[The place in Gotham didn't look like a hell of a lot on a regular day. The paint on the walls was the same color the landlord had painted it before whoever had moved in before Russ. The furniture was comfortable and large, it could take abuse and it could take bulk but it wasn't expensive and no one had gone picking it out to match to the drapes and the carpet. It was small and it was clean the careless kind of way that didn't think much of corners and what was in them. But that was before Nathan and after Nathan, the place in Gotham looked like a kid lived there full-time.
There were cars lined up under the coffee table and a row of soldiers running a campaign over the kitchen counter. There was a tiny backpack swinging from the bottom of the stairs, and a small coat, bright blue, hung up alongside a series of darker, heavier ones. Upstairs was the biggest change, with the blue paint and the fairy-lights taped up one wall and the bedspread that was still current-range. Nathan was watching TV in the living room, cartoons and the plink-plunk of music that said the kid was sucked in, more than the grapes and peanut butter and crackers on the plate in his lap did.
And Russ, he was in the kitchen. Sweaty-fucking-palmed like a teenager getting up the balls to ask a chick out, or to smoke his first cigarette, some shit like that. He had coffee in front of him, steaming: of course he had coffee, Nathan was up early and was energy from sun the fuck up to down. Coffee, and there was a pack of cigarettes sitting within reach (above kid-height) on the counter, but he didn't reach. He pictured Ellie the same age or thereabouts as the kid with the curls in front of the cartoons. Not twenty-nine. Not stuck in here, where the doors slammed on opportunity.
He was bare feet, and low-slung jeans and a flannel shirt that looked like he'd dug it out of the laundry hamper that crumpled and when the knock at the door came, he felt like it was a heart-attack. He made for the door, Nathan too engrossed to pay attention - doors meant babysitters, not Mom, he'd learned that lesson by now - and he filled the gap, squint-blue eyes and the mug in his hand.]