To Stay


amato_icon.gif delia_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title To Stay
Synopsis Promises are kept and more are made, when Nick's health returns enough to call one person who urged him not to give up.
Date June 23, 2011

Old Dispensary and Eltingville Blocks

A few days ago, the bed that Nick lies in seemed likely to be the bed he would die in. A week ago, he was unconscious more hours than he was awake, delirious most of the hours he wasn't unconscious, and weak, hopeless and helpless the few, rare moments he was lucid.

But with the visit of the telepath, his rest became easier, and with rest came more strength. With more strength, he was able to keep down the medicine and fight back the fever. Today, when Amato comes in to check in on him, the young man is sitting up, propped up by pillows. He's still lean and pale, anemic from blood loss; without the flush of fever, the pallor makes the red of his eyes look all the more livid and angry. Yet when the door opens, Nick isn't angry; he offers a rare smile to the Italian.

"G'morning," he murmurs, voice still rough and not much more than a whisper; his cough remains, his chest still congested, though the fever seems to be in the past.

The improvement has been steady, but the evidence of this significant step still makes Amato smile when he walks through the door. He carries a tray laden with the makings of breakfast: tea, scones, eggs, and bacon. "Morning," Amato says in kind, closing the door with a well-placed nudge of his foot. "You look much better," he adds once he's reached the side of the bed and placed the tray on it's ramshackle stand.

Turning, he moves to the window, but he doesn't open it. "If you're on the mend, fresh air would help you along." But there is the question of whether or not Nick is still contagious and if he poses a threat to the non-SLC expressive members of the house or neighborhood. It's not a question Amato asks, but it snakes between his words and his studious expression.

"Cheers," Nick says as the tray is laid down nearby. He looks at the amount of food just a touch skeptically, and he reaches for the tea first. Looking back to Amato at the window, he gives a nod. "That'd be good, yeah."

Bringing the tea cup to his lips, he sips carefully before setting it back down. "I'm not sure if I said it, but in case I didn't… thank you. For lookin' after me." His memories of Amato seem hazy, but he knows their relationship is a precarious one for some reason. "I appreciate it."

A cough interrupts his words, and he ducks his head, coughing into his sleeve before looking back up. "D'you know where my cell phone is?"

Amato nods when he's given leave, though it takes him a moment to force the painted lock on the window open and then slide it up. It's likely it has been closed since last fall. The mechanism squeaks, but it lets a gentle breeze into the room, along with summer birdsong. When Amato turns again, an eyebrow is lifted. "It's nothing," he says flatly, though there is a small smile lurking the corners of his mouth.

He doesn't directly answer Nick's question, but instead heads for the closet. "Edgar went to great pains to cook for you," he says conversationally as reaches for a box on the shelf. He brings it over, and when he sets it on the foot of the bed, Nick's clothes - cleaned and folded - can be seen tucked inside. Change and keys jingle as Amato fishes in the box before he pulls out the phone, but he doesn't extend it to Nick.

"It's here," he says blandly, holding it up for Nick to see before he starts to put it back in the box with the rest of the things Nick had on him when Amato found him in the pickup.

"Tell him thank you, then, though I'm not sure how much of an appetite I got yet," Nick says, another skeptical look at the food before he breaks off a bit of scone to bring to his lips. His eyes dart to the phone, and then he reaches out when Amato starts to put it away.

"Please. There's someone I need to call… she'll be worried," he says, a quiet urgency in his soft voice. "I haven't talked to her since I came back. I didn't… I didn't want to until I thought I'd…"

Until I thought I'd live goes unsaid. He's since listened to the radio; the odds of surviving were even worse than he'd known so many days ago.

Amato's long fingers curl back around the plastic and he watches Nick for a moment. "I wiped it down as best I could, but…well, I can only hope that whatever may have gotten on it died for lack of a body to feed on." He starts to hold it out, but doesn't move closer to bridge the gap, watching Nick eat a bite of scone.

"Meat, Nicholas," he says, his tone almost paternal. "Protein. You're skin and bones, and you won't do yourself or your fidanzata any good if you don't eat."

Nick's lips curve into a half smile and he shakes his head. "I don't think I'll catch it again, Amato," he says wryly, but he picks up a piece of bacon, lifting it dramatically before taking a bite and chewing. He grimaces a little before swallowing, then rests his head back on his pillow laughing weakly. "Tastes amazing, actually," he says, then takes another bite before holding out his free hand.

"Quid pro quo, Clarisse," he says with a grin.

Smirking to hold back a laugh, Amato steps forward and places the phone in Nick's hand, shaking his head afterward. He retrieves the box again, moving back to the dresser to replace it - only this time he puts it on the floor. "Tomorrow, maybe, you will go outside. It if it is mild enough, and you feel up to it. Walking will help." Though the stairs may pose a challenge. Still, there are only so many laps around the room one can do.

"I'd like that," Nick agrees. It's a strange transformation — most people emerge from an illness such as Nick's more solemn, darker in a way, from their brush with death. But there is a brightness, an easiness, that Amato has never seen in the young man.

Nick turns the phone on, and it chimes with missed messages almost immediately. Nick's brows knit as he studies the last, lips pressing together for a moment before he taps the phone's screen, bringing it to his ear a moment later as he waits for Delia to pick up on her end. "I don't remember what I told her in dreams… or which were her and which were just me," he says quietly to Amato, his free hand moving to rake through his too-long hair nervously. "Everything's so fuzzy…"

It is odd, to be sure. Amato watches Nick out of the corner of his eye as he replaces the box, then moves to tie back the curtains so they don't flutter. "Dreams are just dreams, Nicholas," he says - but there's little conviction in his voice. Dreams are much more, but there's no reason to sully the younger man's sunny outlook with bitter truths.

"Regardless, if she knows what you've been through, how can she hold anything against you?"

Nick closes his eyes, the little bit of energy he's put forth so far starting to wear on him. "No, she's a dream walker. It's … it's why we're close. She stayed in my head for a bit, when she was lost…" he says, hand cupping the phone to block the conversation from Delia should she pick up in the midst of the explanation. "She visited me I think… I don't remember."

He frowns again, rubbing his forehead as he tries to piece together what was real from what wasn't.

If you should ever leave me~
Though life would still go on, believe me~

The dulcet tones of the familiar song flow into the hallway from Delia's bedroom. At first, it doesn't register to the tall redhead climbing the stairs. After a small pause, perhaps even the skip of a heartbeat, a basket of freshly folded laundry tumbles back down the way she came. T-shirts worn nearly through by too many washings, show bits of the dark stair as they slide over polished surface. Rolled socks bounce like children’s balls, catching the attention of the dog following the young woman.

The world could show nothing to me~
So what good would living do me~

Long legs take the steps three by three before she dives into the bedroom and onto the bed, cradling the phone. She doesn’t need to read the letters on the call display to know exactly who it is, she only has one name assigned to that particular tone. The surprise of hearing it doesn’t really register until she pushes the send button to receive the call. The dog trundles in after, hopping on the bed and settling down. She spits the roll of socks out of her mouth and looks at them for a half a moment before starting to chew. Compared to the cell phone, a roll of socks just don’t matter to Delia.

God only knows what I'd be without you~

"Nick?" She's breathless, a little too loud while speaking into the phone. "Nick?"

"Del," breathes Nick. He averts his eyes from Amato, though he doesn't ask the other man to leave him, either. "Hey." He swallows again. "Hey."

His lips quirk into a soft and hesitant smile. "Are you all right? I … I'm sure I saw you but I don't remember a lot of my dreams, and the pieces I do… they don't make a lot of sense." There's blurred flashes when he tries to think, wonderful and loving moments, caresses and kisses, and then a gun and blood and screams… it doesn't make sense, and he pushes it away from him, focusing on the sounds he hears on her side of the line. "Tell me you're okay…"

Amato takes his time tying up the curtains, smoothing the fabric so that the long bedridden man's sister can't be cross with him for not taking care of her brother. He glances over his shoulder at the forgotten tray, but bites his lip. He won't remind Nick to eat.

Not immediately, at least.

The hand not clutching the phone to her ear swiftly moves over her cheeks to wipe away the too strong response to the sound of Nick's voice. The house she's in is relatively quiet, the song of birds through her open window is really the only thing interrupting her conversation. Which is, admittedly, at the moment is halted due to the tall woman's lack of anything substantial to say. Delia could repeat his name a few times, just to make sure it is him and not some cruel joke.

"I— You're on the phone! That means you're better, right? You're okay?" She doesn't answer his request right away. Physically, she can't really complain, it's the mental and emotional aspects that are floundering. "I did visit and I brought you to visit me once."

"Fever's down, I think for good. Can finally hold a thought in my head for more'n five minutes to call you," Nick murmurs. It's not the reason he gave Amato, the more honest of the two excuses. "I'm pretty wrecked, but I'll get better, Del. I always do, right?"

He frowns a moment later at her words, then shakes his head, trying to clear the nightmarish images from the others. "I can't remember much. It's kinda a blur, but I just… I felt like I needed to tell you I'm all right. That I'll be all right… I'm sorry for shutting you out when I got sick, I just… I didn't want you to see me like that. Like this. It's too much to ask." His voice comes in short bursts, the air needed to speak still a struggle to take in.

As silently as he can, Amato slips from the room. The door squeaks as he pulls it shut, his only farewell to Nick. He'll surely return, if only to inspect and collect the tray.

"I— I guess so," Delia's reply is a little more muted and distant as she turns to watch the dog start chewing on the roll of socks. Using her foot, the redhead pushes at Cheza's side playfully only to receive a slight grumble back. "You do, always get better, that is. I just get worried because you don't like to take care of yourself."

Sobering some, she turns onto her side and holds the phone with both hands to her ear. "It's okay, I understand. I don't want you to see me like this either, I just… I was worried. I wanted to help but I can't." There's a slight pause before she lets loose a huff of air and closes her eyes. "When can I come and visit again?"

Nick’s red and blue eyes watch Amato leave the room, and he picks up another piece of bacon with a bit of a smirk, knowing he’ll be chastized if the plate isn’t a good deal lighter when the Italian returns. Crunching for a moment, he then lifts the tea cup to his mouth and sets it down again.

“I don’t want you to see the bad dreams… they were… I don’t remember some of them, but they were bad. Really bad,” he murmurs, his hand raking through his hair. “But they seem to be gone now. I’m resting all right. I think it’s safe now.” As if the dreams were ever dangerous in and of themselves.

“I’m sorry I can’t see you now. For real, I mean,” he adds, closing his eyes. “I miss you.” He swallows, then whispers softer, “I love you.”

"You don't have to protect me from your dreams, Nick," He can probably hear the smile in Delia's voice and the relief at his announcement that those dreams are gone. She closes her eyes and squeazes them tight as she tries to picture him. "I remember them, they're worse for you than for me but I'm glad you're sleeping better.

"I miss you too and I love you," she follows his sentiment, almost word for word. "It's been way too long since the camping trip but I don't think we'll be able to see each other for a long time, for real, I mean." Pausing there, she opens her eyes again and stares at the anklet. "You still have a long way to go to get better, I don't want to get in the way."

He doesn’t remember the plea; the dreams are too confused, too mixed up in his head, the good and the bad, the kisses and the blood, and trying to remember just pushes away the strange good mood he’s in, so he stops trying. “As soon as I can, Delia, I promise,” Nick says softly.

Another sip of tea is taken, and this one brings a cough up; it sounds bad, no doubt, to her on the other end, though so much healthier to anyone who’s taken care of Nick in the past month. His words are a little weaker when he speaks again. “How are you? Have you seen Benji? I think — I think she was here. I don’t… know.” Nick glances at the door, as if it would answer the question for him, then shakes his head again.

“You’re okay?” Nick repeats again, focusing on Delia.

There's a pregnant pause at Delia's end of the line. The kind that she hates, that goes on too long and when she's finally ready to say something, she doesn't know how to break it. The sound of her own breathing is the only thing keeping her from pretending the line dropped or went dead, also the fact that Nick actually called. To her, it's monumental.

"I'm uhm.. I haven't seen her, not for a long time, since before we went camping," Delia admits in a quiver of a voice. "She's probably really busy, I'm just trying to stay out of the way, you know? I met another friend of hers here, she was a gardener at the Corinthian. I was going to ask for a little advice about my roses but they seem to be doing alright."

The questions about her own well being go largely unanswered. "You should see the tree you gave me," she laughs, "I don't think I'm good at this bonzai stuff, because it grew a little… at least I think it did."

The long silence makes him uncomfortable; he’s about to break it when she speaks so instead he stays quiet, listening longer. He chuckles at the end. “It’s okay if it grew. It’s… it’s you, in a way, or a symbol of you, you know? So if it gets bigger, stronger, that’s all right. I wouldn’t wanna keep you penned in, restricted. You can plant it in your backyard and see what happens; it’s yours, and there’s no wrong. No matter what, it’ll be beautiful.”

Nick glances down, almost shyly, though there’s no one to see it. “I’m sure she’s okay. I think she was here. If I see her, I’ll let her know… let you know…” It’s an awkward thing, to talk about a child that hasn’t been born yet to them, but is grown and in the present.

“We’ll be okay,” he says, more surely than the rest of it.

"Okay," Delia echoes in a whisper, "I think I know the perfect place to plant it." Since the gravestone he gifted to her in a different time will likely never be, the tiny tree could be used as a different marker.

"Nick?" She stops again, to wait for some sound of acknowledgement before going on. His breath at the other end works well for it, it means he's either simply listening or he's fallen asleep. Either scenario works well for it. "Do you— do you think I could come and stay with you? Like before?" It's the first indication that she's given that there might be something wrong. "Not right away, there's something I need to do first… but… if I could… You don't have to say yes, I can find someone else."

He frowns at her words, and shakes his head, though she can’t see it. “You can’t be away from your body and know it’ll be safe, Red. You know you can come to me whenever you need me; I can carry you if you need me to, but… but I don’t wanna lose you in the world, yeah?” he whispers, voice quieting not only out of weakness but due to the nature of the conversation, should Amato be outside the door. It’s not a matter of secrecy, but intimacy. What, after all, is more intimate than two souls sharing the same dreamspace?

“Are you okay? Why would you need to leave your… self?” The vocabulary of her power is still difficult for him to grasp.

"It's— nothing you need to worry about Nick, really, I promise." Even with that little oath given, Delia doesn't sound overly convincing. She's been practicing her lying but the little tremor in her voice is a giveaway, she's not quite capable of pulling the wool over the eyes of those who know her well enough. Instead, she diverts the subject back to him.

"I'm glad you're getting better," she murmurs softly, "I've been really scared." Enough to make good on her threat to him, something he likely doesn't remember from a fevered dream. "— scared about you," she clarifies for his sake. She isn't certain how his mind will wrap around what scant amount she's telling him and the larger portions that she's not.

The tremor in her voice is enough to make him worry, and he sits up a little straighter in bed, wincing as his weak muscles protest against sudden movement. “You can stay with me on one condition, Delia, and that’s if it’s keeping you safe, and I mean all of you. If it’s dangerous, if there’s a chance you’ll lose yourself again, be separated from yourself again, I don’t want you hiding in me. You’re stronger than that. I don’t know what you’re getting at, but … listen, I fought something to stay here for you, I vaguely recall that, and you can do the same.” His words grow breathless, the exertion costing him in oxygen an energy, and Nick slumps back against the headboard.

Weaker, he closes his eyes. “What aren’t you telling me, Delia? I’m not going to die on you, and as long as I’m alive, I will do what I can to help you. You know that.”

"I know but you're too sick right now, Nick." As much as Delia would like the man's help, his abilities are limited to what he can do from bed, for all she knows. She lets loose a small sigh and glances toward the window, tucking the leg with the anklet around it underneath the dog on her bed. Cheza lets off a small grumble and adjusts her position to make room for the leg and its clunky piece of jewelry under her shoulders.

"If things don't go well, I might need a place to hide that's away from my body," the redhead confesses, the tremor in her voice making a little more of a presence. It's less of a lie now and more of a fear. "They took Tania, about a month ago. I was supposed to look after her, I was supposed to take care of her. I woke up with one of the ankle bracelets on. I still can't remember everything that happened but I can remember the man telling me I was abandoned."

There’s silence on the line, but for his congested breathing. Finally, Nick speaks, voice quiet, but angry — though not at her. “He didn’t protect you.”

He swallows, and the hand goes to his hair again, raking through it. “I donno what I can do, but I’ll try to help you. Don’t do anything foolish. Don’t try to run off with that thing on you, all right? Just… stay safe. Stay smart. Do what you have to, to stay safe.”

"You don't need to do anything, except rest and get better," Delia says with a small and quite bittersweet smile. Wrapping a bit of ginger coil around her fingertip, she tugs a little and watches as the tendril bounces back into place. "I can leave Eltingville, I've done it twice so far… they don't stop me. I think they're mostly just seeing where I go. So I've been staying away from work and people that I know… mostly.

"I saw Jaiden when I was trying to get some money together. I was thinking about trying to find someone and paying them to get this thing off my leg." She doesn't really consult him on whether or not he thinks it's a good idea. "I didn't expect to see him in the Rookery, it's not really his sort of place, you know?" Or hers either, but things have changed drastically since Nick took ill.

The Rookery is Nick’s sort of place — or was, given his job, given his prior hobbies. “Stay away from places like that, Delia. They’re just as dangerous as Eltingville. More, even. There’s people there that’ll do you worse than even the government. What’s Logan gotta say about the anklet? He tell you to keep it on, or what?” he asks, and it’s without the usual vitriol that accompanies the name.

“Don’t blame yourself for the other girl. You can’t take the responsibility for everyone, you know?” he adds.

"I haven't talked to him very much about it," Delia says quietly, there's hesitation in her delivery, as though she doesn't want to talk about her housemate. "He has too much to take care of already, I just try to stay out of the way most of the time. He let me work at his place, doing laundry and odd jobs, so I don't have to be alone at home." It's not exactly an exhalted position, just the one she asked for. Given the choices, it's the one she'd much rather.

"Tania was my responsibility, Nick, I failed her." He can hear the tears starting up in the thickness of her voice and the sniffles at the end of every breath inward. "I failed her as a room mate and as a friend. That's why I'm going to try to get her out. They weren't letting her sleep much, so I couldn't find her too many times but I have Mister Luka looking too. He can do a better job in finding her than I can… then he can tell me where she is."

Nick groans, and it’s the groan of exasperation rather than pain. He knows telling Delia not to try to help Tania is pointless; it’s who she is. And he’s helpless to help her. “She’s his responsibility too, if she was your roommate. You can’t save the whole world, Delia, no matter how hard you try.” The urgency in his voice gives way to coughing, and he rests his head back against the headboard, eyes starting to close against his will.

“Be safe, please,” he whispers, weakly when the coughing subsides. “I can’t help you, but I’m getting better, and I really want you there when I am better.”

Nick doesn’t ask for much… it’s hard for him to do so now. “Please.”

"I'll be there when you get better," in some form, "I will, I promise." Up until this phone call, Delia hadn't been planning on it, which means some reconfiguring. Especially if she doesn't want to be the bait or the sacrifice. "I'll be as safe as I can be. Don't worry, I'm not going to do anything by myself and especially not with this thing on my leg."

Sitting up, she reaches her free hand toward the dog and ruffles her between the ears. "I'll talk to someone on the council, okay? I'll ask them what to do."

“I’ll try’n remember to ask Eileen,” Nick adds, sounding a bit more distant as exhaustion takes over. “Don’t go to someone … you know. Use your ability. Be safe.”

He coughs again, and sighs with frustration at his own weakness. “I need to lie down, I think. Be good, yeah? I miss you.” His free hand curls into a weak fist, the other tightening around the phone at his ear, as if he could hold onto her longer by sheer will.

"I miss you too," Delia answers softly, once again using both hands to cradle the phone to her ear. "I'll come and visit," she adds, sounding a little stronger but not loud enough to rouse or alarm him from oncoming slumber. "I love you, Nick, thank you for calling… I'll be careful and stay safe."

With a small smile on her face, she pushes the end button on her phone and tucks the phone into the pocket of her shorts. Gently, she eases her foot out from under the dog and swings both legs over the side of the bed. There's a mess she left for later all over the stairs, ready to be picked up.

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