Punches and Puzzles


amato_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Punches and Puzzles
Synopsis Nick and Amato seem to have a penchant for these, respectively, and offer apologies for their past sins.
Date October 10, 2010

Sea View Hospital

Sea View Hospital has seen far better days, even in the history of Amato Salucci harboring himself within its walls. But with the structure partially destroyed by fire, it has lost much of its appeal as a hideout or temporary (if dangerous) residence. But that doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of activity.

Outside on the overgrown grounds, a mare stands tied to a tree near one of the windows set into the brick wall. A bag of oats has been fasted to her face, and she munches contentedly, her eyes half closed and her ears relaxed. On the other side of the charred wood of the sill sits a man in an age-stained dress shirt and cardigan, bent over what might be a gurney.

Despite the relatively warm weather, a pair of brown leather gloves cover his thin, long-fingered hands a he works diligently at…something. At his feet, scraps of paper disappear among the burned remains of shredded wallpaper, the refuse of squatters and delinquent teens, and other fragments of human lives that have become the crunchy carpet of the abandoned hospital - not too unlike the growing bed of leaves on the other side of what walls remain.

Having picked up an envelope left for him by his Interpol contact from underneath a fallen brick at the corner of the building, Nick is passing by when he notices the horse — one he’s seen before, he thinks — he hasn’t seen enough horses up close to know for sure how to tell the difference from one to the next, though it seems to have the same coloring and size.

The young man gives the animal a wide berth as he shoves the envelope into his leather jacket, moving closer to the building to peer around the ruins at the owner of the animal where he works beneath the arch of one of the glassless windows. Nick’s brows rise as he sees Amato cutting something up. He has a feeling he knows what, but he edges closer, to try to see for himself. Unfortunately, the crunch of leaves and garbage and worse beneath his boots give away his entrance — rather than be caught skulking, he clears his throat.

“Afternoon,” he says lightly, a bandaged hand giving a little two-fingered wave. A red welt marks the spot where his jaw meets his cheekbones, right in front of his right ear.

The whole idea of coming out here, to this place, was so that Amato could avoid interruption. So he could enjoy some solitude while he worked and reflect upon the fact that he once performed a very different task on these same grounds. The mare turns her head as Nick approaches, but given the space he affords her, she doesn’t pay that much attention to him.

Amato, on the other hand, is more than a little surprised to see the younger man again. He furrows his pale brows and frowns, quickly and discreetly shuffling his papers as he stands from the rickety chair he had been resting in and moves closer to the window, leaning against the blackened wood. “Having difficulties staying out of trouble, are you?” he asks by way of greeting, his pale eyes evaluating both the bandage and mark on his face.

The bandage is on the same knuckles Nick split when punching Amato — the irony isn’t lost on him. “Apparently. Trouble seems to follow me. Try to get away from a past, and find that most of it’s living here in New York, you know?” He shrugs his left shoulder, nodding to the area that was serving as Amato’s ‘desk.’

“I wasn’t meaning to interrupt. Sorry ‘bout that. If it’s the puzzle shit, you know your secret’s safe with me,” he says, leaning against the brick as he reaches up to scratch his head. “You’re pretty good at keeping secrets, by the way. I know Lee isn’t dead, so you don’t have to worry about spilling that one, for the record. Don’t tell her I know, though. If she wants me to think she’s dead, I can give her that much.” His words are weary but sincere.

That particular secret was one that not only Amato was charged with. Jensen Raith and even Eileen herself were determined to keep Nick in the dark regarding her whereabouts. Killing her off, in effect, was the easiest way to do it. So Amato’s eyes widen slightly at the news that Nick knows that his sister is alive, but then his face becomes a more somber one.

“It is the only lie I have told you,” he says with a shake of his head. “And I hope you will forgive me for it. How did you come to know?” He doesn’t glance back at what had occupied him before Nick’s arrival, nor does he make any indication that the Englishman’s assumption was correct. The subject has turned to Eileen, and he’s content to keep it there.

Nick moves to sit on the sill, bringing his left hand to his right to rub it a bit gingerly. “You didn’t really lie. You just sidestepped the truth,” he says with a chuckle. “It doesn’t matter how I know. Someone told me, not knowing she’d told me she was dead. But like I said — if she wants me to think she’s a ghost, then let her. If it makes her feel … I donno… safer? Then let her.” His voice is low and weary, and he averts his eyes when talking about her, as if she really were a ghost and that to speak of her would be a disrespect toward the dead.

He glances up at Amato. “I can’t tell you why I’m here, but it won’t be for a long time. But it wasn’t to invade her life. I didn’t know she was here, I swear it. If I’d known — I wouldn’t have come here.” For some reason, it seems he wants Amato’s approval, or at least his belief in what Nick says.

“Perhaps,” Amato says with a slight narrowing of his eyes as he looks from Nick over the back of the horse and into the autumn wilderness beyond, “you can leave word when you do leave. In case she chooses to find you.” To forgive him, even. “You never know what can happen in time.”

A smile darts across his face then, but he doesn’t look at Nick again for several moments. When he does, he extends a gloved hand to the other man, looking him squarely in the eye. “It is good to have met you,” he says, treating this as the last time he may have to speak with Nick Ruskin.

“I’ll do that,” Nick says, though he may not — he doesn’t know where he’ll be going, once he’s through with his training in Virginia, or if it’s classified. It’s possible he won’t have an address at which she could contact him, if she wanted to. “But then, I have a feeling if she wants to know where I am, she can figure it out.” There’s a wry smile at that, as Nick raises his bandaged hand to shake the gloved hand Amato offers.

Once his own hand drops, he glances down at his bandaged knuckles and gives a short chuff of a laugh. “Sorry for punching you. I seem to do that a lot.” He’s quiet for a moment. “You know Logan, by any chance?”

Logan as in John Logan? Amato narrows his eyes anew and turns his head slightly. He knows a Logan through Nick’s own sinful memories, and he is aware of John Logan, the Staten Island turned Brooklyn criminal. “Not personally,” he says, though the words are drawn out to indicate he isn’t exactly sure which “Logan” Nick is referring to. “I assume there is a reason for the question.”

Nick glances down at his knuckles, then brings the hand to rub his welted jaw. “Ran into him. Didn’t go well.” The words are said wryly, and he shrugs. “Just wondered if you knew him, since you know Eileen. If …” he shakes his head. He doesn’t know exactly how Eileen came to be here, though Amato mentioned finding her at the Tower. “Doesn’t matter. Small fucking world, right?”

He coughs, realizing the swearing is probably offensive to the religious man, even if he’s not a priest. “Sorry, Benjamin,” he adds, quietly, then stands. “I should let you get back to your …. work.”

Whatever the puzzles are — they’re important to Amato, and Nick might not understand them, but he respects them, in his way. He gives a wave and heads back the way he came, giving the horse a skeptical glance as he gives it a wide berth as well, hand reaching into his jacket to pull out the envelope from the dead drop, peeling open its adhesive to see what lies within.

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