Promises To Keep


delia_icon.gif nick_icon.gif toru_icon.gif

Scene Title Promises to Keep
Synopsis holycrapitsnickinatowel
Date February 22, 2011

Fort Greene — Nicru's Apartment

It’s somewhere in the bleak cold hours between midnight and dawn when the sound of metal on metal, of a key turning in a lock, can be heard in the small Brooklyn apartment Nick hasn’t returned to for almost a week. When the door opens, he slips in quietly, assuming that if his accidental roommate is home, he will be asleep.

The man is the picture of exhaustion; the scant light thrown into the room from the neon sign of a pharmacy across the street and the street lamps’ golden glow shows him to be scruffy, several days’ worth of a beard shading his pale face that is otherwise darkened by dirt and blood.

He doesn’t look very closely at the inhabitants of the room — only expecting one at the most and that one he expects to be sleeping on the sofa. Instead he trudges toward the restroom, the light flicked on there slivering itself through the room almost violently.

The bathroom looks a lot brighter, cleaner, than it has in— since he moved in. There’s a familiar scent but seeing he’s so tired, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think he couldn’t place it. Lavender and mint, from the label on the strange bottles at the side of his tub, a shampoo and conditioner that weren’t there a week ago.

Usually Delia’s such a heavy sleeper that nothing will wake her until she’s ready but she’s usually outside of her own body at the time so it’s impossible anyway. Not tonight. Tonight she’s stayed put and when the switch is flipped, bright blue eyes open as though it was meant for them. She’s still for a moment, not recognizing the dark room. When she fell into the bed, exhausted, the television was on some cartoon and now it’s off.

Pushing herself up to a seated position, she adjusts her flannel top, untwisting it from around her torso from when she tossed and turned. No wonder Nick never sleeps, the bed feels so lumpy. Blinking a few times, her eyes adjust to the dim light of the room to find Toru right where he was before. Not in the bathroom, which means— she’s probably in trouble for being where she’s not supposed to be or there’s a toilet paper burglar on the loose.

The soap and shampoo and conditioner is merely squinted at; Nick assumes they are Toru’s. His own soap is masculine and evergreen in scent; his shampoo a generic brand with no particular fragrance. Clean and understated.

The presence of Delia in his apartment isn’t consciously noted — if the scent reminds him of her, there is no visible reaction. The door closes, and only the slimmest slice of bathroom light cuts its way across the room to her (his) bed. A moment later, the shower can be heard.

She’s in trouble.

When the shower starts, Delia flops back down into the bed and kicks at the covers until they lie smooth over her legs. Then… she closes her eyes. If he acts anything like when she invaded his dreams to start, he’ll grab her, drag her outside, and probably tell her to find a place that’s safer. If that’s the case then she’s going to get at least ten more minutes of sleep.

Both of her hands tuck under the pillow and she rolls over in the bed to put her back toward the bathroom. The soft ridges of her spine stick out through the fabric that’s pulled right against her skin, her bony shoulder jutting up in a hunch as she hides from the light. Long hair spills down over the side of the pillow and curls over the side of the mattress. She’s always liked sleeping on the very edge and by the time the water stops, she’s already unconscious again.

Toru is, at times, a ridiculously heavy sleeper. There've been nights where you could kick him off the couch and he wouldn't even roll over, let alone protest the act. Tonight isn't one of those nights but, you know, they've happened.

In fact, given that he's brought a stray over, he's sleeping a touch on the light side in the event that anything should happen. Like Nick coming home and being angry about said stray being there. It isn't until the shower starts running that he does start to wake up, however, grumbling about on the couch and pulling his blanket over his head. After a moment he sighs, looking up towards the bed to see that Delia is, in fact, still there, and —

— well, great. Guy's gone for a week and has to pick tonight to come back, this is like the plot of some stupid comedy movie. Grumbling again, he pulls the blanket off and tumbles to the floor, picking himself up and wandering over to the kitchen. Pours himself a bowl of Fruity Pebbles and chews on that while he waits for Nick to come out. Of the shower. No sense acting guilty when he hasn't really done anything wrong.

The shower runs a touch longer than usual for Nick — or the usual that Toru has been able to expect from him on the very few evenings they’ve both been in the apartment. Finally, the shower stops; there are other bathroomy noises like the sink running and the brushing of teeth, the hum of an electric razor. Finally the door opens, the smell of soap and shampoo wafting into the apartment. Nick emerges with a towel around his waist, moving softly on bare feet toward his bed before noticing the kitchen light illuminating the crunching form of his roommate and he pauses mid-step.

“Hey,” Nick says quietly, cheeks coloring a little — he had figured he’d make it to his dresser without waking Toru the comatose. “Just grabbing a shower and some clothes before heading out again.” His hand is bleeding from the washing; his other still bears healing scabs from several days ago.

More light, kitchen sounds, voices, twenty minutes instead of ten. Delia is still not ready to get up. Moving abruptly, she pulls one of the pillow out from under her head and throws it in the general direction of the crunching, the light, and the conversation. It skips across the floor before landing somewhere next to the cupboard that Toru’s currently eating cereal against.

Then she sits up and pushes some of her unruly red curls out of her face and turns a bleary eye toward— Hello Nick in a towel. “Oh good, you’re not a toilet paper thief…” she murmurs in greeting before letting loose a long yawn and stretching. One hand rubs at the back of her neck as she smacks her lips a few times, her eyelids drooping along with her head.

Blink blink… blink

Holy crap Nick in a towel. Delia’s curls flare out as her head whips around and she faces the Briton with a shocked expression. “Nick! Uhm… hi?”

Toru doesn't waste much time eating his cereal — Fruity Pebbles suck when they get soggy — and so by the time Nick exits the bathroom, he's down to the last couple bites and drinking the milk that's left. Eyebrows raise a bit at towel, and he gives just a wee bit of a smirk before settling into a more diplomatic expression. Oh, hello there, nice to see you back.

Yawning, he looks down at the pillow Delia throws over, eyebrow raised a moment, and in looking down his gaze passes by bloody Nickhands. Kneeling to pick the pillow up, he just holds onto it with one hand for a moment, sets his cereal bowl on the counter, looks between Nick and Delia, settles on the one who's more awake. "Bar crawling?" He nods towards the bloody hand. Then a smile tugs at the corner of his lips when Delia chimes in.

"Oh, I, er, brought a girl over. Not like that, just— she's a friend and— she said she knows you? And I didn't think it'd.. I mean, she needed a place to stay, and— I figured it'd be okay. Didn't know you'd be back."

Aside from his bare chest and the white towel now held firmly by one hand rather than just folded into place on his hips, Delia will see the necklace she’d bought for him around his neck. Toru’s and Delia’s voices overlap as Nick turns from Toru to the pillow on the floor and finally to Delia. Brows furrow at this unexpected arrangement — somehow he suddenly has two roommates in a one-room flat. Both of whom carry with them complications he’s not ready to deal with.

There is a lot to be angry about — Delia’s fears were legitimate. But there are more important things to deal with first.

“Yeah, I been bar crawling for six days,” Nick says flatly to Toru. The American accent is suddenly and irrevocably dropped.

But he hurries to Delia, where she sits on the bed and drops suddenly into a crouch beside her, looking up with something like wonder on his face. “She’s okay,” is breathed, barely more than a whisper. “Thank you for your help.”

Delia’s blue eyes sweep over Nick, a blush crawling slowly over her cheeks to cover her entire face. “Uhm— she is? Really?” All of her breath is let out in a relieved whoosh from her mouth and she hangs her head. Reaching out one hand, she touches it to his shoulder and gives a couple of uncertain pats. “I was worried, I couldn’t find her anymore. I couldn’t text or call,” she doesn’t explain why, dropping the train of thought with, “Toru brought me. Sorry— I’ll go in the morning. D-do you think I could see her?” She’s stuttering much more now than on the phone with him, or even in his dreams, probably because he could be rightfully angry with her.

The hand moves from his shoulder to the medallion hanging from the chain and she lifts it onto the pads of her fingers. She holds it for a moment or two before letting it drop back to his chest and gives the black haired man a wrinkled nose smile. “You wore it, I told you it would help.”

"I meant the hand, bro, but whatever, get all sarky Jesus on me." Toru shrugs as spitefully as he can, trudging over to the couch, and tosses the pillow on there before dropping down himself and pulling it under his chest. Rolling onto his back, he faces away from Delia and Nick, pulls his phone up off the floor and starts fiddling with it.

Letting the two of them talk for a minute about something he knows nothing about, after a while he does interject to address Nick to the effect of, "And since when are you fucking English?" Either he's taking that bar remark way too close to heart, or someone really pissed in his Pebbles this morning. Knowing Toru, it could be either.

Nick’s pale gaze flickers away when Delia touches him and then the medallion, something twitching in his jaw before he nods and stands, stepping away. “Okay’s relative. She’s hurt but she’ll live.” The words are terse, still full of worry. “I need to find Gabriel and Ethan for her. Just getting some shit together and then heading out. Brian can probably bring you to visit her, I think she’d like that.”

He swallows, and glances back at Delia. “She’d like that,” he repeats. “She likes you.”

Enough to protect her from him.

His eyes dart to where Toru is grousing at him, and his brows lift, before turning back to Delia. “You can stay here if you need. You don’t have to leave. Both of you — it’s fine.”

Finally, he moves toward the dresser to find clean clothing, bundling it in his hands before adding to Toru, “Keeping anything secret seems to be pointless, mate, so may as well let you in on the joke, yeah?” He runs his bloodied hand through his hair before wincing, glancing down at it with irritation. “Sorry I sniped at you. Been a fuckin’ bad week. It’s okay she’s here. Better’n the alternative.”

Chewing on her lower lip, Delia’s eyes keep drifting back to Nick. He’s in a towel. It’s obvious that she’s trying to not look, just to give her a little credit. When he turns his back, she turns her head completely and launches out of bed, time for a bowl of fruity pebbles all her own. Which might make Nick a little more comfortable than the alternative of— towel plus Delia’s imagination.

“Uhm— No, I’ll— I have to go to— you know. Flu. And…” Stammering, she gives Toru a pointed stare in an obvious plea for help. “Right Toru? This was just a movie night and.. you know.. Now that— everything is clear— You’re going to look for them?” Nick’s words just sunk in. “Do you need me to help?”

The irritating thing about apologies is they make it hard for you to be all self-righteous and still be right. So Nick’s apology and explanation get a brief grunt from Toru, who twists his neck a bit to face the other man. And kinda just, look for a minute. An— oh, right. “Yeah, whatever,” he finally adds, as acknowledgement.

Fidgeting with the phone a bit longer while Delia talks, he looks up at her, somewhat more comfortably given that that’s the direction he’s actually facing, and eyebrows go up a bit at her question. “What? Yeah, just— I wouldn’t— “ oh god. “I would never do anything like— not with— it was just movies!” And possibly manicures and talking about boys.

Anyway. Rubbing the back of his neck, Toru stretches his arms a bit, rolls onto his side, facing the back of the couch. Hello couch. “I just didn’t wanna leave her with no place to stay.”

“Maybe,” Nick allows Delia — on whether he needs help or not. It might be a first.

“Lemme just…” he glances toward the bathroom and begins to move that way. “Get changed and something to eat. If you’re coming, you ain’t getting near Roosevelt and we ain’t going til curfew’s off.” Another hour or two.

He glances at Toru. “Thanks for giving her a place to crash,” is murmured softly, just for the other man’s ears as Nick moves past the couch and disappears once more into bathroom to change in private.

The spoon is dipped into her bowl and lifted to her mouth as she crunches on the cereal. Once the bathroom door closes behind Nick, Delia turns to Toru and just shakes her head. “Is it just me? Or— “ Without finishing her sentence, she just shakes her head and tucks the spoon back into her mouth.

She stalks from the kitchen to the couch and drops down beside Toru with a whump on the pillow. The spoon still in her mouth before she pulls it out to get another bite of pebbles. “He’s not as angry as he usually is?” Maybe that was her original thought.

Toru sits up to give Delia room to sit down, maneuvering himself to set his head on her lap, looking up at — the bottom of her cereal bowl. Well, isn’t that adorable. “I don’t— he isn’t usually like— we don’t talk that much, I guess. He’s usually pretty.. i’unno. Curt, like. Like a friggin jock.”

Waves a hand dismissively. “Like with dudes how you pretty much just talk about bullshit and you grunt and don’t say much and that way it ain’t all gay. I dunno what’s up with the guy, I hardly know him and he goes and lets me stay in his place ‘cause he’s hardly here.” Shrug, there. “And— he’s hardly here. You know ‘im better’n I do, probably.”

“Yeah,” she agrees, trying her best not to drip milk on Toru’s face or neck. It might be the fact that they’ve spent a lot of time together in the past couple of days, usually Delia isn’t that comfortable with man-heads on her lap. Her father is some kind of CIA-Special Forces wannabe guy and her brother has cannon hands, so the opportunity hasn’t been there that much. Casting a quick glance over at the door, the redhead lifts her bowl and stares down at Toru. “Do you think he is?— You know… gay?”

She’s pretty sure that is how karma should work for her. Run away from certain engagement with a guy that professes he will love you forever and ever to sleep with a guy that really won’t while constantly thinking about a guy that’s gay. That’s how it works, right?

Finishing up whatever it was he was doing on his phone, Toru lowers an arm to the floor to drop it gently, and brings arm back up to his chest. It actually hadn’t occurred to him that Delia might not be okay with his head in her lap, but then, he does have a tendency to act without thinking about others~~

The question gets a brisk shake of his head, followed by a clarifying, “Doubt it. Or at least— “ Hrm. “Enh. Maybe, I guess, but.. I’unno. I haven’t really— if it ain’t real obvious or they don’t just say so ” thus making it obvious, “ I have a hard time tellin’.” For a minute, he debates mentioning his own orientation; sure, he’s probably made it entirely obvious to Delia by now, but it isn’t something he generally comes right out and says.

Eventually, he decides not to. At least, for the moment. Let’s talk about Nick more. “He kinda doesn’t really seem interested, I guess is what it comes across as, y’know?”

The door knob turns and Nick comes out dressed once more, rubbing one hand over his forehead wearily. A hand on his cell phone, his eyes are downcast as he peers at the screen, then types awkwardly while moving into the kitchen, not looking at either of his house guests. The refrigerator is opened; unfamiliar contents squinted at before he grabs a bottle of orange juice he knows is his, then moves to the pantry to grab a protein bar.

“You should stay here,” he says quietly, tired eyes seeking Delia’s face as he uncaps the bottle. “But if you’re coming, you’re gonna stay in the truck and not argue, yeah?”

A silent nod is what Nick receives in answer to his request terms for her joining in the search. Her eyes focus on her socked feet as she wiggles her toes, it gives her something to do as the gears grind in her head. Different scenarios about how or why she would have to get out of the truck ranging from lunatic homeless person to sudden volcanic eruption in the middle of the street. Her lips part and she’s about to share the conditions but all that comes out is, “You’re the boss.”

Giving Toru a little pat on the head, she slides out from underneath him and makes her way to the kitchen to wash her bowl and spoon. “Lemme just get dressed? I don’t want everyone in Queens to see my sheepie jammies, I grew up there.” Flashing Nick a quick smile, she tips the wet dishes onto a towel to let them air dry instead of doing that last half.

Then it’s her turn to occupy the bathroom. After grabbing her overstuffed backpack, she carries it in behind her and lets it drop to the floor with a heavy whump before closing the door. Being a girl, she takes a tad bit longer than Nick did changing, mostly because she hasn’t taken a shower yet.

Toru is pretty much feeling out of the loop on this one. Nick found someone, so now he’s looking for someone else, and Delia wants to go so she can protect the truck from zombie hobos. Which really, all things considered, hobos probably shouldn’t be throwing stones at each other, but —

— well right, anyway. He lifts his head to let her stand back up, sitting upright on the couch and just kinda watching her head to the bathroom before his gaze turns to Nick. With a grunt, he pushes himself up off the couch, stalking over to the fridge to get some milk, and pours himself another bowl of pebbles.

“Don’t let her freeze out there,” he mumbles with a vague sort of pretend-unconcerned voice. “Guess you shouldn’t either.”

Nick opens a cupboard and pulls out a coffee cup to pour the juice in, swallowing the contents in three gulps and wiping his mouth as he stares down at the phone, finally shoving the device into his pocket. “I won’t,” he says tersely.

Whether he means he won’t let her freeze or he won’t freeze or both, it’s hard to tell. He moves to open a drawer, pulling out a plain white dish towel to wrap around his hand where blood still seeps. “You can come if you want. Keep her company. Figure she can’t go to Roosevelt, and if we don’t find ‘em on Queens, I can check over there, maybe. If you could … you know, make sure she doesn’t go pushing herself too hard or sommat like that, I’d appreciate it, yeah?”

Crunching on pebbles thoughtfully, Toru thinks the request over. It would be something to do, at least. Otherwise he’d be sitting at home falling asleep to Spongebob, probably. After a few bites, he finally mumbles, “Yeah, I guess I can do that.” Shrugging, he proceeds to up the pace on his furious cereal eating to get it finished up in a more timely fashion, chugs milk when he’s done, sets bowl aside without washing it. Like a boss.

“Ain’t like I’m gonna wanna go runnin’ around, anyway. Or we could find a Checkers and have a picnic and a merry old fuckin’ time sitting around your truck.” Inexplicable irritation fades away quickly enough, though, and he kind of awkwardly looks away for a moment. Er, yes. “— Uh, right, so I guess I’ll get dressed.”

Strides over to the couch to find his duffel bag and, given that he’s pretty much already in his underwear, just digs out clothes and puts them on right there. Jeans, socks, Tyrannosaurus t-shirt, gloves, hoodie. Boots and coat are by the door.

Nick raises a brow, then gives a nod. “Thanks,” he says, moving to the sink to rinse out his cup and leave it along with Delia’s dish. He too moves to the living area to find his coat and a tuque, tugging the latter on top of his still damp hair.

Blue eyes glance toward the bathroom door as he tugs on his coat, waiting for Delia to emerge. “If we get stopped by any one, lemme do the talking. I can keep you two out of trouble, but don’t say shit unless I tell you to, yeah?”

The click of the door as it opens precedes the redhead dripping out with sopping hair and a fresh change of clothing. Long sleeved t-shirt, ripped jeans, and a pair of tights pulled underneath them. Thick wool socks are a must when going into the cold, unfortunately she doesn’t have a pair of good boots like Nick, so she opts for her sneakers. Giving both men a silly grin, she tucks her hair into a pink tuque before pulling on her shearling coat. “Okay, I’m ready!”

Once Delia emerges from the bathroom and is bundled up, Nick ushers them out of the room and into the cold morning. There are people to find and promises to keep.

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