Battle Scars


nick_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Battle Scars
Synopsis Nick pays a visit to the Nightingale. The two find solace in the way that they're both broken, yet require no repair.
Date October 20, 2010

Suresh Center - Second Floor

The second floor is an idiosyncratic combination of small medical center and psychiatric hospital. In the back of the building are several lab rooms, equipped with everything from blood-test equipment to an MRI; despite its size, the facility is competitive in a features sense with many larger and more mainstream hospitals. The core is dominated by a multipurpose room, usually serving as a cafeteria but sometimes transformed into a game hall or ad-hoc movie theater; on either side of it are the two permanently-staffed nurse stations, the balcony at the front offering a view of Roosevelt Island and the opportunity for plenty of sunlight.

One wing of this floor has been given over to a medium-term ward, intended to house medical or psychiatric patients for only a few days, perhaps a couple of weeks at most. Most rooms are double-occupancy, particularly for medical patients, but in some cases they may be allocated as singles; all have large exterior windows and are surprisingly not painted in generic institutional shades. Rather, they each have their own personal theme, from ascetic to modern, oceanic blues to autumn reds and browns. Rooms are allocated primarily by what environment a patient feels comfortable in. The opposite wing is the Suresh Center's juvenile ward, designated for the care of Evolved children and teenagers coming to terms with their abilities. It has its own rec room, several single-occupancy rooms, and at the end of the hall a larger shared room for siblings, friends, and children who do better in company. As for the adult ward, the decor is engaging and inviting rather than blandly uniform.

Visitors are required to check in at one of the stations before going anywhere else on this floor, and in some cases may be provided with an escort for the duration of their visit.

Hospitals — or anything like them — make Nick nervous. It's only natural, of course. He's been this close to death more than once in his life, and the acrid smell of antiseptic is one that brings back the feeling of hazy pain and uncertainty. He also feels a touch uncertain about being here in the first place — he's not Evolved, and would a smuggler, like he's pretending to be, come to anything so official?

It doesn't take much acting, then, for him to look like a fish out of water, blue eyes wary and guarded. He's taken off his leather jacket, and he had the sense to leave his gun at home, so he sits on the edge of the exam table in just his jeans, a long-sleeve black t-shirt, and of course his black army boots. His left cheek is cut, held together with a self-applied butterfly bandage; medical tape is swathed around his split knuckled right hand. Neither are the concern — it's that popping in his knee, accompanied by a sharp pain and a limp.

Doctor Price - or Gale as he knows her - looks much as she did the last time he saw her. Though her dress, a somewhat fifties-styled red thing with white polka dots and a black belt cinching a high waistline with a pair of matching red heels stand out more than her last outfit. The white coat she wears over it suggests that she may actually be the doctor she claims to be. The plastic badge might as well, if it weren't so conveniently tucked into the breast pocket of her coat.

Odessa's smile is kind ad she sets a clip board aside on the built-in desk in the corner and takes a seat on her rolling stool, clicking a pen to take notes for herself. "It's nice to see you again, Nick. As nice as it can be, given the circumstances of course. Looks like you got into a scrape." If his being here at all hadn't said as much already. "Tell me about what happened. Don't need names, or reasons. Just events. It'll help me better patch you up. You said your knee's the problem?" There's no official forms on the clip board, from the looks of it. It's just lined paper.

"Hey, there Florence," Nick says, with a rueful smirk as he tilts his head at her, glancing down from head to toe at the retro look that seems at odds with the pirate patch and the white coat. "Don't have any names to give you. Old fashioned saloon brawl, you might say, over in the Rookery. Someone got all pissy because I disagreed with something a fuckin' ref said in a soccer game, and as they say, all hell broke loose."

He waits a beat. "You should see the other guy," he adds, but then more seriously, shrugs that left shoulder. "Barstool got flung at my legs, something felt like it snapped. I can walk on it, but it hurts — I'd just man up and all, but I know sometimes things like this can turn out to be worse and I don't wanna need surgery later 'cause I ignored something now, you know?"

"You're smart," Odessa murmurs. "Especially for a smuggler." She's teasing. She rolls her seat over closer to the exam table and reaches for Nick's injured leg, gently and slowly extending it. Her single-eyed gaze flashes up to him. "If it's too much, you just say something. And no macho bullshit. You're too smart for that." One hand rests against the back of the man's calf, and the other comes to rest on his thigh, just above his knee.

His lips crook upward into a half smirk. "I got in a fight over a football game," he says wryly. "How the hell am I smart, Doc?"

He does wince as his leg extends, stretching the problematic sinew the straighter she pulls his leg forward. "It sorta snaps when I walk — it didn't do that before, so I figure that's not a good sign, right?" As she works, he looks at her face, eyes curious as he takes in the scars from a closer range than their first meeting on Staten. "So when you told me you were a ripper, I certainly didn't think your office was here, Gale. That's a bit odd. They won't think it's weird I'm not an X-man or something, or you gonna fake the paperwork for li'l ol' me?"

Odessa flashes a smile and slowly returns his leg to its original position. "It pops?" she asks with lifted brows. "Okay, well…" She stands up and nudges the chair aside with her foot. "Let's take a look at your face." She takes his chin in one hand and peels away the butterfly bandages with the other. "You should really let me put a stitch or two in that," she advises, giving him a somewhat stern look to punctuate her point.

"It doesn't matter to me that you aren't SLC-expressive." A term she's getting used to using around the office. A couple years ago, she would have said something like one of us. And nearly a decade ago she would have said one of them. "I work out of this office on my own time. I see the patients I want to see." It may not be entirely truthful, but Odessa doubts Nick really cares how this works, so long as it doesn't bite him in the ass. "I think I'd like to get an x-ray to confirm, but I believe you've torn a ligament. You should avoid aggravating it as much as possible, but it will heal on its own. If you need, I can write you a prescription for the pain.

"SLC-Expressive? Is that what they're calling it these days?" Nick says, as if he hasn't heard the term, chin lifting as she turns his face upward. "Yeah, go ahead. It's not like I'm worried about the scarring. Got plenty of those." One on the underside of his jaw suggests some sort of fairly major trauma, years ago. His eyes tighten a little as he realize talking about worrying about scarring might be sort of callous on his part — clearly he didn't think when he said it, but he has enough tact not to further deepen the hole by stammering an apology.

"And sure. I don't think anything's broken but my pride, and I ain't got much of that these days," he adds, another shrug of his left shoulder. "So here's a question for you — this place is supposed to be for the Evos, right? Like, if they're worried or have concerns or need someone to talk to. But now they need to be registered to get here. How's that workin' out?"

Colour touching Odessa's cheeks is the only indication Nick gets that he may have touched a nerve with her. "I'm going to give you a little localised anaesthetic," she explains as she pulls a set of keys from her pocket and unlocks a cupboard behind her to get at a syringe and a vial to fill it from. There was a time when she wouldn't have been reaching for the anaesthesia for a patient. She'd just get to sewing.

"I only registered so I could work here," is partially true. "I'm here to help people, regardless of how I or any else feels about registration." Maybe that's not entirely true, either. But the more she says it, the more she begins to believe. "I do have a bit of an admission to make." Odessa flicks lightly at the loaded syringe, clearing air pockets as she depresses the plunger just a small amount.

The rough and tumble Brit pretending to be American looks away when that syringe comes out, apparently not a fan of syringes or needles in general, though not enough to balk at having it imbedded into his skin. His blue eyes move up and away, to the left corner of the room behind Odessa.

"Oh, I didn't mean you. I mean, if you're registered or not, no concern of mine. Just, if someone were Evo and not registered, I don't think they're gonna come here for any help, not with the ticket fairies out on the bridge, yeah?" he says quietly, jaw tensing as he anticipates the prick of the needle against his skin that has yet to come. "What's your confession?"

Warning is given just before Odessa makes the injection, "Just a small prick…" She's good. He barely feels it. But with the face, it's hard to make it entirely painless, so there's some momentary discomfort. "I was hoping you'd call me again," is the apparent confession.

His brows arch and after the prick, his blue eyes come back to rest on hers. "Again? Did I call you before and forget, or do you mean you're hoping I'll call you again after I called you for the first time?" Nick asks, perhaps playing dim, or perhaps actually dim, it's hard to tell. "I guarantee you I'll get hurt again, if that's what you mean. 'Course, I apparently have a choice of medical staff to choose from. 'Course… if you're a real doctor, you trump the other."

It's Odessa that winces now. "I meant… I crossed wires on my thoughts, there. What I meant was that I was hoping I'd see you again, and hoping you would call." She lets out a huff of air, annoyed with herself. She retrieves some supplies from the cupboard and sets them on a tray next to the table. "Lie back," she directs. "And yes, I'm a real doctor."

The anaesthetic kicks in, numbing his face, and Nick reaches up to touch his cheek curiously before smirking a little at her words. "A doctor, huh? You seem young to be one. Unless maybe your … what's it you said, SLC-expressive ability is to make yourself perpetually young and beautiful?" He arches a brow and shifts so that he can raise both legs and lie back on the exam table rather than lean against it.

He winces a little at the bending and unbending of that knee, then glances at the supplies — stitching supplies — and once more his eyes slide away, this time to the right corner of the room. "'m not too much of a fan of doctors, but I might make an exception."

"I'll be gentle." Sly. Once his gaze is fixed decidedly away, Odessa gets to work. "Don't try and talk now," she warns, hopefully needlessly. It doesn't take long. The cut isn't terribly bad, and Doctor Price works swiftly. There's a snip of her thread and she stands back, surveying her work. "You're good."

The admittedly young doctor leans back and fixes a smirk on Nick once he's righted himself. "I wish I had the ability to stay young forever. That would be impressive." And handy. "Beautiful, though? Really?" A sceptic look is shot in his direction.

His long lashes beat against the tops of his cheeks once or twice, his eyes squinting from the pressure since the cut is so close to the one, but he manages not to wince. He arches a brow as those eyes return to her. He sits up and swings his legs back around, pushing off the exam table to a standing position. The medical-taped hand rises to brush a strand of white hair away from her face, his thumb tracing the mark of one of the scars on her face for a moment.

"Did you think you were beautiful before?" he asks quietly, suddenly serious. "Because they don't cover up your beauty, you know. It's still there. They just make it less ordinary. Show that you've been through something most haven't, and that you survived."

Odessa's breath catches in her throat when Nick's fingers brushes against her face. Her skin flushes warm in the aftermath. Her throat works visibly as she swallows. "Perhaps," she responds about a half a second after it seems like she might not respond at all. I don't suspect many people see it that way."

"Many people," Nick says softly, "are idiots." He arches a brow as if to dare her to argue with him, then takes her hand.

Lifting his chin, he brings Odessa's hand up to touch the faded white scar that mars the line of his jaw, then tips his head and brings her fingers to touch the aftermath of a cigarette put out in his skin, and finally he brings her fingers to his shoulder, his free hand moving to pull the collar of his shirt to one side, revealing the still garish, recently healed scar tissue caused by the bullet ripping through flesh and bone there weeks before.

"We all have them. Some are just more visible than others. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?" he says, releasing her hand and bringing the back of his hand to brush lightly against one of the scars on her throat. "You must be one hell of a strong dame, Doc."

Odessa's eyes follow the lines of scars Nick shows her, tracing over them with the interest of a doctor, but something softer, too. "You're too kind." Her brows furrow. "You seem very strong yourself." Her eye shuts momentarily. "Oh, that sounded just… stupid." A sigh and Doctor Price brings herself back to look at her patient. "I like to think I'm… Well, I used to think I was indestructible. I guess I just… Bounce back remarkably well."

The woman falls silent, studying Nick's face for a long moment under the pretence that she's examining her handiwork. "Oh, sod it," she mutters before reaching up to curl her fingers around behind his neck and lean for a kiss.

His lips tic up in a smile at the 'stupid' and he holds still for that scrutiny on his stitched cut, watching her and smirking again at the 'sod it.' He meets her lean halfway, bending downward to bring his dark head toward her fair, lips brushing hers lightly before his hand moves from his shoulder to the back of her head.

The kiss is soft at first, then a little more urgent, before he breaks it and burrows his nose in her pale hair, inhaling the scent, leaning his head against hers. "I should warn you — I'm not looking for something permanent. I'm liable to be in a different state next week or something, you know? Not something to rely on, if that's what you're looking for," he mutters quietly.

"Reliable? Now that'd be a change," Odessa laughs breathlessly. Her head feels like it's spinning. She half expected to be pushed away, or get a what are you doing shot back. It's a good thing this is not a proper exam, because this is totally not professional. "Reliable is all well and good, but where's the excitement in that?" Despite the confidence Odessa's attempting to inject into her tone, her cheeks are still red. "I see… very little reason not to enjoy ourselves for as long as this may last." Her therapist is going to have a field day with this.

"I'm reliable where it counts," Nick tosses back with a mischievous smirk, lips brushing her neck through the veil of white hair. "Just don't expect flowers and phone calls every day and dinner with the parents, yeah?" Because apparently dinner with the parents is on par with phone calls and flowers in Nick's mind.

He steps back to lean against the gurney, tugging her closer to him and wrapping both hands around her body. "So long as we're clear. No strings, no expectations, no trying to save me from myself and vice versa, right? We can be totally screwed up scarred people without trying to fix each other. Deal?"

"Flowers are overrated." A bit more neck is exposed to those lips, an invitation. Phone calls may be nice, but parents will never be an issue. Odessa willingly tips forward, meeting Nick against the exam table. "This all sounds like an arrangement I can definitely live with." She grins, sharp as a scalpel and tips her chin up. "I certainly don't need fixing. You don't look like you do, either."

"Just my knee," Nick says, fingers tightening in her hair as he leans in for another kiss. "And it can wait…"

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