It's not the first time Nigel's cellphone has gone off at an inappropriate time, but today specifically he decides that whoever is on the other end will suffer a long and painful death. If he can get to them. If he can survive this.
The fight itself isn't a problem, once he starts swinging he keeps going, but it's the concentration, his entire mindset shoved away now thinking about that damned phonecall as he holds the third unlucky bastard in a headlock and tilts his head back to avoid the groping nails trying for his eyes. Who the hell would call him now anyway? Anyone who has the number is in this room, just as bloody or getting to be as he is, and none of them have a damned bluetooth headset for handsfree dialling.
And the damned phone keeps ringing, in his back pocket right near where he holsters his gun, the little tune gnawing at his mind until he's ready to shoot the damn thing. At least he's not the only one distracted by it, and he finds his target at gunpoint fairly quickly, Nigel's lips back in a snarl, hand steady despite how much he wants to loose the entire clip into something to make it shut up.
Nigel's only answer is to shoot the cement next to the man's knee, a clear enough warning. No words - he has few beyond 'what the actually fucking fuck' anyway - and very little patience. The next question gets a flesh wound, and a third isn't asked.
By the time he gets out of the building, stumbles his way into an alley and runs messy hands through his hair, his phone is ringing again, and he manages, somehow, to answer it instead of smashing it.
"Count your fucken seconds, asshole," he breathes, "The call better be fucken worth it."
On the other end there's a quick intake of breath and a sound of discontent and then nothing. Nigel turns on the spot, about ready to pull his gun again just to have the feeling of it ground him, when a familiar voice comes through. Quiet, barely enough to hear, but Nigel hears him.
And that's all it takes for Nigel's hearing to tunnel, to concentrate on the suddenly very loud breathing hitching on the other end of the line, nearing a panic attack. The words are repeated until they're a mantra and then just a series of upset, angry sounds. Nigel listens, he waits, and when he speaks again his words are soft.
Of all the things in Nigel's life, Adam made the least sense. Perhaps the reason no one knew about him. In no lifetime should their paths have crossed and yet he had spent most of his childhood with Adam Raki, being pestered by him, annoyed by him, questioned by him, hating him so much he knew he could only love him. Poor, lost little boy; they both had been. Nigel had just taken a more dangerous path in the end.
"Adam, I'm not in New York." he adds gently. There's another whining sound of distress and Nigel closes his eyes.
"I can be," he says, "I can be there in a few hours. Alright? A few hours."
There's no answer, Adam's beyond words at this point. Nigel's impressed he had managed to keep calling him again and again as he had - desperation maybe, a meticulous repetition of a single motion until his hands stuck in it, he'd seen Adam do it before. He holds the line as Adam cries on the other end, he says nothing more. Niether does Adam, but when he hangs up at least his breathing is calmer.
Nigel sets the phone back into his pocket and rubs his eyes.
Adam. Motherfucken Adam Raki.
He hadn't seen him for a decade, not since he'd up and run off like he'd been wanting to and left Adam with his dad. The man he had come to think of as his dad too, towards the end, the only man who had given a damn enough to keep him in foster. Then again, with patience needed to raise Adam, Nigel had probably been a walk in the park, despite his drug addiction and perchant for violence. The man had tamed him to his hand, cared for him, taught him and had given him time, and in the end Nigel had done what Nigel does best - he'd run.
He'd been sending money back every few months since but he'd never called. He'd only written, and he had only ever written to Adam.
The boy was both a mystery to him and a pet project. He'd been cruel as a child, but Adam had been cruel back, with his inability to filter, his occasional forgetfulness of other people's emotions or their understanding of them. They had battered each other, Adam and Nigel, and then had settled. Nigel had been older, four years, but he had grown to listen to and follow Adam as though he were the elder, helping him and keeping company, and after a while it had become his chosen job. Adam's keeper as much as Adam had become his.
He had never told Adam about the things he did, he never involved him, but Adam knew. He knew with the brash way Nigel would brush him off, with the friends he ever brought home, Adam knew because he'd followed him one day and had found himself angry and struggling against the wall as Nigel pressed him there, held him still and told him to go home before something happened to him.
Adam had kissed him.
They'd both barely made it out alive, and Nigel had spent the next two weeks grounded and on house arrest. He hadn't talked to Adam, and after a week the tug to see the kid had grown almost painful. He'd pass him in the kitchen, by his room in the corridor, and he never went in, never kocked to see him, and after two weeks he had launched himself out of the house like a man possessed just to get the feelings out of his system.
He'd been 17. Adam was too young then, so he hadn't touched him, hadn't done anything at all. But Adam had done nothing to discourage it, to dissuade. Infuriating in his determination.
Nigel had kissed him before he'd left. Pinned him to the door and kissed him so hard his lips tingled after, so hard that Adam had to gasp to catch his breath. For a parting image, it's one Nigel is happy with.
He wonders if Adam's changed much in ten years.
The weather in New York makes his bones ache, and Nigel adjusts his grip on the one bag he'd managed to pack before taking the stairs instead of the elevator. His hands shake for a cigarette, for something stronger, and he concentrates on counting the stairs as he takes them, monotony, repetition, over and over until he hits the right floor.
He has the keys, still. Sentiment, perhaps, something more, but he still has them. Still attached to the keychain Adam had once given him - a little carved wooden owl. The thing's battered now, barely more than a pear-shaped thing with darkened edges. He knocks instead, just twice, and steps back to wait.
The flight had been turbulent, he hadn't managed to get more than an economy ticket and the 14 hours had felt like a lifetime. The added weight of knowing he was going to see Adam again had brought about a headache, the scotch in the plane had brought about nothing but nausea as he'd attempt to self medicate. He wonders, briefly, if Adam will hit him, if he still remembers how to hold his fist properly so he doesn't hurt himself. He wonders if Adam will even let him in.
It's an almost indeterminately long time before Nigel hears something on the other side of the door, just a shuffle and then silence again. Nothing had passed by the peephole to suggest Adam was standing, or even there, but years of living with him had been good enough to learn from. Nigel sighs and rests his forehead against the door.
"The flight was delayed." he says, directing his voice down, where he knows Adam is sitting with his back to the door, arms around his knees, "They showed the worst fucken movies, spent most of my time staring outside."
He doesn't get an answer, but he hardly expects one. He rests a fist against the door and lets his eyes close.
"Could see the stars when we were flying out." he says, "So many fucken stars, Adam, I have no fucken idea how you remember them all."
He waits another moment, hears nothing else, and taps his fist lightly against the door - no sound, not a knock, just something to do with his hands. He'd punched the door before. And kicked it. He knows how strong it is, how good it is for where they live.
"I'm gonna check into a hotel." he says eventually, "You won't talk till you wanna fucken talk so..." he chews his lip and stands straight again, "I'll pick up first time this time, I promise."
He lets his words hang and then steps back, one step, two, until he's properly on the landing and then he turns to make his way back down to the lobby. Behind the door, Adam stands only when Nigel's footsteps stop echoing, and goes to his room.
It's two days later that the call comes through, and it comes through early, the ringtone hammering against Nigel's ears until he reaches over and answers.
"You didn't come back."
He blinks himself as awake as - he checks, 7am - will have him and groans.
"Adam, I'm in New York, it's as back as I'll fucken be."
"You didn't come back to the apartment." Adam insists, and after a moment Nigel snorts.
"You were playing hard to get." there's silence, Nigel gives it a moment to see if Adam will want to contribute to the conversation before sighing. "Do you want me to come back today?"
Nigel presses his face into the pillow in front of him, still face down as he had been sleeping to keep weight off his shoulder, and murmurs something that doesn't quite make it to the phone, but he's fairly sure Adam knows him well enough to figure out what the word is.
"Yea. Alright. Today." he says finally, rubbing his face with his free hand. Adam disconnects, and Nigel tosses the phone aside to sleep until a much more accepted, humane hour.
At eleven, he's by the door again, bagless this time, and when he knocks, Adam opens it.
He hasn't changed, not much. He's a little taller, but his hair is still a messy mop on his head, dark and soft and it brings up an ache in Nigel to brush it off his face. His eyes are just as blue, that crazy, almost unreal blue movie stars and baby animals have, and Adam has it. They haven't changed at all. The way they look, considering and almost calculating, is different though. Older. Something Nigel isn't sure he likes seeing on his friend.
"You gonna let me in?" he asks, watching Adam take him in too, the way his eyes linger on the tattoo on his neck, and then back up to take his face in again.
"You gonna stay?" Adam asks back, and Nigel grins. After a moment he inclines his head, allowing. He'll stay a while. They'll talk, he might have to go and collect his things from the hotel if he can have his old room here a few more days but he would go eventually. What did he have to stay for here?
Adam lets him in.
"None of your colors match." Adam points out, when they're in the main area of the house and Nigel shoves his hands into his pockets to stop them shaking. He snorts and gestures with his chin at Adam's clothes, his v-neck sweater and his button up, soft pants and dark shoes. He looks like a bookworm, stereotypical. That, too, hasn't changed at all. Adam just plucks his sweater once and doesn't comment more. He doesn't offer Nigel a drink, he doesn't offer him a place to sit down, he says nothing else.
Nigel allows the scrutiny, allows for Adam to read him with his eyes instead of using his words to ask, lets his own rest out of focus in some middle ground between here and a memory. There used to be a table in the hallway that's missing now, the walls are a different color, the windows hung with new drapes. The space feels so familiar and not, at once.
"You've been gone a long time." Adam says after a while.
"Ten years next month."
"Next week." Adam corrects, eyes to Nigel's again. The other lets out a long breath and makes an irritated gesture.
"Next week then."
"Why didn't you come back before?"
Nigel shrugs and fidgets. He has no answer. He didn't want to come back so he hadn't. He'd fallen in with a crowd he could work with, with people who were dangerous and paid well and kept his impulsiveness in check with constant changes in situation and scenario. He had a life away from New York. In New York he only had memories, and Adam.
"But you came back when dad died."
"Yea well," Nigel frowns, "He fucken raised me, I owe him."
"Do you owe me?"
That catches Nigel off, enough for him to frown deeper and tilt his head.
"Fuck's that supposed to mean?"
"Would you have come back if I had died?"
Nigel's eyes widen and he curses, rounding on the younger man to press a finger against his chest, angry and scared - much more scared than he wanted to admit.
"Don't fucken -"
"Would you have come back if I had died?" Adam asks again, the emphasis shifting flawlessly to the first word now, eyes on Nigel's, no response to the violent shift in proximity between them - Adam knew Nigel well, knew his movements, knew his fluid need to keep moving. He knew the difference between an angry onset and defense.
Nigel shakes his head in frustration and Adam's eyes harden before they turn lighter, liquid as the fear he'd been hiding starts to show through and Nigel can do nothing but pull him close and hold him, one hand in his hair, hand large and splayed to cradle him, the other around his shoulders. He doesn't let Adam struggle free and soon he settles against him with a small sound.
"If you had died it would be my fault." he says at length, "Because I wouldn't have been here to stop it, or help."
"You can't stop cancer." Adam mumbles against him, and Nigel laughs, the sound forced and unhappy. He was powerful where he could control it, where he had the gun. He would have nothing with disease, with age, nothing but his anger and his helplessness.
It takes him a moment to pull away, to stroke Adam's hair gently without actually looking at him.
"I'm sorry you had to face that alone." he says.
Adam just stands, allows the softness and the touches, allows the space he usually holds so carefully at bay to be invaded, by someone he remembers and misses being there.
"I don't want to live alone." he says eventually, eyes determinedly on Nigel's shirt, and it takes the other a moment to realize he's counting the patterns on it, eyes quick over the front of it to take it all in and calculate. He's grounding himself. And Nigel knows what he's asking without asking, knows that Adam hates to ask, hates to burden, but he also knows how Adam is when he's frightened, how he is when he's upset or unhappy, and he wants to scream with how inopportune the situation is.
He can't take Adam with him. Adam has no place in his life, in his world, he is too safe, too normal. He would need care and time and space and things Nigel cannot realistically give him. He shakes his head.
"We'll find you a roommate." he says, but his words are hollow, he doesn't meet Adam's eyes when the other looks up, bewildered. Nigel doesn't respond to him until Adam pokes him, hard, right in the chest as Nigel had taught him when they were younger. He brings up a hand to rub the spot and glares.
"What the fuck?"
"I don't want to live alone." Adam repeats, angry now, and Nigel shrugs, arms wide.
"What do you want me to tell you?"
"That you'll stay."
"I can't lie to you."
Adam stares at him and Nigel stares back, brows up a moment as though to ask the other to deny it - he has never been able to lie to Adam, the other reads him too well. He reads everyone too well, knows far too much for his own damned good and no one believes that because he hides it behind such a well-worked facade. Adam is one of the smartest people Nigel knows, he feels dwarfed by him.
"Adam, I don't live in New York anymore. I don't live in this fucken country anymore, I got out of it." and still Adam stares, eyes moving gently between one of Nigel's and the other, keeping focus and changing, over and over, it's almost dizzying. "You are not coming to fucken Budapest." Adam blinks, and Nigel knows that he is. Knows that one way or another Adam is in his life and he's stuck to him, and it's so infuriating that he leans in to kiss him again, just to get those damned eyes to close and look away from him.
It surprises him when Adam pulls almost violently from the gesture before he can even touch him.
"What'd I do?"
"Last time you did that you left for ten years." Adam reminds him, eyes narrowed, and Nigel has to laugh.
"If you're stuck with me that is the first habit I'm breaking you out of." he murmurs, running a hand over his face with a sigh.
"I kissed you because I wanted to kiss you." he says. Adam frowns.
"You left -"
"- becase it scared me." he finishes. There's a pause, Adam's brows furrow and his lips purse gently together in thought.
"You're scared now." he tells him.
"Out of my fucken mind." Nigel nods. The other watches him, concerned, confused, a little angry, even, and then he stands up on tiptoes to kiss Nigel himself, lips pressed together and unyielding, eyes closed tight. It doesn't last long, but it's there, a show of trust. And when Adam pulls back, Nigel catches him, parts his lips open with his own and kisses him properly, soft, coaxing, enough to draw a soft sound from the man in front of him.
"Scared for the rest of my fucken life, now." he mumbles, pulling back. If Adam hears him, he makes no indication, and when he wraps his arms around Nigel and leans in to kiss him again, the other lets him