You Make Me Want


delia_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title You Make Me Want
Synopsis — To be better.
Date January 31, 2011

Fort Greene — Nick Ruskin's Apartment

He'd gotten the text — texts, since the message came across as a serial of six — but Thursday night was lost in a haze of alcohol and smoke. He vaguely recalls squinting at them, and seeing a few words, "I just wanted to let you know I'm okay" and "love is the easiest thing."

Love, for Nick Ruskin, has never been an easy thing. Not to come by. Not to keep. Not to give.

Friday morning had dawned with a headache and a hangover, the texts forgotten, though there was something nagging him, something that he'd forgotten. The cell phone used only for calls, except for the rare texts from Delia, the history of texts hasn't been looked at until today — and only on account of pushing the wrong button on the menu and cursing his clumsy fingers.

Nick sits on the futon of his apartment, squinting at the message, rubbing a hand through his short black hair. What serves as breakfast sits in front of him on the coffee table — a cigarette, coffee, and cold pizza. After staring at the message for a long while, he finally texts:

Sorry, was incomunicado a few days. I can call?

She hadn't heard anything that night, the next day, or the day after that. Delia had given up the message as the heartbreaking option of tldr before she left the last place. A single bed with a quilt has been traded for a king size with a duvet and sheets with a thread count higher than she's ever seen. It's probably something like sleeping on baby skins. Greusome thought. Nevertheless, waking up in the lap of luxury is something that she's not used to, not at all. Rolling over in bed, the redhead stretches her arms up over her head and pushes herself up to a seated position.

It takes a little while for her to figure out where she is and after that a minute or two to blink at the iPad and read the short text. Her heart skips a beat, making it feel like it actually turned a sommersault in her chest. Raking her thin fingers through a long stretch of red curls, she opens a new message and then closes it again. The bedside phone which has seen no use since she came is suddenly sought out as though the most important thing on earth and then she's dialing.

He'd set the phone down and found an actual game of football — the real football, what the irreverent yanks call soccer — and taken a mouthful of pizza when the phone rings. Nick mutes the television, glances down and considers the unfamiliar incoming number. It's most likely her.

The phone is grabbed, talk pushed. "York," he says shortly, crisp in efficiency. In another life, maybe he'd have been a businessman. In another life, maybe he wouldn't be eaten cold Ray's Pizza for breakfast.

"Nick? It's Delia," the voice on the other end confirms his first guess. It is her. Her tone is quiet, hard to read at first but there's a breathless quality about it. Someone doesn't quite believe this isn't just another dream. Her fingers wind through the receiver cord, tangling it up before letting it loose to unwravel like a tightly coiled spring. Or a lock of her own hair.

Glancing at the clock, she chews on her lip for a half a moment before continuing, trying to sound calm and collected though the slight quiver in her voice betrays her. "How have you been? Are you alright?"

Nick is quiet a moment, before nodding, stupidly. "I'm all right," he murmurs, his East-End accent coming through the other end, rather than his bland attempt at American. After all, she knows where he's from. What he's from. No reason to pretend.

"How 'bout you? Sorry about your brother. Is he okay? Are you okay?" There's worry in his voice, even in the few short syllables he speaks. He reaches for his coffee and takes a gulp of the hot liquid.

Laying back against the plump collection of white pillows, the accented voice coming through the receiver actually soothes Delia. "I haven't been able to talk to Brad since it happened. I don't know how he is but he had someone that works for him get me out of his apartment. I suppose I'm fine, I just feel… like I lost a home again." It's the again that has the emphasis.

"Dad found me a place to stay for a while but I— " There's a halt in her sentence as she looks around, looking for spy devices like microphones that might be listening it. There aren't any visible, of course, but knowing that she can't see any makes her feel a little better. "I feel guilty for being here, because I can't pay for it. You know?"

"He's out, right?" Nick says, regarding Russo. "If he's out — I'll see if I can get a hold of him, pass on anything you wanna say, all right? I'm sure he's okay — if he wants to get away, I can prob'ly manage that. Just gotta talk to Eileen. It'll be risky, since he's so well known an' all, but there's other folks who've been helped. I'm sure they'd help him if he wanted it, yeah?"

He lights a cigarette and there's a pause as he takes a drag from it. "Don't worry 'bout money, all right? I imagine your dad can't pay for it either, given 'is status, but if you're worried, I'll cover it. I can access my account. I get paid more'n I can do with, since it's not like I can live large doin' the work I do, right? An' you don't gotta pay me back. Just lemme know, I'll pay whoever it is keepin' you."

"He's out, he probably got a deal. They're pretty nice down there… at least the man that arrested me was nice." Delia's not really too sure if the rest of them are but Vincent was. "I haven't had the guts to call or txt, I didn't think it would be the smart thing to do. You know, in case they were watching or something."

There's a long sigh from her side as she hears the telltale sound of his smoking. In her mind, she's either causing him stress or there's something stressful that he's reacting to. "No, you don't have to pay for me. I wouldn't feel right. I'll figure something out, maybe I could work or something when I get better." Though she has no idea what sort of uses her host would have for her. Hopefully not as a dancer, since she can't even walk at the moment.

Nick picks up the coffee for another swallow. "Yeah, you prob'ly shouldn't ring him, Red. He moved you so they wouldn't find you, right? So he doesn't want them to connect you to him, and that means he's lookin' out for you." He swallows, hand holding the cigarette running back over his head. "He's a good brother t'you."

Unlike me, doesn't get spoken aloud.

"You want me to pass somethin' on to him? I'll do what I can. I'm not his favorite person, I know, but I'm willing to pass a message to him, if you need it," he offers again.

"I wish I was a better sister, I'm nothing but a leech." The bitterness skirts the edge of her voice like a fine lace. The man on the other end of the phone knows her enough to know that she's always worked, no matter what. She's worked for her keep. Until now. "Nick?" His name sounded out like a question, feeling out to make sure he's actually listening to her. "I don't like being awake, I want to go back."

She's told other people, never him. "The doctor made me promise not to, not until I saw him again.. but I don't know when that will be. What if I never get better and I'm like this for the rest of my life?" The strides she's already made are either not fast enough or they go unnoticed. "If I went back, could I stay with you again?"

There's a sound of an exasperated sigh — unfortunately, since she's likely to take that as insult or offense taken on his part. "You're not," he says in a near whisper. "You're not. You're not a leech, and you're his family. Don't… don't feel bad for needing someone, okay? Least of all your brother. He's there for you. You'd do the same for him, I know you would, and you never know when you might 'ave to."

If anyone knows about not being a good family member, it's him.

"Being awake sucks. It does. But you gotta be. Just like I gotta be, in this world, in this place. If I gotta, you gotta, deal?" There's a slight chuckle at that, though the humor is feigned. "You're getting better. So much better. It's pretty amazing, actu'lly." The praise isn't feigned. Nick smiles, affectionate and reverent. "You're a redwood."

"Would you come and visit? It doesn't have to be uhm… You don't have to come here but if you were nearby, I could find you." Whether he catches the meaning or even wants her in his head is something left on his side of the tennis court of conversation. "Or I could open the door and you could— Cheza used to visit me when I stayed with Brad."

Again her fingers find the cord from the phone and she twists it around her index and middle. The serpentine wrap of the plastic coated wire pinches enough circulation off to allow her fingers to turn purple and cold before she notices and unwraps them. Unseen, she smiles into the receiver, though the sentiment comes through in a voice soft and affectionate on its own. "Thanks, Nick… You make me want to get better."

He closes his eyes, the cigarette's ash getting to close to his fingers and burning them before he dashes them into the empty beer can on the coffee table. It costs something — pride and privacy — to say the next.

"You can visit my head whenever you want, Czerwony. If you feel safe there… it's open to you. Just don't … don't do it unless it's safe, yeah?" he murmurs.

Nick sighs and leans back, staring up at the ceiling. This is officially the longest phone call he's ever had on this phone. Possibly ever. "You make me want to be better, too," is added in a quieter voice.

Which is why he doesn't offer to visit.

"I miss you," is the next bit added on. Somehow it's easier talking to the man that runs this way, knowing that he'd just hang up when things become uncomfortable for him. At least he'll hear them. What about him she misses isn't clarified, his company perhaps, as awkward as it is when he visits.

"Will you promise me something?" It could be a trap of somekind, though she isn't known for being coy enough for such things. "When I get better, we'll go swimming? You don't have— You don't have to worry then. I'll be strong, you won't have to take care of me."

There is a soft huff of a laugh from Nick. He feels bad — he promised to take her once, and then all he did was watch from the sidelines. "I'm not very good at promises, Czerwony," he says softly. "I don't know where I'll be one day t'the next, or when my luck's gonna catch up and bite me in the arse."

It's not a no. For some reason, he can't say no to her. Not when she knows who he is and has chosen to feel compassion — even love — for him anyway. "I'll try."

"I know, trying is good enough for me— I'll take what you can give." It's acceptance, knowing who and what he is, what sorts of things he seems to get into. The polar opposite of herself, someone who seems to play it safe more often at not, right now the circumstances demand it. "I can't wait. I'll get better faster, just so you'll take me before you leave again."

There's a soft knock on her door, unheard on his end, it causes her to glance toward it but she doesn't answer. The one person she wants to talk to right now is on the other end of the line. "It's my birthday soon, my real birthday. I'll be twenty-one. If you're around, will you come?"

Twenty-one. It's just two years and change younger than Nick, but it feels forever ago. He feels ancient. And she seems so innocent, so young. Even having lived in his head.

"I'll try," he murmurs again, pressing the palm of his hand against his forehead.

There's a pause. "Let me know if you get moved again. I might not… I might not see you, but I wanna know you're okay, yeah?"

"You'll see me," she sounds so certain of it, even with his lifestyle. "You'll come, I know you will… We'll have a dance." Because she'll be passing a milestone that she didn't think possible only a few short months ago. "I spent Christmas and New Years with you," in some respect she did, "I want you to be there for my birthday too. Even if I have to find you."

There's a small pause as she stares down at the legs that have failed her so terribly in recent weeks, or she failed them for months, it's hard to tell. "I'll let you know every time but I don't think I'll be leaving this place for a while. My dad— he asked a favor and I'm going to stay to make sure I pay it back."

Nick chuckles at her determination. "Stubborn bint," he says affectionately, with a shake of his head. The futon creaks slightly as he stands, picking up the plate of half-eaten pizza slice and the coffee cup to bring into the small kitchenette. "Like I said, lemme know and I'll pay it. Don't gotta feel guilty. Hell, half the money I got lyin' round, it's from the bloody tosser who tried to blow me up. You think I wanna use that? I don't mind it goin' to somethin' useful. Just lemme know."

"Glad you think I'm useful," Delia emits, the smile on her face practically audible. "Not many people do, I don't think." She picks up her iPad and begins typing out the words she really wants to say but is just too cowardly to lay out. "I'll— Uhm… I should let you go, I guess. You probably have exciting things planned that would make for wonderful stories to tell grandchildren. Me, I'll be lying in bed most of the day trying to get up the nerve to leave my room."

A short breath is taken in as she edges closer to the edge of the mattress. "I didn't tell you, did I? I can move around by myself pretty well now. I bet I could unlock a door without falling."

"Progress," the young man says with a rare chuckle, placing the dishes in the sink but that's about all his dishwashing duties entail for the time being. He leans against the counter. "Yeah, I should get movin' on some stuff. You take care, yeah, Czerwony? Lemme know if you need anything, Del."

His thumb ghosts over the end button, ready to cut off the conversation, but something stills it. "Good to hear your voice," he adds.

"I miss you," she murmurs in answer. Pulling the receiver away from her ear, she leans over to hang it up. She hesitates for half a moment before gently placing it back into its cradle, half hoping that he's recorded the number somewhere and will call. Her heart is beating as quickly as a humming bird, almost making her dizzy as she sinks back into the pillows.

Turning over on her side, she pulls one around to hug it close to her chest and stares out the window. The white of the sky is all she can see from her angle but it's not the dark shade she's used to. An accidental touch on the iPad sends the text almost instantly to Nick's phone.

Dream of me, like I do of you.

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