to you, and I meant it when I said a twig would 'urt me, the state I'm in, but you don't know that, yeah? It could be an act. The sling could be fake. Everything about me could be a ruse to get you to trust me," he mutters, head tipping toward the window, a ghostly reflection in the glass looking back at Melissa. "You need to be careful and not be so trusting. You keep reachin' out to guys like me, and one day you're gonna get hurt." His words are soft, an exhaustion coloring each syllable. "I ain't telling you this to be mean. I appreciate your 'elp. But you know. After me? Quit letting the bears sleep in your fuckin' bed."

There's a soft snort and shake of Melissa's head. "Trust me, Nick, trusting isn't something I am. I've been hurt too many times to trust. But it's in my nature to help people for some reason I've yet to figure out." Her lips curve now. "And you're not gonna be sleeping in my bed, cutiepie."

Relaxing a little, she shrugs, even though he can't see it, though she glances at him from time to time. "As for trusting you…I can't say that I do, not how you mean. But even if your injury is a ruse, I'm still confident enough that I could handle myself alright if you did try something. What I take away, I can also give. I still don't think you'll hurt me, but like they say…prepare for the worst, hope for the best. It's my motto, I guess. If I started having a motto."

"Not a bad one," Nick murmurs, the alcohol catching up to the vicodin in the system, and the two together slowing him down considerably. "Mine's 'Shoot them before they shoot you.' You see how well that one's served me, yeah?" The corner of his mouth quirks into another half smile at his joke. His breathing grows a little deeper and slower, as he is able to relax without the threat of pain stabbing through his nervous system with every breath or slight motion.

Melissa laughs softly and nods. "Yeah, I can see that," she murmurs. Another glance, and she falls silent, choosing to let him rest rather than hounding him with conversation. At least for now. So she drives in silence unless he breaks it, making her way through the familiar route from work to home.

Little Green House

Eventually, the car's slowing and coming to a stop rouses Nick, like he were some baby being lulled by the motor to keep him sleeping by a parent. His eyes open and he sits up, looking a little embarrassed for having fallen asleep. "Home sweet home, huh?" he says, shifting slowly in his seat to open the car door with his left hand. It would be so much easier if it were a British car and he were on the correct side of the car.

"So, um, you got roommates? It might be best not to meat them," he says quietly, once he's stepped out and studies the house.

Melissa climbs out after him and she smiles. "I do, but don't worry, most are never here, or holed up in their room. You don't have to meet anyone if you don't wanna. But yeah, this is home sweet home. Oh, and you'll probably have to meet Jerry." There's a beat, long enough for him to wonder who Jerry is, before she grins. "Jerry's my dog though, so he won't bother you. C'mon. I'll show you to where you can crash tonight. It's nothing fancy, but it's comfortable enough, and safe," she says, heading up to the front door, then inside.

A houseguest. When's the last time he's been a houseguest, not counting a tryst now and then with a girl he didn't care about? "It's a nice li'l house. I didn't know they had 'em this nice here still," Nick says politely, his voice a touch drowsy from waking up from his nap. The mention of a dog has him arch a brow. "'Ope he not a good judge of character," he adds self deprecatingly as he follows her in, blue eyes darting here and there, most notably behind him to make sure no cars have followed them. He should have been watching.

Melissa laughs and shuts the door behind him, just as the sound of puppy paws racing over hardwood floor is heard. "He's a good dog," is her answer, before she moves to put herself between the injured man and the over-excited German Shepherd. There's a minute of petting and scritching and even a bit of baby talk, before the now calmer Jerry moves over to Nick to sniff at him and give one bark, as if passing judgement on him.

Straightening, Mel glances to Nick. "So. Which do you want first? Sleep, shower or sustenance?"

"Jerry," Nick says to the dog, letting it sniff his good hand and then petting it a little dubiously. "To be honest, I'm a bit knackered and fuck, I'm not usually a lightweight, but I think that they didn't lie when they said not to mix the pink with the drills…" Did he just say that backwards?

"So a bed. A bed would be good," he says with a decisive nod. "I gotta get to work pretty early. I might be gone before you wake, depending what time that is. So you know, if I forget to say it…" His bloodshot eyes look away. "Thanks."

Lips twitch at his mixing up words, and Melissa nods. "Sure thing, Nick. And no problem. If you wanna stay here until your shoulder's healed, just to be safe, you're more than welcome," she says, motioning for Jerry to go lay down before she heads towards the stairs and up. It's not a bedroom she leads him to, but a finished attic, complete with a bed, small table, and little else. But it's a bed in an address they don't know about. Whoever they are.

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