The Easiest Thing



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Scene Title The Easiest Thing
Synopsis What seems like the easiest thing in one future is the hardest to foresee in the present.
Date August 6, 2011

Pollepel Island

The castle is dark with most of its inhabitants sleeping behind closed doors. Nick’s footfalls, quiet as they are, seem to echo in the empty corridor, slowing to a stop in front of the room he calls home the few nights a month he stays on the island. Private rooms are rare, with many families sharing one among many, but only one person stays in this one — except on the nights Nick visits.

Extenuating circumstances.

Nick glances down the hall somewhat furtively, raps his knuckles twice against the door, then drops his hand to the door knob to open it. Steel-blue eyes sweep the room before falling on the lone inhabitant, lifting his chin in a silent greeting.

It takes a moment before his manners catch up to his movements, and he speaks. “Hey,” is offered gently as he closes the door behind him. “How are you doing?” The question is bland, civil, but the concern in his eyes suggests it’s at least sincere.

The room is pitch black, save for the small glow of a single candle that's been placed on a small table between the bed and the window. Perched on the sill, Delia looks up from a book and stares toward the door. The shadows make it impossible for her to determine who it might be, until he actually speaks. It shouldn't be that hard, she doesn't generally get many, if any, visitors. At least not anymore, especially not this late.

The dark shadows under her eyes give him a notion of how she is, a very basic one. She hasn't been sleeping again; which is slightly better than before, when she refused to wake. Closing the book, she drops one foot to the floor in a point before joining it with the other.

"Fine." The one word answer is a lie, noticeably when she moves a little closer to wrap her arms around him. Her pale skin has a sickly sheen and her breath smells like she's just brushed her teeth.

He doesn’t push for more of an answer; it would be hypocritical. Instead he drops the duffel bag he’s carried in with him at the foot of the bed, then envelops her in his arms, bending his head slightly to press his lips to her forehead.

“Brought you some bagels and Snapple and cookies,” he murmurs quietly — small things that are easy for him to get. Within the hug, his leather jacket’s pockets crinkle with the promise of some other item, and he smiles as he steps back, pulling out from each a McDonald’s cheeseburger — cold, after a trip up the river, but edible.

“You need t’eat more,” he says, moving to set the burgers on an end table. “I ate your chips,” he adds, blue eyes crinkling with the smallest of smiles, as if testing the waters of her mood.

"I don't like them cold anyway," she murmurs, her arms finally dropping to her sides after being robbed the body they possessed just moments before. Giving the cheeseburgers a quick glance but not touching them, Delia sits down on the cot and folds her legs up and hugs them tightly to her chest. The henley she liberated from his duffel on a previous visit looks too big for her in many areas but one. Apparently, she has been eating.

At least, that’s the way it seems.

It takes a while for her to warm up. Nerves, whatever illness she's refusing to own up to, and lack of sleep have made her a little irritable to the rest of the castle's inhabitants. They're used to it, though, and have long learned to take the abuse silently or give the young woman a wide berth. For Nick, she smiles and rests her chin on her knees, patting the empty space beside her in invitation for him to sit.

If there’s any telltale signs of anything amiss beneath the henley, Nick’s not observant enough to notice. His eyes are only on her face, his chilly blue on her cornflower blue eyes. He’s careful with her sometimes in the same way he is with Eileen — as if whatever fragile thing there is between them is about to fall and break. He slips out of the jacket, dropping it on top of the duffel before easing himself onto the cot beside her. It’s not really meant for two, but that has never stopped them before.

Nick leans back against the wall, then encircles her waist with his arm to draw her back against him. “They didn’t remember the salt,” he finally says. “So you didn’t miss a lot.”

Sliding back, Delia curls up against him and loops one leg around his two, pinning herself close to him. With her head on his shoulder, she stares down the length of his body, to end at her own foot. It's bare, as it is most of the time, the weather isn't chilly enough yet to warrant socks. Her hand glides up his torso to his throat where she touches on the bump under his shirt, the medallion.

She can feel the steady beat of his pulse under her fingertips, even see it when his vein hits against the chain and causes it to glint in the scant light. Her free hand inches behind him to his lower back and rests there comfortably. "The salt is the best part," she says finally, trying her best to keep up with the awkward conversation. The redhead breaks then, looking up at him and leaning in to press her lips against his neck. She doesn't move, inhaling deeply the scent of the ocean mixed with pine.

His eyes half-lid as she kisses his neck, and he leans into her, nose in her red curls, breathing deeply for a long moment. That he doesn’t press her with personal questions is probably his best trait; they speak more with body language than with words. He pulls one foot up to tug off a boot and let it fall to the floor with a thud, then the other.

That business done, Nick leans so that they’re less side to side and more face to face, fingers curling around her legs to give them a gentle tug downward, to get her to lie down on the bed with him gazing down at her. He holds his weight up on one arm, the other hand reaching to push a lock of red hair out of her eyes.

Her fingers catch his and entwine, pulling them down until they're at her abdomen. In earlier times when their relationship was new it was a signal of sorts, an invitation for him to explore a little further. This time she lays his hand flat against her skin under the shirt, her belly is a little swollen but firm. What he didn't notice earlier is spelled out in tactile form, she's been growing; out, not up.

Delia gives him a small twitch of a sad smile, uncertain of the answer he'll give her for the news. She doesn't say it out loud, instead her eyes search his looking for some sort of sign.

It takes his calloused palm a moment to catch on, and longer for any acknowledgement from Nick’s lips. His hand stills, frozen though warm, and his eyes drop to see what she’s showing him with her body instead of words.

He swallows, audibly, and slides his hand back upward, until it curves beneath her neck; his body is poised and tense above hers, and after a moment his other arm shakes. He’s strong enough to hold this pose for much longer — it isn’t shaking for lack of strength.

With a roll to the side, he sits up, perched on the edge of the bed, forearms resting on his knees as he ducks his head under nervous, shaky hands. It’ll be short moments before he’s reaching for a cigarette.

Nick’s voice is soft — not angry but afraid — when he speaks. “How long?”

"I don't know," Delia replies, turning to her side to face away from him when he moves away. Her arms curl protectively around the small bump and she closes her eyes. "Three months… maybe?" Her head tilts downward to tuck her chin into her chest and she draws her legs up even more, finally ending in a fetal position as far from Nick as possible. There isn't much space on the cot but the few inches feel almost as distant as miles.

By now he's familiar with the signs, a state that he found her in when she first let him in to share in her misery. The long breaths that turn to a calm and meditative trance, a precursor to a forced slumber. She's trying to escape, trying to run away from him. "I'm sorry," the gentle whisper isn't as much an apology as it is acknowledging his unvoiced feelings on the matter.

His eyes close at the soft apology for something she shouldn’t have to apologize for. He huffs out a breath that isn’t quite a laugh.

“I think that’s my line,” he says, fingers twitching toward his side for his cigarettes before he remembers he already took the leather jacket off. Throwing a glance to where it lies, Nick chooses not to pursue the urge, and instead turns to lay a hand on her hip, caressing lightly.

“Hey,” he whispers. “I’m not mad. I’m just… worried. For you. It’s…”

Soon. Dangerous. Illegal. Scary as hell. Too many options and none of them are given voice.

“Do…” Nick swallows, eyes averted. “Do you want it?”

Her eyes open, the blue already more vibrant from the red that's taken over her sclera. When she turns to look at up at him, a tear has already escaped its confines and crept into her hairline. She squints, her vision blurring with more tears. The shaky breath that escapes her is something of a small laugh and then her lips part in a bittersweet smile.

"I'm scared," she answers in a small whimper. Then she turns her head back to face away from him and sniffles. The caress works well enough to divert her original instinct to flee from his presence, keeping her with him for the time being. "What if our baby is sick? What if there's something wrong with me and— " She cuts off in favor of letting more tears loose.

He’s used to her tears by now — once upon a time any girl who cried was deemed way too vulnerable, way too dangerous, and left in a wake of smoke and commitmentphobia. The muscles in his jaw dance nervously as he rakes one hand through his shaggy black hair. Moving closer to her, he slides the hand on her hip around her waist.

“Shhhh. There’s nothing wrong with you. What happened wasn’t your fault, Czerwony. Bad things just happen. You’re a good mum. You’ll be a good mum to this ‘un if…”

His eyes close. He’s terrified. This close, she can feel his heart hammer against her back. “If you want it.”

Nick sighs, a shaky thing. And he’s up again — wheeling away from the bed to go to the window, staring out at the dark river below. “I’m sorry… we were careful… I didn’t mean to make you go through this again.”

It's his encouragement, that has her wiping her eyes and sitting up with him. When he leaves the bed, Delia follows, standing behind him and pressing her body against his back. A pair of pale hands draw up Nick's chest and she presses her lips against his shoulder.

"I want to keep him.. or her.." the muffled murmur heats the cloth which cools the instant she moves her lips again.

"And yeah, we were careful," she agrees, winding around to face him and looking up into his eyes. She withdraws her arms from around him and wraps them around her own form. Her head drops down until she's looking down at his socked feet instead of his face. "I was careful before too but it happens… Do you want— " not it "— our baby?"

Nick stares down as well, long lashes veiling most of his eyes, his brow crinkled with worry. He reaches for Delia with one hand for a moment without touching, before it drops to the window sill behind him. Perhaps for strength.

“I want… whatever makes you happy,” he manages. It’s not a lie — or not intended to be — even if it isn’t the answer she’s probably hoping for. “I just… I never planned to be a father. I can barely be responsible for myself.” He gives a half smirk at that — she used to nag him about taking care of himself, before they became whatever they are. She also knows his fear of parenthood is much more complex than that, given his childhood.

“If you want…” Nick manages not to say it this time, “the baby, you’ll be a good mother. He or she’ll be lucky to have you.”

"And you.." she finishes for him. Delia's faith in Nicholas Ruskin or Nick York is a little stronger than the faith he has in himself. Her lips twitch at the corners, just a little, as she gazes up at him with a hopeful expression on her face. There's fear in there as well, too much of it.

Reaching for his hand, she brings it up to her cheek and holds it there as she takes a step forward to lean against him. "Besides," she continues, her voice hushed so far that it doesn't even echo in the bare room. "I don't think I have much of a choice, you know?" Given the fact that she's a fugitive as well as illegally pregnant, her options are quite limited if she wishes to keep her freedom.

Not that she doesn't welcome the second chance.

Nick doesn’t respond except to put his arms around her, ducking his head to rest temple to temple, where he can breathe in the scent of her hair and avoid eye contact. He can’t shake the feeling she is consoling him instead of the other way around — not for the first time.

His gaze flits through the darkness in the world beyond her shoulders, falling on the duffel bag at the base of the bed — weathered and frayed from so many trips up and down the river. Like him, in a lot of ways.

It would be easiest thing in the world, to pick it up and leave.

He doesn’t — not tonight. But there’s a sick feeling in his stomach that he will.

Melting into his form, Delia rests there for what seems an eternity to her. It may be only the span of a few seconds though before the smell of the cheeseburgers becomes a little too much to bear. Her stomach lurches and she pulls out of his grip as quickly as she can. There's no flushing toilets to race to, no convenient place to shield Nick from the sounds that have become nearly a nightly, as well as early morning, ritual on the floor she resides.

She forgot her toothbrush and tube of toothpaste.

When she returns, it's with a hand running along the side of the wall to keep her from stumbling over. Nick is bypassed in favor of the bed and the redhead collapses into a sitting position and holds her head in her hands.

Fort Greene, Nick's Apartment

Blue eyes open and his heart hammers against his chest, much like it did in the dream. He’s already rolled away from the body sleeping next to him, either a physical manifestation of the emotional distance he needed in the dream or because the air conditioner isn’t working. Either way, his face is glazed with sweat, and he’s thrown the sheet off…

…and onto Delia.

Sitting up, he looks down at her sleeping form, the red curls haloing her head on the pillow, the long curves of her body that were …. a quick glance at the red digits of the alarm clock…. pressed against him just two hours ago.

The eyes dart to the bedside table to the foil wrappers that don’t do much to ease the frantic thoughts in his head.

It was just a dream.

Nick snorts at himself for that; when is it ever just a dream? When is it ever a coincidence?

He’s out of the bed in one motion, striding across the small room, where his foot catches on the metal divider that separates wood from linoleum, bedroom from bathroom.

Fuck,” he hisses, and the door shuts after him. The water starts immediately, the shower faucet turned on to hush any noises he might make within. The toilet seat is lowered with a clatter so he can sink onto it, blearily glaring at his bleeding foot and trying to breathe.

It might have been the click of the door or even the sound of the water that's woken Delia. With her eyes still closed, she groans and turns over to feel around the empty spot beside her. She gasps, they flare open, and she launches herself to a seated position, panicked at the thought of being abandoned.

The thin spread of golden light from under the bathroom door illuminates the carpet, like butter on toast.

"Nick?" Slowly, her feet find the floor and she stretches to a stand, sore from their earlier exploits. Her footsteps barely make a whisper and the first noise after her initial call is the tap of her fingernails against the door. "Nick? Are you alright?"

“Yeah,” sounds dim, far away, and uncertain behind the door. He swallows and stands, moving to the pedestal sink to splash water on his face, then reaching for a towel. He angles his foot to look at the cut, his slightly-longer second toe sliced horizontally on the tip from the metal, blood dripping on the linoleum to mark his feet’s progress. “Cut myself,” he adds.

One glance at the mirror shows nothing too out of the ordinary. He’s pale and sweaty, but the first is mostly normal these days, and it’s a hot night. The door to the bathroom is opened, and before she can speak, Nick grabs Delia’s hand.

“I love you,” is almost a growl as he pulls her, almost fiercely, into the smaller space of the bathroom, his head dipping to crush his lips against hers.

She squeals when he pulls her in and when Delia's lips collide forcefully with Nick's, one of her hands tangles into his hair. The other slides down his back, her fingernails tracing thin trails left earlier in the night. The air let out through her nose is shaky and soon after its let loose, she breaks off and to draw in a gasp. Giving him a crooked smile, she gazes up into his eyes and lets it slowly fade away.

"I love you too," she breathes, just over the sound of the water. A glance toward the shower gives way to a more devilish grin before she juts her chin toward it. She doesn't really have to say a word.

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