Nothin' if not Persistent


nick_icon.gif tess_icon.gif

Scene Title Nothin' if not Persistent
Synopsis Tess comes to Staten looking for alcohol and trouble. Nick accepts the first, but tries to keep her out of the latter, despite Tess' determination.
Date October 16, 2010

The Rookery

When a girl wants to get a drink, and lacks a little thing like a fake ID, there is one place for her to go. The Rookery. And if asked later, Tess may even claim that it was intentional, her arrival here in Shooters, rather than a happy accident while she was running around. But however she got here, she walks in with a happy grin.

She adjusts her backpack as she glances around, not seeming to be at all put off by the atmosphere, even if she doesnt' quite blend in, but she rarely tries to blend in anyway. After a quick look, it's off to the bar, and hopefully her first drink of many tonight!

In the back, Nick sinks the last shot in a game of pool, laying his stick on the table and reaching out for the twenty dollar bill that his opponent owes him. The bill is slid into his back pocket, then the other man's hand shook as Nick offers a crooked smirk. "Thanks for paying for my rent for the week," is the joke cracked in a generic American accent regarding the cheap-ass room in a former motel he crashes in some nights here in Staten.

"Nice job, Yorkie," calls one of the onlookers, and Nick just snorts.

"Like that was a challenge or something?" he jokes, as he heads toward the bar, taking up a stool a couple of spots away from Tess's perch. "Gimme a Bass, will ya?" he calls to the bartender. No need for please and thank you here on Staten.

Sitting down at the bar, Tess is a bit giddy, especially when she sees the lack of carding going on when Nick orders a drink. She doesn't really try to hide it either as she says, "One for me too." There's a pause, then a big grin, and she adds, "Both are on me!" Like the bartender cares. She looks down at Nick, giving him that big grin. "Hope ya don't mind. I figure, easiest way to meet people is to buy 'em alcohol," she says, her Cajun drawl all too noticeable.

The young man turns at the southern belle's voice, arching a brow as he accepts the pint of beer from the bartender. "Ain't you a bit young to be drinking?" he says a little gruffly, though he shrugs his left shoulder, reaching up to scratch at the back of his neck, knuckles still scabbed from a split between the index and middle from his short fight with Logan. The welt on his jaw has faded to invisibility — that'll teach him to try to block a blade.

"If you're payin', though, I won't complain. And if you're payin' I'm pretty sure Rod here won't complain either, no matter how young you are." He brings the beer to his lips to take a swallow. "Your parents know you're on Staten?" She looks like a nice girl, not the type that normally hang out in the Rookery.

Laughing, Tess shrugs. "Looks ain't everything, ya know," she tells him with a wink. "And since my mom's dead and dad'd rather I get the hell outta Dodge, so to speak, I don't think they care that I'm on Staten," she tells him, though with a brighter tone than most people offer the information in.

When her beer is set in front of her she picks it up and takes a swallow before looking at him and studying his face. "'Sides, you don't look much older'n me. Do your parents know you're on Staten? Do I need to walk you home so they won't worry? 'Cause I totally would, but not sure you could keep up with me," she teases.

He snorts at her question. "I'm old enough to be here," he says tersely, not offering much else about his own family. He takes another swallow of the beer, setting it down once more on the bartop.

"And I don't think you'd be able to do much to keep away the kinds of things that might wanna hurt me. Being perky and blond ain't much protection against guns and switchblades. Well, it might work for you, but what they'd do to you after killing me would be worse'n death, kid," he says, voice low as he eyes her with a sidelong glance. "I donno what this field trip is about — just getting free beer? If that's the case, I'll buy you a six pack and you can take it back to wherever you live on the other side of the water, all right?"

He's blinked at for a moment before Tess just beams at him. "You're being all protective. It's so adorable! But don't worry about me, darlin'. Not only could anyone not keep up with me, but I've got a couple friends who might have to hurt 'em 'cause they think dear old dad cares."

Another drink is had then she shrugs. "Besides. Life is a risk. Doesn't matter where you go or what ya do, there's always a chance somethin' or someone could kill ya. You could get struck by lightnin' or hit by a car, trip and crack your head open, get strangled by someone wantin' the five bucks in your pocket…Life's not safe. And if ya just stay home 'cause you're afraid, then you never live. Oh! There was a quote about this…What was it…Oh yeah! Cowards die many deaths, heroes die only one. Which isn't exactly the same, but it sorta works!" Did she…breathe at all while saying that?

Somewhere between the long speech and her stop for breath, Nick drinks the rest of his beer. Bloody hell. He lifts a finger for another when the bartender looks his way. He definitely needs more anesthesia to deal with Miss Chatterbox.

"Well, your first and only death will be pretty damn soon if you run around the likes of the Rookery, kid," he says gruffly. "So your dad some tough shot that I should be afraid of? I don't wanna get beaten up by someone who thinks he gives a damn about you, whether or not it's true, just because I happened to sit on the barstool next to you." There's actually two empty stools between them, but he's not being literal.

"Hell if I know," Tess answers with a shrug. "Some people seem to think so. I just think he's a jerk who can't accept responsibility for fuckin' instead of jerkin'. Still, he's my dad. But he was in the paper a while back, for gettin' a polar bear out of a hotel. I guess that might worry a few people. And trust me, he doesn't care. Told him I might just have to bang his buddy, and he said he didn't give a fuck. So sittin' next to me is pretty safe."

Nick snorts at her less than ladylike words, and gives a shake of his head. "Parents. Can't live with 'em, can't be born without 'em," he says a touch bitterly. "I came after the winter myself, so I don't know shit about no polar bears, but sounds like a tough old asshole at any rate."

He lifts the second beer to his lips, reaching into his pocket with his free hand to toss a few bills on the table to cover round two. "Listen, kid, you might think you're tough — sounds like you got it in your genes — but this isn't the kind of place a girl like you should be hanging around by yourself."

He glances at her, blue eyes narrowing as he swallows another healthy swallow of his beer. "Unless maybe you can shoot lasers out of your nose or something."

"Hell, I've only been here a month. I just saw the paper," Tess says, grinning. "And I never said I was tough. Just that I don't worry about every little thing. If I'm meant to die, somethin'll get me, no matter how careful I am. So until that day comes, I'm gonna have fun. Even if it means hangin' 'round places like this. Though, sadly, no lasers for me." But then the grin goes sly. "'Course, if a cute guy like you wanted to talk me home to make sure I got there safe, I wouldn't argue."

One of Nick's buddies from the pool table approaches the bar, leering at the young girl from over Nick's shoulder. "I'll take 'er home if you aren't gonna, Yorkie," the older man says, clapping Nick on the shoulder. He's more rough and tumble in appearance than Nick, tattooed sleeves on his forearms, cue-ball for a head, a chipped tooth that no doubt got busted in a fight.

"I wouldn't call murderers and rapists 'little things' to worry about, half pint," Nick tells Tess, than shakes that hand off his shoulder with irritation. "Fuck off, Curly."

Tess tilts her head as Nick's buddy shows, then she looks back to Nick and grins. "Maybe not. But does that mean you won't be takin' me home? Is your pal there a murderer or rapist?"

"He's on Staten," Nick says bluntly. "Odds are he's one or the other."

Curly swats Nick on the head and picks up the three-fourths-full beer and heads back to the pool table.

"I ain't taking you home, kid. What are you, seventeen or something? Your dad might not kill me, but I'm not gonna get thrown in jail for rolling some jailbait. The most I'll do is walk you to the docks, put you on a boat, and tip the driver not to kill you on the way across the water."

Tess laughs and digs in her pocket to pull out her ID. It's still a Louisiana ID, but when she shows it to him, it clearly shows her as twenty years old. "Totally legal, darlin'." For everything but the beer in her other hand. "Besides, who said I'd tell my dad? I've only spoken to him twice, and I sure as hell don't plan on givin' him a blow by blow of any sex I have. But hey, your loss. just don't feel too guilty if'n you see me in the obits tomorrow." Though her grin is, of course, teasing.

"Whatever. It takes at least a full day for it to hit the papers, you know," Nick says, glancing at the card with a raised brow. "Fuckin' Curly… another one, Rod, and one for the old lady here." He jerks his head toward Tess. "Unless she wants something other than what I'm drinking. She can make up her own mind. She's full of fucking opinions."

He runs a hand over the back of his neck, glancing to where the guys play pool, a couple of them glancing his way and snickering. "Honestly, though? Yeah, stay the fuck away from Curly." His voice is devoid of humor and his eyes are hard as he says it.

The warning has Tess looking towards Curly, then back to Nick, nodding. "Believe it or not, I'm not stupid. I'll avoid him as best I can." Her ID is tucked away and she grins once more. "An' I don't mind what you're havin'. An' if I went with anything harder, you'd have to help me home." She pauses, considers, and smiles wickedly. "On second thought…" But she just gives him a wink and sticks with the beer.

"Well, I wouldn't say you're stupid, but you're in here trying to flirt with me, kid," Nick says, "and I ain't no better'n the lot of 'em back there. Just 'cause I'm closer to your age, just 'cause I don't have a tat of a snake eating a scorpion on my arm don't mean I'm nice." He picks up the third beer, his second one lost to Curly's beefy grip, and takes a hard swallow, his jaw muscles clenching as if angry for some reason.

He drains half the beer, setting it down with a thunk against the wood of the bar top. "I'll see you off the island to make sure you don't end up dumped in the river or somethin', and put you in a cab so you can make it home to your little … hmm, Greenwich, maybe? apartment by curfew. Deal?"

Tess shakes her head. "Nah, it's not 'cause you don't have a tat. I don't mind tattoos. Thinkin' of gettin' one myself. And got piercin's too." And she sticks her tongue out at him to show off the bar through it. "It's 'cause you're cute. It's instinct to flirt with cute guys. Always the chance one of 'em might come home with me or vice versa for a few fun hours."

And again she grins. "Don't live in Greenwich though. Live in Red Hook right now. Not really that much better'n this place. Maybe a step and a half up."

"I get enough holes and scars on myself without paying someone to do it to me," Nick says with a chuckle, glancing down at the scabbed mark on his right hand and instinctively reaching with his left hand to rub his shoulder. "I'm in South Brooklyn, so we're practically neighbors anyway, right?" He pulls out another few bills and throws them onto the bar. "I got a li'l boat. Cheaper than paying someone to see you across and cheaper than making sure they don't kill you. The going rate for not killing curious little girls is fuckin' exorbitant these days."

Tess laughs, giving a quick, curious look to his shoulder, but she doesn't ask about it. "Aha! Neighbors! Next thing ya know, you'll be tellin' me your name. And better still, givin' me your number. I'm Tess, by the way. 'Case you didn't get a look at that part when I flashed you my ID." She picks up his cash then, holding it out to him, while she digs out her cash. She did say it was on her, after all. And work the night before was very profitable. She can easily afford a few beers. "Can't have you payin' when you're gonna be all adorable'n protective and make sure I don't get killed, now can I?"

"You offered me one. I had three," Nick argues, but takes the money anyway. After all, he's supposed to be a common thug or smuggler, and they aren't usually so generous with their cash. He shoves it in his back pocket. "Adorable's a word that has fuck all to do with me. You can call me York or Yorky like the boys do."

He drains the rest of his beer, then sets it back down. "C'mon, or you'll miss fuckin' curfew, and you sure as hell ain't staying the night here if you want to live til tomorrow."

Tess straightens and grins. "Maybe not, but you are cute. Sorry, but I've got eyes. I know what I see. But I'm comin'," she says, all ready to follow him towards the door and out. Then she drops her voice to a whisper. "And hate to break it to you, but a bad boy like you bein' protective of a girl like me? It is pretty adorable. In a hot sorta way. But I'll lay off. Just hope to god you're gay 'cause usually I get a better reaction than this!"

The muscle in Nick's jaw twitches as her words and he slides a hand around her waist, moving toward the exit. The boys at the pool table give some woots and cat whistles, Curly yelling "Atta boy, Yorky!"

Nick movies his head closer to Tess's, whispering in her ear, "Gotta make a show for the boys or I'll lose my reputation. And you know, just because a man turns you down don't make him gay. How d'you know I don't have a woman at home waiting for me?"

If keeping his virtue safe was his goal, then those words were not the wisest ones to say to Tess, since she grins and helps herself to one of his back pockets, sliding a hand into it unless he physically stops her. "If you had a woman at home waitin' for you, why drink here 'stead of enjoyin' her 'company?" she whispers back. "Do you have one though?"

It makes for a good show for the men, smugglers who don't give a shit about Tess's well being, men who probably frequented the Happy Dagger when it was still in operation, men who may or may not be trafficking women and children, and even using them for their own enjoyment, if not just for a profit. Nick smirks, opening the door and casting what passes for a bird-who-ate-the-canary sort of glance over his shoulder for the sake of his audience.

Once outside, he pulls his cigarettes from his pocket and releases his grip around her waist. "Maybe she never shuts up and I needed a break," he says dryly, shaking out a cigarette and bringing it to his lips before offering her the same. He begins walking, though it's clear his eyes are alert, looking for any sort of trouble as they step into the darkening night.

Though his arm leaves her waist, Tess keeps her hand right where it is. Maybe her hand is just cold. It is below 50 degrees after all. She does take the offered cigarette though with her other hand, and grins a bit sheepishly. "This your way of tellin' me to shut up before your white knight tendencies fail under the weight of all the words I'm tossin' at you at once? 'Cause I promise, I can be quiet, I just like people. And talkin'."

He brings a lighter to her cigarette, a little awkward given her hand's locale, then lights his own before shoving the lighter back in his pocket. "I ain't much of a talker. You can talk as much as you want, just don't expect me to go tellin' you my life story or anything, and shut up if I tell you to — that sounds like I'm being an asshole, but if I tell you to, it's because I heard something, all right?" He navigates them out of the rookery and heads in the direction of the docks where his small motorboat is kept.

"Pfft. I don't care about your life story. It's past. I'm all about the present. And the near future," Tess says with a shrug. "As for tellin' me to shut up, trust me, it won't hurt my feelin's. I've heard it enough, and it's really damn hard to keep me upset for long. With the exception of when mom died. But I think that's pretty understandable, don't you? I mean hell. I had to punch my dad, and two minutes later I was grinnin' at him. And trust me, wasn't 'cause he's a sweetie who offered me a pony or ice cream cone."

Nick gives a shake of his head, eyes darting to the side at a sudden rustle that turns out to be a cat, the sudden black creature streaking across the sidewalk in front of them. His hand moves to his waistband, pulling out a handgun and holding it low — clearly just a precaution.

"Sorry 'bout your mother. If it's any consolation, I wish mine died, and I wish I could punch my father. So you're one up on me there, if we're keeping track of points." He veers off toward the docks. The boats here are a mix of newer, viable vehicles and broken down and dilapidated watercraft. "That one there," he says with a jut of his chin toward a small green speedboat that's seen better days, but isn't as bad off as most. "Hold on." He reaches to tug the boat a little closer to the dock so that there's a smaller gap of water, then offers his hand to help her in.

If Tess notices the pistol, she doesn't seem too concerned about it. Instead she just helpfully removes her hand from his butt so she doesn't mess with his balance. Then she grins, takes his hand, and steps into the boat, easily keeping her balance in the small craft. "You wanna punch mine and pretend he's yours? Or we could go find your dad and punch him. I'll even hold your jacket for you. If you're wearin' a jacket at the time," she offers as she sits down.

"Ain't seen him since I was a kid," Nick says. Once she's in, he bends to untie the boat's mooring rope, tossing it onto the craft and climbing in after. The keys get inserted into the ignition and starting it up. "I don't think punching yours will really give me the same satisfaction, but it's a sweet offer," he says sarcastically, grabbing a tuque from where it sits on top of the dash and pulling it over his black hair before pulling out of the dock space carefully. Once he's clear, he hits the gas, and the boat starts speeding its way loudly across the water.

Tess snickers even as she grabs a hair band from her pocket to tie her hair back. "Don't be appreciative and sarcastic in the same sentence cutie. It could confuse a girl." She gets as relaxed and settled as she can in the boat, at least until he picks up speed. That demands she sit up straight to feel the wind in her face, letting out a whoop of enjoyment. "Okay, now this? This I like. I'll even shut up for it!" she says, laughing and closing her eyes, holding on to the top of windshield to keep from losing her balance.

It isn't long before they're docking at the other side of the water, and Nick hops out to moor the boat on this side — of course this side requires a permit. He holds a hand out for her to disembark. "About twenty minutes til curfew. Made good time," he says conversationally. "You wanna take the subway or a cab? I don't think you'll get there by foot in time, and I wouldn't want you getting a ticket. Especially with the smell of beer on you, kid." He begins to walk in the direction of the street, so they can pick up the subway or a cab, whichever she chooses. The firearm goes back in the back of his waistband, beneath his leather jacket.

Again his hand is taken, and given a light squeeze before Tess releases it. "Cab'd be quicker," she says with a shrug, falling into step beside him, her hands slipping into her back pockets. "And fewer people to smell the beer too," she adds with a grin. "But you, cutie, are not gettin' away so easily until a phone number is exchanged. And it's only gonna be mine if you promise that you'll at least think about usin' it."

"Yorkie" chuckles as he makes his way to the street, turning a corner until they're actually somewhere a cab might drive by. "You're nothin' if not persistent. If something happens with whatshername, I'll give you a call," he says lightly enough. He doesn't want to soil anyone's name that might come to mind — Melissa, Monica, Abby, Gale — by linking it with his own, so whatshername is the best he can come up with.

A cab with its sign "on duty" sign lit approaches their corner, and Nick raises a hand, stepping toward the curb.

Tess's head tilts and she looks curious, then she grins. "Persistence is a virtue?" she suggests, mixing up her virtues. Perhaps deliberately. "But yeah, you'd better. Promise I could be a hell of a lot more fun than her. Whoever she is." Then she's heading towards the cab as well, and into it, even while digging around for paper she can scribble her number on. Which she does once she locates something appropriate, and offers it to him.

When the cab pulls up, Nick moves toward it, opening the door for Tess even as he takes the slip of paper. He glances at it, and gives a short nod as he shoves it into his pocket. Out comes the cash she wouldn't take, and he hands it to the cabby. "That should cover her and your tip to Red Hook, yeah?" he asks. When he gets a nod in agreement, he turns back to Tess.

"Thanks for the drinks and the company. You want to go over to Staten again, don't go on your own. Take one of your dad's buddies or you can stop by the shipping docks and look for me, all right? One of these days you're gonna flirt with the wrong guy — can happen anywhere, but the odds of it happening are like a fucking thousand to one over on Staten." He nods to the back seat. "Have a good night, kid."

"Hey! You aren't supposed to do that," Tess says when he pays for the cab, almost sounding indignant. But, as promised, it fades quickly, almost as soon as the words are out. "But shippin' docks. Check. And you want company that isn't a kid but is a hell of a lot of fun, you gimme a call. Promise I could make you forget about whatshername for a few hours," she says, giving him a saucy grin and relaxing against the seat of the cab.

Nick gives another a soft snort of a laugh. "Homewrecker," he says teasingly, then gives one more nod, moving away from the cab so that he can push the door closed with a thud. He watches the cab pull away, then shakes his head. He turns toward the corner, heading for the subway station that will take him toward his own home a few blocks away, where no one and nothing awaits him except for a few hours of insomnia.

"Who says I don't wanna just borrow you for a few hours?" is Tess's parting remark, just before the door is closed and the cab pulls away to take her home where, like him, nothing awaits her. Except her teddy bear, Spike.

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