Pride and Providence


amato_icon.gif melissa_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Pride and Providence
Synopsis Amato and Nick meet again, with Melissa as a spectator, and this time Amato's questions are answered.
Date August 6, 2010

Port Ivory

Most people are out having fun on a Friday night. At least people who have normal lives are. And they generally prefer someplace a little better than the nightlife found on Staten Island. Which means that there are few people for Melissa to pass by as she goes for a walk. A walk alone. No oversized puppy demanding she go this way or that, just a bit of rambling that seems to be taking her no where in particular tonight, and she's going there in no real hurry.

Tonight she's wearing black leather pants and a snug burgundy tank top. They suit her, even with the various colored streaks in her hair, though it does show off the scars on her shoulder and arms, but they don't seem to bother her, even if it causes other people to take a second glance at them. Nope, she seems nice and calm. But that could just be the nicotine.

Near the end of a row of seemingly abandoned warehouses, Nick has found a seat on a fire hydrant, as he surveys the emptyish street. No one in their right mind should be walking around alone in the evening on Staten Island. He narrows his eyes at the figure that he sees approaching, Melissa's small figure getting larger as she gains ground. A tendril of smoke curls up from his lit cigarette, the gray just about the same hue as the night sky that never quite gets black in the summer, not this close to a city and all of its lights.

He brings the cigarette to his lips and takes a long drag, slowly exhaling a thicker plume of smoke than the curliques left in the cigarette's wake. He throws the cigarette to the ground and turns his black boot upon it, shredding the paper as he rises.

"Peace be with you, brother."

The voice of Benjamin Sall lays the words like ointment on the man who stopped long enough near him, probably to ask him for money. The man stares up at Amato with a bewildered, hazy expression brought on by far more than one too many vices. But Amato gives the man a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder before he staggers away.

Abby said that if he saw the face that has plagued his memory again, it would be because God ordained it. So, like a man waiting for lightning to strike him as a sign of God, Amato stands out in the middle of a thunderstorm. The flyers he is passing out are standard fare for Catholic proselytizing, meant to reassure, comfort, and shepherd lost souls back into the fold. It's a pity Amato can't apply his more practical experience with sheep to this endeavor.

When she gets close enough to really see him, Melissa takes a moment or two to look over Nick. Could be assessing, because she's become a paranoid individual, or could just be that he's cute. Maybe both. Amato, however, gets a bit more than an assessing look. She recognizes that face, sort of. "Hey, I know you," she calls out to him before taking a drag off her cigarette.

The 'I know you' that comes from behind him now is not something an undercover agent wants to hear when they're close to their place of operation. It's something Nick doesn't expect to hear at all here on Staten or even on this continent, so he stops suddenly in his tracks, turning to glance over his shoulder, blue eyes narrowed as he looks for the voice.

Seeing that Melissa is looking toward another man, Nick visibly relaxes a touch. Until he sees who the other man is, and his jaw sets tight, muscles twitching slightly. He gives a shake of his head and changes directions, deciding not to head back to the warehouse but away from the place entirely, back across the water and back to Brooklyn — except that means he has to pass the two.

When you're wanted by the Department of Homeland Security for trying to destroy the world to make a better one in its place, hearing the phrase 'Hey, I know you' is enough to rattle even the most level-headed of terrorists, whether they are practicing or reformed. And Amato is of the more tightly-wound variety.

So he jumps when he hears Melissa's voice, and it takes him a moment to recognize her in turn. "Oh. You. From the thing." So smooth. "How are you? Would you care for a flyer?" He holds one out to Melissa, using it and the extension of his arm to preserve his bubble of personal space. "They don't have support groups, but Father McKay's service is quite inspiring."

Well, well. Sudden stops and tense jumping? This just got interesting. Melissa shifts slightly to look back and forth between Nick and Amato, and her lips curve into an amused smile. "Not you, cutie. Though it's a shame I don't know you," she says, giving Nick another long look.

Then she turns to Amato, glancing over the flyer for a moment. "Father McKay? Sorry, not too religious. Get all my religion vicariously through a friend. And I run support groups, I don't join them. But yeah, from the thing," she verifies, nodding to Amato. "Afraid I don't recall your name though."

Seemingly trying to get by the pair and toward the wharves on the other end of the block without talking to either of them, Nick's head is tucked low, his hands in his pockets as he walks swiftly. His eyes are on the ground, trying to avoid Amato's gaze but Melissa's words get a glance and a slightly derisive snort.

"Little girls who know what's good for them shouldn't be out by themselves at this time of night, Goldilocks, and should avoid talking to strangers. You're lucky that one's all about Jesus and I ain't interested," he tosses over his shoulder as he passes by, giving them both a wide berth.

"Well," Amato breathes, a chuckle riding on his voice. It's different from the first time he saw Nick. The European medley in it is gone, replaced by a purely American accent. "There were a lot of names exchanged that night. It would be difficult to remember any one of them."

But then Nick walks by, and when he speaks, Amato's eyes widen. Providence.

"And what if I wasn't," he asks, the presumed accent slipping so slightly that it would take a trained ear to notice. "What if this was all just a front. You don't know anything about me. And I'd suggest you don't go around telling people what to do or not do, or you'll be the one kneeling in the mud asking for mercy."

Goldilocks? Melissa's head tilts and her attention shifts back to Nick. "Little girl or not, I can handle myself better than most big jerks," she says with a shrug. "And if I never talked to strangers I'd never meet anyone. I like meeting people." Amato gets her attention next, but she falls silent, brows lifting as she takes half a step back and listens to the other conversation.

"You're right. I don't," Nick says shortly to Amato, then snorts again at Melissa's tough-girl words. "Meeting strangers is a good way to get dead, Goldie. Or maybe I should call you Rainbow Brite." He glances back to Amato and gives the man another shake of his head. "Which is exactly why I intend to keep walking. I don't need any more acquaintances, and I don't think anyone here is interested in being my friend. Good night."

He continues his path, pulling out another cigarette to shove between his lips, Zippo lighter coming out of his jean pockets, a flick of his hand bringing its flame to life.

He can't lose him. Not again. This was providence.

Gritting his teeth, Amato lets the flyers fall from his hands as he jogs off after Nick. His dark sport coat billows behind him with the brief momentum.

"Look," he whispers with his own voice once he's alongside the other man, easily keeping pace. "I have no idea who you are, but I'm going to be honest with you. There is something with you. I saw it, when I first saw you. And it's been gnawing at me all this time. I can help you, but you've got to help me first."

"Rainbow Brite?" Melissa repeats lamely, staring at Nick for a moment, before she laughs and shakes her head. "Man, when you're wrong, you're wrong, cutie. Sorry, but any guy who can call me Rainbow Brite is someone I wanna be friends with," she says, just before Amato takes off after the man and her head tilts, gaze curious. Then, of course, she does what any insane curious person does. She follows after to eavesdrop.

Suddenly there are people following him, and fear kicks in. Amato's whisper has Nick glancing askance at the taller pale man, wondering just what he means — something he saw in him, something that needs helping — is he an empath? A telepath? A precog? His own blue eyes narrow and he reaches out to shove the other man away from him.

"Back off," he snarls, backing up and away from Amato as his hand falls to his waist, where Amato will know his gun is tucked in his jeans. "I don't know what the fuck you are, but stay the 'ell away from me, do you hear me? I don't want anything to do with you and your fuckin' mercy and your charity or whatever the hell you want to talk to me about, Padre. Stay the fuck away from me."

Mostly American in accent, though there was a slight slip up — the loss of an 'H' on the word Hell. His eyes dart to Melissa, daring her to follow him further. "Like I said, not safe to be out here at night," he mutters, a touch more calmly.

Amato, on the other hand, is focused on Nick and has ceased to be concerned about Melissa. For now, anyway. "Are you sure about that, young man?" he asks, closing the gap again. "I would think you'd at least want to know why you ran into me again.

"Then again, not everyone wants absolution."

Oooh, interesting slip. Melissa just grins as she starts to circle around the pair of men, listening, very intently. "Oooh, my, my. Not American, are you? I sure don't say hell like that. Say it again. Or more. I like accents. Besides, my point still stands. I can take care of myself. And, I'm pretty sure you can tell that I've been in a few rough scrapes already," she says, rolling her left shoulder, the one with the bullet scars. "But I'll make a deal with you. Tell me who you are, speak a lil' more in whatever accent that is, and I'll leave you alone for tonight."

Absolution. Amato's words bring an almost pleading look to Nick's blue eyes before he shakes his head. "There's no such thing as absolution for me," he mutters, that jaw setting once again. He glances over at Melissa and nearly growls in exasperation. "I ain't telling you shit, bitch. God, don't you people have homes?"

It's Staten Island. No one really has a home here; they just have various hovels and squalor to squat in. Bad question.

His attention having been broken by Melissa for a moment, his eyes dart back to Amato, finding the other man's stalking approach has brought him within arm's reach.


Shooting is not an option — the man hasn't committed a crime other than being an asshole, and Nick has a cover to protect. His right hand leaves the gun at his side and instead curls into a fist, swinging in an uppercut for the taller man's jaw.

Amato isn't ready for it, but as soon as Nick's fist makes contact with his skin, Amato's eyes snap close. The memories rush in instantaneously, starting from Nick's first indiscretion, and all through his eyes, as if Amato were seated inside Nick's head.

Too many "indiscretions" to name, to list — first stealing money from his mother's purse and later cigarettes, selling them on the sly at school. Bullying classmates. Shoplifting. Smoking, drugs, drinking at too young an age, all in what looks to be far, far away, in London. Drunken kissing and groping with a boy several years older them himself that bears a striking resemblance to John Logan… and then it gets uglier if at all possible — it is then that Amato will know just where he'd seen Nick before, when he sees a young Eileen Ruskin's tearful gray eyes pleading with her brother no. Later, smuggling guns, smuggling drugs, nights of drinking and several short-lived one-night stands with a string of women, all who seem to look at him with a tenderness he never seems to return.

Unaware that his life has literally unfolded before Amato's closed eyes, Nick shakes his hand, the calloused knuckles split by the force of bone upon bone, and he throws an angry look at the Italian, and another one at Melissa before turning to stride away. Again.

Random violence towards Amato wasn't what Melissa was expecting, and even as she's blanketing them both in a 'no pain' field, she's reaching for Nick, to try to shove him back a step. But the whole lack of stinging knuckles might give Nick pause, even if her shove doesn't. "Hey, what's your malfunction? Being a cutie doesn't mean you can just punch someone trying to help you," she says, seeming to be angry on Amato's behalf.

Given the history of Amato's jaw and blunt force trauma, it's not a wonder that Nick's fist cracks the bone. But even without the horrible pain that comes with a broken, the knowledge that comes with the blow is enough to tear the Italian apart.

He is spun ninety degrees by the punch, so that when he finally rights himself, he is looking at Nick's back. "Ruskin," he growls through gritted teeth.

The growl, barely recognizable as a word, is barely caught by Nick; his step slows just for half a step, but he refuses to look back at the Italian. Melissa's shove earns her a glare but he continues to walk, heading to the wharf to get a boat away from this hell hole.

"Stay out of it," he mutters to her, one hand coming up to his forehead, fingers clawing at his hair as he realizes the man knows him somehow — fucking Evolved powers, screwing with his cover. No one here knows him by that name, and Nick is fairly certain this is not a man who knows of him from Interpol or his past. It has to be a power. Everything's going to go to shit if that man blows his cover here, but he can't just shoot people for knowing who he is.

"Fuck," just about covers it. Nick glances down at his bleeding hand, curious as to why it doesn't hurt — maybe he's become so inhuman that he can't even feel anymore.

"Stay out of it," he adds again, and begins to walk again.

If there is any one word that accurately describes Melissa, it's stubborn. Stubborn to a fault. And now is certainly not the time for exceptions. She tries to grab a hold of Nick's shirt while glancing to Amato, to make sure he's not flat on his face. "Look, cutie, I don't know what the hell kinda beef you got with people trying to help you, and I don't care. But you won't be hurting innocent people around me. Do it again, and I'll show you what really happened with Goldilocks and the bear."

The fact that Amato's jaw doesn't hurt is rather disturbing. Standing straight again, he works it, but it feels…odd. Not painful, but not exactly functional either. He lifts his hand to cup it, but gingerly. That's when he notices Melissa and Nick.

"I wouldn't tempt him, if I were you," he calls to her, his speech impaired by his injury. "Pride goeth before the fall. Besides, a man who denies himself the grace of God is dangerous indeed."

Just let me fucking go, Nick thinks to himself, but he turns to push Melissa's hand off of his shirt with a sharp move, not meant to hurt her in any way. He just wants to escape. "You should know that everyone offering help isn't always trying to help. You stop and take every handout anyone's offering you, you're gonna wind up dead or worse. Take my word for it," he mutters angrily, turning to stride backwards as he looks at her — there is actually an unkind sort of wisdom in the words, advice to be heeded. "Now fucking leave me alone and quit pushing your luck," he adds. "And me."

His face screws up with a kind of pain at Amato's words, and he throws one more look at the man, shaking his head. "God left me behind a long time ago, Padre."

With that, Nick strides a few more backwards steps before turning and breaking into a run.

"He doesn't worry me," Melissa says with a shrug to Amato, though she instead watches Nick. But rather than anger on her face, she seems thoughtful. Unfortunately for Nick, he can't run too far before the stinging of his knuckles comes back. Mel shakes her head and looks to Amato. "How bad did he get you? Or did I nix the pain too soon to tell?" she asks, studying his jaw carefully.

But Amato instinctively leans away Melissa's inspection even as he watches Nick run off, his parting words echoing in his head. "Regardless, I thank you for it. I'll need to see someone, but I have a hunch the sprat was the straw the broke the camel's back, as it were. You don't need to worry about it.

"Besides. As crass as he may be, Straw-boy is correct. You should be careful out here." Amato looks Melissa up and down relatively quickly and suffers a grin. "Especially looking like that."

That warning has Melissa giving a soft growl of annoyance and rolling her eyes. "Look priest boy, I'm not the one who just got sucker punched, so save your warnings for someone who needs them," she says, turning to begin striding away, letting her ability fade a little at a time rather than letting all the pain come rushing back at once.

He really should be thankful for that. But still, a broken jaw is painful. Rather painful. Okay, extremely painful. Amato winces at first, but when the whole of it comes on, he seethes and sends a string of creative, Italian not-quite-profanity into the Staten Island night.

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