A Smart Match


logan_icon.gif nicole2_icon.gif

Scene Title A Smart Match
Synopsis Logan and Nicole discuss the latter's new (metaphorical) Facebook status, and the former pulls no punches.
Date January 1, 2011

Orchid Lounge

The Orchid Lounge, owned by the mother of Senator Nathan Petrelli, is an Asian-inspired martini bar lit by candlelight and the soft glow of wall sconces spaced evenly throughout the room. Although there aren't any employees at the door to check for identification, it's unusual to find anyone in the college-aged crowd at the Lounge, which caters to young professionals with plenty of extra money to burn. During the day, the plush burgundy drapes affixed to the windows are used to filter out the sounds of traffic and at night are drawn back to allow passersby a glimpse inside.

Seating is simple: clusters of rectangular tables fashioned from white marble, each with two leather benches parallel to the longest sides. Silk pillows in varying shades of red, brown, yellow and orange lend a splash of colour to the Lounge, vivid against the pale walls and black-painted cement floor. On one wall is a giant mirror with an intricately carved frame that reflects almost everything in the room and makes the space appear twice as large as it really is. Clearly, the proprietor of this establishment wanted to get her money's worth - real estate in this part of town isn't cheap!

It's probably rude, but not actually malicious, for Logan to make a date and find company beforehand. The low lights of the Orchid Lounge encourage intimacy, and so he sits close to the blonde (whose golden locks are only slightly more manufactured than his own curls) and she sits close to him. Her dress is a figure hugging classic black, if not particularly eyecatching — Logan is slightly more ostentatious, as the animal kingdom naturally dictates of the male sex. Ask any bird, any big cat, particularly peacocks and lions.

The evening ensemble of a black suit is more or less sedate save for the vibrant black and white zebra stripes on pressed lapels, white shirt beneath undone at the throat as if being marginally unkempt could be daring. There is gold on his fingers and in a thin chain hanging demure and loose around his long neck, more flashy precious metal at his jacket cuffs, and patent leather blue shoes cross at the ankles beneath the table kept otherwise empty.

"Oh, my god," the girl is gushing, with a glittering smile. "My boyfriend's like this total movie buff and I bet he doesn't even know half of those titles. You have a memory like woah."

"It's nothing you can't find on Wikipedia, love," Logan dismisses over the rim of his martini. She probably imagines that the way his pupils dilate during moments of brilliant intellect might be drug use. He smiles blandly at an urge to not be so modest and contemplates the difference between his former power's ability to get him laid versus this power's ability to carry a conversation.

He does watch the door, though.

It takes Nicole a moment to survey the room and spot Logan. Not because Logan is particularly difficult to spot — he's not — but because she wasn't expecting him to have a companion. She no longer regrets the decision to avoid animal print in her own attire. Especially since she had her eye on the grey snakeskin print dress that she once wore specifically to get his attention.

Of course, then she waffles back to the idea that she should have worn something more attention-getting. But Nicole is engaged to be married now. It wouldn't do to wear something revealing and be seen at the wonderfully intimate Orchid Lounge with John Logan now. The white blazer and pants she wears are sharp enough, paired well with a green blouse a shade between emerald and jade, but it feels woefully underdressed compared to Logan and his date.

Giving herself a moment, Nicole pretends she doesn't see the pair right away. She turns toward the door to take in a deep breath with her jaw set tight, faintly luminescent blue eyes falling shut. When she opens them again, she tips her head down immediatey to peer at her left hand. She considers removing her engagement ring with its large, sparkling princess cut diamond set between two blue topaz. Turning on her heel and starting toward Logan's table, another look at the blonde at his side stops her from working the band off her finger, leaving it firmly in place.

Perhaps he'll even appreciate it. "Logan," Nicole greets with a bright enough smile. He's known her long enough to recognise the storminess behind her eyes where it may be lost on others. "Who is your lovely companion?" is spoken without any frostiness. If she hadn't professed love not too long ago, he might even think there's some polite interest there.

His attention swivels towards the woman with the kind of efficiency that implies he'd already seen her before pretending to only just notice her, and somehow, despite the upperhand Logan has claimed for himself, the simple question has him hesitating. The blonde's smile is twisted and her stare is expectant. Think fast, John, before you have to admit that you have no fucking clue what her—

The shrill tone of a cellphone is jarring in the tranquil restaurant, so much so that the blonde starts and is swift to get to her feet, taking the electric blue cellphone out from her clutch. "Oh, it's my agent," she flutters. "I need to take this."

"Course you do," is muttered from the Briton, with a cut of a half smile. He sips alcohol when the woman twitches a glance over Nicole, as if trying to decide where she recognises her, before the slim socialite is stalking off to see what's up with her phone. Nothing much, turns out, but by then, Logan's attention has squared solely on Nicole, going so far as to get to his feet and lean across the table in expectation for a kiss to her cheek. That his hand goes out to claim her wrist for the exchange looks soft and casual from an external point of view, but his fingers have always had a natural inclination to snatch and grip.

Nicole lets out a breath she didn't realise she was holding when the blonde woman departs the table. The kiss is accepted, and returned, and she doesn't flinch at the tightness of his fingers around her wrist.

"I didn't know he was going to do that," Nicole explains breathlessly, without offering any set-up for who he is or what he did. Though she keeps her chin up to give the illusion of confidence, she can't meet his eyes. "I'm sorry."

If she did meet his eyes, there probably wouldn't be much to see. Logan has nice eyes, even, built in with shields behind them. However, there might be a glimmer of defense, that he somehow needs apology, even with cornering Nicole into a position to do little else. Well. That, and endure. His hand squeezes a little more in an I heard you acknowledgement, sitting back down with a flick of his other wrist that mutely invites her to do the same.

Grip swivels to take her hand instead of her wrist, tangling fingers in a clasp across the table. "Worse than proposing in front of your mum, I imagine," he says, conversationally enough. "But a live audience and everything. What a cad."

Nicole takes her seat and smiles tightly. "Good thing my mum's dead," she shrugs her shoulders faintly. "I do admit that the idea that she and my father may be turning in their graves over the whole affair is something of a comfort." They're well suited in their callousness.

Her eyes squeeze shut in a wince again for a moment. This time, when they open again, Nicole does find Logan's eyes and hold them. "I'm sorry," she says again. Because it needs to be said with sincerity. A heavy sigh, and an exhausted expression. "Christ, I need a drink. Did you see the broadcast when it was live?" She can't imagine he had, but if Nicole's learnt anything about Logan over the past year, it's that the man is full of surprises.

"I haven't been able to watch it," Nicole admits. "I know it's all over the news and YouTube and…" Shudder.

It sure is. Logan releases her hand around then, patting his own across his pockets for smokes and related implements, getting them out with a certain degree of laziness. Offer for her to share isn't the usual dispensing, lacking physicality beyond setting the items down within easy reach. "And Twitter. And a few local entertainment websites. It's amazing how swift the honeymoon aww moment devolves into disdain over fucking publicity stunts.

"I never used to watch the bleeding news."

Nicole procures her own cigarette case from her blazer, ready for some blessed menthol. She leans forward to pluck up the lighter, producing flame she brings to the end of her cigarette. "Good Christ. Well… Mission a-fuckin'-ccomplished, then." The cigarettes and lighter are nudged back in Logan's direction. "I… never, ever imagined anyone would take this much interest in my personal life. Ever." A small seething breath does little to disguise a curse of dammit, Bradley.

"It's… It's a smart match. Our political ambitions align. I'm the best campaign coordinator in the business," is a bit boastful, but some degree of self-assuredness is important in such cases, "and he's going to need a… A wife to put in front of the cameras. The family ticket is important." It's tough to tell if Nicole's trying to justify her engagement to Logan, or to herself.

"And I'd be waiting a rather long time, and rather foolishly, if I held out hope of you ever asking me to marry you, right?" Nicole tries to sound teasing behind the cloud of smoke blown from her lips. It only comes off as self-deprecating.

A snort is oddly humourless. And smokey. The stare across at her is flatly cynical and then prim as he hoods eyes to study the embering tip of his own cigarette through his eyelashes. "Queer, then," Logan says, finally, after allowing a silence filled with the ambiance of the little bar to stretch between them like a quivering fishing line, "that you never introduced me. What with how long you must've know him." There, a tiny quirk of a smile at the veeeery corner of Logan's mouth.

Possibly reassuring. Potentially not. He hasn't really looked at her ring.

"You don't introduce me to the other women you see," Nicole responds casually. Too casually to actually mask the defensiveness. "We only met in… September, or October. I… I didn't think we were…" A heavy exhale of breath sends smoke streaming and bangs fluttering. "I didn't think he was serious about me. And I… Would you have actually wanted to meet him?"

The brief quiver of lips betrays Nicole's swelling emotion. She is not about to start crying in front of the whole of the Lounge, damn it. "I'm not… I… He and I…" Brows come together in irritation at her inability to get her words out, eyes lidding and lips pursing around her cigarette. "This… doesn't change anything about…" A finger is tipped first toward him, then toward herself, and then back to him in a nebulous gesture meant to mean something like between us.


It doesn't change anything, she says, and Logan narrows a look towards her as smoke unravels continually from neglected cigarette, the wry kind of assessment that generally serves to make people more uncomfortable than flattered beneath that kind of attention. It's the search for weakness in the form of tone changes in skin, tension around the eyes and mouth, and slackness as well. He allows for another exchange of inhale and exhale of smoke, obliges her by clearing lungs and mouth of it and angles cigarette away. "Give us a kiss, then."

"That's not even- You know I can't- We're in-" Flustered, Nicole's lips go tight in something like anger at his request. Her teeth are clenched around her words. "It's also a political marriage. I can't kiss you in public."

Then the anger melts away to something more apologetic, and sad. Full of longing. "God, I want to. I want to kiss you like…" Her jaw works around soundless wordforms. It's infuriating to Nicole how tongue-tied Logan can make her. "You're just being mean-spirited. Since when have you cared about exclusivity?" Her shoulders half-quake along with the quick rise and fall of her chest. The first shudder of aborted tears. "Maybe I can't be seen slipping you tongue in public anymore, but nothing about what I feel about you has changed."

Logan occupies himself with a stinging sip of gin and vermouth as she talks — not rudely, his eyes on her and head at a quizzical cant, quietly swallowing around alcohol before the glass is set aside. The cigarette is dropped into it, burning orange immediately dying into wet black with a small lift of smoke curling up in its death.

It's not that Logan doesn't have an appreciation for politics. He does. Which is probably why he gets political in his own way, half-standing at his side of the table and reaching unstoppable hands across it to gently clasp them expertly at her jaw and throat, with the kind of gentle confidence of animal wranglers and doctors. The edge of the table nudges against Nicole's stomach as she's drawn forward enough to meet the kiss, a simple and demanding kind of contact that is not so difficult to end so much as it's impossible to stop it from beginning.

Being told can't has this effect.

Don't reach for me. I won't be able to stop you.

Those words had been on Nicole's mind. On the tip of her tongue. Words she thought were largely unnecessary, or too much of a challenge. Turns out she didn't need to add more fuel to that fire.

It was already an out of control blaze.

Unable to stand against the inevitable, and irresistible force that is John Logan, Nicole responds to him in kind, crushing her lips to his with no shortage of passion. In spite of the venue. She also drops her cigarette into a glass and half rises from her seat, shutting her eyes tightly as she reaches out to grasp his jacket in her fists. She can almost hear the mental cry of oh, babe, not the Armani in her mind.

Sense comes to her several precious moments past the point of no return. It's far too late to deny what happened. To say that he took liberty with her and she was just too stunned to fight it. The tabloids will have a field day when they catch wind of this. Reluctantly, but sans guilt, Nicole draws away to sit back in her seat again, smoothing out the lines of his lapels as she retreats. "I hope you found the answer you were looking for."

Zebra stripe de-wrinkled (and it's okay because Armani has more taste than to put animal print on a perfect good dinner jacket), and the man wearing it looking unabashedly self-satisfied. "Bit've that," Logan agrees, releasing her in turn without sitting down, back straightening. "And a bit've fun too." He collects up his cigarette case and lighter, pocketing these things with a preening casuality and not really paying much mind to who might be looking, who isn't.

He's just the nameless chap in this story, but maybe Nicole will have to go into more detail, at one stage or another. "Word of advice, though — don't introduce me to him," is almost a kindness. Logan means it. "You wouldn't like the kind of fun I'd have in that equation."

"Sit down," Nicole demands. The flush in her cheeks could be embarrassment or anger. Maybe a bit of both. A deep breath is meant to be steadying, but she's left shivering. She wants to reason with him. Explain things further. She can't.

Anger with herself for being weak causes Nicole to rise swiftly from her seat. There's a million things she'd like to tell him. Very few are suitable for a public setting like this. She settles for turning her back and starting toward the door at a determined clip. Woe be to anyone who stands between her and the door. Intentionally or otherwise.

He doesn't sit down — not when she says it, anyway, and rises to her own two feet, Logan's posture poised as if ready for electrocution, or at the very least, simply still. His chin lifts a little as she turns and walks away, a bodily hesitation that suggests he did not expect her to, mouth parting like he might call her back. Doesn't, upon remembering himself, mouth shutting with a just audible click of teeth and tilting his head as he watches her walk away.

And then he obeys, sitting down heavily with a hand coming up to undo a button of his shirt, then drifting to tilt martini glass and cigarette within to look into. He'll want another one of these.

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