Not Equipped


nick_icon.gif tess_icon.gif

Scene Title Not Equipped
Synopsis Nick helps Tess out with some moving boxes and she reaches out for and to him — with little success.
Date November 18, 2010

Red Hook

After leaving the candy shop, with pockets full of bags of candy, Tess made her way to Red Hook. Her old 'home'. Sort of. It's where she stayed for a while anyway. She brought her old car though, too scared to go driving around her dad's car just yet. And right now it's half full of boxes. And now she's carrying another box out. It's not particularly large or heavy, but with a healing gunshot wound, it still hurts and shows on her face. And in the sticky handprints left on most of the boxes, including the one she's carrying now.

As the sun makes its way toward the west, Nick has made his way to the northern end of Brooklyn where he'll meet up with Smedley. He drives his banged up "under cover" mobile, a 1990 Honda Civic, also loaded down with boxes of supplies — clothing, charcoal, toiletries, paper products, food, medical supplies. Whatever he could think of that might be useful to the people on Pollepel.

The door slams and he heads toward the corner bodega to grab a cup of coffee and a snack before his eyes fall on Tess. He could probably keep going — he certainly doesn't look at a glance like himself with his shaved head and thinner frame. He's a few steps toward doing just that before he sighs and turns around. He doesn't run but simply overtakes her with longer strides to grab the box. "Lemme help you, kid."

The box is given up easily even before Tess looks at him to see who's helping her. She releases it with a soft groan and her hand presses against her stomach. "Thanks, I…" She pauses, blinks, then tilts her head. "What'd you do to your hair? I liked your hair," she says, frowning.

She gives her head a shake and works up a smile, but she's certainly not the bubbly girl she was last time Nick saw her. "Thanks though. It's not heavy, but I…Heh. I got shot the other day. Not on Staten, go figure. Though it was a Staten Island jerk who did it." She moves to open up the car door so he can put the box in, then leans heavily against the car, closing her eyes. "You haven't called," she murmurs, breathing a little more heavily than she should be.

"Any reason you need to load this all up today while you're recovering from a gunshot, kid?" he asks, and he shakes his head. "I ain't been around to call, lost any contacts I had in my wallet which is not anywhere in this fucking millennium and it's the same place I left my hair."

Nick lifts a hand to ward off any other questions. "I don't wanna talk about it. But I told you I got a girl, right? So you shouldn't expect me to call. Unless you wanna be disappointed."

His eyes narrow, still and he looks down at her form, shaking his head. "Who was it? Why'd they shoot you? That's not really the kind of trouble I'd imagined you in, truth be told."

"No, you made your girl a what if, remember?" Tess says tiredly. "And I'm packing up because my dad got killed and I'm moving into his place because it was his and it's nice and it was his. All I have left of him. I don't even have a picture," she says miserably. "And I got shot for who knows what reason. Guy showed up, threatened my dad, shot me, and left. Some bastard named Walsh." Beat. "Probably shouldn't have said that, but whatever."

She's quiet for a moment, eyes opening and fixing on him. "I could give you my number again, though I don't get what you mean about how you lost it. My other friends are sorta MIA and I've pretty much been alone."

Nick scowls when she talks about her father dying, then blinks slowly at the news it was Walsh.

"Shit, kid, I'm sorry. Really, I am." He swallows and looks away, uncomfortable with her evident need for companionship, company, someone to mourn with and grieve with. "My wallet, which had your number in it, and my cell phone — pretty much everything I had on me. Lost. Not important." He waves it away. It isn't, in the grand scheme of things.

He nods toward the building she came out of. "Let me help you with your stuff. I got time. And you can tell me what this Walsh guy said — what did he say to your father? Who was your father?"

His offer gets a weak smile from Tess who nods and pushes away from the car, though her hands try and stick to it. Another reason not to drive Kain's pretty Audi. "Thanks, Nick." She starts towards the building, hiding her hands in her pockets. "As for Walsh…I'm guessin' you can keep a secret? I mean, I guess it doesn't matter for dad, and I can't get in trouble, but this Walsh guy's apparently a crooked cop. I've had enough visits from him for one lifetime."

"I know who Walsh is, I think," Nick says neutrally, a muscle twitching in his jaw. "You gonna be safe at your dad's? I'd expect you'll be okay — I don't see his beef crossing over to you. I'm guessing you just kinda happened to be in the way when you got shot?" This somehow doesn't surprise him. He glances down at his hands, rubbing a bit of sticky goo off the palm, brow rising but he doesn't ask what it is.

"Well…he thought I was one of my dad's sluts, didn't know I was his daughter, and neither me or dad thought it would be smart to correct his assumption," Tess says with a faint shrug. "Guy was in the penthouse when we got there. Came out of the bedroom with a gun pulled on my dad. They were…He didn't like my dad bein' on Staten. Or d'Sarthe, for some reason. My dad said he'd stay gone, but that d'Sarthe'd probably go there anyway. And…bam. I got shot."

Once in her apartment, Nick looks for another box to grab as he listens, picking up one of the heavier looking boxes so that when he has to take off, she'll be left with only the lightest of the batch.

"And he shot your dad, too?" he says quietly, keeping his own eyes averted. The mourning of a parent's death is not something he can relate to, though he does feel bad for her. The closest he's come to is being abandoned by his father, and then, Nick was only angry his father didn't take him and Eileen with him.

"No, he just shot me," Tess says softly. "Was the first time my dad actually showed that he cared for me. He called an ambulance and stayed with me. Told me to stay in his place so I'd be safe from the riots, then sent me to Atlantic City to make sure of it. I…Someone killed him after I was shot. No idea who." Her voice and expression harden as she adds, "But I want to."

Hefting the box, Nick's eyes narrow down at her. "Don't you go looking for trouble, Tess."

His voice is stern, as if he's got any sort of authority over her, but he uses her name this time to show how serious he is. "You aren't equipped to get revenge, and you're likely to get caught, and then you might as well have lost, even if you do kill the bastard, all right? He's not worth losing your life over. Trust me. Not that your dad ain't worth it, but whoever this guy is — he ain't worth it."

He moves to the door to bring the box out to the car. "You hear me?"

Tess is quiet for a moment, mulling over his words, or maybe deciding on the best argument against them. "I don't wanna die, Nick, believe me. And I'm not…As much as I want to see the person who killed my dad pay for it, I know I could never kill anyone. I'll punch 'em, sure. Or kick 'em. Whatever, but I don't think I could ever do more than that."

The box is heavy enough that Nick, having lost some of his own muscle mass over the past few weeks, struggles with it, shoving it in the car with an oof. He turns to look at the petite blonde and offers a half smile.

"Good girl." He reaches to pat her shoulder a bit awkwardly. "It's one of the reasons you shouldn't like me, you know. I can and have and likely will again, you know? That's not the right sorta guy to be around. Not for you, Tess. You're a good kid. A nice girl."

"You know, I keep hearing that, and it's startin' to piss me off. My dad wasn't a nice guy. I have no doubt that he did things that I never could do. Doesn't mean I didn't care about him. Doesn't mean I don't want him back right now. Doesn't mean I don't like his friends who aren't nice guys either." She gets in his face then, or at least as much in his face as Tess can with the differences in height. She even goes up on tip toe to try to manage it. "And I do like you and I don't like people tellin' me what to do."

It seems like there should be more words there. The girl likes to talk, and it sounds like she's just getting started. But maybe she's realized that words don't always say enough, don't mean enough, because she doesn't add anything else. Not verbally. She does, however, try kiss him rather suddenly. Not a sweet, gentle kiss like a good, nice girl should be giving. It's hard and hungry and brief. Then she steps back, arches a brow and just looks at him.

Now what?

This time it's too brief to respond before she pulls away, and Nick stares at her for a moment, before his lip quirks into a half smirk. He shakes his head and looks up to the sky for a moment, as if seeking answers from cloudy firmament.

He takes a deep breath and finally looks back down at her, his eyes narrowed. "I work for Walsh, kid. I run guns, drugs, count fucking cop-killer bullets for him. He probably does worse shit, to be honest, but I'm low man on the totem pole so I ain't allowed to know about it yet," he mutters, watching her face. "You still like me?"

While Tess considers those words, formulates her own, she scrapes the ball of her tongue ring along the back of her teeth lightly. The sound is almost silent with the sound of the city around them. Finally she asks, "Why are you telling me this, Nick? I sure hope to god that you're not pullin' the same shit my dad did. He pretended like he didn't care about me so he could keep me safe. So people like Walsh didn't target me to get to him. Is that what you're doin'? Tryin' to run me off so I don't get hurt 'cause of your business?"

The man shakes his head and reaches up to run his hand over his peach-fuzz scalp. "I don't know you well enough to care about you, but yeah, sure, I'm trying to protect you because you clearly don't know how to protect yourself. I tell you I work for the person who shot you, and you don't think that's a reason to stay the fuck away?"

He backs away. Again, that wave of hysteria is rising in him, but this time there is no vodka to temper it. "Everything I touch turns to shit, Tess, so no, I ain't gonna let you in. My life is full of violence and hate and pain, and you shouldn't want to fucking touch it with a ten-foot pole. It's all I come from and it's all I know, and it's how I'll die, but you don't gotta live that life."

He takes another step back and turns. "If you wanna respect your da's memory, stay the hell away from people like me, you got it?"

"You aren't the one who shot me though, Nick. I'm pissed, yeah, but you didn't shoot me. You saved me from that thug on Staten Island. You kept your jerky friend away from me. You helped me carry boxes. So no, I'm not gonna turn tail and run 'cause you work for Walsh," Tess says, shaking her head.

"My life isn't all rainbows and fluffy kittens, Nick. My mom was a stripper and drug addict who died of AIDS. Somethin' I never got to tell my dad. I'm a stripper who, until my dad was murdered, lived in that place, which is hardly a mansion. And my dad was apparently involved in gun runnin' with your boss and god only knows what else." She shakes her head. "Don't give me a life I ain't got, darlin'."

She eyes him for a moment though, before taking a few steps and resting a hand on his shoulder, lightly. "You want someone to get drunk with, or get high with, or whatever, so you can forget about the violence and hate and pain, gimme a call, Nick. Just take my number. Just in case," she says softly, soothingly.

Nick looks away as she tells about her own problems, the muscles in his jaw twitching as he stands, tense, breathing heavily through his nose as his teeth clamp down, probably to keep from saying something more cruel than he already has.

When she touches his shoulder, he twitches away instinctively — the remaining damage in that injury was taken from Francois in Poland, but he's likely to protect it for some time yet. Her hand still manages to rest there. He swallows, turning his head at an even more awkward angle to look away.

"Lately, my personal experience is that you come back from the fucking high to find everything you worked for gone, and everything a thousand times worse," he mutters.

"So we'll skip the high and get drunk. But Nick, honey, you clearly need to find some way to unwind or you're gonna drive yourself into the looney bin." Tess may not be the empath she thought she was, but she's still good at reading people. It's how she was able to pretend for so long. "Or failin' that, if it would help you to just talk'n get shit off your chest, then I'll listen. Please, just take the number, remember the offer. 'Cause you need somethin'."

"You think I don't know I'm fucking broken?" he spits out, shaking her hand away. "You ain't equipped to fix what I've got broken, kid. Nobody can." If anything he's even more angry that he's being told he's insane by someone younger than him, someone who should be in more pain and turmoil than he is having just lost her father.

Nick swallows hard. "Whatever. Fine. Give me the number." He looks away again, jaw tensing again, as if all of his tension is being held like a grip in a horse's mouth.

"Didn't say I could fix you, Nick," Tess says quietly. "I'm just offerin' to help you vent a little. To forget about the shit that's broken." She doesn't seem too put off by his outburst. Instead she digs in her pockets until she comes up with a receipt and pen, scrawling a number on the former with the latter and offering it to him. "I like you, even if I shouldn't. I just wanna help."

He takes the receipt and nods. "Sorry," he mutters, still not looking at her. "I'm just… It's been a rough few weeks."

Shoving the receipt in his pocket, Nick then reaches to ruffle her hair. "Quit liking the bad boys, kid. Your dad mighta been one, but I'm pretty sure he'd have wanted better for you. Same with your mother."

He glances down at his watch. "I gotta boat to catch — you'll be okay with the rest of that stuff? Don't hurt yourself."

For the first time since hearing the news about her dad, Tess grins. "Can't help it. Bad guys are just soooooo hot. But yeah, I'll manage. Doc gave me some killer pain pills. You go catch your boat. Just gimme a call soon, hmm?"

Nick shakes his head at the hot comment. "All right. When I come back to the city. I'm goin' off grid a bit, so I can't be using the phones, all right?" It's not much of a promise, but it's a bit of a compromise. "You take care. Enjoy the new digs."

Pulling a tuque out of his peacoat, he tugs it over his close-shaven head. It's starting to get chilly, and with the dunk in the river last night, he doesn't want to tempt the fates and get a cold. Of course — with Nick's luck, it'd be walking pneumonia, enough to make his life miserable but never to kill him.

"Well, you get the urge to chat then, just come to Dorchester Towers. Penthouse. No phone needed," Tess says, though she nods at his compromise. She'll make offers, but she won't push. Much. Yet. "Take it easy though, darlin'. Avoid gettin' shot. And for god's sake let your hair grow back!" And with that, she turns to head back inside to resume her moving.

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