Magic Called Murder


kristen_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title Magic Called Murder
Synopsis After an interesting turn of events, things look different in the morning.
Date January 17, 2011

Russo's grandparents.

It smells like jasmine. His mother had forever smelled like jasmine, warranting the dreams and illusions of her presence in the quiet confines of this space. The silky feeling of the sheets against his skin, the firmness of the bed, and the colour of the walls have always been comforting. Sorrowfully comforting.

A crack of morning light peeks through the heavy fabric curtains, breaking the darkness like the sunlight breaks dawn. It hits his eyes irritably, but they squeeze tighter to block it. In fact, it isn't until he hears the beeping that he allows himself that momentary blindness, sliding up in the bed to attend to whatever emergency may beget his ways.

Brad reaches for the phone and opens it to a barrage of text messages. He hadn't had service last night. Out of area, it had read. With a quiet mrrr he shuts the phone, brain not really registering anything he's just read— he'll process later.

Instead, he slides back downwards, rolling onto his side. Brad sidles next to her, his breath warm against her skin, particularly as he plants a light kiss on her bare shoulder before laying flat against his pillow again, wrapping her arm around her as the big spoon to her little one.

It's the light touch of lips against her shoulder that Kristen opens her eyes to. What used to be a deep slumbering breathing turns light and shallow a a hand slides against her stomach, causing her to wince slightly from the tickle. The room isn't familiar, the bed partner— Oh… shit…

Taking a deep breath, she closes her eyes again. It's a small attempt to calm her racing heart before actually facing the thing that has her so panicked in the first place. Her tongue slides against her lips as her dark eyes flit around the room, it's so… white and pure. No matter, pasting a smile on her face, she turns her head just slightly to face the demon spooning her.

"Mmm…" she breathes quietly, almost afraid to disturb him. Quickly, she brings a hand to her mouth to check for morning breath before looking right over her shoulder to see him nestled into the pillow. Her heart flips up into her throat, causing an overwhelming nauseous feeling, as she spies the sleepy form of the television host. She's afraid to disturb whatever magic has them in this position in the first place. Not a bad thing, in reality, just… Oh yeah… the magic is called murder.

While Kristen's breath becomes shallower, Brad's actually deepens. Turns out he never really woke up in the first place. Or barely woke up. Or he's an incessant faker. Take your pick.

But then there's another array of beeping from his phone. It's a wonder he ever checks his messages. Again it has him slinking away, moving away from her, perhaps to her delight as he rolls over onto his other side to peek at the text that's appeared. More texts. Two emails. His eyes blink hard as he manages to sit up again, living Kristen to her side of the bed as he squints to really read the tiny black letters. He frowns. It would just be easier to still be out of area.

His eyes shift to her, following the lines of her back until it disappears under the covers as he opens his mouth to say something. Anything. There's a slight reddening of his cheeks as his lips tick into the slightest smile which fades slightly. If she's sleeping, he should let her sleep.

Slowly he rolls out of the bed and tugs on pants before letting his feet touch the carpeted floor, phone still in hand. Maybe he can scrounge up breakfast— if he'd left anything behind when he'd stashed Delia here.

But she's not sleeping, not anymore. As Brad rises, Kristen tugs on the sheet, wrapping it around her thin frame before pulling herself and it up to a stand. The blankets falls though the white sheet stays firmly in place. Her pants were thrown somewhere the night before in a hurried bid to loose them, to get closer to the man that she's avoiding eye contact with so early into whatever it was they shared.

He loves her, he told her a couple of days ago before they kissed. She loves him but she hasn't yet found the right moment or the right words to express it. Anything said the night before wasn't love, it was need and passion. It doesn't count and they both know it.

She can't find her clothing, she does find his button down dress shirt and slides it on, the size of it acting like a smock. It covers her completely, enough that she doesn't feel the need to blush in fancy, the way she would have years ago had this happened. It didn't.

Her dark brown eyes, slide to catch a glimpse of him out of her perifery and her lips curl up at the edges. It's not the smirk that she usually gives when placating paparazzi or unwanted talent. It's something softer and more real. "Brad I— " words fail her and she lowers her chin almost touching it to her chest. "Can I get you some coffee or something?"

When Kristen moves, Brad freezes. He takes a deep breath and gives her a moment to have whatever semblance of privacy Kristen needs, even if he's seen it before, there's no peeking here. He turns his head to the side, catching her wearing his shirt in his periphery, a sight that earns an involuntary small curl of his lips.

When she says his name, he actually turns to face her. His smile earns a little more permanence, a little more support as he watches her. "I got it. I'm pretty sure I at least left coffee here— if we're lucky I might even have some eggs or something in the fridge." Spices go without saying.

He clears his throat, "Unless— " he pauses and adds, "— unless you wanted to go get coffee?" It's all code. It's always code. The code: unless she wants to leave.

The ache in Kristen's chest reads visible on her face, the morning after is always the hardest. It's a good reason why she's always made excuses to leave or kicked her bedfellow out before the sun rises. It's just easier, less messy, there's no feelings. This is so much different. There's almost a decade of feelings piled up.

"No," she almost whispers, tilting her head down a little to allow some of her mouse brown hair to shade her nervousness. "Eggs are good…" She lifts her eyes to meet his and there's a shy smile on her face that he's never seen before. Something new. "No carbs." They're mentioned almost as a joke but they both know how careful she is with her intake.

Taking a halting step forward, she curls her hands into the long sleeves and tucks her arms around her body, hugging herself. Her confidence is stripped away and this is what's left.

There's a slight tilt to his head and a somewhat nervous twitch of a smile as he watches her. The body language and words are met with a faint nod of his head. The shyness of her smile is nearly unsettling, unnerving, even. He sucks in a deep breath followed by that still nervous smile, "Right. I knew that."

His lips twitch again. There's no confidence in his smile. No arrogance in his stance. And no show-business personality to hide behind. It wouldn't be right to flip into his faux self. Not here. Not with her. He can't even feign confidence; she'd see through it. Besides, it would be an insult to the jasmine.

"I— " he starts only to stop. The memory of the night before freshly on his mind.

8 Hours Ago

It'd been a long drive down a winding back road to get here. At least it's not in the city. The door to Russo's grandparent's home clicks open and Brad shuffles inside. He'd only given silence on the trek, not cold like before, just awkward. Painful, maybe. But there's a supportive quality to it. An oddly omnipresent ability— he's not disappearing. A glance is given his phone and he sighs, "Still no signal."

Kristen is shot a small smile, nearly as broken as the one he'd given Delia the afternoon before although a little more supportive. "You did good," he affirms quietly.

She didn't drive. She didn't speak. Nothing. Hugging the laptop to her chest, Kristen ambles into the house looking stunned. Her bravado from the meeting with the Triad members has melted and left her nothing but a shivering mess, a shadow of what she normally is.

Too late to head back into the city, the producer can't exactly hit the old standby of working away any troubles. There's no work here, except the laptop she's carrying and even that is limited with what she can do. She could watch the video over and over again… or she could let everything sink in. The guns, the murder… The threat of becoming an enemy of the Triad.

Pointing a hollow stare at Russo, her eyes well up and her chin trembles as though she's on the brink of some sort of meltdown. If she could see herself right now, she'd likely kick herself. She's just that sort of woman.

Any of Brad's easy going good humour melts away at the tears. He could never contend with tears, and mostly he hasn't had to. His mom had refused to cry in front of him, she was both father and mother in his life. His fingers gently tug on the laptop, prying it from her grasp with silent accord.

Once in his grasp, he sets it on a nearby table and carefully unbuttons his coat, taking care to set the fabric overtop it. Out of sight, out of mind.

There's nothing else to say. There's a tiny frown, a quiet self-judgment at his insensitive question about work. He just didn't know what to say. He didn't know how to respond. His tongue carefully rolls over his lips and he swallows hard as he fills the little bit of distance between them. Her tears send two distinct pangs through him. Pain. Guilt. His arms raise slightly only to stop. His admission and their kiss only a day before had all amounted to nothing, but seeing Kristen in such distress, it's heart breaking for him.

And the heartbreak implores him to do something, even with everything between them so raw. His arms come around her, drawing her into a warm and solid embrace. His expression finds a kind of stoic permanence, sensitive, but detached from his own emotions— feeling isn't his job right now. Supporting is.

He's not that much taller than she is. Larger though, and that size difference makes Kristen feel overwhelmed when Russo's body seems to encompass her like a warm comforter. The petite woman melts into him and closes her eyes as she traces her nose along the line of his jugular. Her gloved hands snake around his waist and climb up his back, her fingertips pressing against the muscles there.

There's no kiss, simply because it didn't work last time. Interruption and work got the better of her, ignoring any groans of anguish that he might of given, or silent pleas with his eyes for her to stay. The moment was ruined the second Dirk knocked on Russo's office door. He didn't even get an answer.

Now there's nowhere to run and hide. The antiquated house is large enough but Kristen just isn't in the headspace to make Brad chase. "I can't do this anymore…" she whispers, letting the tears brim over and spill down her cheeks.

The touch of her fingertips along his back has Brad closing is eyes. Touch has always been an oddity between them, even after their long developed friendship. Not that they hadn't touched, but it's general infrequency gives it a strange paradoxical new familiarity. "Hey," he whispers, his arms tighten around her. "You can do anything." Of course, he doesn't entirely understand what she means either.

Gently he rubs her back. His eyes closing gently against his own flood of emotions. With a sniff, he expresses more than he intends. He doesn't cry. He rarely cries. But she knows him well enough to recognize his own bottling. But even as he bottles, something in him deflates. That guard he so frequently wears melts. His lips move to her cheek, a faint brush, sweet, but hardly chaste. "I love you," he whispers again, the second time easier than the first. It takes no coaxing.


Before he can get it out, Kristen is already turning her shoulder. The long brown hair that extends down to her lower back is unkempt and tangled. It rises part of an inch as she hangs her head down again. A long time ago, back in college, they used to joke with each other. He would make fun of her hair, mostly because she used it to troll for what she called a pleasurable distraction. The style hasn't changed much at all.

"Coffee," she interrupts and pivots on her feet, padding toward the stairs to the lower floor. "I'll make it, you can… eggs." Her instructions are halted as she runs down the stairs, the cadence of her bare feet against the flooring still silent enough to not disturb the empty house.

And she's gone.

Brad watches after her in his stillness, whispering to the nothing in the room what he'd intend to say to her, "I'm sorry." He owes her that much. A glance is given to the mirror in his mother's room, and his reflection is cast a prominent scowl. "Bastard," he murmurs before shuffling after her, "Only bastards take advantage."

With a quiet sigh, a deep breath, and some gathering of his composure, he's following her down the stairs, slower than she'd likely expect, finding his way into the kitchen. She knows her way around here, she'd been here before all of the misery had settled into his life. There's something oddly assuring about it all, even at his own judgment of himself.

He slides over to the fridge and gives it a tug. "Ah-ha! We have eggs," he declares with a lopsided grin.

Kristen is already bustling around the kitchen by the time he gets there. Coffee beans, the little wizzer spinny hand thing that grinds them up, and what she deems is the God of all coffee machines is artfully arranged on the counter in front of her. All she's missing are the cups, sugar, and cream.

"Brad, can you check the fridge for some cream?" Her nonchalant manner of speaking this morning is another tactic in avoidance. Ignore it, it'll go away, maybe. The space behind the island it small and in getting the sugar, Kristen is unable to dance around his body to avoid a collision.

Running smack into him, she drops the little container, smashing it on the floor. She doesn't react to that as much as being caught against him again. In a breathless whisper she looks up into his eyes, "I love you…"

"If we have cream or milk it'll be bad by now— " Russo quips and then smirks. "But Gram had this tendency to collect creamer." Not cream, dried creamer. "Check where the— " she bumps into him, earning her a small smile. Like her shy one, this one is new. Almost soul searching. He jars a little at the collision, not expecting her to crash into him.

The glass scatters along the floor, the eggs pop and hiss in the pan, and Brad can't be moved to tend to either of then. He reaches forward, turning off the burner and twists to face her, inquisitiveness written over his. His lips part only to flicker into a smile as he draws her into a kiss. While the eggs burn.

No matter what anyone tells you: don't kiss the cook.

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