Manning Up


kincaid_icon.gif russo2_icon.gif

Scene Title Manning Up
Synopsis Sometimes, you gotta man up. And when Kincaid stops by Russo's after hearing through the vine that he's resigned, they're both apparently trying to.
Date February 26, 2011

Russo's Apartment

The fifth floor of Dorchester tower permeates with a myriad of smells that don't really belong together. There's the faint scent of curry combined with an odd waft of cinnamon and bread, and a melding of chocolate souffle and other pastries.

Of course, it wafts more because the door to number 504 is open. Just a crack. Evidently someone isn't concerned about break ins or privacy today. If Devon knew, he may wring the host's neck, but today, somehow, the apartment felt too tiny to Bradley Russo. Cramped. Unbreathable. All he wanted was a little space. And so the door is open a crack. Just a crack.

But the crack does nearly nothing to block the sound. If there's one thing the world should know to protect themselves it's this:


But he thinks he can, yet cats make prettier sounds when people step on their tails.

"Hey, hey good lookin'~ Whatcha got cookin?~ How's about cookin' somethin' up with me?~" Unfortunately for the residents of the fifth floor, Russo knows only this particular line of lyrics, but he's completely amenable to creating his own as well… to the same 'tune' (if his rendition of it can be called as such), "Out of the fryin' pan~ And into the fire~" His lyrics don't even work with the beating, but evidently this is unimportant to the television host.

The kitchen counter is lined with pastries of various sorts while the stove top is a mess of filled casserole dishes and other such food. From the looks of it someone is having a wake. Begging the question: Did someone die?

The host himself bends over a particular pot on the stove, his attention altogether consumed by the vegetable broth he has boiling upon it— which releases another aroma into the air.

The Dorchester administrators may just have to burn down the fifth floor to get rid of the smells…

Few men cook under stress, but there's only one Bradley Russo.

When Kincaid wanders up to the open door, the smell and the sound attract his attention, though it had been his destination anyway. The repeated lyrics are heard a few times before he steps up to the cracked open door and pushes it open, letting more of that unique smell out into the hall. Unfortunately for those inside, he closes the door behind him…

But takes a detour to a window to try and open it. That allows a better wafting of the not so nice air.

"You must be having a really bad day if you're cooking this much," the younger man comments in softer tones, even as he gets the door open a crack. "But man, remind me never to invite you to karaoke night— even I can sing better than you. And I can't really sing well at all," he says with a laugh, trying to lighten the mood— and opens the window more.

They need more fresh air.

The entrance of another into his inner sanctum brings a curiously tight grin to Russo's lips as the door is closed, but there's no uneasiness with someone just walking in. The door was open, after all. The smile takes on its starry edge too easily, aware of the constancy of eyes, even when they aren't watching, or perhaps more accurately, judging. In many respects its self-preservation, but at the end of the day it's also a lie. Pure and simple.

Brad's head snaps away from the broth he's creating to watch Kincaid a little more carefully, and then, somewhat confidently, he makes a decision. "Caaaaid~ " he virtually sings, despite the other man's observation, "Delia and I have beautiful voices. That's how we met— at karaoke. I believe we wrapped to Eminem…"

Blue-grey eyes narrow as he forces a tighter smile, already having been called out on the nature of his day. Magnanimously he gives a little shrug of his shoulders. "I cook on good days too." Although never this much. And normally things that go together rather than the potluck he's creating in his kitchen.

"Looks like you should donate a few pots to the homeless or something— it'd likely look good for your public image," Kincaid offers as he moves closer to the kitchen, leaving the window open as much as it is to still let some of that unique smell out of the room and let some fresher and colder air in. There's a biting down of his lip as he watches the man during his approach, as if he's seeing something he's not sure he likes.

A glance is cast around the kitchen for something besides pastries and curry and pot lucks. Something found in bottles. Or bottles without something that would be found inside.

"Do you need some help? I'm not a bad cook," he offers.

"Yeah— " unceremoniously Brad raises his still unbandaged (and likely still glass ensconced thanks to him abandoning the freezer before finishing) hand in the air, "That's a good idea. There's no way Devon is going to be hungry enough to eat all of this." Unless Devon is secretly an elephant. But then he might not appreciate chocolate souffle.

"The souffle didn't even fall," he mutters as his head lolls over towards it. "A small miracle. It falls all of the time. If it's not one thing, it's another," because evidently the souffle is his mitigated source of stress.

There's no easy signs of drunkenness aside from the host's unusually overexaggerated mannerisms. Even the theatrics are clearly theatrical. He's generally a better liar than this, even when drunk. But then, his last drink had been some time ago. The garbage is more telling than the counter. Russo hadn't even bothered to recycle the three bottles resting in it, an oddity since his time with Lina— she'd even made him start composting (which in the end he liked because it made the flowers grow better). Whether the bottles were full earlier today is anyone's guess, but one can imagine that they likely weren't empty.

His lips purse together slightly as he considers the notion of help. "Where did you learn to cook?" There's a pause. "I'm kind of a perfectionist in the kitchen… my mom she.. she spent a summer in France and so— " food was one of her passions.

Those empty bottles hold Kincaid's dark eyes for a time. Perhaps longer than he might have intended to be staring at them. But he doesn't miss the unbandaged hand, or the question. "My dad taught me some, then I taught myself a lot," he answers quietly, as he moves closer and reaches out to take the older man's injured hand instead of the cooking utensils. His expression loses the partial smile of amusement that he often has, even when things are looking bleak, and instead is replaced with a quiet kind of seriousness. That also comes off as gentle.

"Before we start we should clean up your hand and bandage it— I don't think the homeless would like if you get blood in their foods," he says quietly, as he glances toward the food that is currently cooking on the stove. Stepping away, and leaving his hand for the moment, he lowers the heat of the stove just a bit to extend the boiling time some, but not stop the cooking. A little less heat won't ruin it, especially if homeless are going to be eating it.

"Really, we should get that cleaned up. Believe me, I know what it's like to leave wounds unattended, and it's never a good idea.

The reach for his hand is first met with suspicion and a very gruffly spoken two words, "It's fine. I've had worse. 'Sides I got most of the glass out— " There's a bitterness in Brad's smile as he tacks on, "Perfectly good waste of scotch. Not that I was drinking it. Ha! Which was a waste anyways. On the plus side, it probably acted as antiseptic anyways. And so the liquor saves the hand— score one for the alcoholics— "

But the notion of getting blood in anyone's food is mortifying. Beyond mortifying. In fact, that could be a cardinal sin on the Russo scale. And so with a sigh he relents. "So you're an expert in untended wounds?" His eyebrows creep high on his forehead while those blue eyes stare openly. "If Carrots— " intoxicated Russo has no problem still exercising the nickname he'd given her before everything happened "— were around, she'd've looked at it. Probably. Maybe." There's a pause, "Smart girl that one— ahead of the curve and stuff." He gives a little whistle, "She got the norm early— "

"I had to learn to take care of my own more than once," Kincaid says quietly, as he moves back over to take the hand and pull the older man toward the sink, so he can begin to run cold water over it and check for additional pieces of glass that might be stuck in the wound. He may not have thought to look so closely if he hadn't said so, either.

"Delia's smart— she helped fix my lip up when she was staying with me," he says with a soft voice, as most of his attention is on the search for glass. The water clears off some of the blood, and he reaches up above the sink to turn on an extra light, to look for a glitter of glass.

"My ability didn't make me very good at asking for help, so I had to learn how to at least clean my wounds… and I had a good teacher," he continues quietly, before he says, "You did miss some glass— you have a first aid kit in here?" he asks, meeting the paler eyes with his unnaturally dark ones.

There are moments in life when it's easy to say the single most inappropriate thing. "Are your eyes black?" Russo squints as he stares at the other man's eyes. If he weren't intoxicated he might realize that this is neither the time nor place to stare into another man's eyes, particularly considering he's wholly heterosexual. The question could easily be misconstrued as Brad hitting on Kincaid. This really isn't the case.

"Carrots is talented. She's gone. To die." On Pollepel. Of the flu. He frowns now, even as the water rushes over the open wound. His eyes narrow some as he reflects on where his first aid kit is. A single hand reaches to open the cupboard under the sink. And there it is, the white first aid kid aptly kept in the kitchen.

"Who taught you to tend to things? You're like.. part cook part nurse part producer." A single finger begins to flick pointedly towards Kincaid, "Show's gonna be in good hands, I think. Maybe Conan'll replace me… probably not. I thought of suggesting Tahir but he's not really of the political variety…"

Ah, aptly kept first aid kit.

Rather than take the question in a wrong way, Kincaid smiles faintly at the inquiry about his eys and answers simply, "Right now they are." But that's all the older man gets for the moment, as he cracks open the first aid kit and looks for a few things he knows should be in there. Tweazers and sterlizer specifically. And at first he sterlizes the tweazers, so that he can use them to pick out the glass.

A glance is cast toward the pot that's cooking, to make sure that it's still boiling some, but not smelling as if it's completely burning, before he reaches out to take the hand and pick at the pieces of glass.

There's a moment of silence, before he finally says, just before be does start picking, "This will probably hurt."

There's so much he could comment on, worry on, but instead, he begins talking in soft tones, "I'm going to tell you a story— when I was sixteen I met a girl— though she was older than me, so she could hardly be called a girl at the time. The kind of woman where your heart breaks a little every time you look at her, but at the same time everything feels brighter…"

It's in one of those 'yeah, you know the type' voices.

"I didn't really have anyone I could talk to about it at the time, so I just kinda… watched her. Everything she did seemed so perfect. She could dig up a rock and it'd be like that rock was the Holy Grail to me. I— was a little on the stupid side back then… but that's how it felt." Each piece of glass is dropped into the sink as he goes, and occassionally he stops to run water over the wound again, and shine light. But he doesn't stop talking. It could be his method of trying to distract him.

"I never told her how I felt, but I was always sure she knew… And I never felt like I was good enough for her, never felt like she could like me. I didn't have a lot of skills or talents, I didn't have a lot of education… I tried to teach myself more so I could impress her, but it never felt like enough… And she was involved with someone else, someone closer to her age."

The picking of the glass is met with several small flinches. With liquor in Brad's system, his pain tolerance is theoretically stronger, but his will is weaker. When Kristen had picked at it, it hurt, but he refused to give into the pain. "So you learned stuff for a girl." He sighs quietly, "I'm pretty sure we've all pulled that one." There's a flicker of a smile at the notion, even with the tinge of pain, "What was her name?"

The question causes a lingering pause, where Kincaid glances up from the work to the man's eyes again. "June," he answers softly, before looking back down and continuing, though he starts with a fresh batch of water, that he let's be cold. Chilled water helps with the pain, as he knows all too well. "Even when I got my ability it was… 'short end of the stick'. I mean I could have had anything— I could have had healing or the ability to manipulate space and time, but no, I had the ability to feel or not feel. It wasn't really something I could impress a girl with, unless she wanted me to read to her in the dark."

There's a quiet moment, as if he had been, legitimately, disappointed by his ability when he got it.

"I was in love with her for years— I learned about her interests just so we could talk about something, even if it was just as friends— but then it happened. Her boyfriend…" he stops a moment, to pick out a piece of glass, but also seeming to hesitate on his story.

"He disappeared. She was pregnant with his kid, and alone, and…" Another piece of glass is dropped into the sink, and he holds up his right hand, to show off the scars. "This." The hand goes back down, so that he can work again, though it may become apparent he's using his left hand more than a right handed man may usually. Numb hand has limited motor functions. "We were there for each other, while I… got used to my injury, while she had her baby— his baby. And I was there for her daughter. In a lot of ways I kind of felt like she was mine… I was there when she was born, I was there for her first word. I helped her take her first steps. I felt like I was her father."

Again he pauses, for a moment, no longer picking at his hand while he says this. "But she waited for him to come back… and I tried to respect that, even if I didn't think he would. And eventually… she stopped waiting. And it felt like she was finally seeing me…

"And then he came back."

There's a quiet reflexiveness as Kincaid continues the story, begging little more than a quiet nod from Brad. His eyebrows arch high at the notion of a kid and he presses his lips together. Drunk or not, pain is something Russo can understand. "Man.. that's rough. What happened when he came back?" His eyebrows knit together at the next question while the rest of his expression falls into a frown, "Did she just.. ran back into his arms or something?"

With a quiet sigh, he shakes his head. "Women are complicated," he releases a ragged breath along with the words, his free hand made to press firmly against the counter while his gaze moves to all of casseroles upon it. "Food is not." Which is why he cooks. "Cooking is simple. No matter how confusing K can be— " there's a casualness as he freely talks about the producer to whom he is not engaged, alcohol has that effect, "— I know when I come home and get into my kitchen that I can add milk to eggs and they'll become light and fluffy. That if I add yeast to flour, eggs, and waters, it will rise. The finality, the recipe, I get that."

"In some ways that's the worst part," Kincaid says quietly, putting his hand under the flow of water to look for any remaining pieces of glass stuck in the wound. When he doesn't see any, he finally pulls the hand out to pat it dry, so that he can bandage it without getting the bandage wet. "She didn't leave me at all— she would barely even talk to him. I expected her to leave me, because… I wasn't as good as him. She loved him first, he was the father of her child…"

With his hand dry, a bandage is applied, to be wrapped onto the hand to allow him to use it more freely. "She didn't have to leave me, cause I'm the one that left." Something he doesn't sound proud of, at all, as he hooks the bandage in place so that they can return to her cooking.

"He didn't destroy our relationship, no one had to do that. I did it all on my own."

Russo's eyes turn downwards again as he nods slowly. The hand is drawn back while his fingers flex around the bandage, settling into their new level of protection. His lips thin while he nods again, in many respects Brad can understand that. "Have you talked to her since?" His lips purse slightly while he sighs with a shake of his head.

"I quit," he mutters while his blue eyes trail the countertops, examining each of his culinary delights in turn. More accurately, he informed Kristen his intention not to sign on for the next season. "But not for the reasons a person might think," his eyes narrow a little as his hand trails to his forehead, pressing the heel of his palm against it. "There comes a point where everything falls in on itself— a point when a person has to recognize their own failings, their own patterns, and do their best to let go." His smile turns grim at his own wisdom, "It's a shame some of us aren't designed to let go." Of anything.

"I'm sorry, Caid. It sucks. Your love triangle." He sucks on the inside of his cheek as he slides next to his vegetable broth to give it a stir. There is, however, a quiet observation given to the broth, "Just because she loved him first doesn't mean she loved him best."

There's a small shake of his head, in answer to the first question, and Kincaid doesn't give a response outloud beyond that, as he watches the hand move around. And listens to what the man of a similar design explains his own current predicament. "My love triangle was what it was… and I wonder if it would have been better for her if I hadn't been there in the first place…" he says quietly, a remorseful tone to his voice as he allows new distance to come between them so that the man can tend to his stew.

"What are you planning to do now that you've quit?"

"I'm not sure," Brad confesses openly, unusual honesty brought on by liquor and baked goods. "Something else, I guess? I imagine the offers will come soon enough— whenever my contract comes towards its end they come, I've just never— " his eyebrows knit together a little tighter still. "The Advocate was a project in grad school, I never saw it becoming what it has." With a small flippant wave he shakes his head a little, "But it's time. We both knew the day was coming when— " that same grim smile creeps over his lips. "K and I are avoiders— it's what we do~" there's a musical lilt to his voice as he stirs the broth several times over. "When liars stop lying the world implodes." He shrugs. "Maybe I'll run for public office. That was the goal all along. Not mine. My grandparents. All boys private school. Good post-secondary. Good grad school." He shrugs again.

"I've played middle of the road for a long while. Maybe it's time to acknowledge I'm not as neutral as I'd like to admit."

"I think we have a lot in common," Kincaid says quietly, keeping some distance but looking serious, and solemn. "But you're not the man your grandparents wanted you to be— you shouldn't be the man that your grandparents wanted you to be— not if you don't want to. It's the life that you have to live, what's left of it, and you should do what you want— what will make you happy."

There's another pause. "You said family doesn't run… And it seems to me like you're running. I made the mistake of running myself, of giving up. And I call it a mistake because it was. You could be making one now, yourself."

There's a flicker of a smile at the last. "It's not running.. it's self-preservation. She told me she can't handle me. And because— because I.. " Brad stiffens around the words that he so often struggles to use, "because I love her," the spoon stirs the broth again, "I made it easy. That's not running away, it's recognizing my own limits. Her limits. What she can and can't handle." The spoon is abandoned to the spoon rest while Russo trudges to the fridge, taking out a carton of eggs, followed by a pan from a cupboard. "For ten years she ran away from me; for only four of them I ran from her.. "

An egg is cracked against the pan. Followed by another. And another. Milk. He'll need milk to make them light and fluffy like he intends. "Resigning isn't about running, even if it looks that way; it's manning up." And then, as a little quieter he tacks on, "I think."

There's a slow nod, quiet and resigned. And there's a look in his eyes as if he too has made a decision. Kincaid's face may be bruised and still scratched and scarred, but there's some manning up to do of his own. "If you're going, then so am I." It's a simple statement, and as he makes it he steps into the kitchen again to close the distances, to do what he offered in the first place.

Help with the cooking. They have similar cooking skills, at the very least.

"Whatever offers you get, wherever you go from here, I'd like to be there with you," he states, firmly, in a tone that seems like there's nothing at all that can talk him out of it. "You need someone to watch your back, to advise you, especially if you consider running for office. You hire me as an executive assistant, or whatever it is you want me to do, but I'm going with you."

Brad hands the whisk he'd been beating the eggs with over to Kincaid as he ducks down to retrieve a myriad of spices from the lazy susan. He's not reading any of the labels, just setting them down for his younger cohort to add at his leisure. He shuffles over to the fridge and takes out a block of spiced gouda which he sets on the countertop near Kincaid followed by a grater.

Kincaid's resolve is met with a small nod, slow, and perhaps a little hollow at first, but it becomes firmer, solidified with a slight grin, "Then you're hired. We'll see where the offers take us. And God-willing they'll come in regardless.." There's a pause as Brad's eyebrows knit together again, "If they don't, I guess it's time to actually campaign and build a platform.." Whatever that might be.

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