The Most Well-Deserved Wine


nikola_icon.gif spencer_icon.gif

Scene Title The Most Well-Deserved Wine
Synopsis After the visit of a particularly unwanted ex, alcohol seems appropriate.
Date Feburary 13, 2019

Nikola and Spencer's Residence, Rochester

Snow has blanketed Rochester. The winter weather has been severe enough over the last two days that the evening plans for Nikola and Spencer to go out on the town together have been reworked into staying in with some booze, a warm fire, and something to watch on television. In order to put this plan into action, the Englishman has been dispatched to fetch the booze while Nikola saw to the evening routine of the household critters. Now that the beasts are fed and content, rather than wait inside Nikola has donned his winter coat and has parked himself on the front porch of the house in one of the two chairs that is set outside for just this purpose, his legs propped up on the nearest arm of his chair's twin. His motivation for being outdoors in such weather is plain: the cigarette held by a gloved hand. The amount of time he has spent outdoors also must be lengthy, judging by his cold-nipped nose and ears and the fact that the ashtray on the small table between the chairs has acquired several more cigarette butts than it had about forty minutes ago.

The change in plans had not been in the least unwelcome. Though Spencer is no stranger to wretched weather, snow of this regularity is a reality that he is still struggling to become accustomed to. There is more than a hint of spring to his step as he jounces back up the steps of the porch, snow still dusting the folds of his black, belted jacket and the telling clink of bottles sounding from the plastic bag looped on his arm. "Fuck me in the arse, it's brass monkeys out there," is the Brummie's muttered curse of an address, as much to Nikola as to himself, but he does cast an appreciative glance at the cigarette butts when he sees them. The noble sacrifice of his partner smoking outside as requested had not gone unnoticed.

"You alright, bab?"

Spencer's progress up the street is noted and watched with interest, and once he gets close enough to speak with the Serb takes a long drag from his cigarette before he answers. This is partly due to the lag time it takes for him to puzzle out the bizarre idiom and partly due to his current mood, which is rather darker than it was when Spencer first set out. "Fine." Clearly, fine does not really mean fine. Nikola does not move from his perch, but he does reach out with his free hand to beckon Spencer closer, offering him the other seat. "We had an unexpected visitor while you were out, ljubavi. I learned a new English word." This having been said, his smoking hand drifts to the side so he can tap some ash into the tray, which is starting to look like a miniature Pompeii.

"Oh?" One of Spencer's eyebrows quirks expressively upwards at this news, even as he happily accepts the invitation to sit. Almost delicately, he brushes off the surface of the chair with a gloved hand just before seating himself in it. His poor arse is cold enough as it is; there is no need to sit on unneeded snow. The shopping bag containing alcohol is casually set off to one side of the porch for now. "What's all this, then? You been mucking about with the head of some poor Jehovah's witness?" That is the last visitor to the home he has any significant memory of, and the first that comes to mind. They certainly do not get many— and almost none that are worth their time.

This prompts a light snort from Nikola, who was befuddled by that particular unannounced company, but nevertheless has since expressed amusement that it happened at all. "No," he clarifies, "it was not them this time. I will give you a hint, though: the word I learned is homewrecker." It seems as though now he expects his partner to guess again, because he stops talking and returns to his cigarette, which is currently on its last legs and soon destined to join its fallen comrades in the bowl of shame. Meanwhile, he moves his legs off of the arm of the chair, instead propping his ankles up on Spencer's thigh.

Even though Spencer's face had long gone quite pink from cold, it now visibly pales as the color drains out of it. Oh, God. "Are you havin' a laugh?" he says weakly, not responding at all to Nikola's feet as they are plopped quite unceremoniously atop his own legs. He is too distressed by the likelihood of what -that word- Nik had said implies. There is only person known to them both who would dare use such an accusation with them. "You're not telling me she knows where we live?"

This is possibly the worst news that Nikola could possibly have given him. The worst.

"I'm afraid she does. She walked right up to the front door and rang the bell." One can only imagine the very public altercation that this meeting spawned. Nikola leans sideways to stab the smoldering remains of his cigarette out in the tray, then slips his hand into his coat pocket to tap his fingers thoughtfully at the still half-full package within. To have a seventh seems a bit much. "I will never understand why you ever chose to inflict that woman on yourself in the first place, Spencer. You're not stupid."

"Oh, bloody hell." The February cold nipping at them both is momentarily completely forgotten. Spencer buries his face in both his hands, keeping it there through his next words— which also sound like they are being spoken through gritted teeth. "Sod it all. Fucking Karen, that daft slag." It is good that Nik has apparently finished up with his cigarettes, because Spence might need a pillow to scream into inside very soon.

When he comes up for air, the tips of his ears have now gone quite a brilliant shade of red. "Blimey, Niko, I wish you could tell me. She did have attractive qualities. At one point in time." There is an excruciatingly deep inhalation from him. "Dare I even ask what else she said to you?"

Nikola has always been able to deliver a good scoff, and he does so now: "Attractive qualities." Rolling his eyes, he observes his partner's response to this news in the calm, almost detached demeanor he so often demonstrates, one eyebrow slowly rising towards his hairline. "What do you think she said?" He abruptly puts his lean frame into motion, swinging his legs back down to let the soles of his shoes hit the deck so he can get to his feet, one hand finding Spencer's shoulder to give it a short pat. "I ruined her life and yours; one day you shall crawl to her on your knees, begging for her to take you back; I deserve to be flung from some convenient pier into Lake Ontario for my harlotry. There's more, but those are the highlights, ljubavi. Come inside. The fire is going, and the neighbors have seen enough today." Especially the sour-faced septuagenarian woman who has become an expert curtain-twitcher since the two of them moved in next door.

"'Crawl to her on my knees, begging for her to take me back?'" Spencer echoes these words back with utter incredulousness, his face still a rather marvelous tinge of of reddish-pink. He stares right through Nikola's ridiculous mound of cigarette remains without really seeing it, interlacing his fingers in a gesture of glum perturbation and leaning forward in his seat. "She's mad as a box of frogs, she is. I was the one who found her. With that ponce Ricardo. In my own bloody house." Of course, this is a tale that Nikola had heard before in sordid detail. The suggestion to return back inside falls on deaf ears at first; he blinks once or twice at the touch to his shoulder before he moves to acquiesce; once he does, the first thing he does is reach for the abandoned bag of newly-bought libations. "…Good idea, bab. Could really do with a glass of port right about now."

"On your knees, begging," is the even-toned confirmation as Nikola steps to the front door, pulling it open and holding it wide. He's not the one toting a bag of ill-gotten gains, after all. "And be fair, Spencer: I think you're arguably more of a ponce than Ricardo is, you're the one marrying another man. And it's not as though you didn't go out of your way to even the score." There should be little doubt that this recollection is an amusing one — the Serb was certainly not shy about agreeing to the plan to exact a little revenge on his partner's former paramour.

"Good sir, I am and have always been a proud bugger, thank you very much." Even as Spencer gratefully accepts the invitation of the open door, shuddering one final time with cold as he quickly crosses the threshold, he is swift to make this correction with an extreme air of mock indignation. "No, I meant that she is a succubus and a tart and that he was mooching off her like the proper arch-blagger that he is." The Brummie is not shy about many aspects of his personal life, just as he had not been above putting on a spiteful counter display when he had been wronged, but fidelity is a matter that he takes rather seriously. Broken promises, broken heart, blah blah.

The interior of the house is warm and welcoming thanks to the heat radiating from the fire burning merrily away in the living room fireplace. Nikola follows Spencer in, casually shucking off his shoes and shrugging his coat down from his shoulders and into one hand so he can hang it before continuing into their living space. “… What is an arch-blagger?” Much of what Spencer says that is slang can be deciphered from context or through experience, but some terms, like this one, are so bizarre-sounding to foreign ears that even Nikola has no real idea what the man is trying to say. “And if she were a succubus, don't you think she would have tried to seduce me away from you by now?”

As the door falls shut behind him, Spencer stands huddled in front of it for just an extra moment in time, peeling off his thinly knit gloves— designed more for fashion than actually keeping the weather out— and blowing on his bare hands. Brrrr. "It's not a very nice word," he discloses as though he is sorry he had used it, moving to follow suit after Nik and hanging up his own coat, though rather more lovingly than his partner had done. "It's what you might call a hanger-on. Someone who gets what they want by pretending to be interested, but really they just want the minge." As he finishes putting his own things away to his satisfaction, he pauses briefly to adjust Nik's shoes so that they line up more aesthetically.

“What do you care, if he is or he isn't?” Lord knows that Nikola is hardly innocent of a history of general misbehavior in past relationships, not to mention being a shameless moocher for as long as he could manage with prior partners and even, for a time, with Spencer during their first go-round in Birmingham. At least he has never pretended interest where none actually existed. He has tossed himself down onto the couch by the time Spencer has gotten around to tidying his discarded shoes, and this act is watched with a faint air of fond exasperation - he has never quite gotten used to this level of interior fastidiousness, even though it is not so different from his parents’ household expectations. “For God's sake, leave them. You are impossible. Practically deserving of a Karen.”

But therein lies the important difference between Karen and Nikola. His beloved might be an unabashed manwhore, but there must be standards. Somewhere. "…I care because Ricardo shagged me girlfriend, mate. Everything our relationship was built on, trust, just gone." Spencer stares rather despondently at the shoes for a few seconds longer than necessary, though it is clear he is not really looking at them anymore. His expression had fallen quite considerably at the last comment from Nik; now, he just sounds almost sad. Pathetically deflated. "You know, she told me I was special. Went on about it, how I was different than the others. And all that time— she was going on behind me back." Did he deserve this? It was certainly possible. He had not grown up being told he was deserving of much.

Nikola waves a hand dismissively. “Yes, yes, he shagged her. But you should not trouble yourself over whether or not he is a good man who has real interest in her; you owe her nothing. That is all I mean. Now come here, ljubavi, and bring the wine. Don't look so glum. Karen is gone, and she is never going to dig her claws into you again. You are special, and you are mine.” While marriage may not have originally been part of the Serb's plans for this relationship, now that he and Spencer wear matching engagement rings, he has become much less tolerant of others expressing interest in his partner in general. Whatever altercation transpired on the porch prior to Spencer's return may have gotten intense.

Though not all of the glumness disappears from his composure, Spencer acquiesces willingly enough to this instruction, drifting out of his sad state of self-inflicted paralysis and plucking two of the bottles from the plastic bag temporarily housed by the doorway. Their labels both indicate brands that could not have come cheaply, especially in the country's present economic circumstances. "You are absolutely lush, and I don't deserve you, Nik," he mutters in a low but matter-of-fact, pleased tone, just a touch of color flushing back into his cheeks. "…I'll go get the glasses, shall I?" Just before he does so, carefully setting both bottles down on the coffee table in front of the couch, his angular form leans down and he gives Nikola an affectionate peck on the cheek.

"Lush," Nikola echoes, reaching up to catch Spencer's shirt collar just long enough to let him return the affectionate gesture before the other man is released again, "would be if we chose to forgo the glasses at all." It's not what Spencer meant, and Nikola likely knows that perfectly well, but sometimes it has been easier for him to deflect such words of praise rather than accept them at face value. "But yes, go get glasses. You spent too much on these for us to drink them straight from the bottle, I'm sure."

Though it is difficult for Spencer to hide how pleased he is, he straightens after the kiss, adjusting the hem of his rollneck sweater. "Well, of course we're not going to drink straight out of the bottle. We're not heathens, you know." Nikola had been utterly correct: the alcohol in question is far too expensive to even think of doing otherwise. "I found a bottle of Borges I'd been planning on saving for later, but I think this occasion rather deserves it, don't you?" His voice gets progressively smaller as the man disappears in the direction of the kitchen, where he is soon accompanied by the deep, joyful yodeling of a Basenji from the other side of the house. Butterscotch had apparently woken up from her nap.

No doubt Nikola would not shy away from imbibing directly from the bottles in most circumstances, especially given his military history, but he has become used to Spencer's peculiarities over time. He waves a hand as his partner retreats to the kitchen, not having much preference as to which wine is opened - but the sound of the dog's voice gets him to look up again with a slight frown. He has never quite gotten his head around the American idea that keeping such an animal indoors is an acceptable lifestyle choice. He mutters to himself, something low and unflattering in his native tongue, and briefly toys with the idea of lighting another cigarette.

What some would call 'peculiarities,' others would call 'politeness.' "Oi, not trying to take the mickey Nik, but some of us were bred in parts of the world that actually have manners. You’ll get used to it," Spencer calls out cheerfully from the distance. Oh, yes, he went there. There are faint chuffing noises that can be heard, Butterscotch's little paws slamming excitedly on the tiles of the kitchen floor— presumably her tail is wagging at a thousand miles an hour as well. Fainter still, there can be heard the clink of glasses being retrieved from a cupboard as well as a murmured "hoosagoogirl? whooo's my favorite butterscotch tart? That's right, bab, you are."

At first, there is mostly silence from the living room, silence that might even be called ominous were it not taking place in the middle of a cozy living room warmed and illuminated by a beautiful and gently crackling fireplace. Said silence is probably caused by a mix of things: Karen's visit, the dog, and the questionable ethnic commentary. As the cupboard shuts, though, the smell of smoke — smoke not from the fire — might be starting to wind its way through the house. If Nikola is to be accused of being unmannerly, his immediate response is to double down on it. He has now sprawled against one arm of the couch and has a cigarette tucked into the corner of his mouth, and is now flipping through the book that he had propped up on the side table when he abandoned it an hour ago. He waits to speak until Spencer is back in the living room, casually using a glass coaster as an improvised ashtray. "I'm sure my mother would be delighted to hear the opinion of a man who comes from a part of the world where the people can't actually speak their language properly."

The telltale stench of smoke soon curls its way into the kitchen where Spencer is, which causes him to make a much more hurried return into the living area than he had been planning on, the Basenji nipping playfully at his heels. "Bugger it all, Nik," he says with exasperation, snatching up the glass coaster before it can be contaminated by any more ash. "Don't be that way, it was just a piss-take." The two glasses have been hastily set down with twin -clinks- on the edge of the coffee table, and seem to have been momentarily forgotten as Spencer deals with ridding the improvised ashtray of its contents. "Please, put that out, or go outside bab." Nikola knows well Spencer's feelings about smoking inside the house, where the pets would be subject to second-hand smoke and all the lovely health risks that entails. Never mind the assertion about the English not knowing how to speak English, which is too ridiculous to dignify with a response.

Nikola chuckles to himself upon observation of Spencer's features and plucks the cigarette from his lips; he is just about to tap some more ash out onto the coaster when it is spirited away, so he simply lets his hand hover there, poised, the end of the object smoldering slowly. "I can't put it out without a tray," he reminds rather pointedly. There are no ashtrays inside anymore. "And it's too cold to go back outside." He glances over towards the dog for a moment but his attention quickly returns to Spencer, a pleasant smile stretched across his face. Spencer ought to be accustomed to this particular smile by now.

With a long-suffering sigh, Spencer realizes what Nikola is after the moment just before he asks aloud, and he sticks the glass coaster back under Nik's nose so that he can extinguish his cigarette into it. The ex-inspector is also trying his absolute best to ignore the particular smile that his partner is wearing at this moment, as he is not quite sure he enjoys the implications. Beneath his waist, Butterscotch lets out a whine for attention, and he obliges by lovingly scratching at the base of her tall, bat-like ears. "…Oh, Niko. Whatever on earth am I going to do with you."

The Serb leans back again and hooks his free arm over the back of the couch, bringing the cigarette up with his other hand to take a long, steady drag, taking his sweet time before he finally reaches forward and tips his wrist down, neatly crushing the thing out on the glass plate extended for his use. "I couldn't possibly say." Nikola's smile only spreads wider as he speaks, exhaling smoke, his eyebrows lifting slightly. "It should probably be something indecent, though. And after our evening plans are concluded."

It is difficult for Spence to suppress his wincing as the cigarette is squashed into the beautiful glass coaster, and he coughs in protest at the cloud of cigarette smoke breathed nearly into his face. Normally, he would have made a wonderfully salacious remark back, but it is clear that these events are affecting his mood. "I'll let this go once, but this is the last time, Nik," he says balefully, gently shooing Butterscotch out of the room as he sets the defiled glassware off to one side in favor of the wine glasses he had left. "…Gods, I need to get sozzled. Today has been too much of a day."

A cherub's smile could not possibly be more innocent or pure than Nikola's is whilst he watches Spencer's expression. Once the glasses are retrieved, he takes hold of one of his partner's elbows to guide him down to the vacant portion of the couch beside him. Leaning sideways, he plants another kiss on the Englishman's cheek as his left hand catches one of the wine bottles by the neck, the right digging into the pocket of his jeans to find the pocket knife stowed within, extending the corkscrew arm and promptly starting to deal with the cork. "You'll be fine. Karen is gone, we have your pretentious wine, and we have a nice dinner and a nice night ahead of us."

The kiss makes Spencer visibly perk up the moment after it is planted, and a muted grin of delight appears on his face despite himself as he watches Nikola uncorking their bottle of— at this point— very well-deserved wine. It is only too clear that his affection for his fiancé is enough to effortlessly overcome any perceived grievances, even one that had literally just occurred. The second the bottle has been opened, he takes over the job of pouring an exactly even portion into both their glasses. "Nik, you are a prince," he proclaims to the room with eyebrows arched, raising his own glass into the air a few inches from his mouth.

"…Now, let's get to the business of getting trollied, shall we?"

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