Whatever Makes You Happy


delia_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Whatever Makes You Happy
Synopsis If it makes Delia happy, it can be pretty bad. If it makes her happy, then why the hell is Nick so mad.
Date February 3, 2011

The Corinthian — Delia's Room

Crown molding, white ceilings and striped wallpaper in shades of eggshell and pale gold all define this small but fashionably decorated hotel room at the Corinthian. Three hundred square feet, including the attached bathroom with claw-foot tub and shower, is not a lot of space in which to move around, but a pair of French doors painted white lead out onto a small balcony with a wrought-iron rail for guests who desire fresh air or the opportunity to enjoy a cigarette.

An armchair is situated in one corner and a small desk in another with a queen-sized bed and ornate headboard positioned against the wall between. Lighting is provided by two gold lamps build into the wall on either side of the bed as well as one that hangs from the ceiling and imitates the wan, comforting glow of candlelight.

After several minutes standing in the cold, watching Logan's back to make sure the man doesn't turn back to shoot him, Nick finally moves in the direction of his own flat. The fact that Logan found him so easily suddenly dawning on him, he narrows his eyes, casting a glance back over his shoulder. Nervous. Angry.


It's not just his hand that aches, courtesy of the punch to Logan's jaw, but something deeper, some part of him he denies.

His phone is pulled from his pocket and the last email Delia sent him pulled up. Pressing reply, he squints down at the phone. This is not a conversation meant to be had through texts or emails, but he doesn't feel like talking much either at the moment. After staring at what he typed for a moment, the message both direct and vague all at the same time, he presses send:

8:43 pm
Dont trust John Logan.

…seven-eight-nine— Delia's leg lifts are interrupted by the bleep of the iPad next to her. There was a time, a little less than a year ago, that Delia didn't care to own a phone or messaging device. Contact made much better in person, or over the antiquated land line that belonged to her father in their house in Queens. A house they don't have any more. Now, she clings to the device like a lifeline. It provides her with nearly all of her interaction as visitors are few and far between.

Reading the message, a pang of guilt spreads through her chest and she stares at the text for a little while before daring to answer. After days of not hearing from Nick, the message seems random and odd.

Why Nick? What's going on?

He pauses under a streetlight to text back, a wary gaze thrown down the road again, and to every shadow that could hide someone who might want him dead. That list is a fluid one, changing hour by hour.

he's not a good person.

He's tempted to say "ask around," but then if she asked other people what they thought about Nick, the answers wouldn't be very complimentary, and yet he's wearing a necklace that says Love on it around his neck.

He squints at the text. It's not enough.

8:47 pm
Trust me. You can do better.

Can I?

It's an unfair question, one that Nick couldn't possibly know the answer to given that he has also rejected her. At least in her own mind. Then there's the matter of the man in question being so utterly perfect in nearly every way. The slip off the pedestal in a confrontation with Delia's brother isn't easily remedied but the fact that Logan didn't lie about it, that he admitted it the way he did. It softens her toward him.

I'm sorry, that wasn't fair.

It's not a conversation easily had by text, subtle nuances in tone and expression can't be seen with words on a screen. Unless you add a smiley, but that doesn't seem appropriate. Pulling herself toward the end of the bed, Delia leans up against the mattress and stares at the screen, waiting for more.

He narrows his eyes at the self-deprecation he senses in the first short answer; that she doesn't know how much better she is than him, than Logan, is something he can't begin to comprehend. But then that might be why she's better than him.

He exits the text window and scrolls through to find the phone number she'd called him from last. It might not be the same phone she sits at now — if she doesn't answer, Nick will return to the slow and frustrating text messages.

Not that he expects the phone call to be any less frustrating. The knot in his stomach tells him that his fears are true. He doesn't know if he wants them confirmed. He lets his feet resume his path toward his apartment — he's farther than 10 minutes away, but he isn't worried about curfew, at least.

It takes her the count of four rings to answer, just before the call would have been flipped to the desk. "Hello?" Her voice is quiet, dull sounding as though the woman it belongs to is deflated somehow. Delia's free hand rises to twirl her fingers slowly down a long spiral of hair.

Perched at the edge of her mattress, already in a set of flannel pajamas, she lifts one leg to tuck it underneath her. "Nick?" The young woman sounds a little hopeful, she doesn't have caller ID here, it could be anyone on the other end.

"Yeah." His voice is flat, though not angry. Not at her, anyway.

"Look. If it's about having a place to stay, I'll find you another place to stay. He's not the only one who can protect you, okay? He can't protect you from everything," he says suddenly. Logan can't protect her from Logan. "I'll find you something else, if you want. If I'd known it was with him, I would have offered earlier."

"I don't understand," she starts, her voice already trembling a little at the thought of leaving yet another place. "My dad trusts Mister Logan to take care of me, I can't just— " Her eyebrows furrow and she purses her lips into an unhappy line as she glances toward the window. Hanging her head, Delia slides toward the pillows, dragging the phone with her. Resting her head, she takes a deep breath of the lingering scent left there the night before.

"It's more than just a place to stay… " she says quietly, searching for the words to finish her thought. "It's about a place to get better too. He said I'm just supposed to rest and get well." His exact words. "I owe him, you have no idea."

Owe him. Nick free hand comes up to drag through his hair, catching at the nape of the neck as he walks faster in the direction of his flat, as if to will himself home instead of turning and pursuing Logan. "You don't owe him anything, and don't let him make you think that. He's … he's the kind of person to take advantage of that, to take advantage of that, of your…"

Weakness, he almost says, but he sees her as so much stronger than he could ever be.

"Of your heart," he mutters, the word soft, affectionate.

"Don't let him," is whispered, softer yet.

It's Logan's pillow, the one he used that she pulls from its resting place and hugs close to her chest as she lays on her side. "Nick… I'm sorry." The words could mean anything, she's always apologizing to him for something or another. Taking another long breath of the lingering cologne, she rests her cheek against it. If only there were easy answers. "I— I was feeling ugly, I took advantage of him. It's all my fault." Therein lies the confession. All Logan asked for was a kiss.

"I have to go…" it's her turn to be abrupt and run. The sinking pit in the bottom of her stomach doesn't sit right with the rest of her. Already Nick can hear the trembling of her breath.

Nick closes his eyes. Too late. He should have warned her first, instead of seeking Logan and losing a couple of days in the interim. "Nothin's your fault," he says quietly. He knows her inclination is to blame herself when there's no reason to do so. In his mind, she is the innocent.

It's just one more thing he's failed at doing — protecting her.

"Good luck, then," he says, more volume and less emotion in his voice, the feigned confidence back. "Sorry he'll be a li'l less pretty the next time you see him."

With that, he pushes the end button with one hand, while the other slams into the passenger window of a parked car.

The bleating woops of the car alarm and the gashes across his knuckles drive him into a jog to his apartment to tend to his wounds, alone.

Alone and helpless to do anything, Delia lies on the bed with the phone still cradled to her ear. The telltale cut from his end is the cause for the first of her tears to flow. Closing her eyes, she wills herself to stop by remembering what Bradley told her before, he isn't yours. Nick is not hers, but he's her friend and in confessing her crimes, she hurt him.

Hours Later

It's the repetitive blaring of the phone still cradled to her head that finally wakes her. Lifting herself to a sit and then leaning back against the headboard, she presses her finger to the receiver button to get a dial tone. His number was memorized almost the moment he gave it to her, she doesn't need the iPad to remember it.

His phone is in his jeans beside his bed, and the ringtone wakes him as it gets gradually louder to try and gain his attention. Just before it cuts off, he lifts it to his head, not opening his eyes to look at the number, or lack of ID.

"York," is murmured, his voice rough with sleep and want of use.

"Nick," is the correction volleyed back at him. Delia's voice is tight and hoarse, mostly due to the attempt at keeping her emotions in check after the first call ended. "I— I don't know where to start. I don't want to hurt you anymore, I keep breaking my promise. How do I stop?"

If she could, she'd be there trying to have the conversation face to face. He's too far away for one route to work and it's too late for the other, not that she knows where he lives anyway. "Tell me what I have to do… I just— " She stops short of spilling every thought in her mind. "I don't want you to be mad at me, or disappointed in me. Or avoid me anymore."

"Do what makes you happy." The words are spoken through clenched teeth as Nick rolls onto his back to rub at his eyes. "And don't worry about me. It's not about me, all right? I just didn't want you to get hurt. And if he hasn't yet… he will."

He scrubs at his eyes with the back of his fist without thinking, the hand wrapped in gauze before he squints down at it, uncomprehending for a moment before he realizes he put his fist through the glass of a Volvo.

"But bein' told not to care about someone is like telling you not to breathe," he adds, a wry smile gracing his lips. If she listened to such warnings, she wouldn't be on the phone with him, after all. "Be happy. S'all I want for you," he repeats. "Once I finish the job I'm workin' on, I'm gonna leave the country, Red. So what I want and what you do? They haven't got much t'do with one another."

"You're wrong, they have a lot to do with one another. You said you want me to be happy." The words are tossed back at him in challenge, Delia's voice cracking a little at the end as she curls her legs closer to her chest. "Knowing that you're leaving, that doesn't make me happy. I know you hate it here— but I'm being selfish, I want you to stay."

The pillow is laid to the side in favor of holding the receiver with both hands. One near the top to balance it against her ear, the other near the bottom to support its weight. "I wish I knew what you were thinking half the time, I wouldn't feel like I was walking on egg shells. I don't have many friends that I can talk to anymore, everyone is hiding."

A sigh is heaved and there is the squeak and creak of mattress as he pulls himself into a seated position. "You know my thoughts better'n most anyone else, and you know they're not pretty, not thoughts to be telling people. But what I'm thinking is this."

His hand touches the medallion at his neck, thumb dipping beneath to slide over the words he can't see but know are there. "You're everything that's good and sweet and strong in this world. But you can't save me, and I can't… I won't ruin you to let you try."

He reaches for his cigarettes, pulling one from the carton on his bedside table, but the lighter's nowhere to be found. "You can't save him either, by the way."

"You don't know me as well as you think. I'm not good and sweet and strong. I'm— I'm selfish and I hurt people and— and I'm horrible because I don't think before I do things. I've done horrible things. I still do horrible things." Her lowly admission is made with an audible level of shame. On her end, Delia's picking at the hem of her sleeve, unraveling the thread that keeps it neat and tidy. "I'm not trying to save you, I want to be friends… real friends. Not just, I need you and you'll be here or you're only around when you're trying to protect me."

Letting loose a small sigh, she sinks down and stares at the pillow she'd been hugging the scent out of just minutes earlier. "It's just— Nick— You're not going to ruin me by being around. I am who I am…"

He gives a huff of a laugh. "Horrible things. You don't even know. You're not capable of the things most people have done, I don't think. And as for being real friends…"

His brows crease and he examines his hand, the wrap job on it shoddy and one-handed, dry blood along the edges of the gauze where it leaked while he slept. "'S a bit hard to be friends when everyone's set against it but you, Red. I don't wanna cause a rift in your family."

He scratches at the brick red of the dried blood. "So do what makes you happy. Even if that means Logan." That sounded more bitter than he intended. "Seems he has your family's blessings and all, anyway."

"Are you set against it too?" The interruption is a simple question but one that begs answering, at least in her mind. Her eyes squeeze shut and Delia flinches as though slapped when Nick mentions her family's blessing. "No.. " her whisper is small and almost insignificant, almost as much as she feels at the moment. "You're not going to cause the rift in my family, I did that."

She sniffles once and closes her eyes, cradling the phone against her ear as she slumps down into the next of pillows at the head of the bed. Surrounded by that distracting and intoxicating scent, the redhead struggles to find the right words. "Mister Logan doesn't have the blessing of my family, I— " If she said it was a mistake, she would be lying. Aside from the guilt she feels regarding Brad, Nick, and Nicole, she has no regrets. Which might be the most horrible thing of all. "He doesn't have their blessing and if they find out— I'm going to lose them."

Mister Logan. Nick shakes his head, pulling at the gauze where it stuck by dried blood, wincing as it reopens the largest of the cuts. "I'm not set against it. I consider you my friend, Delia." He wiggles his fingers to test the tendons — it's hard and it hurts, but there's not any serious damage from what he can tell, aside from unsightly gashes.

The sniffle cuts through the phone, and he sighs. "Don't tell 'em then, unless it becomes something permanent. And I'm still your friend. You ain't gonna lose my friendship because of it, but if it's permanent, well… He'n'I aren't really pals or anything, so don't expect me to come to any dinner parties, Red."

"You're my friend but you won't see me. I know you but I barely know anything about you, or your day. Tell me the good things, Nick, I know they're there. You wouldn't be able to survive if there was nothing good." As for the permanence of whatever happened the previous night, Delia stares at the pillow that was vacated early in the morning.

"I don't know what's going to happen…" she says quietly, "I don't know if he'll come back, I'm not pretty or beautiful. I have nothing to offer."

"You're beautiful. And you're one of the good things," he says in a low voice.

On whether Logan will be back or not, he doesn't speculate. He doesn't get tired quite that easily or give him a week are retorts that come to mind, and he's awake enough now to bite them back.

Nick glances at the clock, the blue lights turning as he does so from 1:09 to 1:10. "It's late. Get some sleep."

"Visit me this weekend? We can go for a walk or you can walk and I can roll… or something, they have a garden here." Delia's voice cracks at the end, sounding a little more hopeful than she means to. "I can meet you in the lobby, or.. something." She doesn't hold much hope that he'll say yes but she's tenacious enough to ask anyway.

A glance at her own clock confirms his statement and she complies by lifting the covers and crawling underneath. The pillow, that pillow, is reached for and she tucks it under her cheek. "Tell me yes and I'll go to sleep." It's likely the agent can hear the smile on her face.

It's hard to tell her no. "Don't think you're supposed to be out in the public. It defeats the point of hiding, Czerwony. And as long as you're under his custody, I'm gonna have to say no." His voice is gentle, trying to sound reasonable, logical. "But thanks for the invite."

He doesn't wait for the rebuttal, instead jumping to the exit cue. "Sleep well."

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