Not a Lost Cause


delia_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Not a Lost Cause
Synopsis Revelations of what the future holds are hard to accept for one whose past is broken.
Date April 25, 2011

The Old Apothecary

Rain spatters against the windows of the Apothecary, the stormy gray of the clouds outside doing absolutely nothing for the gloom of the atmosphere inside. The heat isn't turned up high enough, leaving the air a bit nippy but still well within good working conditions. The endless supply of free tea and coffee for Constantine's employee not only warms her hands and insides but gives her a little jolt of energy to keep working and not slump over at the counter. At the moment, she's studying. Again.

According to his parameters when she was first hired, Delia should be sweeping and dusting before reading. There hasn't been more than a handful of customers all day, possibly due to weather, so she's been a bit lax on the cleaning. She hasn't even turned on most of the interior lights, which may have something to do with the lack of business.

The counter near the antiquated register is littered with a small scale, mortar and pestle, various herbs, and a book open to different ways to prepare ointments and infusions. The redhead is in the process of carefully measuring out a precise weight of some sort of flower.

Approaching the door, Nick scowls, glancing over his shoulder toward the motorcycle parked on the curb, considering going back. He'd rather have driven to "town" in his truck, but it's easier to avoid detection and tails on the bike, even if it makes for a wet, cold and miserable ride. He has business here, but it's business he could do elsewhere — he has enough contacts from his time spent smuggling, after all.

It might be an excuse… or maybe it's self-inflicted punishment.

He sighs and moves forward, pushing the door open and peering through the dim shop until his eyes fall on Delia at the counter. "Czerwony," he murmurs, voice quiet, careful, gentle.

To Delia's credit, she doesn't startle and spill the dried flowers all over the place. Instead, she slowly puts the paper cone she's been using to pour them down and lifts her blue eyes to meet his. "Nick, I— it's good to see you." The smile that accompanies her greeting is as warm and friendly as she's ever been, perhaps even moreso. "I didn't really think you'd ever show up, to be honest."

Folding the top of the cone over to secure the herbs in place, she begins putting away all of the items scattered around her. "Uhm.. you want any tea or coffee? The tea'll be fresh, the coffee not so much but I can make some. A-are you— " She doesn't notice anything amiss, in fact, even with the cast, he seems much better. "Did you come to see the rubbing?"

"Tea'd be nice," he says, moving forward and shutting the door behind him. There's a noticeable limp that wasn't there the last time she saw him as he takes more steps into the store, eyes darting around curiously at the strange sights. "I… no. I don't need to see it, unless you want me to," Nick says quietly, not looking at her. "I believe you. I guess other people've been having dreams, too. You're not the only one. Which… it makes me feel better, that it's not someone targeting just you."

At the counter, he leans, shoulders hunching up around his ears. "I actually came t'see if you had some antibiotics. This way's a little quieter, since I gotta be careful on account of work an' all."

They're not dainty porcelain teacups but they're not the styrofoam ones that her employer seems to prefer. The mug that's placed in front of Nick is a little froufie with a picture of a kitten on it, to match her own mug with a puppy. Her attention though, is focused on the leg. "Nick," his name spoken without anything behind it, as though her silence and the raised eyebrow that she gives him should be enough. What does follow is a long sigh and a nod of compliance.

"There's an examination table in the back, I can take a look." Without waiting for him to protest, she disappears behind the velvet, pushing it to the side to allow him entry. The sound of water running can be heard before she joins him again.

"Cheers," he murmurs for the tea, then chuckles wryly at her tacit reprimand, looking up and shrugging. "It was a month back. It's mostly healed. Just tryin' to make sure it doesn't get infected. Ran out of antibiotics a few days ago, and got it a bit rainy, so." He shrugs.

He glances down at the arm still in the cast, and raises it. "If you wanna cut this thing off, though, I'd appreciate it. I missed my appointment. Was gonna get Ethan to take a pliers to it later maybe." His free hand picks up the tea cup and takes a sip, eyes still everywhere but on her face. "You doin' all right?"

One shoulder is lifted in a shrug, with her back to him, it's not difficult to avoid eye contact. "I'm uhm.. I planted a garden but I don't expect I'll be around to see it all filled out and pretty." Her meaning is vague but when Delia turns her head to glance at him over her shoulder, she's still wearing a smile. "The cast, okay… Have a seat, I have something that'll be good."

Digging through a couple of drawers, she comes up with a rather odd looking piece of wired equipment that looks like an electric pizza wheel with teeth. "Here we go, this'll get it off pretty quickly. Put the tea back on the counter, come on… You can be my first practice with this."

His eyes narrow and his head tilts curiously at her words, but he doesn't press — instead his eyes widen a little at the device and he snorts. "You're gonna practice on me?" he says, a crooked smile pulling up one side of his mouth as he looks warily at the device and then his arm. "Eh, what the hell," he finally says with a shrug. "If you scar me for life, I'll at least have an interestin' story." Like he's lacking in those for his scars.

Nick takes a seat, setting down the tea and tugging off his leather jacket to set on the counter before resting his arm on the counter for her to concoct a castectomy. "You like workin' here?"

"As if you'd tell it, even if I did give you one. It'd just be filed away with all the rest," The little device is flipped on to test, at first, then when she's satisfied it's not going to blow up in her hands, she turns it off and brings it back toward him. "I do, like it here, I have a great boss and I'm allowed to read and stuff. He wants me to become a doctor like him, I just want to pass the boards, you know?" She doesn't really explain what she means but she assumes that he knows.

The saw is put down on the counter and Delia examines the cast, twisting his arm this way and that before finally finding the weakest point. Her hands are on the cast, rather than his hand or arm as she presses on it, a signal for him to keep it just the way she leaves it. "Okay, keep your arm like that and hold still… I don't want to accidentally cut it off or anything." The way she says it, it's completely deadpan, hard to discern if she's joking or not.

Black brows dip into a scowl at her words, and while she's looking at his arm and the cast, he watches her. There's a twitch in his jaw at the probably un-intended sting of the remark, and he huffs another would-be laugh to the warning of losing his arm. "Maybe giving you a saw and sitting still and letting you cut isn't the smartest idea I ever had," Nick says dryly. Not that he gave her the saw, but he doesn't move, clearly trusting her not to injure him deliberately.

"I'm glad you like it," he adds, a little more seriously.

Before the saw is flipped on again, Delia glances up at Nick and gives him a small smile. "Don't worry," she murmurs, her voice sounding much more smooth and confident than he's ever heard. "I've watched doctors do this for years and not even on television." This time it's a blatant joke but the saw is turned on and the tickling vibration as she presses against the fibreglass is the only thing he feels.

Two to three minutes at most is how long it takes before the saw is turned off and the redhead is peeling the cast away. "You might want to wash up here," she advises as the withered arm is exposed. "You need to be more careful," the statement is made with an angling of her chin as she attempts to look him in the eye. "I can get you more antibiotics in a few minutes but would you stay and talk?"

As soon as the skin beneath the cast is revealed, Nick’s free hand reaches to run along his forearm, wincing slightly and massaging the skin. “Yeah,” he agrees, to all counts — yes, he needs to be more careful; yes, he wants to wash up; yes, he can talk.

“Thanks,” he adds, as he stands so she can point him to the wash room, gaze once more moving around the shop though he juts his chin toward her. “You’ll be a good nurse.”

It’s not a washroom as much as a room to wash in, there’s a sink with some of her soap resting next to it and a towel that looks like it’s seen better days. Unlike the back wall of the front room which is filled with bottles and jars of powders, oils, dried plants, and pickled animal pieces, the shelves of the back room are almost bare. There are a few bottles here and there of the conventional kind, likely one of those contain the antibiotics that Nick is searching for.

He’s escorted, not because Delia doesn’t trust him but because the back room is much easier to converse uninterrupted. She sits on top of the counter beside the sink with the towel in her hand as she watches him scrub the sheets of dead skin from his arm, a worried expression coming over her features as he does so. “Have you had any dreams yet? The memories?” It would likely be a safe assumption that he hasn’t, since he didn’t include himself in the group that has but when it comes to Nick, Delia no longer feels safe assuming anything.

Shoving the sleeves of his henley shirt up to the elbows, Nick turns on the water and begins to wash, using his “good” hand to scrub the formerly broken arm. He keeps his head down during the task, shaking it at her question.

“I’m not really a part of your group, you know?” Not officially. He’ll only risk his life time and time again for the sake of the Ferry.

“Maybe I’m not important to whoever’s doing it to get any. It’s okay. Probably better not to know,” he says, frowning a little. “I donno that seeing what you did’ll do you any good. Seems like it would hurt more than help.” He reaches for the towel, his pale blue eyes glancing up into hers, richer and deeper blue.

“No, that’s not true, you’re very important.” Delia sounds quite certain of that fact, if nothing else. When she passes him the towel, she catches his good hand and holds it for a moment between both of her own. When he meets her eyes, she locks on his and her eyebrows twitch down just a little for a brief moment before her forehead smooths again.

“I didn’t tell you everything,” she says quietly, “I know who is sending the dreams but I ca— I don’t want to say anything until they’re ready to come forward. I know he’s not here to hurt me, he’s showing me what’s important.”

Still clinging to the Brit’s hand, she lets her gaze drop and then slowly eases the pressure against his fingers to allow him to slip away if need be. “There was a reason that you were there with me and you are important, to all of this. It couldn’t happen without you.”

His other hand, still wet from washing, rises to touch the side of her face, light tracing fingertips as if he’s afraid she’ll shatter — or perhaps he will — if he presses any harder. Nick leans forward to press a kiss against her hairline, inhaling the sweet and clean scent before stepping back. “I’m glad that we’re friends in the future, then,” he manages, a crooked smile as he dries his hands, then takes the towel to playfully dab her face.

Whatever she’s hiding, keeping from him, he doesn’t press for — perhaps afraid to ask. “How much’ll the antibiotics cost? You got somethin’ besides Keflex? I’m allergic to that ‘un.”

“He’s your son,” she blurts out, her eyes wide, perhaps afraid of how he’ll react to the news. Congratulations, it’s a boy! …only biologically. “And mine, he’s ours.” She’s, rather. “It’s why you were with me in my dream, I was pregnant.” Delia quiets for a moment, slipping off the counter and placing her hands into her pockets. The doe eyed stare of fright has since turned to something a little more sheepish and it’s her turn to look everywhere but his eyes.

“I have the rubbing, he brought it with him… He has your eyes and hair, just the color— it curls like mine.” Once again her voice drifts off to silence and she presses them together into a thin line. She’s not smiling or frowning, there’s a squint to her eyes as she darts nervous glances up to Nick’s face.

Confusion reigns in Nick’s blue eyes and he tosses the towel on the counter taking a step back. He shakes his head, eyes narrowing as his brows knit in bewilderment.

Who? I have no idea what you’re talking about… just because you were pregnant in your dream doesn’t make it mine — I wouldn’t — I can’t — I’m trying….”

The last is an echo of his words to Eileen on the matter. Her words still echo in his head — if you love her, then love her.

If Delia is pregnant in the future, his efforts now are just one more thing he failed at. He can’t fathom what would have changed — except his taking advantage of her grief for Beth.

Nick steps away from the sink, toward the door back to the front of the shop, wincing as the backward walk stresses his injured leg’s muscles. “Don’t tell me if he doesn’t want me to know,” is muttered as he turns away.

The words of denial cause Delia’s expression to sink and her head to tilt down with every syllable. “Fine,” she whispers, her hands jammed further into her pockets as she turns away to let her back face him. If anything if gives him an easy escape route. Stalking toward one of the shelves, she pulls a plastic jar that rattles as its contents are stirred. It’s placed on the counter in front of her and she turns to pulls a small envelope from a nearby drawer and fills it with pills. Her jaw works at a frantic pace as she clenches her teeth tightly and then releases them. The momentary glimpse of her face is telltale enough that she’s getting angry.

She’s done it before. Let her temper get the better of her, it was in a dream.

“You’re so selfish!!” The words are yelled as she turns to face him. An exact repetition of her anger almost a half a year ago, only that time he tried to shut her out of his head. The little packet is thrown in his direction, immature as the display might be, it gets the point across. “I was trying to explain to you why it wasn’t someone targeting me… or anyone else!! You were happy when you thought we were friends and when you find out that we were actually family you— I get this?!”

It would be easier to walk out and escape the anger, but Nick bends to pick up the envelope, grimacing again when pain shoots through the leg. His wallet comes out and a $100 bill is set on the counter — it’s easier than asking how much he owes.

A tattoo beats out, a miniature heart beat, in the muscles of his jaw as he stands, head down, eyes down.

When he finally looks up, his eyes are wet. “You shouldn’t want me to be your family, Del. How can you know me and possibly want that from me? I was a bad son, a horrible brother — even your optimism has to have its limits.”

Nick turns, voice rough. “Love isn’t enough sometimes.”

“Shouldn’t… but I know that you’re not him. You’re different, even though you torture yourself into believing that you’re the same. I told you before that I see something else and you weren’t a bad son…” Delia stays rooted to her spot, her eyes lowered to the floor. Her arms cross over her chest and she hunches her spine forward, curling into a huddle. “… Children aren’t responsible for what happens to them, it’s the responsibility of the people who are supposed to care for them. Maybe you feel like you were bad and horrible because other people failed you.”

Turning enough that she doesn’t have to look at him anymore, she lowers her head and allows her eyelids to slide down halfway. “I met Brad’s son too. He won’t be born because things have changed. Beth isn’t going to be born because things have changed. Maybe love isn’t enough for you but for some of us— it’s all we have left.” She finally pivots to look back at him again, her expression matching his. “It’s years away, maybe by then things will have changed for you and you won’t care that I don’t have anything else to give.”

Nick stares at a spot somewhere between them, hurt eyes hooded by scowling brows — it’s easy to imagine him as a little boy, confused and confounded when the one person who should have protected and loved him above all others hurt him instead. “You don’t understand,” he mutters. “It’s not about what you have to give. You give me…”

His eyes close and he turns his face away. “You give me more than I deserve, Delia. Just being with you, just being here hurts because I know I can’t be what you deserve in return. And you say we have a kid in the future? I can’t … that I’d be selfish enough to do that to you… to be with you when I know you’re better’n me in every way…”

His hands curl into fists and one rakes through his hair. “The future’s already different. Everything people’ve done to react to the dreams, or to whoever’s showin’ them to you bein’ here.” He’s contradicting himself — he’d told her that it’s hard to change the past, but his mind tumbles and he takes a step back.

“I do love you. That’s why I stay away,” he whispers.

"I do understand, I'm not stupid. As much as people would like to think I am, I'm not and I'm not naive either." Maybe she is but she's not owning it right now. She takes a few steps forward and pauses at that spot Nick's staring so hard at, giving him a good view of her old tennis shoe. Delia leans, just enough to enter into his field of vision and then straightens again, hoping to draw his eyes upward. "Just because you stay away, it doesn't mean my feelings will stop,"

Words that start out so strong and confident end in barely a whisper.

"Our son," she starts again, trying to gain a little more volume in her voice, "he said that he has a loving family. He has your necklace." The one Nick never takes off. "How do you know that what you give me isn't enough— or that it can't be what I deserve? Just knowing that you were there for me, just like you always promise. That's enough."

“I never said you were stupid, Czerwony,” Nick murmurs, taking a step forward and reaching for her hand, his rough thumb stroking over the tops of her finer-boned fingers. “Just that you believe in the best in people. It’s not a bad trait — or if it is, it’s one I quite like.”

He smiles at that, a rare and shy looking thing, an honest smile instead of the smirks of self-deprecation.

Nick’s hand in hers tugs her a little closer, and his other arm wraps around her; his dark head bows down against her red curls. “Maybe in time I’ll be good enough for you.”

Delia relents to the embrace, unfolding her arms from across her chest and resting the hand that isn't being held up against Nick's side. It's a tentative touch, feather light against his shirt before she wraps it right around to hold herself against him. She closes her eyes and leans her chin against his shoulder, good or bad, she doesn't know at the moment.

"Maybe," she murmurs against his shirt, taking a deep breath of that mixture of pine and ocean he seems to prefer. "Or maybe I'll just grow on you— like a fungus."

Or a mushroom.

Lips brush her hair, and he inhales as well. His hand drops hers so he can hug her with both arms. He holds it for a long moment, and she can feel his heart pounding against his chest, the shallow breaths he takes and the shuddering exhalations. He holds her for longer than he ever has, in dream or in life, not counting the one night spent sleeping on the couch where it was unconscious, and he was sick.

Kocham was, Czerwony,” he murmurs — he said it accidentally already, but it’s easier to repeat in a different language. “That much is probably a miracle in itself. You give me hope that maybe I can be someone worth loving. That I’m not a lost cause.” One hand releases her to touch the medallion at his neck.

He bends his head to kiss her lips this time, softly and sweetly, but before it can grow into something more intense, he steps back with a shaky breath. “I’m not worthy yet. I’m not ready yet. But,” Nick says, reaching up to touch her lower lip with his thumb, as if to take for himself another kiss, “I’ll try to be. Just… be patient. I don’t wanna be this … this broken person I am for you.”

With a hard swallow, he stares at her for a moment before turning away to go. “Thank you for the antibiotics. Keep his secret — I don’t need to know if he doesn’t want me to, and I won’t tell anyone else.”

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