Merry Christmas, Nicky


khalid_icon.gif nick_icon.gif walsh_icon.gif

Scene Title Merry Christmas, Nicky!
Synopsis Nicholas Ruskin is given a special Christmas gift!
Date December 23, 2010

Long Island City

There's worse voicemails to hear when suffering from a mild concussion.

Worse things to hear, and to be certain Nicholas Ruskin has heard many of them.

"'Ey, Nicky-boy. Need t'know how things'r goin' on tha' request I filed w'you. I'll be down at th' office at 45 29th Street tonight, come 'round back and show yerself in. I'll be there till eleven, don't disappoint me!"

Listening to it a second time, just to make sure he'd heard the address right the first time, Nick Ruskin recognizes the neighborhood he's in. Just a few blocks from the ruins of the Consolidated Edison power plant, the red brick face of a two-story mill building has been converted into industrial storage space, or had been, prior to the bomb. Now covered in graffiti and with windows boarded up with plywood it doesn't look like this office has seen much use in some time.

On the street, illuminated by the jaundiced glow of a street lamp overhead, Nick can see the faded signage for the Queens Borough Distillery, a microbrewery that went out of business following the 2006 nuclear explosion in Midtown Manhattan. The front doors are boarded up with spray-painted plywood and the garage door on the front is securely locked, though the well lit alleyway leading around back towards the loading docks shows activity. A few white delivery trucks are parked in the rear lot, along with a black sedan that Nick recognizes as belonging to one detective Daniel Walsh.

The digital clock on Nick's cell phone ticks over to 7:37pm.

Better now than never.

Nick's fingers curl around the gun in his hand. It's been probably too long since the last ultimatum Walsh had given him, and the warning to not come back if he can't get the job done rings in his ears.

Or maybe that's just the tinnitus caused by Holden's boot to the head.

Still, there'd been plans to make good on the job — even if he was playing a double agent. Ethan's little boat trip has thrown a wrench in the works, and Nick can only hope that wrench doesn't result in another gun aimed at his head.

He's pretty sure the gun won't jam a second time — a small part of Nick might think he's invincible in some sick twist of fate, but logic says otherwise.

He watches the hustle and bustle for a moment before taking a deep breath and heading for the door, waiting to be stopped. "Walshie," he calls out, to alert the others to his presence, and to make it clear he's not skulking.

The first face Nick sees isn't Walsh, but rather a hooded Arabic man who promptly leans off of the passenger side of Walsh's car. He's scraggly looking, bearded and tired with dark circles around his eyes and — if it isn't a trick of the light — a handful of ugly scars cutting down one side of his face. Dark eyes level on Nick, followed by a pop of his chin up in the universal man language of greeting.

"He's inside," Khalid informs with a jerk of one gloved thumb over his shoulder. The door he motions to is propped open by a cinderblock, not the loading bay doors that boxes are being moved out of into the trucks. The men moving them don't look to be part of any union, all of them dressed in winter clothing, many of them unshaven, several of them looking downright homeless.

"He'll be somewhere on the floor, supervising," and that much is said in the bitter, sarcastic manner which implies that 'supervising' is code for 'doing jack shit'. Khalid does not handle the cold like this very well.

"Thanks," Nick says with a nod toward the man in the car. "Yeah, he supervises real well, don't he?" he adds with a crooked smirk that actually shows some teeth before he nods again and begins to move for the propped-open door.

Nick moves cautiously, that one hand still curled in his pocket around the gun, cold metal against callous palms giving him the smallest sense of security. In keeping with most of his meetings with Walsh, he looks like shit — this time, the right side of his face is mottled red and angry violet, a cut on his cheekbone and another along the hairline of his temple. Bloodshot blue eyes scan the floor for the Irishman.

"Oi!" He doesn't have to look far.

"Nicky you look like you got roughed up by some cheap trick," comes crooning from a folding chair not far from the door Nick has stepped into. There, seated behind an old office desk with a ledger and a lamp, the arms dealer known as the Irishman cradles a steaming mug of coffee. A door nearby to the desk liklely leads out to the warehouse floor, and its evident that the entire building isn't heated judging from how Walsh is in his wool coat and gloves while trying to balance whatever is on those books.

"Pull up a corner'f the table, Nicky, why don't you tell me how your day's been? S'at bruise a good reason why you ain't told me how things'v gone?" Both of Walsh's brows rise at that, along with his mug as he sips at the coffee inside, head tilted askance and expression a picture of expectance.

"Got laid up a week a week ago, sorry. This ain't nothin' and is new," Nick says, moving to lean against the wall rather than perch on the desk like some saucy secretary.

"I'm workin' on both things you asked me for. Got some leads but nothin' solid yet on either one, but I'm workin' on it, right? I think it's a good show of good faith on my part that I'm here, given you warned me not to come back if I didn't have answers for you last time. I don't, not yet, but I'm workin' on it," the younger man says, feigning earnestness as he looks at Walsh, like a student trying to please the teacher. "You got anything for that Eileen chick that might make her more likely to wanna do business with you, sweeten the deal — you know, if I can find her and her crowd?"

"I did warn," Walsh admits with a furrow of his brows together, slouching back into his chair, "an' yet here you are, back here again with me, with…" Walsh lets his words hang in the air, one brow lifted and head wobbing from side to side as if trying to search for an elusive crumb of factual information that Nick was supposed to bring. Instead, all he gets is a raise of his brows and a heavy sigh. "Exactly."

Sipping his coffee one last time, Walsh sets the empty mug down on his desk, then leans forward into the lamp light and folds his gloved hands together. "S'olright though, Nicky, y'see I'm a magnanimous sorta' guy, not quite as much so as me ol' buddy Bill Dean was— but y'know they don't make men like him much no more." Lifting his hands up, Walsh rests his chin on his folded hands, staring up at Nick for an awkward momentof silence.

"D'you celebrate Christmas, Nick?" One of Walsh's brows lifts slowly. "I mean, d'you— you ain't Jewish or nothin' right? I mean it'd be awkward for a man such as m'self t'get you a Christmas present if'n y'didn't celebrate the holiday, right?"

With a raising of his left shoulder in what's become a signature shrug for him, Nick smirks. "You're the best at the business, boss, and I wanna learn. So it may be dumb or it may be determination, I'll leave that up to you, but I'm willing to keep workin' if you're willin' to forgive me for my little disappearances."

He winces slightly belatedly for bringing it up — last time trying to explain those didn't go so well for Nick. He holds his hands up. "Bygones — if you're willin', I sure as shit am."

As for Christmas, he shrugs again. "I'm no choir boy, but I been to church. Not for some time, I admit," Nick adds, a little more subdued. He doesn't believe in God per se, but he's starting to believe in fate and he's never stopped believing in Hell. "You don't gotta give me a present. I'm still recovering from the last one."

"Well," Walsh says with his hands rapidly spreading apart, "unfortunately Nicky, Christmas is a time'f year in which man gives to man, or some sorta' shit like that right? I got somethin' fer you." Ambling up out of his seat, Walsh adjusts his scarf and motions towards the closed door beside the desk, the one that leads to the shipping floor. "Bygones sounds like a good way t'ring in the new year, an' as it turns out, Nicky, we have a staff opening…"

Looking askance to the door nearby, Walsh purses his lips thoughtfully, then nods for Nick to take the lead. "We had this girl what was going t'do something very vital, very important fer' us. But as it so happens she bailed at the last minute, an' we jus' couldn't think'f a suitable replacement. Well, wouldn't y'know it, opportunity knocks." Walsh cracks a smile, nodding to Nick. "You wanted in, this is about as in as yer gonna' get."

The younger man's brows rise in his face and he pushes off from the wall to head toward the door. "Sending a man to do a girl's work? What kinda man do you think I am? I told you my little vacation's weren't from pussying out, and the fact I'm here should show I ain't no sissy," he says with a smirk, though he looks a bit pleased, the proverbial cat who ate the canary.

He heads toward the warehouse, hands still shoved in his pocket. "So Merry Christmas to me. I was already workin' for you — this a promotion, then? What kinda perks can I expect, besides not getting shot in the head?"

Through that metal door Nick emerges on a short set of metal stairs, and when his attention turns from Walsh to the interior, there's a windowless periwinkle van waiting in the garage, rusted around the rims and with a few bullet holes in one quarter panel. Khalid is there, arms crossed and expectant. His chin pops up again, the universal man-language for hello.

Also for goodbye.

The moment the black bag is thrown over Nick's head he knows something is terribly wrong. The fabric is cloying, tight, difficult to breathe through and made more so by the zip tie pulled around his neck. A kick to the back of the legs sends Nick stumbling forward and then down those short stairs onto that shoulder he's been working at all night.

When he crashes to the ground, he can hear the click of a gun and the noise of shoes clunking down those metal steps. "I tol' you not t'come back if y'didn't have what I wanted, Nicky. I didn't think you'd take the bloody invitation. But y'know…" The Irishman's cool voice rings through the warehouse. "I ain't gon' shoot'cha Nicky, looks like you get t'be a stand-in fer poor ol' Anna, what done gone and run away from us."

There's a black leather shoe pressing against the small of Nick's back, a foot down on his spine gently. "Merry Christmas t'you, Nicky. We got you a tux."

"You're goin' to a gala."

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