nicole_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Handsy
Synopsis The events of a night of heavy drinking may be forever clouded in mystery.
Date September 30, 2019

Bay Ridge: Nicole's Home

Sun filters in through the gaps in the blinds over the windows. Birds chirp cheerily just the other side of the panes of glass. Nicole Varlane lays face down on the bed, groans and gropes about blindly for the other side of the mattress for a pillow she can drag over and press against her head to block out the noise. Her hand grips the down-stuffed cushion and she tugs.

It doesn’t budge.

A second tug.

Then a groan.

That one wasn’t her.

Nicole’s eyes snap open and she props herself up on one arm instantly to look over at the other side of the bed, toward the origin of the sound. There, sprawled out on his back and - until just a moment ago - sound asleep, is Richard Ray.

Recoiling, Nicole scoots herself away from the man in her bed in a frantic scramble. Her hand moves to plant itself on the mattress behind her and, after the third scooch over, finds only air. “Oh n—”

There’s a loud thump! that accompanies Nicole’s tumble over the side of her bed. One leg is stuck in the air, tangled in her bedsheets, and she kick-kick-kicks furiously to free it, skittering back on all fours to the wall, very much wide awake now.

And super naked.

“Oh, fuck.” Nicole lunges forward again to snatch at the blanket that half-hangs from her bed, tugging until it pulls free and she pulls it around her body. “Richard, what the fuck?!” she hisses. Her head is throbbing and she’s trying to remember what happened last night after they left the bar.

The pillow’s pulled right out from under Richard’s head, and then the sheets are pulled off by the tumble of Nicole’s body from the mattress to the floor; a light sleeper at the best of times, even the hangover doesn’t keep him asleep through all of that.

“Nnh— wh— ?” A dazed lifting of his head, elbow and forearm pressed to the mattress to lever himself up as he looks around. Hey, this isn’t his room. Where did the blankets go? Why is Nicole talking to—


“Uh. Hi.” An unsure smile down to her as he looks down off the bed, eyebrows raising a little, dark eyes, “I’m not… that was a lot of whiskey last night.” Hey, he has quite a few tattoos, that’s new information.

Blue eyes, without their characteristic electrified glow, survey the wreckage of the room. Clothes are strewn about, one shoe resting in the doorway and the other in the hall, barely visible from where Nicole sits. Richards things are in a much more orderly heap — by comparison — at the end of the bed.

"Don't look at me!" Nicole scolds, as though she hadn't absolutely called his attention to her. One hand holds the blanket in place while the other braces against the wall and she pulls herself up to stand. "God, that's a lot of ink I didn't know about," she mutters, without realizing she's not using her inside voice.

Speaking of ink, there's some smudged on her hands. Nicole squints through the hangover and the general veil of what the fuck at the curled fist at her sternum. "Is that a monocle?" she asks incredulously.

Sure enough, there is a little face drawn on her hand, complete with angry eyebrows and a monocle. The other hand has, "…A cowboy hat?"

See, you can tell that's what that wavy line is because there's an arrow pointing to it, and at the other end of it, scrawled across the back of her hand are the words COWBOY HAT in what could easily be a child's script. It isn't a child's script, however. It's just that Nicole is not left-handed.

“Alright, alright…” Richard’s hands lift defensively at the insistence that he not look at her, and he shifts to push himself up to sit, one leg folded and the other stretching out. Grimacing at the ache behind his eyes, he laces his fingers together and stretches both arms up over his head, back arching slightly as he works out the stiffness of a night’s bad posture.

He has less shame, or at least less body-shyness, than her this morning.

“Ngh,” he grunts, arms falling and one coming back up to rub a hand over his eyes, “It’s too bright in… monocle?” Fingers splay so he can peer through them, looking at her again. Sure, she said not to, but she’s muttering about monocles and cowboy hats.

So really it’s her fault he’s looking at her again.

Guilty as charged.

“Yes! Look—” Nicole starts to hold her hand out toward Richard.

Several Hours Ago…

“—ow…boy… H…aaaaaa-tuh!” Nicole dots her unintentionally squiggly exclamation point and then holds up her right hand after capping the Sharpie used to create the face of her hand puppet. “I don’t need aaaaaaanybody’s help!” crows Benjamin Ryhands.

“Wot wot!” retorts Handam Monroe, his monocle on point. “Of course you do, mate! Come! Our chariot awaits! We shall ride off together into the sunset!”

“Oh, I can’t resist your dreamy eyes,” Ryhands sighs.

Right and and left hand are mashed together in a passionate embrace.

“Oh, God, no,” Richard throws his head back in a howl of laughter, raising both hands up and waving them at her as if to ward off the sight, “I don’t need to have that in my brain, Adam and Ryans making out, Jesus H Christ on a— “

Then he’s leaned back too far, the chair he’s in tumbling back to the floor with a crack of wood to flooring. There’s a silent pause during which she may briefly suspect he’s knocked himself out, before he suddenly thrusts a fist in the air, declaring stridently, “DAMN YOU, ADAM MONROE! YOU SABOTAGED MY CHAIR!”


Suddenly withdrawn, Nicole’s expression grows fierce and reproachful. “No! Don’t look! Eyes on your own paper!” Crouching down, she moves to retrieve her shirt from the floor. “Oh. Oh, no.” The quest for the garment is abandoned as she gathers up the blanket around her body like a trailing skirt lifted high enough to avoid dragging through the mud. The process is repeated with her pants. “Oh no.”

Turning instead to head for the master bathroom, Nicole makes her way through the doorway and stops just inside the tiled space. “Oh no.

“…what?” Richard’s brows go up as she stops just inside the bathroom, and he turns then to look around for - oh, right, clothes, there’s his clothes. He rolls himself up from a seated position to sprawl down the bed, reaching out to snag the pile of them, head lifting to look at Nicole with brows upraised, “What happened? Is there a dead body in the tub?”

Hopefully not!

Several Hours Ago…

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Nicole insists from the bathroom floor, where she’s half-sitting and half slumped over like her spine is only partially solid, her cheek pressed against the cool porcelain of her bathtub. “It’s nice here. I think maybe if I can just crawl inside, I can convince the world it’s not really spinning. It’s fine.”

She’s slurring. A lot.

She’s also had a lot of whiskey.

“Richard!” She doesn’t have to shout, he’s right outside the door. “Richaaaaard!” She doesn’t open her eyes or lift her head from its resting place as she calls out. “I think my ass is numb. I can’t feel my hips anymore.” Her stockinged feet shuffle against the floor, fruitless in their attempt to find purchase. “Can’t feel my face anymore, either.”

She giggles to herself quietly, punctuated by a snort. “You’ll never see me fall from grace,” she sing-songs.

Richard slowly tilts to one side from where he’s seated against the wall, just outside the bathroom door, his head turning a bit to focus one eye on the woman in the bathroom. Well, he tries to focus one eye on her. It’s not going very well. Why are there two Nicoles?

“I think.” A long pause. “Maybe.” A longer pause. “We drank too much.”

“Maybe,” he repeats.


A concerned noise comes from the back of Nicole’s throat and she takes a step back toward the bedroom, face screwed up in disgust.

There’s no body, but his clothes are, well…

“Someone threw up in my bathtub!”

Thump. The shirt picked up drops right back down onto the rest of the clothes pile.

“…yeah,” he calls in slightly-pained tones, “That’s not the only thing they threw up on, too.”

Several Hours Ago…

“Okay, okay. I’ve got it now.” Nicole slowly lifts her palm off the tiled wall of the bath, her other arm wrapped around Richard’s shoulders. “See? Seeeeee? It’s like a three-legged race and we’re gonna be the winners!

It’s nothing like that and there will be only losers tonight.

Richard turns to lead Nicole out of the bathroom so that he can help her to bed. But that plan is quickly derailed by—


Richard hears the noise before he registers what it means. Feels the warmth seeping through his shirt to the skin of his abdomen. Understands when those two factors are put together that Nicole has just thrown up on him. On both of them. In the shock of the moment, his grip around her ribs loosens and she drops to the floor, throwing herself to the side so she can continue purging the toxins from her system into the tub.

“Oh, Jesus,” Richard swears, wavering a bit before dropping down to a knee and reaching out to pull her hair back and out of the way, grimacing down at himself, “Oh, God, this is— ughk— “

He manages, barely, not to join her.


Nicole covers her face with one hand and just takes in a slow, pained breath through her nose, willing this to be a ridiculous dream that she’s going to wake up from any minute now.

“Okay. Okay, uh…” Richard slowly draws back from the end of the bed, tumbling back onto his back on the bed and dropping an arm across his face. “Do you have any… men’s clothes hanging around that might be my size?”

He has no shame regarding his current state of lack of clothes, though.

“I—” Nicole grimaces and disappears into the bathroom anyway. He can hear the rustling of fabric, the sound of it hitting the tile floor. She returns a moment later wrapped in a bathrobe, the sheets gathered up in her arms and deposited in Richard’s lap.

“I’ll get all this into the washer.” Neither of them may actually be able to remember what happened, but it happened in her home, so Nicole will take responsibility. (Which is good, considering it is definitely in her fault. In entirety.)

Several Hours Earlier…

“Ffffuuuuuck pants,” Nicole declares as hers drop to the bedroom floor. With assistance, she manages to kick her feet free of the skinny ankle opening and stumble two more steps toward the bed. “Fuck this shirt—” Her hands are already pulling the hem upward when she tugs it back down again, holding it a short distance from her midsection and looks down to read it. “Wait. Which one am I wearing? Depeche Mode? You can stay.”

Carefully, she adjusts her tactic and pulls her head through the neckhole first, then pulls the rest of the garment up and off her body, avoiding allowing it to turn inside out. Most of the sick was wiped off, but she’s not taking chances.

With her knees bent and resting against the boxspring of her bed, she tugs the straps of her bodysuit down. “Go ahead and like leave your shit anywhere,” she instructs him as she peels out of her shapewear before falling face-first onto the bed. She says something else that’s muffled entirely by the mattress.

Arms stretch out over her head, palms slap flat on the surface and grab purchase in the form of the blanket. Slowly, Nicole puuuuuulls herself fully to lay on the bed — albeit side to side rather than head to foot — then rolls over onto her back. “Strip,” she commands. “Get naked. It’s only fair. Equality of the sexes! Feminism in action!”

None of that makes any fucking sense.

“Ugh.” Richard stumbles out of the bathroom after her, looking down at himself with a grimace before reaching down to carefully pull the shirt off - also making sure it doesn’t turn inside out. He folds it out of habit and drops it down by the foot of the bed, shifting to undo his belt and shoving his jeans downwards.

“Fine,” he declares, boxers dropping next as he steps over the pile of his clothes and drops down onto the bed as naked as requested, falling onto his back and dropping an arm across his face, “We definitely drank too much.”


With the washing machine chugging away down the hall, Nicole stands in the doorway with a pair of jeans and a button-down shirt. “These’re…” She swallows down whatever she was about to say, instead setting the clothes down on the end of the bed for Richard. “He might be a bit more broad in the shoulders than you are, but they’ll probably work for now.”

Richard offers her a hangover-pained smile, shifting to sit back up and leaning over to snag them. “Thanks. I figure you’ll be more comfortable if I’m wearing pants,” he observes with a wry note woven through his tone, “Gimme a sec and you won’t have to avert your eyes from my hideous mortal form.”

He could’ve just gone shadow but that hasn’t occurred to him.

“Look, I’m not complaining about your, ah…” Nicole draws a circle in the air meant to encompass certain aspects of Richard’s physique. “Mortal form.” She at least didn’t shriek at him to put some damn clothes on. Her own modesty is just that, her own. She doesn’t expect or demand the same from him.

Fingers rake through her hair, shaking out the dark strands with a quiet sigh. “You have it in you to eat some breakfast? I’ve got eggs, I can make toast… I can put on a pot of coffee.” The latter is happening regardless of his answer. “I blame Monroe for all of this, by the way.”

Richard laughs at the circle drawn through the air, swinging his legs off the bed and pulling the jeans on - not worrying about underwear. He’s not going to wear Ryans’ boxers and it’s not the first time he’s gone commando in his life. Standing up to pull them up the rest of the way, he stretches, shoulders rolling back and a grimace crossing his features.

“…eggs, toast, coffee. Yes. Yes, good ideas.”

He rubs a hand over his face, “Good choice. Damnit, Monroe.”

Nicole just nods mutely to the order and slips out of the room to let Richard compose himself. She pads on bare feet past the shoes in the doorway, down the hall, sidestepping the toppled armchair in the living room without more than a tired glance in its direction, before heading to the kitchen. The linoleum feels cold under the soles of her feet. She feels cold.

Several hours earlier…

“Look. You never gave me one of your fancy-schmancy R-phones.” That’s not what they’re called, Nicole. “I don’t have a charger for that thing.” Not like having a dead cell phone is the end of the world these days. Half the time - maybe not in this part of the Safe Zone, but still - the service is so spotty as to be nonexistent anyway.

One hand is held out, palm open and fingers curling inward briefly. Once, twice. “Gimme. I’ll take care of you.”

“It’s not a— I think Yamagato makes these actually.” Richard can’t remember. He squints at the phone in his hand, and its 0% power warning that’s the only thing showing on its black face, frowning. Then he’s reaching over with a vaguely unsteady reach to slap it into her hand. It only takes him two tries to reach it properly.

Fingers close on thin air after the first attempt. Clearly she also thought he’d hit the mark. The second time, there’s the satisfying slap of hard plastic against her palm. Nicole brings the cell closer to her sliding her fingers along the back of the case slowly, feeling something out.

“I got this,” Nicole promises, humming quietly as she concentrates. She could just pour energy into the phone, but then she’d be likely to just fry the battery. Instead, slow and steady wins the race. She “listens” to the way the circuitry seems to respond to the current she provides and the percentage points slowly tick upward on the face of the phone.

“Pretty cool, huh?” It’s a parlour trick, to be sure, but a useful one.

Richard leans in to watch, probably dangerously close seeing as how she has accidentally electrocuted him before. The circumstances are different now, though.

“Huh,” he grins as the percentage starts ticking upwards, “Pretty cold— oh, shit, here I can show you, uh, I gotta— you have something you don’t need or, er, want anymore? Something small.”

Nicole frowns thoughtfully and looks around. Ultimately, her eyes land on a half-eaten bowl of popcorn. “How about some of those kernels? That work well enough?” She did entertain, for just a moment, the idea of one of her daughter’s noisier toys. But the look on Pippa’s face when she discovered it missing would not be worth whatever amusement Richard’s display is about to provide.

“That’ll work,” Richard offers cheerfully, reaching over to pull the bowl over to him and sweeping a hand over it as if in some magician’s trick, “Alright. Now you see the popcorn…”

Those fingers dip down to brush though the kernels and half-popped remnants, his hand darkening into shadow that spreads out through them… and part of the bowl, not that he notices in his current state. “And now…” He sweeps his hand back, wisps of black dissipating in the air as they trail behind it.

The remains of the half-eaten kernels tumble out of the sizable hole left by him disintegrating about a fifth of the bowl.

“Oh. Oops. Shit.”

Nicole’s eyes grow wide, slightly dimmer now than they were a minute ago. She’s astonished. She’s impressed. She’s just the tiniest bit upset. But she’s mostly amused. Barking out a laugh, she pats her knee repeatedly as a substitute for clapping, what with her other hand busy. “You know what? It’s not like that thing was an heirloom. I got it from Zimmerman’s salvage stand a year ago.” He did say to make sure she gave him something she wasn’t afraid to lose.

“You should take it,” she suggests with a gleam in her eye that has nothing to do with her ability. “Display it in your office. This is what happens if you piss off the boss!

HR would likely frown on that.


“What the fuck happened to my popcorn bowl?” Nicole stares blankly at the broken-but-not-actually-broken ceramic bowl sitting next to her sink. A few kernels still linger in the bottom. What’s left of it, anyway.

No matter. Wasn’t like she was going to mix eggs in it anyway.

Crack go the eggs into a little tupperware along with a splash of milk. Nicole frowns and groans at the sight of the hand puppets staring back at her and upside down while she scrambles the yolks, the whites, and the dairy all together. Why couldn’t she have used one of Pippa’s washable markers for her little art project? This is going to take Lava to get rid of.

“It might be better not to ask,” admits Richard as he walks out into the kitchen area, the shirt now on although he hasn’t bothered to actually button it like a civilized human being. The oddly-mutilated bowl does get a bemused look all the same, though, and then he glances down at his hand.

Maybe he did that.

Dropping down into a chair at the table, he rubs a hand over his face, “Do you— nnh. Remember anything after we left the bar?”

Several Hours Ago…

“You want to see how fast this Yamagato-built piece of shit can go?”

The question tossed over to Nicole, Richard flashing her a daredevil grin and eyebrows going up and down as they drive along a road mostly-empty, night’s shadow leaving the city dark save for the eyes of lit windows and the dappled light of the occasional street lamp.

Most people don’t have cars these days, and it’s pretty late.

“Fuck yeah, I do!” Nicole crows from the passenger seat, a wide grin across her face. Her jacket is half-slid off her shoulders. In spite of the evening chill, she’s warm from the combination of her ability and alcohol. The car’s heater doesn’t deserve all the credit.

A cigarette sticks out from between her lips, the tip of it glowing red as she takes a long drag. Smoke is expelled from the side of her mouth in a steady stream that carries into the back seat. Her window is rolled down a crack so she can flick ash out onto the street, instead of the car’s interior. “Show me what you got,” she dares him.

“Alright, solar cells are all charged, so we’re not gonna run out of gas on the way,” Richard declares, taking a turn - the street leading straight for quite a few blocks, one of the roads that has stayed the same since the old days of New York City - and he leans back, bracing his shoulders against the seat behind him.

“Warp speed, Mister Sulu,” he declares, and hits the gas, the whole car jerking as it tears down the street.

As it turns out, those Yamagato engines can go pretty fast.

“Yea-ha-eah!” Tires squeal and so does she.

There’s a quiet thump of flesh on leather as Nicole is pushed back in her seat when Richard hits the gas. The cigarette is caught by the drag, slips out of her fingers and goes careening out the window, carried on a current to pirouette its way to the pavement, not even so much as a speck visible in the rearview mirror.

Now sans the embering stick, she lifts her hands to the roof of the car, palms flat against the upholstered ceiling like she might do on some sort of thrill ride.

“Seventy… eighty… c’mon, one— hundred— miles— per— “


“I don’t know,” Nicole admits with a shake of her head. “I think I remember stumbling into my mailbox and swearing at it as if it’d jumped into my way on purpose.” She pulls a little face at that notion. Very mature. Especially given that the mailbox is attached to the brick front of her property. Essentially, she walked into a wall on the way to the door.

“My mouth tastes like a fuckin’ ashtray. I must’ve made use of that cigarette you gave me.” It’s little things she’s able to piece together. Eggs sizzle in the skillet on the stove. She checks the coffeemaker to be sure there’s grounds ready to go before she pushes the button and sets the pot to brew.

“Do you think we, uh…?”

“Let’s say no,” is Richard’s oh-so-helpful suggestion, sweeping his hand out in a vague motion through the air, “Because frankly from the little I remember I doubt we were sober enough to.”

He tilts his head back, eyes closing for a moment as he adds, “Plus, I’d really want to remember that.”

Nicole chuckles quietly. “You’re probably right. I mean, I’ve done stupider things while black-out drunk, for sure.” She catches herself and has the grace to look sheepish. “That didn’t come out right.” It’s her turn to wave a hand. “You know what I meant though.”

To be honest, it doesn’t get much stupider than shagging your boyfriend’s boss, though.

“I would also like to remember it,” she assures with a small smirk.

At those words, then, Richard flashes a roguish grin to her— only somewhat diminished from the hangover— and he teases, “Well, another night, then.”

His head drops back, then, and he brings a hand up to cover his eyes. “Nnh. Why are your lights so bright, Nic?”

“Richard,” Nicole sighs. “That’s the sun. I can’t do anything about it.” Except maybe draw the blinds, but she’s busy making sure eggs don’t wind up sticking to the bottom of the pan. Nobody likes crispy eggs. At least, no one she knows.

But she’s blushing and pointedly not looking away from her cooking now, scraping the spatula across the skillet and making sure those eggs are good and scrambled. Not unlike her thoughts and feelings. “I know we’re both really fucking miserable right now, but I wanted to say thank you for last night. I don’t know what I would have done if left to my own devices.”

“Why can’t you do anything about the sun? Become a heliokinetic, turn it off.”

Richard’s words are of course tongue-in-cheek, somewhat teasing despite the headache pounding in the back of his head. “Let me know if you see my sunglasses. They’ve gotta be here somewhere— and hey.”

A breath drawn in, exhaled, “I think we both needed a night to unwind. However we unwound. Hopefully we don’t have any warrants now.”

“I’ll get right on that,” Nicole promises with a breath of laughter.

The laughter stops abruptly as Nicole lifts her head and stares off into the middle distance, trying desperately to remember if they did anything illegal while they were wasted. The fact that Richard’s vehicle is parked on the curb outside her house is an indication that they did something very stupid, but ultimately didn’t caught at it.

She heaves a sigh of relief and sets about plating breakfast. They each get a plate of eggs, a mug of coffee, and a three Tylenol. “Next time, we pass out at your place. Don’t you have a robo-butler or something?”

“Kind of,” Richard admits as he reaches gratefully for the coffee, and then the tylenol, before the eggs are even considered. “We’ve actually set up an app for the SPOTs to deliver groceries to people, if you didn’t see the ads. The ones in the complex are even better at it.”

The tylenol’s tossed back, and he washes it down with the coffee, eyes closing, “You are an angel of mercy.”

“Words I will never hear again,” Nicole muses. That’s certainly not the persona she cultivated during the war.

“I did see,” she says of the ads. “Congratulations. Fetch, right? It’s a great idea. I’ve been meaning to download the app.” Nicole takes her own headache meds and washes them down with a healthy dose of black coffee.

“Do you ever wonder how we ended up here?” The question is abrupt, but delivered casually as Nicole looks across the table at Richard while chewing a mouthful of egg.

“I’m guessing you don’t mean in this house because I think we both know the answer to that is shrouded in whiskey,” Richard observes with a faint chuckle, setting down the mug and reaching over for a fork, “So what do you mean, exactly?”

A twitch of his brows upwards, “You mean from who we were before?”

“You’re not wrong,” Nicole responds with a snort. Then she nods, confirming. “Yeah, that’s what I mean. Christ, you were blackmailing me. I used to fantasize about how many ways I was going to murder you. Or order you to be murdered.” She waves a dismissive hand. Little details. Just organized crime things.

“Then Natazhat happened and… Now here we are.” She fixes him with a mild look. “Flirting in my dining room while you wear my ex’s clothes.”

“I mean, to be fair,” Richard admits, “I was blackmailing you for a good cause, and I had no intention of actually putting Colette in danger anyway. I just probably could’ve approached the situation a little better.”

To say the least.

“The old days were…” He tilts his head back, watching the ceiling, “…it was always hard to tell who was on what side, back then. Alliances shifted like the wind sometimes, and everyone had their own agenda. I guess in the end, ours just ended up pointing in the same direction.”

Then he flashes her a grin, “And who can stay mad at this smile?”

One hand lifts from the table as if to showcase the smile of the man across from her. “Who indeed?” she asks with a smirk, her eyes fixed on his even as he feels her bare foot against his calf through the jeans he’s borrowed.

“It all worked out,” Nicole agrees. “I’m glad to know you now, even if I was plotting thirteen different ways to have you killed then.” That’s a joke, but also definitely a thing that happened. He knows who she worked for and what her connections were. If she’d asked the right people…

“You feel free to darken my doorstep anytime, okay?” Her foot finds a rest on the edge of his chair, resting against his thigh. Her face doesn’t show any hint awareness or intent of this intrusion of physical space.

“Same. If you or the kiddo need anything…”

Richard’s hand drops down to rest on her foot, thumb sliding to rub against the arch of it in a light circular motion to massage it— and he offers her a lopsided smile, head tipping in a nod over to her.

A forkful of egg is brought up in an easy salute her way, both eyebrows lifting.

“…but maybe less alcohol next time.”

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