Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens


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Scene Title Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens
Synopsis Delia catches Nicole up on events over dinner.
Date February 22, 2018

Elmhurst: Delia's Home

Elmhurst is generally not the sort of place that a person would walk through after dark. Bad reputations and people that stay quiet in the face of the law. Delia's neighbourhood, though, is something of an exception. With no houses across the street, just the snow blanketed gardens, it makes it harder for any people of nefarious intentions to hide.

From the outside, there's only one corner that is brightly lit. The bay window in the front, that's been replaced just over the summer, doesn't have curtains, not yet. So what's inside is plain to see from the outside.

Her house is… half built/restored. The inhabitable parts blocked off by sheets of plastic and closed off stairs and locked doors. Work on it has been slow, but she's not exactly in a hurry. She has a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom for herself and Nick, and Benji's room. Even though her daughter doesn't live there, Delia fixed a room and only Benji is ever allowed in.

Tonight the kitchen smells particularly wonderful. She didn't cook it, but she's wonderful at reheating. Bread and a hearty soup. Delia may not have a lot of money, but she's rich in vegetables.

Nicole sits at the dining table, watching her daughter, who’s seated on the floor with a coloring book and a 96 count box of Crayolas. She’s a bit spoiled. She may not be an only child, but she’s the only child Nicole’s had the chance to raise. So, she gets the big box of crayons.

“I’m really glad you asked us to come over. It’s nice to let someone else make dinner for a change.” Nicole lives alone. Rather, without another adult around. With a child present half the time, it means she doesn’t get to be lazy about it as often as she might like to be. At least she actually does enjoy to cook.

“How are things, Carrot Cake?”

“Oh, you know,” Delia says as she buzzes around the kitchen, she’s been there since Nicole and the little peanut arrived. “Things are.” Her tone is neutral but not flat, maybe a bit tired. She’s been rushing around a lot between getting everything heated and setting the table.

Finally, she sits down kitty corner to Nicole offering her a cup of tea. Tea is easier than coffee especially in the economic climate of the Safe Zone. Ingrid’s flower shop provides nearly everything Delia needs to make her own. The one they’re sipping on is a loose leaf variety made with rose hips. It’s not very tasty, Delia is just as good at putting together a good blend as she is at making curry.

“I saw Jaiden yesterday,” she utters in a low tone, her entire countenance bristling as she does. “He took my picture without asking.” She pauses for a moment and glances down at her little sister before leaning forward to whisper, “Can you have someone just make him disappear or something?”

Nicole knows the feeling. Things are. The tea is accepted with a grateful nod. Whether it tastes good or not, she’s polite enough to drink it without complaint. The fact that she made it at all is sweet, and she’s not about to scorn that.

A glance is given to the girl on the floor when Delia’s eyes go that way. She knows what that look means, because she’s done it herself many times. And what the woman has to say has Nicole bristling in short order as well. “He did what?” She’d ask who, but Jaiden is a name she’s familiar with. He doesn’t let anyone forget about his great contributions to the war.

“What the—” fuck?! is mouthed, a very practiced self-censoring technique that she’s employed around the little girl ever since she was old enough to start repeating everything she heard. She flows right back into audible conversation without missing a beat. “Not in this line of work. Too much paperwork involved.” The old job was different. That was a phone call away.

“I was down where I shouldn’t have been,” Delia admits with a heavy sigh. Then she pushes herself to a stand and heads for her bedroom. When she emerges it’s with a canvas backpack in her hands, which she brings to the table to set between the two of them.

Upon flipping the flap open, Nicole can see that it contains a carton filled with rich smelling soil and a single thorny stick poking out of it. “I couldn’t risk it get stopped at customs,” Delia explains, spilling the secret extent of her law breaking (today). “It’s a special rose that I’m going to try to grow this year. I think Dad will really like it.”

She leaves the pack open for Nicole to either admire or simply glance at, either way, the dirt and the stick are on the table. “Anyway, he saw me coming back from my supplier.” Garden supplier. “If he leaks those pictures, I won’t be able to get cheap seeds anymore. It won’t just be me that suffers for it.”

Nicole examines Delia’s ill-gotten prize with a critical eye. A rose is really worth that much? It only takes a flicker of a glance back to the girl — woman — to remind her that, yes, to Delia? It is really worth that much. “USDA and CBP take their,” shit “seriously.” Again, the expletive is only mouthed. Which is to say, yes, she would have been stopped and had her planter inspected.

“Did you tell him all that? That it wouldn’t just be you he’s hurting?” More importantly, Nicole’s brows furrow at this next thought, “Was he following you? Specifically?”

“He didn’t ask, he just took the picture,” Delia says as she carefully lifts the pack and its contents and lowers down to the girl on the floor. “Look Snickerdoodle, this is going to be one of the prettiest flowers you have ever seen when it grows. When you come to see it, I’m going to pick the prettiest one just for you.” But right now, it’s just a thorny stick in a carton of dirt. Without leaves even. Before the small girl can reach out and prick her finger on one of the thorns, Delia whisks it away, back into a dark closet.

“Besides, he was busy listening to himself talk about how great his accomplishments for evo-kind were.” She says when she returns, pausing at the kitchen to check on their food. The corner of her mouth lifts as she sits and takes her teacup again, making a face as she takes a sip and just places it back into the saucer. It needs sugar… lots of it. “He should replace President Praeger with all the glorious things he’s done.”

There’s a disgusted look. Creeps never ask before they take pictures. While Delia shows off the stem of what will be a beautiful rose, the wheels in Nicole’s head turn slowly, debating what she can do about Delia’s situation.

The little girl ‘ooh’s appreciatively when she’s shown the plant, even if it’s not a flower yet. “Is it gonna be red like your hair, Bedelia?” There’s only the briefest of moments where she reaches out like she might touch it before withdrawing her hand all on her own. Her mother taught her well not to touch things that aren’t hers. She’s old enough to understand that lesson.

Nicole smiles approvingly, even though her daughter doesn’t do that thing where she looks back to make sure that she’s going to receive praise for doing the right thing. Sometimes she’s just good for its own sake. Imagine that.

“Who does this chucklefu— head,” that time she almost slipped. A perfect mother she is not, “think he is?” She scowls and lifts the picture from the table to look it over. “Sure never fought in my unit.” Then again, there’s only one person left from her unit these days. Legends, the lot of them.

“Nope!” The redhead’s voice is cheerful and sunny, like it always is when she’s speaking to her younger sister, “Sure as… uh..” shit can’t say shit “.. no, they’re going to be pink, just like the end..” she dots the child’s nose with her finger “.. like the end of your nose!”

Getting back to grown up talk, she grimaces and begins arranging the silverware in front of her. “Mine either,” Delia mutters swirling the hot liquid in her cup. The color is pleasing, even if the flavor isn’t, next time. Maybe the new rose bush will produce a better hip or she’ll find something else to mix them with to make it better. With a sour look, she pushes the cup away. Only a few people in her unit survived, in that regard she’s luckier than Nicole. “Anyway… If I see the pictures anywhere, I mean anywhere, Jaiden Mortlock will be a drooling mess and stuck in his own head.”

“Pretty!” The girl smiles and giggles when the tip of her nose is poked at. When the grown-ups go back to talking, she watches them for a moment with wide eyes, then turns back to her coloring book. That’s something her mother’s taught her, too.

“I’ll alibi you. You were dealing with a fit of insomnia at my place. I would know, because I also didn’t sleep.” Nicole is quite possibly the best almost-step-mom Delia could have asked for. Or maybe she isn’t. It’s not like she’s the only one in the extended Ryans clan that could be described as such. “If he bothers you again, I can send someone to talk to him.” Maybe one of her old friends, if they’re keen on trading a favor for a favor.

Giving Nicole a wide smile of appreciation, Delia picks up her cup to take a sip. “I’m going to take you up on that…” and another extremely sour look passes over her features as she puts the cup down with a clink. “God that’s horrible.”

She turns to regard her little sister and nudges her with a toe, “Pipsqueak, make sure you learn how to cook and do things for yourself. Don’t be like me, okay?” Gardening she can do, cooking… she really can’t. Aside from— she takes a deep breath inward and suddenly her smile widens a bit more. “Soup’s ready! Who wants some food?” There’s the bread but the soup is vegetable, no meat. It’s not by choice but beans will just have to do for protein. At least for a while.

“Mommy taught me to make pasketti!” The pronouncement is proud and boisterous. See, Sis? She’s going to be just fine! Called for soup, she bounces up from her seat on the floor, leaving her crayons strewn over her coloring book and across the floor in a small rainbow radius so she can climb into one of the kitchen chairs and wait for soup.

Spaghetti,” Nicole corrects quietly. Her daughter furrows her brows and shakes her head. Obviously she said it right and it’s her mother’s who’s got it wrong. Nicole snorts quietly and shakes her head. “Yes, you’re very good at pouring the sauce into the pot and stirring it. You are a big help!” Even if Nicole has to clean up more mess than she would otherwise. Secretly, she enjoys it, even if it took her a while to get comfortable with her house not being spotless.

It’s a good thing too, because Delia’s house is lived in and not spotless. Clean but cluttered. There’s gardening books, old seed catalogs, flyers for this and that, and mail. So much mail. Half of it is unopened, the rest is just laying in scattered piles.

Delia dishes out the soup and leaves the bread for Nicole to cut, she knows how much her daughter should have. How much will it hurt her stomach if a food shortage becomes a problem after eating too much now. Into the girl’s bowl, Delia ladles a full portion of vegetables, same with Nicole. Into her own bowl, she settles for mostly broth. “You’re both wrong,” she announces after she’s taken her seat again, “it’s pronounced macaroni.”

“Nuh uh! Macaroni has cheese!” Spoon is brandished at older sister by younger. “Pasketti has red sauce!”


The girl’s eyes go straight to her mom. She already knows what she did before she sees the somewhat stern look she’s earned. “Oh. Sorry.” The spoon is lowered into the bowl and Delia receives a bright smile. “Thank you! It looks yummy!”

That’s better. “She’s right, though. Macaroni does have cheese.”

“Oh Nicole, it’s okay,” Delia intones as she breaks off a corner of bread. She’s not taking a lot and it’s obvious that she’s reserving the majority of the food for her guests. “Sisters are supposed to bug each other, that’s what we’re here for.” She delivers an exaggerated wink to the little girl before taking a spoon full of her broth, being careful to avoid any vegetables on this bite.

“Did I tell you Nick was here?” The name still manages to bring a bit of a blush to her cheeks when she says it, especially in the presence of a little sister that has just been given permission to tease. “He stayed for a few days this time.” Enough for three curry meals.

Nicole’s brows raise, wordless for a moment as she tastes a spoonful of soup. She chews and swallows - manner’s she’s trying to help her little girl emulate - before speaking. “That so?” She passes the portion of bread to her daughter who takes it with a softly murmured thank you, Mommy before tearing it into tiny pieces to dip into her broth.

“She’s supposed to say the magic words,” Nicole supplies context for her earlier correction. “Good visit, then?” Her tone and expression are hopeful. The bread is passed back Delia’s way without taking any for herself. “Don’t make me insist,” she says quietly. She doesn’t need the carbs for energy.

Delia just shakes her head and pushes the bread to the opposite side of the table. If the little squirt doesn’t want a second helping, it’ll likely be saved for leaner times than this. Spring hasn’t quite sprung yet and food supplies, especially in the fresh vegetable market, are dwindling.

“It was a great visit, actually,” Delia grins, there’s a little twinkle in her eye as she takes another slurp of soup. “We added a fern to our growing family.” It’s a joke they share, because no children for them. The war killed the desire for her while fear of failure was always his problem. “I think I finally have him convinced on that kitten too.”

The comment about the fern has Nicole grinning. The twinkle is responded to with a knowing sort of look. She may be the mother of Delia’s baby sister, but the two are friends first and foremost. They don’t have that relationship where it’s awkward to talk about — well, their relationships. Unless it’s about the one Nicole has with Delia’s father. That one they don’t discuss much at all. For the sake of their sanity.

The mention of a kitten has Nicole tilting her head to one side and fixing Delia with an oh my god, why would you say that??? look. Right on cue, her daughter lights up. “Kitten?! Mommy, can I have a kitten, too?”

Nicole resist the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose, schooling her expression back into something neutral before she looks across the table to the enthusiastic child. “No, Squeaker. Kittens don’t like being moved from house to house all the time like you do. But when Delia gets her kitten, you can come over and play.”

Well, that might almost be as good. There’s a thoughtful frown given in consideration, anyway. “Is that true, Bedelia? Can I come play with your kitten whenever I want?”

“Of course you can Poodlebum! Someone has to play with it, and when’s the last time you saw me playing with anything?” Delia’s voice has the exaggerated tone people use when being playful with children. “AND you can help clean up the litter box too!” She raises her hands and shakes them in celebration, ~jazz hands~. Baby sisters are the best for getting excited over the smallest things, Delia knows, she’s been a baby sister all of her life.

Nicole gets a bit of a devious smile, the kind Delia gets when she knows she did the wrong thing but it was just too hilarious to avoid. Little girls love kittens and if Nicole won’t entertain a poopy little monster (of the feline variety) in her house, then the older sister just has to step up. Then, her attention is turned back to the little girl. “I’ll even give you a special treat, Doodle, you can help me pick it out and name it… and whenever you come over here, it’ll be your kitten, okay?”

Nicole’s eyes shut heavily and her lips press together as Delia tells her daughter she can help clean the litter box. That will either cure the kid of ever wanting a kitten, or she’s going to wind up incredibly ill. If there’s an in-between scenario, Nicole isn’t considering it. She lets out a little sigh and opens her eyes in time to catch that smile. Delia.

The little blonde gasps and looks between the two women with eyes wide with delight. “Mommy? Can I really?”

“Yes, Pippa. If Delia says you can, then you can.”

Pippa lets out a squeal and flashes the brightest smile to her sister. “Thank you, Bedelia!”

"No problem, Little Skittle," Delia beams as she twirls her spoon in her bowl, and then sets it down. Leaning over, she shucks a hooked finger under the little blonde's chin. "someone has to try to be your favorite sister, right? I can't let anyone beat me… especially not Lu or Brad." Another exaggerated wink is given to the little girl.

The rest of their meal is spent catching up, Delia poking fun at Pippa, and Nicole sending mom looks at both Delia and Pippa. When the pair is sent off for the night, Pippa is given a great squeeze and promised adventures in dreams, a regular pastime that the sisters share. The moment they’re out the door and out of sight, Delia is dialing an old friend… to find a kitten.

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