Getting Along (Private)
Josh found Rico sitting on one of the benches that surrounded the Tikerak, his legs slung over the arm rest on one end and his head resting against the other. He had a smart phone in his hands and his thumbs were flying fast, busily texting someone. Josh could only guess at who, but he didn't think it was Rico's long-lost great-aunt. The boy, no, the young man, hadn't ever known a stable family life. His gang was his family. It had taken Josh and Mel a lot of work to extract Rico from New York city and bring him here to Nachton, away from gangs and shootings. Away from his 'friends' who thought a werewolf in their midst was their ticket to becoming the top dogs in their area.
Unfortunately Rico had a girlfriend, and that girlfriend had a little sister Rico viewed as his own little sister. Rico hadn't seen either of them since arriving here; they did have family in the city and wouldn't leave in spite of continued reassurances that arrangements could be made for everyone. Josh suspected they were on Rico's mind, and he worried that Rico's gang would use his relationship with one or all of them to convince him to return to them.
Rico saw Josh coming; he had to have. Josh wasn't a small man and he was making no effort to conceal his approach. He flicked his index finger at Josh as he approached and moved his legs away, glancing up at Josh with feigned nonchalance.
"Yo. Wesson. 'Sup?"
Josh did not wince at the casual form of address although it made him cringe inwardly. He nodded his head to Rico and leaned against the bench. "Wie geht's heute, bandito?"
Rico lowered his phone and looked at Josh. "You know I hate it when you German at me."
"It was only mostly German."
"I'm not a bandito, policia."
"I'm not with the law."
"Could have fooled me."
In spite of the content of their apparent argument, Rico's lips turned up a little. That was how it was with him. You couldn't express emotion. Even affection - especially affection. It wasn't macho. Or manly. How fortunate for Josh, whose face was pretty naturally devoid of any emotion to the casual observer.
He waited a second until Rico got impatient. Then the reclining younger man said, "So what did it mean?"
"How's it going?" Josh supplied.
Rico shrugged and looked at his phone. "Fine I guess."
Josh raised an eyebrow, just one eyebrow, a fraction of an inch. "So... all your classes are fine? Your apartment's fine? Roommates are fine?"
Rico grunted. "Yeah. It's all fine."
"That's not exactly what I heard."
Rico straightened up, a look of surprise on his face. "What the... come on. I'm doing everything I'm supposed to!"
Rico fiddled with his phone, avoiding Josh's pale grey gaze. "It's hard," he finally said.
The young man looked up, as if he had expected more of a dressing-down, not sympathy.
"They're my family," he explained further.
"And I'm turning my back on them when they need me."
Josh nodded. "I know."
Rico threw his hands up. "And you think it's the right thing to do?"
Josh gave a soft, almost inaudible sigh which he was sure the Amaroq in front of him heard. "That's ultimately not my choice to make. You already know what I think."
Obviously Rico liked it here. Clearly, he knew that his gang 'family' was trying to use him. Josh understood he was torn between what was familiar and what was strange, new, and frightening.
The boy had a good head on his shoulders though. When presented with an opportunity to better himself he'd jumped on it. It didn't make it easy. It didn't mean he never looked back, never had a doubt. That was Josh's job, though, and Mel's. To support their Packmates, to bolster them when they doubted. Soft words and hugs and such would do no good with Rico though.
Rico finally gave a soft, frustrated growl. "I know I have to stay away. I know... I know Javier was just using me."
It was a difficult admission for him to make. Josh nodded and remained silent, and Rico continued. "I just wish Alisa had come with me. I could explain to her who I am... she doesn't know any of this. I know, I know."
Rico slouched back against the arm of the bench. He finally looked back up at Josh. "I'll try to do better in my classes."
"Okay. I'll take your word for it."
"Do I have to take Calculus though? I hate it. When am I ever going to use that shit?"
"We can talk to the Dean about rearranging your course schedule. And the answer is, never. Unless you really really care about the rate at which the distance between two trains traveling toward each other is changing at what time. And I can't see that ever factoring in. Even if you suddenly decide your dream job is 'railway conductor.'"
That, at least, startled a laugh from Rico. "No, I think we're safe there. I actually like biology. You think they'd let me switch out of calculus and into microbiology or something?"
Josh nodded. "We can ask."
"Everything all right?" Josh asked.
The young man didn't look up. "Yeah," he said absently. "It's all good. Alisa says Connie misses me."
Connie was the little girl who looked up to Rico like an older brother, or the father she never had. She, and Alisa, were definitely Rico's weak spots but they wouldn't leave New York.
"Why don't you send something to her? To let her know you're thinking of her."
Rico did glance up now. "A present? Yeah, she'd probably really like that."
Josh nodded. "Didn't you say she likes unicorns?"
Maybe it was because he liked children, or because he had so many younger sisters - Josh always paid attention to detail but when it came to kids he was extra attentive. Rico nodded, a faint smile on his lips.
"Oh yeah, she's totally bonkers about them. Maybe I can find her a unicorn toy or something." He frowned, as if realizing that meant he'd have to go shopping for such a thing. "Uh. Where would I find a unicorn toy around here?"
Josh disguised a chuckle behind his hand as he politely coughed. "There are a bunch of toy stores in the city. I can give you directions if you want."
Rico looked hesitant. Josh decided his hesitance had more to do with being macho than anything else.
"Or I can come with you and just show you."
Rico looked relieved and nodded. "You don't mind? I mean, you don't have other wayward wolves to save or anything?"
Josh glanced at his watch. "Not this afternoon, no."
Rico gave him an odd little smile. "You know, you're okay Wesson. For a suit."
"Thank you ever so kindly."
"You really know where we can find a girly, sparkly, probably sickeningly pink unicorn toy?" Rico had both eyebrows raised at him now, his lips curled up mischievously.
"My efforts to learn everything about Nachton didn't stop at the threshold of the nearest toy store."
"Okay, if you say so. I call shotgun." Rico swung his legs off the bench and stood, striding toward the parking lot.
Josh followed behind him, having no trouble keeping pace with his much longer legs. "How convenient for you."
"Unless you're going to let me drive."
"I haven't noticed any pigs flying today, have you?"
"If you keep this up I'm going to have to renounce my classification of you as 'okay.'"
"This had better be one sparkly damned unicorn."
"I'll do my best."
"I'll hold you to it, Wesson."
((ooc: Josh and Rico out))