Stay Safe, Dammit


melissa3_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Stay Safe, Dammit
Synopsis A walk meant to clear her mind ends up having Melissa run into Nick, who does a better job of distracting her.
Date August 27, 2010

Staten Island

Wakes have been done. Phone calls and shocks and grieving with the roommate. Melissa said she was going to try to get some sleep, but sleep didn't come. So instead, she's put the leash on Jerry and gone out for a walk, hoping it would clear her head, or at least help tire her out enough that sleep would come when she returns home.

That is how she comes to be walking through through Port Ivory, dressed in black, sand still sticking to her clothes in places, with a german shepherd walking lazily at her side. A cigarette is held in the other hand, though it's rarely lifted to her lips, and her steps are slow, proving that she has no real destination in mind.

The "perk" to being shot in the shoulder is he doesn't have to work the day job that means long, laborious hours unloading legitimate shipments on the docks; however, this means Nick is putting in more hours with the smugglers. He isn't as much use to Walsh as it is, being unable to lift and load, but he can take orders and act like a guard dog for the hundreds of dollars of weapons and ammunition in the warehouse.

Once the changing of the guard occurs, he heads off, watching the shadows carefully, a hand on his gun in his pocket. The enigmatic puzzle pieces left at his house have him watching his back. The Italian frightens Nick — less because he's afraid the man will kill him, and more because he's afraid the man will do worse to him. Nick is only too aware there are hells that are worse than death.

Nearing a corner, he can see the shadow of someone approaching, and he stiffens, his hand curling around that cold metal in his pocket, and he ducks into the shadows of the closest building. When it's Melissa who turns the corner, he exhales just slightly, then gives a shake of his head.

"Goldielocks," he says quietly from the shadows before he steps into the light. "Still looking for trouble, are ya?" He doesn't try to hide his British accent.

Steps pause and Melissa turns tired eyes to the shadows. "No, got more than I can handle as it is. Just…walking." Which Jerry seems to prove by tugging the blonde closer to the man, recognizing his scent. "How's the shoulder?" she asks, not giving him the smile that she's given him upon every other meeting they've had. But then, it looks as though she hasn't slept and is paler than usual.

"It 'urts like 'ell but apparently that's like sayin' the sky is blue for the next few months, from what the doc told me. Don't go worrying your little blonde head about it, though. You look a bit knackered and I wouldn't want you to tire yourself out for a little pain. Vicodin and vodka'll fix everything for at least twelve hours, once I get meself home," he says, voice low. He reaches to pet the dog, and shakes his head. "You want a walk home? I know you can flatten someone with a bit o' pain and all, but that won't help if they take you by surprise and hit you first, kid." Never mind he's younger than she is.

Jerry happily accepts the petting, tail wagging madly, Nick's hand getting licked. "Not sure I could help right now anyway. Tried earlier and it…didn't really work," Melissa admits. His offer has her glancing around for a moment, before she nods. "Yeah…yeah, that sounds like a good idea. I don't think I could fight my way out of a paper bag right now."

She looks back to Nick, head tilting. "You left early the other day. Or did you not actually stay?" she asks, trying to distract herself with random, normal conversation.

He arches a brow at her comments, but lets her steer the topic as he falls into step in the direction she had been headed. "I slept. Got a few good hours, yeah. But I left early. Had to go pick up some things, run some errands, and eventually go back to my place, grab some of my stuff," he explains, hands still shoved in his pockets. He looks like he hasn't had much sleep either, though his shoulder could account for that. Dark circles shadow the areas under his blue eyes; his jaw is scruffy with a few days worth of stubble.

"Grab some of your stuff? Did you not go home?" Melissa asks, voice soft as she walks along with him, Jerry, of course, leading the way, searching for interesting smells. "You know you could've crashed there as long as you wanted. It's a little…crazy…right now, but it's safe." So long as she doesn't get followed from home, anyway. "Don't want anyone else getting hurt, so seriously, the bed is all yours."

"Home's just a mattress more or less, for me, Mel," Nick mutters. "Nah, I gotta room out here on Staten, at least til shit blows over. It's a dirtier and a smaller mattress now an the cockroaches like to have a party in the kitchenette when the lights go out, so you know, I tend to leave them on to try and trick 'em, but it's a place to crash."

A few steps later, her words finally register. "Anyone else getting hurt? Did you get hurt, Gold?"

Melissa shakes her head. "No, I didn't get hurt. Not anymore anyway. But me getting hurt is just par for the course. You saw the scars," she says, shrugging a little. Then she frowns and glances over at him. "You'd rather stay in a tiny room with cockroaches than on a clean bed at my place? Why? I promised it was safe."

"It's not safe," Nick says a little sharply, with a shake of his head. "Someone tailed me across the fuckin' water to Brooklyn, Melissa. I never saw them. I should've. I shouldn't've stayed at your place the night I did. It coulda put you and your roommates in danger."

While it's actually Amato he is afraid of, the story he told her was that the person who shot him was the person who knows where he lives — but if his cover is ever blown, anyone he knows is in danger just by association, so it's not altogether a lie. "I shouldn't've put you in danger that day. Hell, I'm offering to walk you home now to keep you out of trouble, and … I might be putting you in danger now, e'en. But one night, one walk home, that kinda thing, that's diff'rent than staying and comin' and goin' all the time."

Melissa shrugs a little. "It's probably the safest place you can get aside from a military bunker, but it's your choice." And really, while she doesn't want to see anyone else hurt, having someone come to her house to be safe and get hurt, again, would only make things worse. "Why are people following you though, Nick? You in trouble with the government or something? The mafia?"

The word mafia gets a low chuckle from the Brit. He gestures at their surroundings. "I work on Staten, Goldie. Everyone here's a criminal, right? I pissed off the wrong person. It ain't the government, though. I'm not legit, but they don't got nothin' on me." Interpol, on the other hand, does have plenty on him — namely that he'll go to prison if he doesn't do the jobs he's been given.

He walks for a few more feet in quiet, head coming up at a sound coming from the shadows ahead, his eyes a little fearful, and his hand drawing his gun from his pocket slowly — just in time to see a large marmalade cat go bounding across their path. He exhales slowly, shaking his head.

"Who got hurt?" he finally asks, perhaps to change the topic from his twitchiness.

It's on the tip of her tongue to say she lives on Staten, but then, she is a criminal, so it would just prove his point. Instead Melissa glances at the gun without reaction, then shrugs and looks straight ahead. "The only person I ever really thought of as family," she answers after a minute.

He scowls, jaw tightening as he walks silently for too many feet, the only sound their footfalls on the broken sidewalk, a dog barking in the distance, and a baby screaming the way only a meth baby can scream. "Shit. I'm sorry." The words are quiet, solemn, but sincere in their terseness. Somehow, Nick is pretty sure that the person is dead, given the past tense of Melissa's wording.

He swallows and stares at the sidewalk in front of them, though once in a while he does cast a glance behind, ever searching for someone tailing him. "I'd offer to help, if there's sommat I can do, but I don't know what that'd be," he adds quietly.

"Thank you," Melissa murmurs, still looking straight ahead, her cigarette dropped so her hand can slide into her back pocket. "And the best thing you can do right now…Is keep yourself safe. Though…distractions aren't bad. I promised a friend I'd try to get some sleep, but couldn't. Was hoping a walk would help, but when you're walking with just a dog for company, your thoughts tend to go where you don't want them to, yanno?"

"I'll do what I can about the not getting hurt, but no promises on that. Getting hurt is sort of something I excel at," he says lightly. "Probably the only thing, really." He taps his jaw, a pale white scar visible when he tips his head back. "Got hit by a lorry when I was a lil tyke. Had to eat soup for like three months with me trap wired shut. Probably why I ain't much for talkin' these days, right?" he says, perhaps trying to joke a little to distract her.

The scar gets glanced at, and Melissa almost smiles. "Well, don't get dead then. But if that and your shoulder are the worst you've got, I'd say you've gotten off lucky, Nick. But then, I don't wanna compare scars either." Her cigarettes are pulled out again, one taken for herself, and she offers the pack out to Nick. "So what were you doing wandering around this late? Were you looking for trouble?"

Blue eyes glance down at the pack, and he extracts one, then reaches with his left hand for his Zippo lighter, flicking the wheel to produce the tongue of flame and holding it for her to light her cigarette, before lighting his own. "Cheers," he murmurs for the offer. "I don't look for trouble. She finds me," he says with a wink. "But I was just heading home from work. A dangerous expedition, in Staten, o' course, but still, gotta do what you gotta do, yeah?"

Melissa pauses so she can get her cigarette lit. "Thanks. And yeah, I know the feeling." Though she won't be going in to work for a few days. Then she seems to notice that they're in public and he's not faking an accent. "Your American disappeared. You just getting more comfortable with me, or not as worried about someone overhearing?"

He chuckles and shrugs with the good shoulder. "If anyone I care about overhearing is close enough to hear and I didn't notice them, it'll be too late anyway, right?" he points out. "And it gives me a headache to think about it 24/7, ya know? You Yanks talk all wrong, and I sound like a tosser trying to talk like one of you." He lights his own cigarette, taking a long drag before sliding his lighter back in his pocket.

"Nah, it's you Brits who talk wrong. There's more of us than there are of you, so we're right by right of sheer numbers," Melissa argues. It's half-hearted, but she's trying! That's what counts, right? "Can't imagine how annoying it'd be to try to pretend to be someone you're not all the time though. Glad you don't pretend around me."

"Might makes right, eh?" Nick chuckles, then his eyes drop when she talks about pretending. He still is pretending, amongst the pretending. One mask pulled off simply reveals another mask, and all of them ugly, like the beetle-browed visors of carnivals past.

"It's not so hard. 'Specially when the real me's an arse. I keep tellin' you not to trust me, Goldie, and you keep on trusting anyway. I don't know if that makes you really dim or the sweetest bird I know." He takes a long drag from the cigarette, then tips his head to blow the smoke skyward. "Whoever it was — your family or friend? They were lucky to have you in their life. You're a good kid."

Rather than think about Kendall and that fact that having her in his life was what caused his death, Melissa instead gives him a curious look. "You keep callin' me kid. How old are you anyway? 'Cause there's no way you're old enough to be calling me kid. As for the other…" She shrugs. "I'm not sweet or dim. Just stubborn."

The best legends are based on truth — Nick Ruskin may no be from Florida as his cover says, but the simple things, like ages and such, they like to keep simple. That way one doesn't have to think on their toes. "Twenty-three in a few weeks," he says, with another shrug of his good shoulder. "But I'm an old soul," he adds before she can mock him for his youth, actually smirking a little as he glances down at her.

"Twenty-two? Jesus. And you're calling me kid?" Melissa shakes her head. "Bear, I know I look young, but I'm twenty-six. And trust me, my soul feels ancient. So let's stick to Goldilocks and can the kid crap, alright?" But it does serve to distract her a little bit. At least for a while.

"Whatever, kid," Nick says, then steps quickly to the side as if she might punch him. His eyes are straight ahead, but he smirks a touch. Eventually their feet find their way to her street, and the little green house looms ahead of them. He gives a nod. "Your castle awaits. Me, I got a date with la cucarachas." The Spanish word sounds laughably foreign in his East End accent.

Rather than try to punch him, Melissa just shakes her head and sighs softly. "Enjoy your dingy room. You change your mind, you know where to find me. Otherwise, just stay safe, dammit." Then it's off towards her house she goes.

"You too, Goldie," Nick says with a shake of his head. He watches to make sure she gets into the house safely, finishing his cigarette and watching the house lights for a moment, perhaps just a touch tempted to go knock on the door and take Melissa up on her request. But instead, with a sigh, he turns and begins the long walk to the dirty and lonesome apartment that is at least free of puzzles and sermons, riddles and reprimands.

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