Full of Surprises


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Scene Title Full of Surprises
Synopsis There's something to be said about chemistry and magnetism. Also alcohol.
Date May 27, 2011

Solstice Condominiums: Nicole Nichols' Home

Nicole checks the clock on the microwave for the fiftieth time in the past ten minutes. She expects that her date's going to show up on time, because everything she knows suggests the man to be punctual. But will her (well, Daniel Linderman's) famous pot pie be out of the oven by then? She flicks on the light to the oven to peer in and check progress. Then she lids her eyes and forces out a sigh. Everything will be fine, Nicole.

It isn't often that she actually sets a dinner table, but tonight is an exception. It's just a small thing, only able to accommodate two, but it looks nice, wood finish glowing in the light of a single candle set in the centre. Two wine glasses sit on either side, a bottle of merlot uncorked and waiting to be served.

But Nicole isn't happy if she isn't fussing with something. Though she calls it keeping busy. She sweeps off to bathroom to check her appearance in the mirror for want of something better to do. She already spent a good couple hours in front of the mirror with the large barrel curling iron, styling her blue-black hair into loose curls to give her blunt cut less severity. Midnight blue liner rims her brighter blue eyes and she debates whether or not to put on lipstick or stick with the clear balm she's chosen. Another sweep of the lime-flavoured stick over her mouth wins out. Leaving fuchsia or crimson on her glass doesn't seem like a terribly attractive option.

Another glance to the clock - this one a radio on a shelf - and she's checking her nails. Do they need another coat of lacquer? Nicole wishes she could banish the butterflies in her stomach.

She's not the only one.

He won't admit it, but Benjamin Ryans has his own fluttering nerves. How long has it been since he dated? More years then he cares to acknowledge.

Benjamin Ryans stands outside the door and has for some long moments, fingers brush a short length of hair from his forehead. It looks actually tame and his jaw less scruffy then it's been. As if he took some care of his appearance. Which wasn't easy out on the island. His clothing isn't what he wishes it was. No slacks, but the best pair of his dark jeans and a white button up shirt he had, tucked in neatly. A couple of the top buttons are undone, letting the thin shirt he's wearing under it peek out.

Cradled in the crook of his arm, is a small spray of flowers. Do they still do that now-a-days? Mainly long sprigs of lavender, as it grows wild on the island with a few white daisies dotted through to stand out on the purple. It's tied together with twine that's tied into a neat bow. Making the whole thing look rather… rustic?

Well… he can't stand around here all day.

Knuckles rap firmly against the door. Knock knock.

The sound at the door causes Nicole to start, back going straight. She's glad she didn't decide to mess with the dark green nail polish. She turns from the bathroom and strides down the hall, brown ankle boots clicking on the floor as she goes.


Shuts the door to Colette's room on her way by. For a moment those butterflies are vanquished by a profound sense of loss that simultaneously fills her and makes a void of her.

But her date is waiting at the door. She's halfway through the living area, close enough to start reaching for the handle when she realises she's still wearing her apron. "Just a minute!" she calls, uncinching the blue gingham and ruffled thing and pulling it over her head carefully, hanging it on its hook in her pantry. Brown leather skirt and a white sleeveless blouse, draping in the front and accented by a long, doubled string of black pearls. The gold chain she hangs Allen Rickham's wedding ring from has been tucked away into her jewellery box. It's time to stop focusing on might-have-beens.

Fidgeting with the diamond tennis bracelet around her wrist, Nicole stops in front of the door again and takes a deep breath to steady herself before she finally pulls open the door. She greets the man with a bright smile and a little bit of surprise at the bouquet. "Ben! My goodness, that's beautiful. Did you pick those yourself?" She gasps softly and reaches out to accept the flowers, obviously pleased.

There is some relaxing of his shoulders as he offers over the modest bouquet, having tensed up when the door started to open. "I did." Ben admits softly, gaze trailing down with an appreciative glance. "I saw them and I thought you might enjoy them. I know I enjoy the smell of them.

"And you…" Dragging blue eyes back up again, "You look lovely this evening." Hands brush at his shirt smoothing it down, almost self conscious. I apologize for my own appearance. I feel… under dressed." A formality really, since he's well aware she knows his situation.

Of course, he's now not certain what to do next, though he does give her a light smile. It's been awhile since he's felt this awkward.

Colour creeps into Nicole's cheeks at the compliment. "I wasn't expecting you in a suit or anything. But… I don't have an excuse for not using my wardrobe to my full advantage," she insists, making her way to the fridge where she snatches a vase off the top of it, nestling the daisies and lavender inside. "They're wonderful. Thank you so much for these." She leans in and inhales the scent of the flowers deeply, closing her eyes and smiling gently.

The beep! of the timer brings her back and reaching for oven mitts left out on the counter. "That'd be dinner," she chimes, pulling open the oven and retrieving the pies. "Just needs to cool for a bit." And she's obviously disappointed in herself for not having it ready sooner. Her timing just didn't work out quite right. She's being too harsh with herself.

With their food cooling on the stove, and that shut off and mitts left on the counter again, she turns back to Ryans and smiles. "Would you like some wine?" Nicole certainly would.

The latch clicks softly behind him as he closes it, though he's watching her more then the door itself. He trundles along slowly behind her, glancing around the apartment again, a touch wary… but not of her. "You're welcome," is offered when he reaches the kitchen, watching her fidget with the flowers and then dinner as well.

Cooling or not, it's got him curious. He moves to have a look. "Wine? Yes, please." He might as well indulge himself some and really allow himself to enjoy the evening. "Pot pies?" A raised brows is turned her way, a touch of amusement in his voice. "They look good. Smell it, too. " He almost mentions his wife having cooked something like that too, but… not the place for it. He tries to keep his mind firmly in the present.

Nicole doesn't need to be encouraged twice to pour a generous glass of red for the both of them. She offers one out to him and holds the other loosely. One of the pies is vented with a simple slit, while the other has a B scored into it. "Thank you."

Once he's taken his own merlot, Nicole raises her glass for a demure sip. "How are things? You're looking well. Especially given your…" She waves her free hand in the air, searching for the right word. "Situation," she decides on.

"Good." The glass it taken, sipped carefully… he is after all wearing white. "It's… been fairly quiet. I keep watch, tend to the plants we bought that one time." Ryans nods his head in her direction, acknowledging her part in being there as he searched for the right ones. "I keep… occupied. Keep them safe. Try to keep from getting sick…"

He studies the red liquid whirling it a little in the glass. "Not a whole lot new beyond that." Not that he could mention yet, anyhow. " I do spend a lot of my time waiting for that other shoe to drop. You?" He asks finally look up again, studying her features. "How is your own work?" There is a touch of hesitation before he asks, "Daniel…?"

"Work is… hectic. There's a lot more on my shoulders now than ever. I also feel like I'm waiting for a whole shoe store to drop. Between Daniel's affiliations, and his illness…" Which leaves her looking sad for the briefest of moments that she wears her heart on her sleeve. "And 'Letty. I'm just waiting for someone with either a military or federal badge to come knocking and tell me that it's all over."

Nicole shakes her head slightly, a small, if rueful smile on her lips. "I keep busy, though. That's how I like it. For all my worries, at least my life isn't dull." And she raises her glass to that notion, suspecting Benjamin Ryans of all people to understand.

A small dip of his confirms that he does indeed know how that is. "Though a certain amount of dull might be nice." He gives a little raise of his glass as well, when he adds, "Just not too much." Ben gives her a brief smile. "I'd go stir crazy if it was too dull."

It does slide away, not staying long. "If it does come down and you need help and or need to disappear, you have my number and I can leave you a number or two if it's an emergency and I'm not answering." There are some that stick to the city after all, Ben tends to do a lot of hopping. Plus there is always that chance that he won't be around to help. "We'll get you under cover and protected."

"Thank you," is heartfelt. "I'll be sure to call if I don't think it's safe to head to Grand Central on my own." Nicole stares down into her glass for a moment. "It's… really nice of you to look out for me like that." The pause that follows is somewhat awkward, and Nicole hates feeling like she's out of her element. But she is exactly that. Maybe if she pretends he's a politician…

No. They don't have poll numbers or lobbyists to talk about. Shit. Electric blue gaze lifts and falls on their cooling dinner. "I wasn't sure if you would prefer chicken or beef, so I made one of each. Your choice. I like them both equally well."

At least she's not alone, Benjamin doesn't know what to talk about with a woman so deep into the political world. He's only the soldier. A man of action, more then talk. Even small talk can be difficult for him.

The pies are considered. "I like them both, though I have always been more of a beef type. Should let me grill for you sometime." Like any male, he prides himself for his ability to char meat with fire. Among men it seems to be an art. "If there is ever a chance to use a grill," Ben adds realizing they are after all in an apartment.

He trails off, looking away. Then he can't help but chuckle. "I forgot how awkward this all can be." Ryans gives her a smile, a small thing but there. "Especially, with someone who seems like she could be my opposite." Which isn't always a bad thing.

Nicole chuckles softly. "It was so much easier back in university when the goal was to just make-out with someone." How silly! Except that she's blushing now because she realises what she just said. Or at least the implication of it. She covers her embarrassment by moving to set her wine on the table and then setting out the pies between knives and forks at either setting. "You men and your red meat," she teases.

She doesn't give her date the chance to pull her chair out for her. She suspects he would if she let him, and while she'd find it endearing, Nicole doesn't want to seem like she expects it of him. "I think we have more in common than we probably realise. Let's start with something simple. What kind of music do you like? Who do you enjoy listening to?"

"Some of the older stuff. A little Johnny Cash. Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. Even some big band, which I think comes from my younger days and all." Dating himself clearly. Folding his tall frame into a chair after she seems to hurrying into her seat. It's amusing. The only hint of it is a slight deepening of the crows feet at the corners of his eye. "Girls did love to do the Swing. Even when it was starting to go out of style."

Glass set down, he works on breaking the crust, carefully, maybe fearing scalding or just taking his time. "What about you?" A brow lifts in query as he continues to break at the crust letting it soak up some of the gravy.

Nicole gasps appreciatively, leaning in with her hands clasped together. "I love Cash and Sinatra." Which only came after she got into her chosen field. Before then she was very Ramones and Sex Pistols sort of material. She's got the leather jacket in her closet to prove her punk cred. "Big band was sort of the trend when I first started attending political functions. I'm very fond of it. There was a junior senator once who was bound and determined to teach me to swing. I'm not terrible at it."

Her knife lifted, she cuts an intersection into her crust to vent it further. "I like the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. The Mamas and the Papas. Oh! Blood, Sweat and Tears. Love them."

Brows lift a little. Okay maybe he's a bit surprised. "I admit I expected you to be more… into the more… modern stuff." Ben's eyes narrow slightly, before turning them down to his food as he forks up some of the filling and blows on it.

After a moment to make sure he isn't going to burn the roof of his mouth he tries it. "It's good," Ryans compliments. It's a few more bites, before he talks again. "What about movies? I've always enjoyed the westerns and the war pictures." He doesn't specify as he doesn't mind a good modern western now and then.

"I do like modern stuff, but classics are classics. Plus, I spend my time in… Let's call them distinguished circles." Not old. "So a good catalogue of classic music is a must. Especially given I'm just a little girl to a lot of the men I've had to gain the confidence of in my line of work." Nicole takes a moment to blow on the food on her fork before she takes a bite. She doesn't pat herself on the back about her own cooking, but she does nod appreciatively. Pleased with a job well done.

"Oh, I love westerns. Magnificent Seven. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I like the television shows, too. Have Gun Will Travel, Maverick, Bat Masterson…" She falls silent long enough to take a sip of wine before admitting, "I don't like war movies too much, though. I can see the appeal, but they tend to make me sad. I don't mind a good drama, though. I like film noire, too."

"Well… Miss Nichols. You are truly full of surprises." Even if he does have some issue with her age, he tries not to linger on it. Tries not the think about the fact she is nearly thirty years younger then the ex-agent. "At least I know you are adaptable." Is there a tease in that? Benjamin seem to be relaxing some, maybe due to the wine.

"What are your thoughts on the outdoors? I know you are a woman who walks political circles, but…" He motions at her with a fork "Would you consider camping?" Brows lift a little as he waits for the answer to that question.

"Thank you, Mister Ryans. Coming from a veteran such as yourself, I take that as the highest of compliments." Nicole's smile seems to light up her eyes, and not in that supernatural way that they're already faintly illuminated. When he teases her, she giggles and blushes, dipping her head down to allow her curls to shield her flushing cheeks.

While he speaks, she eats more of her food. Chewing gives her time to consider her answers. "I've never been. I don't think passing out in the quad after a kegger technically counts as camping, even if you do sleep on the grass under the stars. Campus security frowns on it, for some reason." An admission of that wild streak she used to indulge in. Or she might be kidding. It's hard to tell. "I'm willing to try it. I think it has the potential to be fun."

"It's something I tried to do with the girls, even when they were teenagers." The tone of Ben's voice states how that was at times. Not easy and probably with it's problems. "I… miss it at times." It's hard to not to mention what it's like out at the castle, how sometimes it's like that. "Especially, up at a lake. The mornings with how the mist rolls across the surface… it's… really something you have to experience yourself."

He sounds almost wistful, but also sad. Maybe because he done that not just with his girls. He doesn't look at Nicole as Mary swims to the surface of his thoughts again, he quietly watched how his fork interacts with the food as he pushes it around a little. "Maybe if all goes well, we can try it sometime. See how you like it."

"That sounds beautiful," Nicole agrees. "I'd like to see it sometime. With you." With her chin tipped down, she glances up briefly to gauge his reaction, smile shy now. She can sense there's something bothering him, but she doesn't prod for an explanation. Maybe if it continues. For now, she'll let him indulge in the pensive.

She gets a smile for her effort, something genuine and warm, Ben looking at her from across the table. He certainly doesn't seem opposed by that idea. "And don't worry. I do my share of drinking as well." His smile turning a bit more like a kid with a bit of a secret. "I don't drink like that anymore, but I'm not the type to pass up a good drink." He lifts his glass a little.

"I am a scotch and whiskey kind of man, normally." Ryans settles back in his chair and sips at his wine. "So… what else would the lovely lady like to know?"

"I should have guessed," Nicole murmurs, a fondness to her tone. "All the best men like scotch." Her smile finds more strength, showing a sliver of white teeth. "I do like scotch on the rocks, but tequila's probably my favourite."

The drink of wine she takes this time is a touch more generous than those before. She's relaxing a bit herself. "What's your middle name?" It's random, and she shows she's aware with a small dart of her tongue between her lips and a shrug. "Mine's Lyzette. And I'll deny it up and down if anyone else asks me."

"Allen." Is supplied without thought. He doesn't seen a need to be coy about it. "Benjamin Allen Ryans. Benjamin was my grandfather. Allen after my mother's grandaddy. I'm the oldest of their four kids, if I had not told you." Only fair she know.

"In fact, one of my brothers — Brick we always called him — he has kids in the city… well… one kid now, since my niece up and ran off." Brows furrow a little, maybe with disappointment. "Got in over her head, but maybe for the best with the virus floating around."

There is a soft sigh as Ryans leans forward to rest his forearms on the edge of the table, setting down his glass. "Met a young man who could very well be my nephew. Seems to have done alright." Smiling a bit more, he adds. "It's a big family if you didn't notice."

"Allen." Go figure. "One of my favourite names." Nicole stares down at the table, tapping her nails against the surface absently. "Four of you, huh? It was always just me, and Sissy ten years behind. I used to wish our family was bigger." She lifts her glass, not quite bitter, but suddenly a little aloof.

Understandably when she states, "And now it's just me."

"I wouldn't give up on your sister so soon," Ryans advices, though he finds himself sympathetic to her situation. "I imagine she'll be back again when she's ready." More of that delicious food is devoured, before he adds, "If it's any consolation. I haven't seen any of my siblings for years. We all went to the corners of the country it seemed. Brick all but disappeared, with all his drinking and drugs."

He seems thoughtful as he pulls crust away from the side of the dish. "Ferry has been a lot like family, since I ended up among them. Opened my eyes to another side of things. Though I never was the type that liked to put away the good ones… Still… you see a different side of people."

She smiles, but it's strained. Ryans seems to have faith that Colette disappeared because she wanted to. Nicole is just waiting on the discovery of a corpse. But it's nice, she admits to herself, that he does have that faith. "I'm sorry about your brother. That must be tough for all of you." She likes to think she understands at least a little bit.

"I didn't understand at first," Nicole confesses, "why Sissy threw herself in with the Ferry. I used to think they were terrorists, like the government wants people to believe. I'm sorry I didn't trust her sooner. I thought she was just so full of anger after… Everything." Filling has disappeared from Nicole's small pie, and she flakes at the crust with her fork, but doesn't move to eat it. Either a loss of appetite, or too many carbs. "Sorry," she laughs after a moment of self-reflection. "I'm being melancholy."

"It's alright. Hard not to be with the way the city is." The dish is pushed away a little and he again settles back with the mostly empty glass of wine. "I didn't even really know who they were. Abigail is the first one I met. So young and seemed to have already been through too much."

He swirls the contents of is glass, "What would you be willing to do for the Ferry?" Ben looks up slowly to judge her reaction to the question… questions really as he keeps on. "Would you be willing to take time off. Maybe even go out of the country if they asked it of you?" He gives her a small smile. "I had to prove myself to them. I was still within the Company when I traveled overseas to help retrieve paintings… lost an old teacher then…" He trails off and chuckles softly. "Now who is the one bringing the mood down." His brows lift in a curious manner.

"Still the question stands."

Nicole pushes her dish away finally after Ryans has done the same, cradling her glass of wine against her chest thoughtfully, considering his words before she formulates a response. "To help the people who've helped my sister? Yes, I could take time off and go overseas. I'm on the no-fly list due to my ability, but… I have money. I can charter. That's not an issue."

The electrokinetic leans back in her chair, tilting her head to one side and asks, "What do you have in mind?"

"There are ways around that. I've spent plenty of time tucked into tight spaces as cargo." A smile touches his lips, maybe a gleam of something in Ryans' eyes. "That's not a problem. Just how much you willing to risk to help.

"I can't go into details," there is an obvious yet there, "but I recommended you for something that could mean spending a few days overseas. You have the type of unique skills and background for what they plan to do." Ryans leans forward again, intent on what he's saying. "They might not even take the recommendation seriously, but if they do… You don't have to risk any of it, if you decide not too. You can tell them no."

There's a slow nod of her head. Understanding that she can't have all the details, and that she can say no. She has no intention of refusing to help if she's asked, but the option is nice. "Of course. Risk for the right reasons isn't an issue for me. I already ran headlong into the riots with Queens burning down around me. I really can't manage to do much stupider than that."

Nicole rises from her seat then and gestures toward the living area. She glances to his near empty glass, "Would you like a glass of scotch?" Though there's much wine left in the bottle.

When she rises from her seat, so does Benjamin. He looks down at his glass and slowly picks it up from the table. He seems about to say no, but something stops him. It's the simple question of… when was the last time?

"Maybe one glass," he finally concedes, following her into the living room.

He isn't rude enough to leave wine in the glass, finishing it off in a few swallows. "There are stupider things out there though." He settles himself on the couch, kind of wedging himself a little into the corner as he drapes an arm along the back. "Should try hijacking a space shuttle and taking it up." He even points up to emphasize the point.

Nicole takes Ryans' empty glass and laughs at the notion of stealing a space shuttle. There's no way that happened. "That would be pretty stupid. I don't think I'm quite to that level yet. That and I'm not a qualified shuttle pilot." She winks and leaves him to sit on the couch while she move to the kitchen (not out of sight).

A lowball glass is filled with ice and scotch is taken down from a cupboard and poured. When she puts it back, her fingers brush over the tequila and linger for a moment. She sticks to her wine, stopping at the table to blow out the candle in its centre and top off her glass before moving to join Ryans on the couch.

With a respectable, if still companionable space between them. "Cheers," she murmurs, passing him his drink.

"One of the stupidest things I've done to date," Ryans agrees with a chuckle. "Along with jumping off a dam to avoid capture and many… many other things." The new glass with a brush of fingers and a softly spoken thank you.

"It's one of the things about me." He gives her a slightly apologetic smile. He sips at it, eyes closing as he savors that first taste. It's been awhile. "I've never been afraid to do what needs to be done." Brows furrow a lift, glass lifted to eye the contents thoughtfully. "Probably, what will get me killed one day… and with hope it will be without regret."

There's a sullen downcast of Nicole's eyes at Ryans' sentiments. She remembers in a pang about her heart what it felt like to be told he was gone, when she didn't yet know him. "I think you're right," she agrees. "A death without regret is almost more important than a life without them. I think regrets are important, though. In life."

Slowly, the deep red liquid is swirled in Nicole's glass. "The way I see it, if you live your life without regrets, it means you never took chances. You always played it safe and that means you maybe didn't always do the right thing. I have a lot of regrets already, but I'm okay with that. If that makes any sense." Though she's been doing well at pacing herself so far tonight, Nicole takes a long drink of her merlot. "Or maybe it's the wine got me rambling."

"True… I have my share of it. Regrets that is. Plenty. I guess…" He takes another enjoyed sip of scotch. "I guess I want to go out knowing I did all I could." Ben smiles a little. "Knowing that I did the right thing." He falls silent for a long moment.

"Maybe the drinks are getting to both of us," he adds ruefully after that moment. "I should probably stop after this one. It's only the first date, of course… it's been more then twenty years since I went out on a date, I imagine the dating scene has changed a lot."

"I haven't really been on a real date in…" She considers that for a moment. Sure, she's been for drinks and dinner. And there was the couple times with Sable Diego. "Well, I've only been on a handful of dates. If there's some sort of expected way this is supposed to go, I don't know what it is." Nicole smiles reassuringly and takes another long drink for show. "So if we want to get a little bit tipsy, I think that's entirely up to us."

However, she's leaning forward and setting her merlot on the coffee table before resting her elbow on the back of the couch, careful not to encroach on the space the man's arm occupies. "How'm I doing so far?" Nicole's brows lift, a glint of mischief in her eyes at the boldness of her question. "Considering my inexperience."

"From what I have seen so far, you've been a gracious hostess," Ben compliments with a faint smile and a lift of his glass in salute. Fingers move to touch her arm, gently brushing. "You've made it a pleasant evening, with good company to share it with."

He takes a drink from his glass before setting it down on the table as well, "I was nervous about this. Worried what would happened." There is a quietly huffed chuckle,glancing away a little. "Not sure why I was worried. Or even why I was concerned with how the evening would go." Brows pull down curiously, before he glances back her way out of the corner of his eye.

"It's hard to explain." It's admitted ruefully. "I should be warning you away, not trying to see if lightening strikes twice."

"I think you were worried because you're human," Nicole responds gently. "I was nervous, too. But…" She trails off, gaze drifting to where his fingers brushed over her skin. She's warm, as he may have come to expect by now. "You make it easy to relax."

His metaphor causes her to laugh quietly. "I'm sure it does. I've already been struck once. It's how I discovered my ability. Or maybe what triggered it. Not sure how that stuff works." Unnaturally blue eyes roll in tandem with a small shrug, good-natured. Then Nicole sobers some, if only in tenor. "I don't spook easy."

"I do." Joking about himself and this situation. Letting a true smile ease over his features, Ben adds, "I have a lot of baggage and a large part of myself missing." The other hand presses against his chest, even as the other rests against warm skin, like it might hurt… not in the way of a heart attack, something more psychological. "It's a big hole to fill."

He's not saying she can't… just that's it's there. "I don't know how that will effect things." Ryans voice is gruff when he says that. "Between us. If things continues on track."

"You men are all the same." And though the sentiment is that she's feeling somewhat patronised, Nicole still smiles, more mirth in her eyes than even on her lips. "You think you're so wounded and no one can ever begin to heal you. Or that by healing, you're somehow discrediting the grievousness of the wound in the first place. Which is understandable, but it doesn't have to be like that."

Nicole reaches out to rest her hand over the one Ryans has placed on his chest. "I'm not looking to replace Mary, no matter what happens between us. She's always going to be a part of you, and that's something I can live with." She winks then, "It takes some of the pressure off."

His brow twitches up, amusement hedging in on the sadness. "Are we?" All the same. He tries to capture that hand, curl fingers around it with thumb pressed against her palm. "I know I didn't expect the pain of it to last so long." It's a hard admission, but considering their future… she deserves to know. "Or for it to have such a hold on me."

The pad of his thumb brushes lazy circles against her palm, even as he looks her in the eye. "I guess in a way it's a weakness of mine. The women in my life. It's been exploited on many occasions. Not that they remembered any of it." Which came with the job, a perk that he doesn't have. "It may still happen. Especially, if they find out about you… what could happen."

Is that worry?

He curls fingers around her wrist, caging dainty bones with large fingers. They tighten as he studies her, almost as if he's trying to make some sort of decision.

Nicole relaxes some as Ryans' thumb rubs over her palm, easily allowing the grasp. She listens to his worries and smiles when he's finished, as though she understands. Maybe she only thinks so, or maybe she really does. "I'm no stranger to affiliations being a cause of potential headaches. Your troubles are a drop in the bucket. And nothing I'm afraid to face."

Her brows come together, attempting to come to a decision of her own while his fingers close around her wrist. "You sweet man," Nicole murmurs. "I don't mind that you want to look after me, but only because I'll be looking after you as well. It's only fair, I think." There's a slyness to Nicole's expression then, the shift subtle.

There is a chuckle, maybe it's a little sexist of him… or maybe he's just so use to taking care of others… not being looked after. "As long as you don't try to protect me too much. Delia is bad about that." There is some disapproval, but he doesn't blame her. "Thinks I'm too reckless. Which I won't deny."

Fingers are loose on her wrist still, caging it. Maybe so she doesn't go anywhere. "But I won't change that about myself either." There is a gentle pressure at her wrist, a light pulling.

"I am curious about one thing…" There is a slyness to the works, a promise of sorts as he seems to be pulling her closer. Lessening the distance between them. Maybe the drink that's loosened his tongue some, emboldening him to say, "Would it be to forward of me on a first date, to try and get a kiss out of you?" The words a spoken softly, yet see have that deep quality to it.

"Reckless is fine," Nicole grants, amused that he feels the need to warn her. "Reckless runs in the Nichols blood, so I'm used to it. I'd likely think you terribly uninteresting if you didn't have something of a wild streak."

When he draws her closer, Nicole doesn't resist. The warmth in her belly loosens her limbs and drains some of the uneasiness that tends to come along with moments like this for her. It's why she knew she wanted wine with dinner. Her cheeks turn pink when he asks his question.

"I'd have been disappointed if you didn't," she teases, then levers herself with her arm on the back of the couch to push up on her knees a bit so she can close the distance between herself and Ryans. Her hand rests on his face before she dips her head down from the small height advantage her position has granted her, and her eyes close before their lips meet.

When lips meet, her wrist is released, hand brushing up her bare arm and over her shoulder until it rests against the warmth of her neck. Fingers rough with calluses slide under dark hair, hooking behind her neck for leverage. Maybe even encouraging the kiss, which in itself is gentle… testing her a little. Maybe even a touch uncertain on Ryans' part, holding back a part of him that wants to take it further.

She'll feel Ben's thumb slide along her jaw, a light touch, just like the kiss as he starts to break away from it. Mostly so that he can remember how to breath, taking a deep breath so that he can let out an amazed huff.

Encouraged Nicole is, leaning in closer and drawing in breath through her nose, hitching briefly with his hand at her neck. Her instinct is to deepen it, press in. But she senses the hesitation, or maybe just realises that he isn't making the first move to do that. So the distance is, for now, respected.

Nicole only begins to draw back when Ryans does, peering down at him with a shuddering breath of laughter. "Was it what you hoped for?" she asks quietly, lifting her hand to gently drag her nails through the hair at the man's temple.

Nicole may see the developing gray at his temples this close, not that he's vain about it. He's already been there. Seen it with a majority of gray and how he'll look when the lines deepen on his face. Ben tips his head a little against the feeling of her nails against his scalp.

"Mmm…" Is the rumbles response to the question, uncertain how to explain it, but it's still a pleased sound. That much she's know. There is a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth, pulling it a little to one side. That thumb just keeps brushing along her jaw line as blue eyes seem to consider the lips he had just tasted.

Ryans only really answer is to use the fingers pressed to her neck to pull her into another… much more heated kiss.

"Oh!" Nicole manages before she goes tipping forward into another kiss, giggling against Ryans' mouth. It melts away against that heat, what he's generating more than her. The hair on the back of her neck stands up and the air smells faintly of ozone as she kisses back, lips parting and arm moving from the couch back to rest against the man's chest instead. The fingers of her other hand rake through his hair, tangling.

Encouraged by her willingness, the arm that has set on the back of the couch slides off, hand moving down to rest on her hip. He uses that hand to encourage her closer, the rough palm of his hand catching lightly on the fabric of her shirt, sliding around to press finger tips along her spine. He seems to savor that kiss, the feel of them against his own and the taste of her gloss. Ryans does drag his lips away, but not to end it. No, he kisses along her jaw, head sipping down so that his lips can caress along her neck.

It's here he stops. Arm around her waist tightening, while he lets out a shaky sigh. His breath hot against her already warm neck, quickened by the moment. It takes him a moment to find his voice. Swallowing once… twice. "If this keeps up…" he murmurs gruffly against her neck. He's not asking to stop… maybe giving her an out… or trying to remember this is the first date.

Her own breath is coming heavily, but slowly enough. "If this keeps up… Oh." She starts giggling again and then smooths her palm over Ryans' hair, suddenly laughing harder. "Oh no! I should… I'm messing up your hair." Somewhat shakily, she pushes herself up off the couch to stand. The contact is broken reluctantly, but out of necessity.

Nicole splays her fingers out in front of her and watches the sparks jump between. "I should go discharge some of this." She blushes and starts to turn for the kitchen, "I swear, this doesn't usually happen…"

He doesn't stop her, mostly cause he needs a moment to compose himself. Shifting to where he can sit on the edge of the couch, Ryans lets out a calming breath. An attempt to get his pulse to slow down, maybe even get blood to his brain so that he can think straight. Hands scrub over his face and up to comb his hair with fingers.

When the drop again, he's looking in the way of the kitchen. Ben can still faintly taste the gloss she wore for him tonight. It makes him a little aware of the age difference, but it doesn't stop him from suddenly wanting to follow her into the kitchen. He's not stupid enough to follow her any further then the threshold. "It doesn't?" Curious.

"Not… always," Nicole admits, turning the tap on in the sink and putting the stopper in the bottom so the basin fills with water. "Usually I'm better about not letting it bleed from me like this." Though he can't see her face, he can tell she's blushing again from her body language. Her face tips down, shoulders hunching up a bit shyly. "I think I've just got too much build-up."

The alcohol likely didn't help. She's not about to admit that. "It… I don't have all this down to an exact science yet. Not when hormones start fluctuating, I guess. I've never unintentionally electrocuted anyone before, though." Then Nicole pulls a face. "Ohh… Except that one time. But that wasn't my fault, he made me angry first and then slapped my ass. It was totally different." A deep breath is drawn in audibly. "I'm rambling. Sorry." The tap is shut off and Nicole bites her lip as she lowers one palm down into the water gathered into the sink and…


The lights above don't flicker, but the noise is evocative of what films portray a radio falling into the bath is supposed to sound like. It only takes a few brief seconds and she's draining the water and drying her hand on a dishtowel. "There… All better," Nicole proclaims, though somewhat languidly.

Benjamin doesn't flinch, doesn't step back at the snapping electrical discharge. He simply watches, curious. Maybe he wants to see what happens to her, know this side of her and her ability. "Remind me not to make you angry then." The smile he gives her may suggest that he might still risk it.

"It's draining it seems like," he observes, finally stepping into the kitchen now that there is no fear of getting zapped. A thumb brushes along her cheek briefly. "Maybe I should head out. Let you rest, rather then…" where things might have gone if she hadn't needed to discharge a little static build up. Already, he's glancing down at her lips again. "Besides, curfew will be here before we know it."

When he touches her cheek, it's much cooler than it was before. In comparison, Nicole feels cold. Looking up at him, her eyes aren't that bright, glowing blue, but much darker shade of blue. "You could stay," she offers in a soft voice, reaching up to loop one arm loosely around Ryans' shoulders.

"I'd like it if you would stay, Ben."

His own blue eyes flick up to meet her own, there is a knowing there as to what she's asking. Also a brief furrowing of brows, maybe at the noticeable change in her eyes and temperature. "Are you sure?" Ben knows the answer, but the gentleman in him has to ask, even as his hands fall to rest along the curve of her hip. Then as another thought he loops arms around her, pulling her close to the warmth of his body.

Ryans has to hunch a little, shoulders rounding enough for him to lean down and capture her lips into a kiss that clearly says that yes he'll stay.

Nicole gets up on her toes to meet the kiss. Yes, she's sure. When she parts the kiss, she slides her hands down Ryans' arms and takes his hands, leading him backward by memory through the kitchen and down the hall. To her bedroom, where she kicks shut the door.

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