So Not Tahiti


delia_icon.gif russo2_icon.gif

Scene Title So Not Tahiti
Synopsis Brad orients himself to Eltingville by finding Delia.
Date November 10, 2011


The bleak, grey sky over Eltingville mirrors the faces of many of its residents. The line to the community center proceeds in a very slow shuffle, halting all too often as the trade of one from the inside for one from the outside is made. From the door, the line starts strong, two people deep and the low din of quiet conversation can be heard amidst the tiresome red tape of bureaucracy. It stretches and rounds the corner, ending almost a block up. Everyone is hungry and the price of food is negation.

Somewhere in the middle of those waiting, Delia is staring at the ground, ignoring everyone around her. Her eyes are sunken, red, and ringed with the bruise of sleeplessness. She is leaning heavily against the wall, only moving when the people behind her threaten to go around her. Even then, she seems to roll against the brick, rather than making the effort of taking steps.

It's very clear, she's tired. Dead tired.

Brad just got here. He'd thought about fighting the agent. More than once the thought rolled over his mind. He could've. But the story would lose its punch. Fighting them, in a strange way would mean giving up the story itself. Giving up the hope. He's not prepared to do either.

And he said he would report on what he sees, so he's already gathering the components he needs for a very basic AM transmitter. It's not difficult really, and he'd done it before when he was young and anarchistic. Even that thought makes him smirk.

But the gathering wasn't because he was looking for the components, exactly. He's been looking for his sister. So many months ago, she'd come here. He needs to see her. Needs to find her. So as he trails through the crowd, he sees a flash of red hair. "Carrots!" he calls loudly. But it's crowded.

He presses through, angering more than one waiting body as he lifts a hand and states, "Not cutting in line. Finding someone!" And then he's closer, reaching out to her, "Delia?"

The name isn't immediately acknowledged, as though the woman is either deaf or deliberately ignoring the word itself. It's the sudden start of being touched, her arm being taken, that shakes Delia from whatever reverie she was lost in. Her head is snapped up and her eyebrows furrowed in anger as she stares at the owner of the hand, not recognizing him immediately. It takes a moment or three before familiarity settles in, perhaps she just wasn't expecting him.

"Brad.." she mumbles in answer, her voice cracking and hoarse. The line ahead of her moves and she closes her eyes for an extended blink before blindly taking a step forward too, taking Russo with her. "Wh— where are we?" She looks around, obviously confused by her surroundings. "Oh.. nevermind, I remember." There's a long pause as she gathers her thoughts. Takes another step forward. Leans against the wall again. "Why are you here?"

Concern writes across each corner of Russo's face— deepening in the worry lines that have seemed to become that much deeper over the course of the months he fact checked the piece to end it all. He manages a wry smile though, gentle and tinged with easy concern, "Heeeeey," the word is long and drawn out. It has warmth behind it, even if it's just a word. Just a greeting.

And then she's asking why he's here. "Because I've heard Tahiti is terrible this time of year," he manages a one-shouldered shrug and tries to sound nonchalant. "Thought Eltingville would be a good break from rehab." His nose wrinkles at that while his grey blue eyes scan the centre. "I'm here for the same reason everyone is, Carrots." His lips curve down into a deep frown while he studies her further, "What's going on?"

Russo is answered with a slack jawed blank stare, not because Delia is trying to stare at him in disbelief but because questions are hard, thinking of answers to the right ones are even harder. "Uhm…" she starts, trying to remember exactly what this particular line is for. "Soup… today it's soup."

There's a mutter from behind as the next person in line explains further, "It's always soup. Everyday it's soup, to wash down the drugs."

Yes, that's right. Delia gives a slow nod to whomever it is behind her that butted in on the conversation. It was helpful, the redhead is trying to be gracious about it. "Yeah, soup and pills. I need the pills because I'm not good at lying." That's followed by a very long sigh, "And I don't want to disappear."

Brad looks behind Delia and grants the person a nod of thanks and a two fingered wave. "Thanks," he murmurs in return. "Don't take the pills," he urges quietly. "Take them, but don't take them." His eyes narrow at that— it's nonsense, really. The Redhead can't lie. There's little chance that he's going to be able to help her not take the drugs. No matter what Kincaid said about them. "Why would you disappear?" This is all terribly confusing. But he doesn't attempt to push her further on it.

But the soup line isn't exactly what he'd been asking about. "Carrots," and then, in a strange bid for something, he tries, "Delia," true names have power, or so he's been told, "I meant, what's going on with you. You're not yourself…" and even more than he'd expect for someone trapped in a camp of sorts.

Another blank stare, she knows the answer to this one, she really does. Moving at a snail's pace, Delia retraces the conversations she's had over the past few days, since being given the drugs in the first place. Nick, it was with Nick. Lifting her head, she gives Russo another confused look, "What?"

The memory of the question faded somewhere along the line, like a squid disappearing into the safety of its own ink. Except there's no safety to be had behind the fences and razor wire, not with the sentinels on patrol around the borders. "Uhm.." It's obviously difficult for the redhead, indicated by rapid blinking, the occasional twitch of her head, and then finally another blank stare at her brother. "Uhh… if you don't take them, they take you away. Somewhere… if you can't take them, they take you somewhere."

Incredulity tugs Brad's eyes upwards into a near-squint. His shoulders feel heavy with Delia's odd behaviour. In Kincaid's future, the pills made him detached. When combined with the liquor he was utterly lost in a high-infused haze. While he knows nothing about the drugs, decisively, he eyes his sister, "Right." He swallows hard, it's difficult to know whether there's something to be done or if he has any choice in the matter.

"Somewhere?" he arches an eyebrow. It's not that he aims to be glib, just the word needles. Its ambiguity suggests bags over heads. He frowns slightly. "Yeah, Carrots, we gotta find a way to keep you from taking these drugs," his voice has become a murmur.

Despite being a good little citizen following all of the rules, Russo has stayed away from the negation pills. Kincaid said he became someone else. He won't be that person. "Can you do any sleight of hand? Like a card trick?"

More questions. This time Delia answers rather quickly with a shake of her head. "No.. I have to be good.. even if I can't dream anymore." By this time, it's quite obvious to Russo that she's been operating without any real sleep since the order was issued nearly a week ago.

The line shuffles forward and Delia with it.

"Brad," she says his name weakly, like someone much younger than she is now, "I can't anymore, I just can't. Lu promised… she's not here. Lu promised to get me." Red eyes water but the tears are blinked away rapidly as the redhead looks away, ashamed, to the wall.

"Carrots, you can't function like this," Brad observes softly. And when Delia shuffles, so does Brad. He's not aiming for soup. Not now, anyways. Maybe down the road when he's just another cog in the machine. "You need to sleep. You need to dream."

Brad reaches for Delia's hand. "Hey, hey, hey," the tears won't be ignored, but he also won't directly address them. Just in passing, "Lu promised and she's going to do her best to make good on that. But I'm here for you. What can I do?" His teeth play at his bottom lip. "You are always good, Carrots. But this drug is… you're not— " his head shakes. "You need to dream." Clearly.

"I know," she admits to the obvious, after all, Star Trek. "But I don't know what to do. If I don't take them, they'll take me away to I don't know where… or they'll hang me from a tree like that other lady." The example, the one Logan helped her cut down.

Her hands are as cold as ice, and what little strength she has in them, she uses to squeeze his as tightly as she can. "Help me, please..? I just.. one night is all I need. I just need one night." Her tone of voice borders on the pathetic side of pleading. Whether or not his statement about Lucille is true, it's forgotten as quickly as all the rest of the words they've shared so far.

Will he help? "Of course," Brad replies, clutching the hand Delia squeezes with both of his in an effort to warm it. "I'll see if I can't do some sleight of hand with this one." He looks at her carefully.

"And Carrots, as long as I can help, I won't let them take you away. I won't." His grey-blue eyes flit towards his own hands and he can't help but shiver slightly. The work he's done with them over the months has been immense. Control is, in many respects, a gift.

"Alright. Here's what we're going to do. When you get up there— you get soup and pills, yeah? So I want you to pass the pills to me. Just so you get a better handle on your soup." There's a pause. "When you reach back for them," because he suspects they're going to watch her take those, "they won't be there. I'm going to need you to pretend to stuff them in and swallow. Can you do that?"

Once again, the line shuffles forward, taking the siblings closer to the door. Only a few people left until they're inside and out of the cold. It seems to be going a bit faster now that the line has thinned to single file instead of two. Except for Delia and Russo, of course. The man behind them doesn't take a step forward, allowing the reporter to slip in. "If it works, you can do it for me too, hey?" Everything in Eltingville has a price, apparently.

"Uh huh," the redhead replies, not to the man behind them, but to Brad. She can do it, she thinks. Dropping her head down low, she shuffles forward yet again. Now, the awning over the door is shielding them from the drizzle outdoors to shuffle forward once again. "Pass the pills to take the soup, got it."

Brad shrugs at the fellow who let him get in line. Sure. He doesn't really care. He seems to think he has a strategy here, at least. And it'll be easy to pass as accidental if they get caught. "Thanks," he says about slipping in.

He nods back to Delia. "Good. Yup, just pass the pills." This is going to take some pretty extreme control on his part. Pill dust. Probably. It's a risk. But just the same he slides behind her. "This is what big brothers are for." Because cheating the system can be something of a talent when it needs to be.

Inside the community center, the line continues un a U shape around the inside of the building. At the far wall, a few long tables are placed end to end. The first one is set up with hundreds of little paper cups, behind them a DEoA agent with a clipboard is checking off the names of each person who takes a little cup.

The next table is set up with a few industrial sized soup pots, everyone who takes a little pill cup is handed a bowl of thin, watery, broth. Some of the lucky ones get a bit of substance in theirs, a piece of chicken or a few overcooked noodles. More often than not, those that are shuffling opposite Brad and Delia are sipping on straight liquid. But it's better than nothing.

A few more paces and Delia is at the front, not paying attention to the table she's at or what it contains. Her eyes are on the dull silvery soup pots. "Hey Ryans!" The woman behind the table calls out, "Remember your pills!" Her tone is a bit harsher than necessary and as a result Delia returns the words with a look on her face that seems on the verge of tears.

"Sorry, I… I just.." the dream walker stammers, taking the pills with a long reach of her arm, just before the bowl of soup is thrust at her. "A second… Brad?" Like clockwork, she passes the pills to her brother and takes the bowl of broth with both hands, trying to balance it.

Concern floods Russo's expression as the woman calls out to Delia. He eyes her longer than he should, but easily provides the help he's issue. Brad actually removes the pills from the container, letting them sit in his palm as he lets the container rest on the counter. They don't need that. He's learned a trick or two. "Careful Carrots," he manages with a small smile, an effort to be reassuring. It's fortunate, he theoretically had his own dose earlier. He came peacefully. It means there was no real pomp and circumstance around it.

The pills in his palm meet high compression and are reduced to nothing but dust. "Don't spill," he instructs about the soup. With Delia so topsy turvy, he's going to use that as a distraction. Just enough. The 'pill-free' hand reaches out to help with the bowl, and as he does so, the pill dust slips between his fingers. "You good?" he asks softly.

It's then he directs his attention to the man behind him, "Uh, need a hand?" Nothing is free in E-Ville.

Nodding, Delia quickly tips the paper cup into her mouth, takes a gulp of her lukewarm broth, and then angles the cup toward the woman with the clipboard. Apparently, the redhead has been compliant enough and that’s all that’s required from her. While Brad is busy helping the man behind them, the line shuffles forward again, becoming a little looser after the soup pots. Still, people don’t stay in here for very long, whether it’s the DEoA agents or something else causing the air of discomfort, who knows. Once the bowls of soup are finished, the empties are collected in tubs by the door. Then the guests leave.

The entire process is over in less than five minutes.

Across the street and against another brick wall, Delia waits for Brad to finish with his new friend/friends. Her eyelids are drooping and she’s stifling more yawns. The effects of previous negation pills having not yet worn off, but skipping one dose… maybe she’ll get a small window of reprieve.

Brad lingers with his new friend a moment, helping others with their pills. It’s a talent to get things finished, to make sure that everything has appearances of being taken. It takes him a few moments to meet Delia outside, and he manages a crooked not-at-all-convincing grin, not that he thinks Delia will notice when that bone tired. There’s an oddity in managing to find his way here, and make the best of it. He could’ve run, but he didn’t; a fact he keeps reminding himself of.

“Going to make it, Carrots?” he looks down at her after closing the distance while a flicker of comedy crosses his eyes. “Or do you need to get somewhere to lay down now?” He doesn’t know the importance of having none of the drug in her system besides the fact that she actually does need sleep. She needs rest. She needs something to help her from being so incredibly exhausted.

And then, “I could do that again, you know. You still gotta function. I know you said you can’t lie, but I could maybe pull it off for you.” And then with a lopsided grin, “Pretended I wasn’t SLC expressive for a long stretch. Don’t see why I couldn’t make this work too.”

"I probably should go home," Delia mumbles, looking down the road toward the area she lives with Logan and the Kozlows. "The monitor and everything, they know where I am all the time." Looking back up to her brother she imparts a weary smile and pushes herself off of the wall. Maybe it's just to bump him with her elbow, maybe it's not.

"Where are you staying in our special little corner of grossville?"

Her assessment isn't completely off. Too many of the houses and tenement buildings have been stripped of anything useful, right down to the copper pipes. Any place not occupied is fair game and money is badly needed by most of the residents.

“Uh, just,” Brad points the opposite direction, “that way. New arrival and all.” Amusement reflects in his eyes. He’d prepared to be here. “Kincaid too,” he rubs the back of his neck. “Good egg that one.” He manages a strained chuckle, “I’d say he comes from good stock, but he really doesn’t. That’s all him.”

Russo glances down the way to Delia’s home. “I can walk you home.” Pause. “If you like, I mean,” things had gotten a little weird between them some months ago. “Adult and all. I know.”

Delia lifts her eyes to study Russo, for a little longer than necessary. He and Kincaid must be very recent additions if he's still got a smile on his face. "I'd like that," she says quietly, if only to make sure she actually gets there. So many things could go wrong between the community center and the home she shares, not all of them nefarious. She could simply fall asleep while walking.

Yawning, she begins the slow tread toward one of the nicer neighbourhoods of Eltingville. "You should— " she begins and then stops, shaking her head, " —nevermind, you and Mister Logan don't like each other much, do you." It's not exactly a question. Things couldn't have possibly changed that much. "So… are you seeing anyone… uh.. new?"

A smirk follows Delia’s question about him and Logan, “Understatement, Carrots.” But Brad’s hands tuck into the pockets of his pants as they walk. “Don’t even worry about it.” He should be more downtrodden or something, but then he also executed a plan.

The last question has him lifting his eyebrows. “Nah. Giving up on women. Rather permanently, I think.” His nose wrinkles. “Tanked everything the other day. Literally everything. Poured gasoline, lit a match, and made a giant dumpster fire.” And he’s weirdly okay with it. “But,” he lifts his eyebrows, “I did the things I needed to. I fact checked, I spent months faking rehab for it,” when he really probably should’ve gone to real rehab, “and Kincaid and I aired it.” His throat clears, “No chance of coming back from this one, I think.”

"Good idea," she replies in regards to women. She gives a half hearted shrug and then looks back up to her brother with a smirk. "I mean, you lost one to dad, that's gotta be embarrassing." Delia leans in, to nudge her brother with her elbow, "I mean… he's ancient."

The wind picks up and forces some of the constant drizzle to blow into her face, almost as revenge for the teasing on her brother. The smirk turns to a grimace and she lifts her icy hand to wipe at the water on her face. "You shouldn't have let Kincaid come here," the sober statement is accompanied by a sigh and another, this time sterner, look to Russo. "He should have known better, you should have known better. Don't you remember what Jasmine showed us?"

The house she lives in is a little closer now, they can see it far up the road. So she pauses. Just another minute.

“Oh, believe me, I tried to keep Kincaid out of here,” comes Brad’s response. But what is he doing here? “But people need to know what’s going on, Carrots. It’s not enough for people to have suspicions. On a large scale— a national scale— people need to hear about places like this. They need to know what they’re like.” He sucks the inside of his cheek.

“I know you saw a version of me that was more diplomatic, but I used to be a reporter that actually went after stories. That chased them. K and I had a policy that we followed every lead. And I had a pretty fantastic one a few months back. But it needed serious fact checking. So… I did it.” Over the course of six months. “And I wanted Kincaid to disavow all knowledge of what I was up to. He… well.” Russo runs his fingers through his hair and then shrugs.

And as far as the ladies are concerned, he shakes his head, “Yeah. I’ve already decided not to even look at a woman sideways. Just a terrible idea, that.”
"You should have let someone else go after this story, Brad," Delia mutters quietly, her head shifting to look from one end of the street to the other. "People get killed here and isn't one of us enough to feed to the slaughterhouse?" One of us, she means all of the Ryans. "But thanks for the help with the drugs, I don't think I could have done that without you."

She gives him a little smile and points toward the house. "That's me over there," only one of the many houses with a brown lawn. The difference is, this one looks just a little better. The influence a man, Logan, can have. At least for a little while. "How far away are you? Just in case… " in case of raid, in case of sudden death, in case she needs to make sure he's still alive.

“It’s the story no one wants but needs to be told,” Brad actually looks at his shoes as he moves. “I’m not a revolutionary, but I am a reporter. So I’ll do what needs to be done. People need to know what’s going on. So I’m here.” His eyebrows lift and his jaw tightens, “People get killed everywhere now. People like us aren’t people who get to live in peace.”

He shrugs, “We’ll find a way to get you out of here. Then it’ll be one for the slaughterhouse.” His eyes glimmer with something undetermined. “And no problem. If you need help with the drugs tomorrow, let me know.” Finally, he replies, “End of the street. Other direction.”

Delia looks in the direction that Brad verbally indicates and nods once, "You mean two for the slaughterhouse, there's three of us here now. You, Kincaid, and me." In case he forgot. "Unless you have a plan to get Kincaid out too."

A beat.

"Do you?" The younger sibling furrows her brow and looks up at Brad. She folds her arms over her chest and tucks her hands underneath, shivering. "I mean, I hope you do. You shouldn't have come here without one." Glaring at Russo, she narrows her eyes just a little bit. "You are planning to get out, aren't you?"

“Oh, I didn’t want Kincaid in,” Brad says quietly. Even to the end he attempted to negotiate that with Temple, to see Kincaid left alone. The question about having a strategy out merits a flicker of a smile as his eyes turn down to his feet. He sucks on the inside of his cheek again, blue eyes staring at his shoes. “I have plans,” he admits. “They’re not smart ones, but I have them.”

Delia levels a look at Brad that conveys only one thing. Disappointment. As quickly as it appears, she tries to shake it away. Then she links arms with her brother and begins to walk toward her house. "I know you're trying to do something amazing," she begins, trying to back peddle her sentiment. "But is it worth it? What if people don't listen or even worse, what if they don't care?"

Heaving a heavy sigh, she lets go when they reach the path to her front door. "I'll see you in line tomorrow?"

Brad doesn’t miss the disappointment. “It’s not about being amazing, Delia,” her real name. He never uses her real name. “This is about truth. About having little left to lose anymore.” His eyebrows draw together tightly. “You came here by choice. So am I. And it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, it’s the right thing. Couldn’t let them ruin what’s left.”

“Doesn’t matter if anyone listens. I’m doing what I need to.” But the last has him nodding, “Yeah. I’ll be there. Couldn’t keep me away.”

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