In Another Life


delia_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title In Another Life
Synopsis The taste of mint and cigarettes and scent of pine and ocean would mingle better with lavender.
Date March 17, 2011

Fort Greene — Nick Ruskin's Apartment

As Delia approaches the door to the apartment, she will hear music coming from the door — most likely nothing Toru would listen to, unless he's a fan of NiN. The door is unlocked when her hand tries it, and Nick is sitting on the couch facing it, glancing up when the door creaks open — he should probably oil it, but it's a good "alarm" against intruders.

A laptop sits on his lap, his black Docs on the coffee table beside a large white box — no bow or wrapping paper, however. Blue eyes glance up and when he sees Delia, he lifts one finger — just a moment! — before typing a few more strokes on the keyboard, then smirking a moment as he hears the chime of incoming email on Delia's iPad across the room.

"Oy," he says genially before moving to put the laptop on the coffee table.

Delia's blue eyes widen a little at the sight of Nick, her mouth caught somewhere hanging between wanting to speak and silence. What comes out is nothing more than a little squeak. "I— Hi," she stammers, finally tearing her eyes away from him to check the status of the apartment. She ran out of clothing a little while ago, only having a few days worth. She's been borrowing shirts from both him and Toru between laundry days. Which is where she's coming from.

Dressed in a pair of faded denims, one of Nick's white t-shirts, and her no longer black Docs, she slowly removes the shearling coat and hangs it on the hook in the little closet. "I didn't think you'd be back until I had to leave…" Her tone of voice might indicate that seeing him home again isn't an unwelcome surprise. "Welcome home!" She grabs her iPad and triple jumps over to the couch to land beside him, knocking him in the shoulder with her own as she picks through her email to find the one that chimed.

He nods to the laundry she's carried in with her. "I needed to get some more clothes and do some business in town myself," he says, glancing then to where she's plopped down at his side, a slight smile pulling up one corner of his mouth. His eyes drop down to the ipad on her lap and then downward, simply waiting.

The newest email is from the iTunes store, proclaiming "A Gift For You!" — the gift a playlist of 200 songs…

None of it rap.

The music is Nick's taste — alternative rock, for the most part. Hard and angry music from such artists as Nine Inch Nails, Tool, System of a Down, Linkin Park, Saliva, Foo Fighters, Staind, Red Hot Chili Peppers. More harmonic but often melancholy music such as Depeche, U2, Coldplay, and Mumford and Sons. A few brighter spots that suggest a sense of humor such as Sublime and Pepper. Classics like the Beatles, the Doors, the Clash.

There's no name attached, of course, but the iTunes site is still up on Nick's computer, and there's a telltale flush in his cheeks.

"Oh!" The breath of surprise that comes from Delia as she reads through the email and then scans the giant playlist. "Oohh…" though her head is pointed down as if she was still reading through it, her eyes slide to the side to sneak a peek at him. Some of the selections make her cheeks flush and to hide it she just ducks her head down a little farther, letting her hair tumble forward to mask her features.

When she gets to the bottom of the list, she lifts her head again and turns to look at him, trying to catch his eye. "Thanks. Thank you so much." To punctuate the sentiment, her arms come up and wrap around his neck in a tight hug. Then in an unprecidented move, she leans in and presses her lips against his cheek in a chaste kiss.

The rush of gratitude has him swallowing audibly — he hasn't given many presents in his life, and he hasn't received much thanks. He nods with a jerk of his head just as she throws her arms around him, and he closes his eyes, just one hand coming up to pat her shoulder lightly.

His cheek feels a touch warm from the flushing of his skin when she kisses it, and he huffs a soft chuckle. "Welcome," Nick manages, then nods to the box, withdrawing from her embrace. "That's the other part. To take with you when you go back to the island. In case you don't get to see one in real life, out in the west."

The box is lifted carefully to reveal a bonsai redwood. The way it's been sculpted while growing makes the twisted branches seem like a sheaf of long red hair with green tips. The miniature leaves rustle delicately when Delia's breath leaves her and just like when she opened the door to find him, she's left speechless. "Oh Nick…"

Cupping the planter in both hands, she lifts it carefully and shifts back again to lean against his side. She seems comfortable with the familiarity, even if he's not, like acclamating a dog. "This is the most thoughtful gift ever," she marvels as she turns the little tree around between her hands. "A-are you sure about this? It must have cost a fortune… and the songs…" Not that she's letting the tree go, the white hue of her knuckles implies that it might be quite a wrestle if he changes his mind.

The words bring a shake of his head, his dark hair falling forward — he probably needs a hair cut, the last cut he'd had a compulsory and brutal complete shave back in November, so there is no shape to the growth. "It wasn't that much," he murmurs, reaching to touch the red bark of the tiny tree.

"'S to remind you you're strong," he adds, voice even quieter, and he glances at her through the corner of his eyes. "I'm glad you like it." A book on the table is nodded at. "That'll tell you how to take care of it. I ain't got a green thumb, but you probably do. Seems like you would."

A little smile plays at the corner of her lips and she nudges the iPad gently to the cushion beside her with a pinky knuckle in order to rest the plant on her lap. "My dad could grow things," Delia murmurs at a level equal to his, "I never really tried. I think Brad was really good with his kitchen herbs, they always seemed to grow like little weeds."

One of her hands falls away from the planter and finds his to give it a little squeeze. "Before we had to move, before the riots, and Queens burning… Dad had a beautiful garden. He started it after mom died, I guess it was a way to keep busy while he waited for me to grow up." Looking first to their hands and then up at his face, Nick receives an encouraging smile and a nudge against his shoulder. "I'll take it with me wherever I end up."

"He did a good job raising you," Nick says, brow twitching into a little bit of a scowl. "I think you'll be good at it. Just… you know. If it dies or sommat like that, don't feel bad or nothin'. It's just a plant, and while it's supposed to remind you you're strong, don't read too much into the actual plant. If it breaks, it ain't an omen, yeah?"

He nudges back, then drops his feet to the floor, shoving off the cushion. "I should get moving. You and Toru doin' all right? I sent out all the utilities today so you won't have to worry about them."

Delia falls a little to the side with the nudge but recovers nicely by kicking against the bottom of the table with her foot in order to regain her balance. Gripping the little tree with both hands again, she places it gently back up on the table before struggling to stand herself. "We're doing okay, I get lonely with both of you gone all the time. I'll survive, don't worry," is said with a large smile and a dismissive wave of her hand. "I'll be going as soon as I get the call to move." With his choice of career, Nick shuold be familiar with waiting for the call.

A nod is the answer in regards to utilities and the redhead ambles along behind the Briton. Her hands are tucked into her back pocket, making her shoulders hunch up a little which in turn has her seeming a little more sheepish than she usually is. "You're taking care of yourself, right? And how's Eileen?"

Nick moves to his bed where he'd been loading up a duffle bag with more clothes. If he's noticed anything missing, having gone to supplement Delia's wardrobe, he doesn't say anything. "Yeah. I'm good. I think a whole month's gone by where someone hasn't tried to kill me. It might be a record," he says with a slight smirk. "But give it time." After all, he's living with Ethan and presumably Gabriel.

"She's all right," regarding Eileen, is a little less certain. He's noticed the dark circles and lack of sleep, but he isn't going to pry. The bag is zipped and pulled over his shoulder. "I'm leaving the truck here in case you need to move and I can't get here to help," he says, nodding to the keys on a hook by the door.

She's got a fake license, that ought to be enough. Otherwise there's Toru and she's certain she can find someone else to drive a stick, how hard can it be, right? The bright smile on her face doesn't betray any of the lack of confidence she has in regards to actually driving. She's a New Yorker born and raised which meant no need for a car. Therefore, no need for a driver's license. "Great, I'll take good care of it. Like Lando in the Millenium Falcon." There was a Star Wars marathon on the tube the other day.

"Tell her hi for me? And can you ask her about that guy? See if she knows any clairvoyant people named Calvin?" The tweak of her eyebrows is the first sign that she might be worried. "I'll uhm… I'll let you go though. If I don't end up back on the island, I'll call you?" The few steps it takes to get to him are all she needs to wrap her arms around his waist for yet another hug, thanks and goodbye.

The sudden hug shouldn't surprise him, but it does, and he stiffens slightly, a shallow sniff of breath as he freezes — allowing her to hug for an awkward moment without returning it, but then his arms finally rise to wrap around her. His jaw chin rests down on her shoulder, dropping the scant few inches it takes since she's nearly as tall as he is.

The breath is released, a long sigh before he speaks. "Yeah. Sorry — I should've already. It's just … hard to…" Hard to talk to Eileen at all. They live in the same building but steer clear of one another for the most part, and if things are all right, it's hard to want to crack the facade of civility with talk of danger. "Or I'll just maybe tell her to call you." His voice is soft, a near whisper.

"Okay, the phone here," she murmurs into his sweater, her breath mixing into the cable knit and turning it hot for a few seconds before it cools completely. She doesn't pull away as much as simply shift her arms to pull his leather jacket closed, widening the space between them by the span of a fist. She doesn't fasten it, just holds it closed by the lapel. "Take care of yourself. Don't get hurt. If you do, you call me, okay? I'll get to wherever you are as fast as I can." Perhaps by taking his truck. The instructions are given with a grave expression, as though Delia is actually afraid that this might be the last time she sees him.

Tilting her head to rest her forehead against the side of his, she lets loose a long sigh through her nose and finally pulls back another few inches to look at him. "Do you want me to tell Toru anything for you?"

Nick leans against her head, temple to forehead before his head turns very slightly, chin rising and then dropping so his cheek grazes hers, his lips brushing the corner of her mouth.

His eyes open and he takes a step away and to the door, looking down at the floor with a scowl. "Just tell 'em the utilities are paid for the month so he doesn't have to worry about anything. There's some food in the cupboards and fridge too." Fresh milk. More cereal. Things a Toru seems to like to eat. Nick doesn't look up, but reaches for the doorknob behind him. "Be safe. I'll tell her to call."

The brush of lips catches Delia by surprise for just a moment, enough that she hesitates before turning her head to respond and by the time she does, he's already at the door. A few heavy strides of her own has her caught up before she grips his jacket at both sides and presses her lips firmly against his.

The grand thing about him already being at the door is, he has no where left to run.

Nick's opening the door as she grabs him, growing still and tense even as one hand rises to catch her red hair at the back of her neck, allowing her to kiss him, accepting it for a long moment before, as with the hug, he gives in. Lips part, breath shudders, heart pounds. He tastes of smoke and mint, smells of pine and ocean so close to her.

A soft and gentle grunt warns her before he pulls away, and his eyes avoid her face, his own contorted as if with pain. "Del," he murmurs, the short syllable apologetic.

"I know, I'm sorry…" is the uttered answer as she draws back and stares down at the floor. Her cheeks a hot red with the shame of having violated him yet again. "I crossed a line," she says, her voice a little shaky as she backpeddles a few steps to give him the room he needs to escape. "I just thought— sorry, it won't ever happen again."

Swallowing painfully, she tucks her hands back into ther pockets and stares at his Docs as she waits for them to take him out of the apartment. Her tongue runs along her lower lip before she catches it between her teeth to chew on nervously. "If you can forgive me, again, just forget I did that?"

"Stop!" he snaps, hand hitting the door frame to punctuate the demand. Upstairs, a heavy foot stomps on the thin floor three times in irritation for the noise and Nick pounds the door jam again in irritation, eyes snapping up. No retort this time.

Those eyes then slide to Delia and he shakes his head angrily. "Stop apologizing. Stop acting like you're doing anything wrong. I liked it, all right? And I liked you being with me, when you were sleeping."

He presses his lips into a thin line and reshoulders the duffle bag that's begun to slip in his outburst. "It's me who should be sorry," comes softer. "I didn't mean to…"

There are so many endings to that sentence. He didn't mean to encourage her. He didn't mean to kiss her. He didn't mean to care. Too many choices. In the end, he shakes his head. "You didn't cross anything," he whispers. "And I don't want to forget it."

His head tipped downward, he turns to open the door wider. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be," Delia murmurs in reply, "I just thought— After seeing and how you always stay away— I wasn't sure, I thought maybe.." The small shake of her head is magnified by her unruly locks that fly out at both sides with the sudden motion. "Just don't be sorry, please? I don't want you to go away angry, because I never know if I'll see you again. I don't want the last time I see you to be with a frown on your face and us yelling at each other."

Holding up one finger as he did to her when she first walked in, she races to the sofa to grab up her backpack and rummages until she finds a small disposable camera. Holding up the small device, she squares him into the viewer before she peeks around it to give him a tentative grin. "Smile for me, one more time before you go. I don't have any pictures and I'm a little too nice to scavenge through your things for a fake ID or passport to frame." The last part is meant as a small joke, it works for her at least.

He swallows and looks away, jaw setting tensely at the suggestion they'd never see one another again — even though it's him who is always threatening to leave the country for work.

Blue eyes sweep to the device in her hands and he closes his eyes, shaking his head with a rueful and humorless chuckle. "Not in the smiling mood," he answers, eyes opening again. Ignoring her request, he sets down the duffel bag. "I'm not angry at you, Delia. I'm not yelling at you. It's just…"

His hand rakes through his hair nervously, and then steps forward, leaning until his lips brush her forehead. "In another life," he murmurs quietly. One with fewer baggage, fewer scars.

"In this one, you'll find someone better'n me. I promise," he adds, picking up the bag again and turning again for the door.

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