Reaching Doesn't Mean Rushing


melissa_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title Reaching Doesn't Mean Rushing
Synopsis Upon hearing of her return to earth, Russo pays Melissa a visit. Sweetness is had, when they can avoid serious topics.
Date October 14, 2010

Westview Apartments: Melissa's Apartment

It's quiet in the apartments that Melissa now apparently lives in, even now, early in the evening, when most people are heading home or dealing with dinner. However, there is a light on in Melissa's apartment, and when Russo arrives and knocks, there's the obvious sound of someone moving around inside.

A minute later Melissa opens the door, and if Brad thought that she looked bad when he picked her up from DHS custody, she looks terrible now. Her hair, which has been dyed black, is a mess, her skin pale, pale, pale, more pain around her eyes, and she looks absolutely exhausted. And surprised. And pleased! She works up a smile and steps back to open the door further. "Hey Brad. Come on in. Ignore the…emptiness."

The apartment is very empty. Even hotel rooms seem to hold more than the living room does, since the living room has…a futon, with a blanket and pillow, with a liter sized bottle of water and pill bottle next to it, along with a backpack.

As he walks into the staunch apartment, a high-pitched whistle is emitted from his lips before he observes, while tilting his chin up, gazing at the walls, "Looks like we hired the same decorator." He combs his fingers through his hair as he turns to face her again, shrugging his shoulders a little. "So you lived. Things seemed… the news it…" His lips twitch into a smile only to flicker neutral while he shakes his head. "It's good to see you…" Even if she does look kind of awful, but then kind of awful is better than dead, right?

His cheeks tinge pink s he shakes his head again. For a man who makes his living by expressing himself, words fail him right now.

"News?" Melissa shakes her head as she closes the door and moves to sit down on the futon, tugging the blanket over her, so there's room for him to sit. "I haven't seen the news. Just landed a few hours ago. Had a friend pick me up. But yeah…I lived. Barely, thanks to a jackass schemer. But it was…Beyond intense." She leans forward, grabbing her camera from her backpack. "Got pictures though. It was…amazing. Wanna see?"

"The news… it … doesn't matter," Brad's cheeks flush brighter as his arms cross over his chest uncomfortably. With a shift of his weight, he turns to face the wall, like something insanely interesting is imprinted upon it. While it's blank, his gaze remains there, on the wall. He sighs and then nods his head. "I.. guess?" His eyebrows knit together at the notions of pictures. "You know… when you said you were going into space, I… I just…" He gnaws absently on his bottom lip as his head shakes. He hadn't envisioned her hijacking some random rocket. "Anyways…. uh… pictures?"

Melissa frowns a little, and she pats the futon beside her. "Brad…sit down. Tell me what's bothering you, and I'll do what I can to make it better." She really can't do anything but try to help people, it seems, even when she looks like death warmed over.

"I'm okay standing, actually," Brad's eyebrows arch despite his best efforts as he sighs again, his lips straining into a slight smile. "There's nothing. It's just what it is. Your secrets aren't what they appear, are they?" His weight shifts from one foot to the other as he speaks to the wall. There's a long pause, "But then I guess that's what makes them secrets." He clears his throat, not really expecting an answer, but leaving the silence to linger.

Rather than being reassured, Melissa looks more upset by the reply, and lack of sitting. "Are you…mad at me? For going?" She sets the camera down, reaching down to grab water and pills. A few are shaken out, popped in her mouth, and swallowed down with the water before she gets up and moves over towards him, to stand directly in front of him.

"I had to go, Brad. I couldn't let the Institute be able to track every evolved on the planet. I had to keep my family, my friends safe. You haven't seen what the Institute does. They experiment on children. They create monsters. Literally. Creatures, from some sort of horror movie. And I had to go, because we couldn't have done what we did without my ability," she says softly, sounding more resigned than pleased that she was necessary.

With a small shuffle of his feet, Brad treads to the side of the room to peer through a window, a moderate distraction for the conversation at hand. Of course, this isn't how he normally deals with conflict, but there is no actual conflict transpiring, just some sublimation of some issue on which they aren't speaking, or are semi-speaking? "There are other ways to stand up to pervasive injustice," his tone is matter of fact, although much of the vibration is absorbed by the window.

He sighs again, his shoulders following the motion of the breath, it's defeated in a way, resigned to not knowing. "Look." He pivots on a single foot to face her, not closing the distance between them, but at least acknowledging her in this. "I don't know what the Institute is doing. I don't know what they're working on. And I don't know if they're experimenting on children. But I do know we're approaching an election year and tracking citizens is a fundamental violation of their right to freedom. There are other ways to fight what's going on. There are other ways to stand up for what is good or moral in society. Risk management on the part of the government is just that, risk management. The pervasive panopticon of the Petrelli program pervades policy, yet it could be gone like," he snaps, "if Petrelli doesn't get in. My point is there are other ways to change the world."

The look Melissa gives him is more like one a parent might give to a naive child, and she lifts a hand to rest on his cheek, lightly. "Brad…I've spoken with a child that they experimented on. I protected her when armed men came to reclaim their lab rat. I've listened while the government tried to blame things like Moab on the Company and the Company alone. I've seen the monsters the Institute has made. I fought one. I'm not making any of this up. I wish to god I was."

She lets her hand drop. "I wish that it were as easy as standing up and being vocal about it, but it isn't. People have tried. Things just get worse. But…I'm not entirely sure that I'll be doing anything else like going up in space again. It's getting harder and harder." She glances back to the futon. "Especially when I have nothing to come home to," she says softly. This is a big change from the packed house on Staten Island.

"We live in a democratic country. People live in fear. But the question is what are people actually afraid of? Is it legitimate? What legitimates fear? If people are vocal, if people get a face to latch onto, a real person to understand their viewpoint, change happens. It happens all of the time. While this country, and the world more largely, are capable of terrible things, human beings are also capable of incredible amounts of compassion, generosity, and hope," Brad shoves his hands into his pockets. "I know this world, and after a masters degree in political science, I know politics. Change can happen, the public just needs to usher it in. But the question remains whether they see fit to do so."

"The future doesn't have to be bleak. It can be extraordinary, amazing, fulfilling… more than you dreamed of." His jaw tightens before he takes a single step back. "But only if you let it. Only if you herald it in."

"And politicians lie," Melissa says softly. "Did you, for example, know that the president was evolved? Flying, from what I've heard. Yet he's still letting all these things happen. To his people." She takes a step back as well, running hands through her hair before she gives him a hopeful look. "Brad? Can we just sit down and not talk about politics right now? The thirty-whatever hours I spent up there were hell. I need…" She looks hesitant and miserable, but she asks, quietly, "Will you just hold me tell me it's all alright?"

Even with the news of the President, which he stores in his brain for later use, Brad hones in on one issue, "All of us are his people. He is the leader of the American people. Not the evolved people. Not the non-evolved people. The American people." Like it or not, patriotism is part of his repetoire, particularly after his military service, and his subsequent fascination with the political sphere.

The question, however, silences him, and his gaze flits to the door and then back to Melissa. With a quick wrinkle of his nose, he treads towards the door. Once there, however, he just chains the lock, before turning back to her and glancing at the sad couch in the centre of the room. The skepticism about the furniture is palpable, but following women's bidding isn't new to him. Slowly, he sits beside her before sliding an arm around her shoulder, stable, present, and strong from start to finish.

When he starts towards the door Melissa looks crushed and glances down to the floor. It doesn't even seem to register at first that he just locked the door, not until his arm moves around her. She closes her eyes and draws in a deep breath, letting herself lean into him, head resting on his shoulder. "Thank you. I've wanted someone to do this for the last two days. I'm…It was just so hard, and I just wanted someone who cared," she whispers.

There's no reply in his embrace, just that presence, solid and unyielding. Brad's breath is silent, but she can feel his chest move underneath her head, and can, likely catch the strong beat of his heart. If he's remotely nervous, it doesn't register, not even when he very gently presses his lips to her forehead, just shy of the line of dark hair. It's in this his eyes close gently, a relaxed distancing from the rest of the world, choosing to remain in this moment.

There's a soft sigh from Melissa, before she slowly relaxes as well, a hand lifting, hesitantly, before it rests on his chest, over his heart. She doesn't say anything else immediately, content to simply hold and be held, just like she asked. Just since she's wanted since the first horrifying moments of the launch. To not be strong, like she had to be the entire mission. Besides, sweet moments like this, are entirely too rare in her life, and she has to enjoy it while she can, because she fully expects to lose it all too soon.

Unfortunately, she's not exactly an idle person. It drives her nuts, even in her current condition. "I thought about you while I was up there," she admits softly. "Wasn't just someone I wanted to hold me. Wanted to be back here. Like we were, last time in your apartment. Cooking and eating and kissing. It was…" She smiles faintly. "One of the best times I can remember ever having."

"It's a good apartment," Russo muses softly as his eyes open, knowing full well it's not the apartment Melissa is referring to. He runs his tongue over his lips, "I'm not sure I can cope with being one of the best times you ever had. I'm just me. Nothing special. Nothing important. Just me." Slowly, he takes in a deep breath, and with this closeness, Melissa can probably tell his heart rate has spiked, just a little thanks to her comment. Clearing his throat, he relegates whatever silence he'd allowed to wash over him to the back burner before quipping, "I liked it too."

His eyebrows furrow as he stares out against the wall. The safety of the space remains, but the sharing of feelings, of things deeper and more meaningful than simple thoughts, have their wear on him, even if he wishes they didn't.

Eyes open and Melissa looks up at him, trying not to move much at all. She quite likes the physical closeness. "You still have time to run away, if you can't cope," she whispers. "But I really hope that you won't run. That you'll try. Because you are special, Brad. More special than realize."

Russo's eyebrows furrow. Quiet contemplation wins out again as his eyes shut, determining his thoughts in silent consideration. After a few moments he responds in kind, his voice but a whisper, "I don't know what I'm running from or towards." And there is the truth. Plain and simple. His own life has been no picnic, yet, he can't begin to determine what kind of life Melissa leads.

Melissa considers those words for a moment before she settles her head against his shoulder again. "Do you mean you don't know me? Or you don't know what you want to run to yet?" she asks softly. "Because if it's me…I can tell you everything that matters. Though half the time I'm not sure I really know myself."

Again only Russo's breath can be heard as he considers the most tactful way to describe his thoughts, his coy tongue-in-cheek humour residing within the words, "I just don't know… anything. I don't know how you ended up going into space. I don't know why you got arrested. I don't know … I don't know a lot of things." He forces a smile, it's there, but strained. "And I don't expect to be told. I kind of have a don't ask, don't tell policy about the arrests. It's just easier that way."

There's silence for a moment, before Melissa starts to speak. "A few years back, after the registration law hit…The first one. I knew I was evolved. Thought I was just a pain projector. I'd caused people pain without meaning too. Without realizing it was me. It felt like an evil ability. So when I thought about Registering…it scared me. People would know what I could do. I'd already lost friends because it quite literally hurt them to be around me. Before I learned to control it, of course. How much worse would it get when word got out that it's what I did. What I was?" she begins softly.

"The Company…they didn't like it. They considered my ability pretty much like I did back then. I was too dangerous to be allowed to remain in polite society. So they arrested me, and without a trial or anything else, they threw me in a hole. And when Moab was built, I was tossed in there with a bunch of other Evolved. Some were criminals, some were like me. But we were all pumped full of negation drugs and who knows what else. And marked. So they could track us."

There's a brief pause and Mel's eyes close again, while she mentally pictures the events she's describing. "I'd be in for a few months when something happened. I was teleported somehow, from Moab to some place else. Turns out…Moab itself disappeared. There's just a crater there. But me being young, stupid, afraid and pissed off…I ran. I didn't turn myself in, and I just ran. But my name was on a list of fugitives.

"My uncle, Jason, he's Department of Homeland security. Very loyal to the job. Almost fanatical it seems. When I met with him, he took me in. Said he was gonna help clear my name, but that he had to do the right thing. Which is why I was in DHS custody the other week. Why I had to get you to pick me up."

Another pause leads into a change of subjects. "Someone I know…a technopath. He called a group of people together. A very…diverse group. Pitched us the idea about the satellites. Because we couldn't risk the Institute getting control of them. But I've ran that bit into the ground I think. So we…hijacked the shuttle. We disabled the guards, got the astronauts out, and took it ourselves. We went up, and I had to be on the shuttle, because I had to negate everyone's pain."

She smiles faintly. "A shuttle launch without suits is very unpleasant, you know." The smile fades. "The weapon we took, to take out the satellites? It got destroyed. So we had to go with plan B. Someone had to go outside, and blast the main satellite. Without a suit. I had to make sure that they weren't feeling any pain, because otherwise they wouldn't have been able to do their job. I did, and they did." She turns her head, pressing her face lightly against his neck. "Something happened to me up there, Brad. Something with my ability. I…it was horrible. Beyond anything I've ever experienced. I'm afraid to sleep tonight. I know I'll experience it again when I go to sleep."

At first, Brad listens in silence. He makes no effort to interject or change the direction of Melissa's explanation, but as her monologue continues, his expression changes considerably. Russo gapes at Melissa for some time, just considering all of the words rather silently as he stares at her. His expression isn't exactly blank, but it actually registers as unsure, not angry, happy, or sad. His arms cross over his chest as he shifts in his seat, yet even then he remains firmly present, rooted in place, altogether confused.

"Y-y-you stole a shuttle…?" His eyebrows knit tightly together as he watches her with those wide eyes. "I.. I think I don't.. I can't… how.. wh-why? Why did…?" He tilts his head as he can't actually finish a single thought.

Melissa doesn't move at the questions. "It wasn't heavily guarded. We were able to disable the guards — we didn't kill them — and get up to the hatch. I talked the astronauts out and we got inside. The technopath controlled the shuttle. The why…it was the only way that we could destroy the satellite."

She hesitates a moment then straightens slowly, no longer touching him, and looks at him, her face sad. Clearly she's expecting him to bolt for the door any second now. "If there was any other way, we would've done it, but there wasn't. Trust me, it wasn't fun for me. And I never wanna do something like that again," she whispers.

"You… stole a space shuttle?" the skepticism remains, even with the minor clarifications. Brad's eyebrows knit together tighter as he stares at her, his confusing still remaining. "I… I don't…" he doesn't have an idea. "Fun or not… you can't just steal things, Missy. You just… you can't." His cheeks flush considerably as he sighs loudly.

"I don't — civil society exists because it's contingent on us being civil. I'm not, I'm not like that. Order needs to rule lest we fall into chaos and anarchy…"

"I'm not a thief. I may have been a fugitive until a few weeks ago, but I'm not a thief," Melissa says softly. "This was a special circumstance." Though her ride from Utah to home was a thief, but she doesn't have to go into that. "I'm just…you said you didn't know me. Didn't know why I'd gone into space. I just wanted to help you know me. I don't want you to leave, but you deserve to know what you're getting yourself into if you stay."

She looks away, cheek resting against the back of the couch. "I'm not really a good person, Brad. I've done…some horrible things. Things I regreted even as I did them. But I did them to protect my family. And…that's all going to change. The methods. Let's say that looking down on the world, I had a revelation. But I'll understand if you don't believe that."

Brad's jaw tightens as he draws his arms to his lap, leaning forward in the seat and allowing his elbows to rest atop his knees. "Everyone has regrets," his words are quiet although his thoughts are silent. His fingers lace together as he stares down at them, not wholly sure of anything at this moment. His throat clears before he manages to look up at her, "What was your revelation?"

"That I can't do this anymore," Melissa says softly. "The way my life has gone the past year…I'll never make it to thirty without a miracle. And beyond that, if something doesn't change, I'm not sure I want to. I believe in the cause, but not the methods people are using. I want to protect the people I care about, but I want someone to care about me."

She looks back at him, and for a moment the weight of the past few months shows on her face. It's been rough. She's done things she has nightmares about. "I want to change the world, but I want a life too. I want my house back. With my dog and my family. I want someone to share my joys, my sorrows with. I don't want to be alone anymore."

Finally, Brad's gaze moves from his hands to the woman beside him. His gaze is heavy upon her, weighty in its inception as he stares in quiet consideration, letting each of the words just hang in the air between them. It's unusual for him to struggle for questions; interviews where he can't formulate a question are rare. Moments like this, without an obvious course of action, are even rarer. With a quiet inhalation of breath, he twists in his seat to face her before sliding behind her, stretching across the sofa as big spoon before patting the little bit of couch beside him, motioning her to take her place as little spoon. If all she desires is to be listened to and held, she seems to have found a safe enough place to land. If she's expecting a conversation about it all? Well, Russo hasn't decided what he thinks.

When he stretches out, Melissa smiles and almost looks like she's about to burst into tears. But they'd be good tears! She lays down, stretching out as well and cuddling up against him, letting her eyes close as she just basks in the warmth and closeness of someone who isn't running away from her. That in itself is nothing short of miraculous in her life.

"You're too good to be true, Brad," she whispers as she gets nestled just right in her little spoon position. "I'm happy for that. I need good things in my life." She gives a soft, short laugh. "Who knew going with Edgar to buy a card would lead me here?"

"Nah. You just haven't been around people who don't steal space shuttles," he tries to joke, albeit somewhat sadly. Brad's arms wrap around her as he just holds her in this position. His eyes close gently as he lets his thoughts drift a little. "Did he even buy a card? All I remember is a bunch of beer getting wasted," there's just a hint of bitterness at the thought of the lost booze.

"Possibly true," Melissa admits. "But still. You're a good man, Brad. I mean it. And I cannot say how happy I am that you didn't bolt." A pause, then she smiles a little. "I think he found one, yeah. And don't worry about the beer. We got trashed afterwards, remember? We were both falling down drunk on tequila shots."

"Hey, you give me too much credit," Russo counters quietly as he takes in a deep quiet breath. "And if I'm honest, I don't really understand… everything going on." Maybe he'll still bolt, but for now? Here he is. All too stable. "But you can have more than what you've had. You know that, right? Your life doesn't have to be free of people who care for you and look out for you. You can have more." He clears his throat and then queries, "What would that even look like for you?"

"Or you don't give yourself enough," Melissa says, shifting slightly, just enough so she can look at him. "Wouldn't worry about understanding everything either. I'm not sure I do half the time. Seems like I just go from one disaster to another, without a chance to catch my breath or reclaim my sanity."

The question has her falling silent for a moment, to seriously think about it. "More…for the longest time I just wanted to be able to use my name safely. Not to have to hide. And I have that now. I don't have to worry about being thrown in jail for showing my face in public. And that is…wonderful in itself. Not enough, but wonderful."

She turns more, so she's facing him, but still cuddling, a hand on his side now, her head nestled under his chin. "Before that, the only more I could consider was what I told you before. The cuddling and watching movies. But now…with me not being wanted? With me wanting to…avoid disasters? I want a life. To do the things normal people do. I want to go out with friends. To go a job five days a week. To try to win the lottery. To have a boyfriend. To be able to relax sometimes and just…not worry about the future."

His hand moves when she turns to face him, sliding to her cheek. Russo's fingertips graze the contours of her face, following the lines in light touch, his own eyes closing as he lowers his hand to her waist again. "Then reach out for those things," he says quietly, allowing himself to drink in this moment again. "You can go any direction you want now. Any which way." He grins slightly as he clucks his tongue. "I don't know about not worrying about the future because I'm convinced everyone worries about it, buuuut…"

The touch, the words, they have Melissa smiling in return. "Okay, maybe just not worry about the fate of the world then," she concedes. She considers those words, then draws her head back, just enough so she can study his face, her own growing less amused, and more warm. "Reach out for those things," she repeats softly. Then she's leaning in, to kiss him, light and tender, well aware of his guilt regarding the long-dead fiance. Reaching doesn't mean rushing.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License