title: stay a while, and maybe then you'll see
pairing: nick/cassie. mentions of nick/kira. cassie's pov.
summary: the second time she gets drunk, they've just caught up with Kira in London.
a/n: written for the the fairytale prompt meme. and I already have a Nick-pov fic in mind. idek anymore. leave me to my misery. Also, holy batman of stream-of-consciousness and tenses, what is this?
warning: post the movie, underage.
disclaimer: disclaimed. I also don't own anything referenced.
prompt: 088: a realistic demonstration.
The second time she gets drunk, they’ve just caught up with Kira in London.
It’s a year and a hundred and seventy four cheap motels later. She keeps count because, well, there isn’t anything else to do anyway. Except maybe running, but that’s pretty much under the category of non-activity by now, like breathing or something.
The reunion goes something like this: Nick holds both of Kira’s hands, his unwavering gaze making promises of more and later, while she stands by, obnoxiously snapping her gum, because, why not.
His eyes are a shade darker than usual, and she knows the look in the way that she knows all the little things about him that you only really learn from living with someone. She knows he eats cereal straight out of the box and hates to have the curtains pulled before he’s fully awake and sometimes accidentally Moves things without meaning to and is kind of a dork if you ever get past the Captain America looks.
Actually, this look she doesn’t know so much as remember, because she’s not the one at the receiving end usually. Or, you know, ever. The occasional waitress, who possibly doesn’t earn enough to be able to afford a bra along with the standard uniform, leans in too far staring straight at him, because hey, he’s a handsome guy, and he gets that look; dark, hooded eyes and a slight upturn to the corner of his mouth.
(– she snorts.
“What?” he asks, automatically on the defensive.
She looks down at the menu, “nothing.”)
Through the rest of the meal he’ll keep his eyes resolutely on her, like he’s just remembered he’s here with a kid. Sort of like she’s his own personal confessional for lead me not into temptation, and it’s as amusing as it is lame. Ordinarily, she’d be annoyed by this firm positioning in the ‘children’ category, when she’s kind of saved his ass more times than they’ve fought (which— fun fact— is a metaphor for a lot), but as long as that helps him keep it in his pants, well.
This is how it always plays out in those situations and she’s not sure he knows the pattern, but she does. It’s one of those things she’s picked up somewhere along the way, like if she looks at him in that particular way; with her head tilted at an exact angle and her lips slightly parted and her eyes wider, she has a thirty-five percent greater chance of getting what she wants.
There’s really only this one time when they’d been screaming at each other about something probably not very important (not Division stuff because that she’d have remembered but maybe, like, over the remote or something), and he’d tried to Move her away from the door because she’d been threatening to leave. But in his blind anger, all he’d really succeeded in doing was— oops— tearing away the buttons of the button-up she’d been wearing, till she was just standing there in her faded white cotton bra, the torn shirt sort of hanging off her, and thinking something like ‘um’.
For a nanosecond, his gaze had slipped down, before it rose again to rest on her face, almost faster than she could register. And only for a moment that she may or may not have entirely made up in her head, he'd given her the Look. It wasn’t long, it wasn’t lingering, but even in that fleeting glance, every single molecule in her body clenched unexpectedly, to the point of something close to pain. Not the oh fuck, Bleeder kind of pain, but, the fun kind. If there is a fun kind. Kind of like drinking a slushie too quickly is total brain freeze alert, but it’s still the best thing that’s ever been on her tongue. And if you ask her, that’s exactly what it feels like.
But then he’d turned around, predictably horrified, and refused to look at her at all after that. And that was the night he’d slept on the hard, bare couch again, after a long time. And it was a different motel, a different bed, a different couch, but it was still all the way back to square one.
(From what she knows of him— and it’s a lot— he probably lay awake all night, thinking of hell and jail and damnation; she mostly just lay awake wishing she’d worn that one black bra that she has. It makes her breasts look bigger.)
And anyway, if she hasn’t seen a look on his face in real life, she’s probably seen it in a vision. Like the one where she's dead and he's just standing there with this expression on his face that she has no word in her dictionary for, because she's never sat in a class and jotted down new words in meticulous cursive and learnt them up for exams. And when she’s being self-psychological or whatever, she thinks that’s why the skirts. Because she never went to middle school or had the chance of hitching up the customary school uniform in front of that one guy or the hot English teacher— she knows all about this stuff because she’s seen the movies, duh—so she sort of does it now, to make up for a lost childhood. Or something.
And even if it’s only Nick, it’ll never not be hilarious to watch him open his mouth when she sprawls across the bed or the couch, and once, memorably, on the writing desk, legs spread in a way that is definitely more ‘jailbait’ than ‘too innocent to know what she's doing’, and then shut it again with an audible sound because he’s not her dad, okay, he has no right here.
Mostly that, but also not. Because if he says something, then there's that thing where he’s noticed and that would be such a tragic waste of all the time he spends pretending he’s not. (Which, if you ask her, is pretty smart of her to figure out, even if she did never go to school).
So, the thing is, she knows the more and later look, although Kira probably doesn’t, and in a bitchy sort of way, that is satisfying. Kira might be Coney Island Girl and First True Love or whatever the hell, but she’s definitely not the one who sat awake at 2:23 a.m. and pulled out the bullet from his arm with a pincer, with hands that trembled so hard that she almost shoved it in deeper, before bandaging it and burying her face into his shirtless chest, because she hates to let him see her cry. Which, in fact, she hadn’t even noticed was shirtless like she usually would, because all there was in the moment was blood, so much blood, and broken skin and that gut-punching fear that he could die. Die because she hadn’t Seen in time and she’d almost been too late and she’d almost been too late.
(– “shhh,” he whispers, over and over, soft, soothing, hand stroking her head in rhythmic, monotonous beats, even though he's the one who's hurt, “it’s okay, Cass. It’s fine. Nothing happened. Look at me, Cass, nothing happened, okay? I won’t let it. Ever. I promise you that.”
It’s lame and stupid and a whole lot of synonyms that she doesn’t know, but all she does is cry harder. Because, the liar. The fucking liar. She’s not three, okay. He can’t just casually promise her forever like that.)
Kira and Nick have their Epic Romantic reunion, and when they're in a room doing whatever the fuck they're doing (that's a clever turn of phrase right there), and she's in the next room (she's never in the next room, she's always with him, next to him, right there), she just slips out and buys a bottle of something cheap from the seedy little shop where the guy leers at her, and definitely doesn't care about the hell-jail-damnation part of the deal. And when she puts it to her lips outside, it's the worst, most un-slushie taste in the world, but she's dramatic enough to do it, so she does. She always does.
And when it’s later (or maybe it’s forever, because, you know, the dark-haired princess is back in the fucking tower and she’s pretty sure this story ends with a happily ever. And she’d drawn herself holding Kira’s shoe that one time; so if she’s anyone in this scenario, she’s the ugly stepsister. Or worse, she’s the footman. Either way, she’s just a step. A step away from the princess, a step to the princess. Just a step.) and he’s probably had more than he can handle in one night, he finds her. He always finds her.
Not in the way of poetry and heroic quests, but in the back-alley of whatever god-forsaken town they’re in. Normally, she’d be more concerned, more alert, she would know everything; but right now she doesn’t know her left hand from her right and she thinks the best idea would probably be to lie on the ground and sleep, so.
“You,” she can see his jaw clench, and he’s unbelievably angry, and someone should totally remind her to care later, because right now, at this moment, frankly darling, she doesn’t give a damn, “what. the. fuck. is. wrong with you.”
That startles her a little, out of the haze, because he never swears. Not in front of her. Not in front of the precious child whose ears might be sullied by the profanities. She's tried before. Being the worst she can possibly be to lose control, and he just never, never did.
“Nothing,” she says, forming the words slowly and carefully, because her head hurts, “is wrong with me.”
“Are you out of your fucking mind,” there’s that swearing thing again, she doesn’t understand it. It’s a little bit hot, but mostly kind of scary.
She thinks about that for a moment, “I don’t think so?” she finally offers.
His eyes widen slightly, like he hadn’t thought she’d answer that, but he asked her a question, and she was bought up to be polite. Well, at least her mother tried, and that totally counts.
“I,” she says, with difficulty, “have to save her.”
“Who?” he asks, his forehead creasing with that half-confusion, anger temporarily put aside (put aside, not forgotten, because they always carry every single fight to its bitter conclusion and if she ends up in his arms at the end of most of them— well, that’s their own version of global conflict resolution and armistices.)
“Mm,” she says, but that’s not a word; she never went to school but she knows that, so she tries again, “mom.”
His face isn’t all hard lines and angles when he kneels beside her, “is that why you’re drunk? Because we will save her. And I’m not particularly looking forward to informing her that her barely teenage daughter is an alcoholic, you know.”
“I’m not,” she begins indignantly, because that's the important part, “barely teenage. Or an alcoholic. It helps. With the visions. Everyone knows that.”
He snorts, which is totally unfair because how does he know? He’s the one with the cool, tearing-off-clothes ability without even having to bother with the pesky bra snapping thing that guys apparently find very difficult if that one and only boy from Australia who’d bothered to try at all, was any indication; and she’s the one with the splitting headaches and broken moments in her brain where he dies over and over and over and she doesn’t save him. Not once.
“Sure, it does.” he draws out, but then his hand is reaching out and tangling in her hair and she closes her eyes, and then he's laughing softly, before settling down and sighing, “what am I going to do with you?”
“You don’t,” she swallows, just in case the answer is leave, “have to do anything with me. You just have to…be, with me.”
Which is ridiculously cheesy and if she, god forbid, remembers this tomorrow, she’s blaming it on the alcohol, swearing never to drink again, and promptly forgetting about it all over again.
He's silent for the longest time, which is probably why she goes into word-vomit mode and in all fairness, what comes out is not what she meant to say at all, “did you,” she asks in a small voice, and bites her tongue to stop the words, but all it does is fill her mouth, the words mingling with the taste of copper, “did you sleep with her?”
She can feel him turn to look at her. And oddly enough, he doesn’t tell her it’s none of her business. That it doesn’t matter, that she’s too young to think about it, that even if he did, nobody is taking her away from him because she's like his little sister, that maybe she’ll understand someday when she’s older; because who knows, all this while she was learning him, maybe he was learning her.
“No.” he says casually, and she can't read the inflection, because there isn't any.
Not yet, she thinks, honestly. But then again, she’s a freaking Watcher, okay– she, of all people, knows the future isn’t always what it seems.
He aimlessly picks up a blue strand, twisting it between his fingers, till she automatically moves her head closer to his hand, resting it against his shoulder, “when is this gunk going to wash off anyway,” he asks, irrelevantly, like he always does.
“I like color,” she says by way of answer, like she always does, and tries to get up. ‘Tries’ being the operative word.
He gets up first, of course, reaching out his hand and rolling his eyes as she sways unsteadily, “we’re going to talk about this tomorrow.”
“Whatever,” she says articulately, because sometimes, she does the ‘act her age’ thing too; especially when he’s almost fifteen and just as stupid himself.
(And, well, if she pretends to be more drunk than she is and leans against him way more than she needs to, because it makes him give her his I told you so look, but it also makes him hold her tighter, then that’s really neither here nor there.)