It Takes Talent


delia_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title It Takes Talent
Synopsis —To cook as well as Delia does for Nick's birthday. The world might be thankful that she chose the road of singer instead.
Date September 28, 2011

Fort Greene — Nick's Apartment

Come home!

Delia's message contains no context or reason, whether it's an emergency or not. Just those two words. The apartment building where home is located doesn't seem compromised. There's no strange cars parked out front and the doors and windows are as intact as they've ever been, all seems quiet and well.

The first floor hallway reeks of curry and burn. It might be the only thing out of place and as Nick treads closer to his door, it's the place where the stench is coming from. Inside is a familiar voice, singing horribly to a top forty song that's on the radio every twenty eight minutes.

That part makes it a relatively normal day.

His message of is something wrong ignored, and aside from the smell in the air that's very very wrong, Nick is able to relax a little. His hand in his leather coat eases off the gun — he is pretty certain that if anyone inside is holding Delia against their will, they wouldn't be demanding her vocal talents.

Or lack thereof.

His hand moves to the door knob and opens cautiously, as if the smell might be perilous once he opens the door.

Her cell phone's message indicator is still blinking on the end table near the sofa as Nick peers inside. The small kitchen table is set with ceramic plates, mismatched silverware, wine glasses, and whatever pretty decorations Delia could find in the apartment; there aren't many at all. Two candles that have been burned down from previous use stand side by side, melted to the little plate the pair had originally used as a holder and a single flower in a tall glass.

The redhead's singing stops and is replaced by a large smile that's spread across her face when she sees him. Her usual t-shirt has been switched out for a nice-ish thin wool sweater and overlaid with an apron. She might have borrowed that from the neighbor. It looks well used. After placing the smelly dish on a folded towel that substitutes for a hotplate, she hops toward Nick and throws her arms around his neck in greeting.

"Happy birthday!! I made supper!"

He certainly didn't remind her it was his birthday — it was one of those things admitted reluctantly in an effort to be more open and boyfriendly, though he no doubt figured she would have forgotten it by now.

After all, he would have.

Nick blinks and looks at the humble table, the over cooked curry still smoking, and to his credit doesn't turn around and leave again. Instead he smiles, letting his arms slip around Delia. "You didn't have to do that," he murmurs, ducking his head to kiss her temple, breathing in. He hasn't celebrated his birthday since the age of 17 — and that in a shoddy matter at best. "How old'm I, anyway?" he teases.

"Eighty but you don't look a day over twenty four," Delia's reply is quick, possibly practiced, and a horrendous attempt at a joke that might go over better with someone like her father… or her brother. Her lips land on his for a brief hello and are lifted away almost as quickly.

Pulling back, she starts tugging the jacket off his shoulders while nudging him toward one of the chairs. Insistant and hurried, she leaves the rest of it to him by way of drawing a chair out for Nick to sit. "Wait until you see the cake, it's gorgeous. I made it too," she says proudly as a slight rosy color warms her cheeks and nose.

"Cake…" Nick repeats, a little wonderingly, as if confused as to whose life he has wandered into. He lets her pull his jacket off, and lowers himself into the chair. His hand runs through his hair in his nervous manner.

Pale eyes lift to hers and he catches her hand before she runs off to whatever errand might take her from him. "Thank you," he says, voice quiet and shy. His eyes drop away again and he lets go again. "Where'd you find the recipe?"

"The internet! Same place I found the recipe for curry, I didn't know what you'd like but you took me for curry on my birthday so… I figured you might like it, right?" The lid is lifted off the dish and the noxious scent that greeted Nick in the hallway nearly overpowers the room. The chicken inside doesn't look like a curry that he's been served in the restaurant. Ever. Instead, the site that greets him is a bed of rice covered in what looks like chicken chunks coated in Mr. Clean.

Delia's eyes fall on their dinner and ease toward Nick for a split second before they drop again. "It uhm— it didn't look like the curry from my birthday, so I added more."

The good thing is that Nick has eaten a lot of unappetizing food in his life; his mother couldn't cook, and while Eileen can, she's always serving things like fish with hard boiled eggs. Then there was Treblinka.

"There's a lot of different kinds of curry," he says diplomatically, reaching for the serving spoon to plop some on his plate and hers. Hers might get just a little bit more than his. "There's no one right way. Green curry, yellow curry, red curry. Coconut curry, spicy curry, Delia curry." He smiles at the last, and pulls her down into her seat.

Nick picks up the fork, and he gets a large bite of rice along with a small piece of chicken to bring to his mouth.

"We can make Delia curry a tradition for your birthday," the redhead says with a rather cheery grin. Lifting her fork, she takes the opposite approach to eating as he does and brings a large portion of chicken into her mouth.

Immediately her lips press into a thin line and she gently replaces the fork next to her plate. The sheet of paper towel that had been folded to resemble a napkin is plucked up by her long fingers and brought to her lips. She coughs once, wipes the whole sheet against her lips and balls it up into her fist as it's taken away. The tears in her eyes are enough of a warning to slow if not stop Nick from taking that first bite.

"No, no we can't…" she squeaks, reaching for the bottle of wine to pour him and then herself a glass. "We can order pizza?"

To his credit, he's chewing and swallowing his own piece with a stoic face that breaks finally at her reaction to her own cooking. He smirks and chuckles, reaching for the glass to take a swallow.

"Sure," he says easily enough, getting up to go to the phone, but not before bending to kiss the top of her head. He doesn't argue that the food is inedible, but he doesn't add to her self-criticism, either. "What kinda pizza? I'm feeling Italian anyway today. 's all good."

Shrugging one shoulder, Delia stands and begins clearing the plates off the table. Once the curry is scraped off into the garbage, they land with careful clinks in the sink. They remain untouched, for the moment. "I rented a movie too," pausing at the fridge, she finally opens it and pulls out a cake.

It doesn't look better than the curry.

The slanted top is fitted with six candles, two in one group and four in another. The melted icing looks as though it was once decorated to resemble two dice, perhaps so the candle clusters would make sense. Wrinkling her nose, she sets it on the counter and brushes her hands off on her jeans. "You have to at least blow out the candles and make a wish… even if you don't eat any but it'll taste good, even if it doesn't look it. I promise, I followed the recipe exactly."

Nick watches with more amusement from the phone before speaking into it, ordering their usual. Hanging up, he heads to the counter. His hands finding her waist, he bends to lean his forehead to hers. "I don't need a wish. I have you," he says quietly. He long gave up on wishes and prayers, after all.

The sweet sentiment is marred by the mischievous smirk that takes over his face. "Did you follow the curry recipe exactly too?" he asks, arching a brow playfully.

"Everyone needs a wish," Delia's reply isn't as sweet and gentle, her tone is more self assured and forceful. "Without a wish or a dream, you just stagnate and exist instead of live." It might be her ability speaking for her but the young woman seems rather convinced her statement is indesputable truth.

Her lips curve into a grimace when Nick jokes about her baking ability, having the gall to compare it to her cooking. "No," she pouts as the tip of her nose touches against his, "I did until it started not looking like the picture… Then I improvised. The cake— I didn't improvise."

Nick doesn't comment on the need for a dream or a wish; every dream he ever had was left unanswered or dashed violently into pieces. He turns to look at the cake. "I think you just frosted it too soon. I wasn't gone for all that long. If the cake's still hot, I think it melts the frosting, yeah? It'll taste alright. It all ends up in the same place, anyway."

He reaches to pull the candles out, not waiting for her to light it and make him wish.

"Stop, Nick, you're not even going to let me sing happy birthday?" The plea for the song is as frightening (if not moreso) as the bid for him to make a wish. Reaching for his hands, she manages to save one candle. It seems too lonely by itself and with a sigh of defeat, Delia plucks it out herself. "You don't really like birthdays, do you?" She knows very well he's never had a real reason to celebrate them.

Squeezing his hand once before letting go, a knife is pulled from the drawer and presented to him. "You get the first piece, we'll call it the luck piece or something…" A compromise. "If you want, I'll even taste test it to make sure it's not poisoned." There's a pause before she looks up at him with a straight face and twitches her head into a small shake. "It's not poisoned."

He offers an attempt at a smile and shakes his head. "I think the last good one I remember was before my da left," he manages, taking the knife and cutting two slices of the cake. "Good's relative, you know?" It was before everything went really bad with Sophia.

Realizing that his morose mood isn't the most festive, he hands her the bigger slice of cake and bends to kiss her. "This one's better," he says. "No one's made me a cake in … years."

A finger dips into the frosting and then onto her nose playfully. "Dessert before dinner. How scandalous," Nick teases, moving back to the table to sit and attempt another round of Delia's culinary attempts.

Delia's eyes cross and she first makes the effort to reach the dot of icing with her tongue. Not being successful, she wipes it with her finger and licks it off with a smile. "Icing's good. If the cake isn't we can just eat icing, good thing there's a lot leftover in the fridge." Apparently, like her ex-boyfriend the boyscout, the redhead can be prepared for some things.

She returns the kiss when she reaches the table. "You're a hard person to shop for," the earnest confession seems prelude to bad news. Her cake is left by itself at her place and before she takes her seat, she stalks over to the bedside table. Taking a small wrapped box out of the drawer, she returns and stretches her hand toward him. It's small enough that it fits into the palm of her hand and looks suspiciously the same size as a jewelry box.

Nick frowns and shakes his head. "Just this is enough…" he argues, gesturing to the cake, the candles on the table, the flower in the vase, but he knows better than to force that argument. She let him win on the cake candles, after all.

He holds out his hand for the present, letting his fingers graze hers and watching her face carefully. The silver that winks at his throat shows he still wears the other gift she gave him, so many months ago — the only jewelry he wears. Finally, the small package is turned in his hand and he begins to open it.

"It's not much, you're hard to shop for." Delia explains as she slips into her chair. She doesn't watch as he wrestles with the thin ribbon or pulls off the paper, instead she takes a bite of her cake. A surprised sound escapes from her throat and she doesn't spit the bite out, she swallows. "It's good!"

When the box is opened, a novelty keychain drops out into Nick's hand. The plastic window protects a photo of the two of them, Nick's surly profile as he looks away from the camera while Delia smiles toward the lens. It's one of the many she's snapped on the sly while they walked the streets of New York hand in hand.

Kitty corner from him now, Delia's skin almost matches her hair as red as it is.

It's hard to gauge his reaction — his eyes cast down upon the keychain in his hand, he studies it for a moment. Brows furrow, though it's hard to tell if it's simply in concentration or in disapproval of some sort. It's too long a moment, and he realizes it, looking up as his hand curls around the token.

"Thanks," he manages, smiling up at her. "You look great in it," he adds, something apologetic in his tone.

All of Delia's breath escapes her and her lips curve downward a little unhappily. "You hate it," she announces to ease the burden of what she feels is him forcing himself to say anything at all. "I'll get something else, I just didn't know what you'd want and— I figured, I dunno, you might find it funny or— something. It's just lame isn't it…"

Putting her fork down, she holds her hand out again, this time expecting the keychain to be given back. "You know it's not fair, right? You had a whole birthday lunch to quiz me about what I'd want." Even though it didn't affect the gift he eventually gave her at all.

He pulls his hand away, keychain in it, when she reaches for it. "No. It's not lame," he says, the keychain sliding into his pocket before he takes her hand.

"I was just thinking that I think it's the first photo anyone's ever taken of me with a … you know. Girlfriend." His cheeks color slightly, and he looks away. "And that I look like an asshole in the picture," he adds, crooked smirk curving his lips in self-deprecation. "I'm sorry I'm bad at this." The last is offered quietly, honestly. "For the record, I'm still glad you think I'm worth all the trouble."

"It's not the first picture," she assures him with a grin on her face, "I have a whole cellphone full of pictures of you and me… that's just the best one." A revelation that might not make him feel any better about the situation.

Standing, Delia tugs on his hand until Nick gets to his feet and then wraps her arms around his waist. "Besides, my first thought was to get you iTunes, like you got me… but I don't think you like hip hop and rap as much as I do." Though what she listens to barely passes for rap, it's rapple or ripple… the very watered down version.

That that's the best picture — him scowling and looking away from her — brings another scowl to his face, but he leans into her embrace. "My gift didn't work if you're still listening to it," he teases.

There's a knock at the door announcing the pizza, and Nick extricates himself from Delia's arms to answer it. "Get out your bloody camera, and we'll take a picture where I don't look like a wanker, yeah?" he says over his shoulder before opening the door to pay for their second attempt at dinner.

It's possible that it's the first time Nick's heard this particular squeal from Delia while upright. Excitedly, she races toward the cellphone near the sofa and grabs it up, turning it in her hand and sliding her thumb across the screen to activate the camera. The pizza is already handed off before she gets back across the room and extends it to the delivery boy man.

"Take a picture of us, please?" She asks, practically vibrating as she huddles close to Nick. "It's his birthday today," she adds as an explanation for her own behavior. Just like everyone else in the building, the pizza guy can smell the reason for his being summoned. "So we need a sort of reminder that isn't edible."

Having already paid and tipped, Nick sighs, perhaps a touch dramatically, but smiles and pulls out another couple of ones for the kid to make the camera duty worth his while. "Thanks," he says, though his tone says girls, with a conspiratorial tone.

He puts an arm around Delia, and smiles — to the point his teeth show.

It's a new look for him.

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