Let It Come, Let It Go


nicole_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Let It Come, Let It Go
Synopsis When I die, send my bones to the funeral museum
Behind glass, they'll look so sharp, the robots will flock to see 'em
When I'm done, send my things to the landfill by the road
As for my soul
As for my soul…
Date January 29, 2020

Bay Ridge: Nicole's Home

Key scrapes against lock as Nicole fits it into the slot and turns. Her front door is pushed open and she reaches inside to flick on the lightswitch before she gestures for Zachery to head inside ahead of her. His backpack is slung over one shoulder, his duffel bag held in her hand.

“Go on, then.” It was a long ride from Providence, and Nicole would like to drink until she can block out the last several hours from her memory. As he slips past her into the house, she grabs a decaying leaf off the back of his coat and drops it on the front step before heading in after him.

Once they’re both through the doorway, she pushes it closed again behind her and turns the deadbolt. “Make yourself at home,” Nicole murmurs flatly as she slips off her shoes and makes her way through the living room and down the hall to her bedroom with his things.

"This is the last time you're carrying anything of mine." Zachery calls after her, a hair louder than he needs to, before he drops his speaking volume down to carry only barely in Nicole's direction. "And not just because - should my mother be dead - this would have her not merely turn around in her grave but claw her way back to the surface in pure, familial disgrace."

He comes to a halt in the living room, grimacing briefly as he — lingers. Unsure, for a moment unseen, listening. Mentally filtering out some unwanted distractions as he fails to take a seat. "Thank you. For the drive. I don't think I'd said that."

“You’re a fucking mess,” Nicole calls back over her shoulder from the bedroom, where she sets his bags down carefully. She really should rifle through them, but she’s been shit at this so far, why not just continue the trend? She’s just too fucking tired to give a single fuck at this point.

There’s a sigh that serves as prelude to Nicole’s emergence from the hallway. “You’re welcome,” she responds easily enough, even if the warmth isn’t in the sentiment. Maybe it was an obligation. Maybe there just really wasn’t anything else to be done.

Mostly she just feels hollow still after their interlude.

The tone of it breaks through the other things vying for Zachery's attention. Where he stands idly by like he's forgotten how to human, he eyes her with the look of someone trying to solve a puzzle by staring it into submission.

"Sometimes I envy telepaths," he starts, no small amount of hatred sinking its hooks into that last word. It's gone by the time he shifts his weight to regard her more fully and follows it up with, "Talk to me."

“I don’t know what to say.” It’s an honest enough response, although perhaps not wholly accurate. She isn’t sure what she wants to say to him. Isn’t sure what she wants to say to anybody about what’s going on in her head right now. Maybe she isn’t even sure what’s going on in there.

Nicole swallows uneasily, lips parting as she starts to say something. It’s only the first little push of breath that escapes her throat, however. The words have died before ever finding sound. She makes her way to the kitchen, which fortunately and not for the both of them, is open into the living room, so their conversation can continue unimpeded.

There’s a bottle of gin on the counter, which she uncaps and pours into two lowball glasses brought down from the cupboard. Tonic is retrieved from the fridge next and splashed in as well. Nicole eyes Zachery with uncertainty even as she crosses to the living room again to set the pair of drinks down on coasters on the coffee table.

Like him, she fails to take a seat on the couch.

The great and important study of the subject named Nicole continues.

Zachery watches her every move, listens to the sounds that fall short of becoming words but still communicate something in their own right. Her uncertainty, though, is met with the opposite. The longer he watches, the more entertained he looks. complete with, of course, a slowly creeping grin. Even if something else still hides in the way his eyebrows lower a tick.

"I think you know," he decides, gaze fixed on hers, "I think there's just too much to say all at once. Too much to shuffle into any one ideal order." Is that judgement? That sounds like judgement.

Whatever wisdom might have been contained in those words is easily dismissed on account of the way in which he looks at her. That infuriating thing he does, where he’s amused by her conflicted emotions. “Please go fuck yourself,” Nicole requests as she drops down onto the cushions of her sofa and snatches up her cocktail for a drink.

She should have brought the bottle with her. Oh well, she’s far more able-bodied than he. She’s perfectly able to meander back to the kitchen for a refill when she makes short work of this one.

"But you do such a good job of it for me." Zachery replies, the words leaving him with — maybe some amount of regret immediately apparent on his features. This, however, manifests entirely in his grin widening and a quickly stifled chuckle. If these last few months have taught him anything, there's far worse things that running his mouth when he doesn't mean to.

With barely a heartbeat's pause between his last words and the next in an attempt to cut a response off at the roots, he makes his slightly unbalanced way toward the sofa and says, "Start somewhere. What keeps looping back in to grab you?"

If the immediate reaction is any indication, he’s come pretty close to the root of the issue with his glibness. Nicole brings her free hand up to cover her mouth as her eyes instantly go glassy. She really should have seen that response coming, given how nicely she set him up for it.

She can’t look at him, not even to give him the glare he deserves. The hand falls away from her mouth so it can join the other in curling around the glass, which she brings now to her lips, swallowing down every last drop of liquor and mixer like it might be an antidote to the poison he’s infected her with.

When she comes back up for air with an audible gasp, her knuckles have gone white around the lowball now settled against her knee. “I thought you were going to—” Her eyes come up to settle on him, waiting to see if he can manage to fill in the blank.

Zachery is halfway through carefully folding his shrugged off and somewhat extraordinarily bottom-heavy coat before he looks at her again. Given pause to think before he leaves it on an arm rest and lowers himself - with more difficulty than he'd like - to sit on the sofa with a deliberate arm's length between them.

"Mh." The noise leaves him as low as it'll go, thoughtful, his grin gradually fading without something more to carry it forward into this moment. His hands find each other in his lap, and he angles his head upwards to ask, calmly, "That I was what? Going to kill you?"

Her head bobs to one side as if to suggest that he’s at least partially correct. “When you demanded I pull the car over…” Nicole looks away again, letting out a heavy exhale and closing her eyes altogether. “I thought you were going to—” Again, she hesitates, swallowing hard and scrunching her eyes closed a little tighter as well.

Her jaw works around the word she doesn’t want to say, trying to take the first steps to form it, even without putting the power of her voice behind it just yet. Her front teeth click together, a grimace. Nicole draws in a shaky breath. “I thought you were going to rape me. And then I went and fucked you on the side of the goddamn road.” Willingly, being the tacit and very important difference here.

If anything could vanish what was left of his grin faster, Zachery does not have the creativity to think of it right this moment. After his fingers lock around his hand, he freezes, breath and all, before the last sentence is even close to finishing.

Some of the colour drains from his face and his throat closes up as he sits staring into Nicole's face as if she'd just made like a cosmic horror rather than spoke perfect English.

"… Right," he manages finally, barely above a whisper, on an exhale that only reluctantly exists. "I should — go."

When he starts to move again, he does so all at once, rising to his feet with stilted movements and immediately starting to move back toward the door, grabbing the unclaimed drink on the way to attempt to down the whole thing at once.

“You should,” Nicole is quick to agree in a quiet voice. She sets her glass aside so she can wipe under her eyes with the pads of her thumbs. Her hands are shaking and she stares down at those trembling fingers with a frown. “But I don’t want you to.”

Folding her hands together in her lap is like attempting to settle a weight in her lap too great to allow her to move from beneath it. She’s trying so very hard not to bolt to her feet and chase after him. God, for once, she’d like to retain some shred of dignity in his presence.

“You think you’re being funny sometimes, but you… You scare me.” Nicole watches him, expression serious, without being wary. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me when I’m with you. You make me so… jumbled up inside.” She glances away, but only briefly, as if afraid he’ll simply disappear if she breaks eye contact for too long.

The bite of the alcohol is choked back without much of an expression to show for it, but Zachery sets the glass aside and starts to move only just to realise he's forgotten his coat a couple of steps in.

He turns around to grab it but stops when the sight of what's on the couch has him much less able to fight back the conflict that immediately shows in furrowed brow and setting jaw. Leaving him unable to look away, despite looking ever more desperate to. "I've been good with you. Considerate!" He winces as if at his own raised voice, even if it's rise in pitch hints more at distressed than anything else.

"I wouldn't rape you - christ!" Where she had trouble saying the word, he throws it out there like one might throw a rotten fish into the garbage, complete with the nausea of having had to touch it in the first place. "Or anyone, for that matter! Right? Shit." Panic sets in properly now, both hands coming up to get dragged down over his face entirely too roughly, face up and shoulders sagging. HHGHH. "Maybe that's what they all think. What do you mean jumbled up."

Leave it to him to make her feel like the asshole for explaining how terrified he made her feel. Nicole looks down at her clasped hands, guilty and ashamed. She winces when he throws the word back at her. It feels like it leaves a mark on her pale skin, but there’s nothing to show for it.

“I mean it doesn’t make sense, does it? Why I’m so…” Nicole shakes her head. “I’m sorry.” She looks up at him again, pleading. “You didn’t hurt me. You haven’t hurt me.” Not physically, anyway. “I have baggage,” she offers lamely, trying to explain why she would make such a horrible assumption about his intentions. Of course it’s everything to do with her, and nothing to do with the way he phrased things earlier.

One hand unclasps from the other so she can reach up and wipe a tear away.

"What kind of baggage?" The question is fired back before Zachery even has time to lower his gaze back onto Nicole's face again, and he steps forward in one unsteady step and one slightly more stable. Not for her, though, but to reach for the coat. Careful to lift it by the collar and with the weighted pockets positioned right side up.

The sick feeling may not have left him just yet, but something else overtakes it - something a lot more pointed, eagerly curious and quietly furious both as he asks, "Did someone force themselves on you? Who."

Nicole goes very pale and very still. She feels sick when he asks the question that corresponds with her implication. If she were thinking clearly, she’d be concerned about the fact that he’s going for his coat now, when it doesn’t look like he intends to leave.

But if there’s one thing Nicole rarely does in the presence of Zachery Miller, it’s think clearly.

“My father.” The answer to his question is a simple one, and a terrible one. Despite the warmth created by her ability, Nicole feels cold, clammy. And yet like she’d like to dive into a frozen lake all at the same time.

There's not a lot of response, or at least not as much as there should be. Zachery's stare at Nicole hardens, and he puts his coat back on while asking - just as airily as he had when he was asking to see her gun just hours earlier - "Alright, interesting, where does he live? Name?"

Like he's taking a lunch order, complete with the fact that now, he does very much intend to leave, half turning to limp to the door as a hand slips into his pocket.

“Richard Nichols,” Nicole responds with a faint smirk. “He can probably be found in Baltimore Cemetery. If there’s anything left of it these days.” Rising to her feet, she starts to slowly close the distance between the two of them, understanding now where he’s headed with that line of questioning.

“I shot him to death.” It’s only the second time she’s ever admitted to that out loud. “He can’t hurt anyone anymore.”

Even now, it takes until some of those very last words before Zachery turns his attention away from the door, stopping just short of pulling it open.

Something still seethes below the surface when he pulls his hand back, behind poorly executed attempts at controlling his expression and wrangling it into something less overtly resentful.

"Good." His attention trails downward, where he finds himself holding one of the two guns currently on him, before he turns to hand it, without looking up and with his index finger flush against the side of the weapon, to Nicole. And to state the obvious through his teeth. "This is yours."

The corner of her mouth stays ticked up just slightly as she reaches out to wrap her hand around the gun, her fingers brushing against Zachery’s while she maintains eye contact. “Thank you for holding it for me.” Only when he seems to be ready to relinquish his hold on it does she pull it away from his grasp.

At the same time, her opposite hand reaches out to capture his wrist as she leans forward to press her lips to his.

Still a storm of thoughts raging, Zachery barely even seems to notice what would otherwise have been a welcome sign of affection.

His response is delayed, and somewhat baffled, eye darting from his wrist to Nicole's face once he can see enough of it again. Standing still, like he's not quite in control of his body just yet for all the processing still happening inside his head. "I don't know what to do with this. Any of this." The admission comes with some amount of frustration, but turned inward rather than out. "How to fix it."

“Not everything can be,” Nicole says quietly. “Some things just are.” Her fingers slip from his wrist to tangle with his. Her nose nudges against his, her breath his warm against his skin. Apparently the notion that he would have killed her father if she hadn’t beaten him to it goes a long way to mending any damage to the bridge between them.

“Stay,” she whispers against his mouth, eyes sliding shut.

Whether he'd have managed to pull it off is a different matter, but impulse was never a thing Zachery much liked to question.

Like, for example, now. Though his fingers hold position somewhat stiffly between hers, he leans into her touch either way. "Call it selfish, but wanted this to be the start of… victory, maybe, or— success, I can't-… I can't have this be born of that. Of fear." As if he's afraid that saying this will make her leave, he immediately lifts an arm to rest it against her shoulder blades, concern making its way onto his face as a result of this instinct.

Now it's time for his eyes to close, even if it's just to block out some visual distractions. Internal conflict and discomfort weighing heavily on his words, he says the only thing he can think to add, somewhat rushed, but dead serious. "I want you to just go ahead and kill me if I ever turn out to be that person. Alright?"

“Yeah,” Nicole responds monosyllabically. It’s an answer to both his hope that fear isn’t the foundation this is built on, and how she’ll handle it if he ever makes it so. “You say you’ll never hurt me that way,” she reasons quietly, “so, I’m going to take you at your word. I’ll let you know if you say something that’s scaring me, and we’ll talk it through.” Like adults who know how to deal with their feelings, or something equally the opposite of what they really are not.

She presses a soft kiss to his mouth finally. The hand holding the gun hangs loosely at her side for now, but she’s clearly enjoying the weight of his arm around her shoulders. “Tomorrow,” she says softly when their lips part again.

'Tomorrow', a noise of agreement that lips are too busy for implies, as Zachery brushes his arm against her back, lower now, taking a step sideways and away from the door — and further into the home again. Pulling her gently along, his fingers finally curling inwards against hers and his face lifting just long enough for a brief study of her expression while his own settles into still somewhat troubled relief.

Half of a grin returns to him, pulled to one side more than the other, trust doing its best to take hold among straggling concerns. "I wonder when that shift happened." One of said concerns converts itself to words as his arm guides them both toward that hallway - pull, step. "From scared to scary." Pull, step. "Shower?"

Another kiss serves as an answer to that question, even though she extracts herself from his grasp for the moment. “And the day after,” she continues, backing away toward the hall. Her eyes beckon him to follow, even if she’s not physically dragging him along. She expects he doesn’t need the excess of encouragement.

“Next Tuesday…” Nicole watches his face even as her back connects with the corner, signifying that she’s found the mouth of the hallways. “When it’s not convenient…”

"… Oh." Just like that, that moment of concern slips away from Zachery, his eyebrows raised. He needs no further motivation to be urged forward, following easily enough. "I don't-…"

His eye darts off to the side for a moment, uncertainty treated suddenly like a plaything rather than something ready to pull the rug out of either one of them. "… When I would benefit from anything but?" Is a guess, hopeful, when he finds the rest of his grin again. The last time he spoke them he didn't expect to have to remember them.

Nicole smiles finally, pleased he does remember the words. Even if she yelled at him for them just a couple hours ago. “I’m going to go put this away,” she holds up the gun like she might be talking about a wayward book left off its shelf. “You go get the water warm, okay?”

Turning so she can actually watch where she’s going now, she heads down the hallway to her bedroom, where she can properly lock the gun up. He may still have access to one, but at least there won’t be any mischief involving her service weapon.

There's a wordless agreement on Zachery's face, anticipation easy to read in the way he shrugs his coat off for the third time since he left home, and stops to drapes it over whatever piece of furniture happens to be nearby. He's not really looking, waiting instead for Nicole to be out of sight.

And out of earshot for the words he mouths to himself a moment later - whispered as they are, it's equal amounts threat as well as quiet reassurance.

"You cannot fuck this one up."

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