Just Business


cardinal_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title Just Business
Synopsis A mysterious intruder pays Nicole a visit and makes a few demands, backing them up with unnerving threats.
Date October 21, 2009

Solstice Condominiums - Nicole's House

Working for Linderman means you keep odd hours, sometimes.

This evening, those hours have kept Nicole Nichols out late. As the door opens, though, there's something awry in the apartment. That sixth sense that all people develop when there's something not right in their home. Perhaps something's been moved that her conscious mind doesn't recognize, or maybe there's some lingering scent in the air. Regardless, there's something wrong…

…and then that's heard more clearly, as there's a rustling of some paper in the darkened living room.

Nicole stops in her tracks, listening intently. When the movement of paper registers in her mind, she reaches back behind her for the switch, though she doesn't flick it upward to flood the room with light. Instead, she seems to just stand there, with her fingers poised against the plate. "'Letty, what are you doing in the dark?"

"Try again."

A casual comment from an unfamiliar voice settled into a chair in the living room, another soft rustling of paper folded over onto another leaf. "She's not here tonight," he adds after a moment, casually, "Probably over at the Lighthouse."

Nicole's blood runs cold in her veins. Her lips purse and her mind races a thousand miles an hour. Who's in my home? That's not Detective Demsky's voice. Friends, acquaintances and potential enemies alike are eliminated one by one at breakneck speeds. Something crackles, pops. A spark flickers from the plate of the switch to Nicole's fingertips. She doesn't react to the mundane spark that people receive from time to time when interacting with the electrical lights. "Who are you?"

"You're Nicole Nichols…" Rustle, rustle goes the paper, even as the voice in the dark names her, "…alias Stephanie Caiati, former aide to President Rickham, the Iron Man… personal assistant to Daniel Linderman." A faint chuckle, "Sister of Colette Demsky-Nichols, unregistered photokinetic, frequent resident of Brian Fulk's Lighthouse on Staten Island."

A pause, and then the man observes dryly, "Given that I know all of that I don't think I need a name right now."

The woman holds very still, listening as her dual lives are laid out. The darkness shrouds her yet. It isn't until her sister is named that Nicole begins to tremble. But it isn't with fear. It's anger. Pure, unbridled fury courses through her. Several more sparks jump from the plate to her fingertips and this time she flexes her hand as though it were a minor annoyance. "What do you want?"

"What do I want? I want a lot of things. If you mean what do I want from you…" There's rustling as the folder is closed, "…your speciality is politics, Nicole. I'm guessing that Daniel's put you on the mayoral campaign already, in some role or another?"

The light is finally flipped upward and Nicole's apparently lidded eyes slide open as well. "What does that have to do with what you want from me?" This time, the emphasis is there to avoid silly games about what the intruder wants. "What is this about?"

It's remarkably normal in the living room. Cardinal's relaxing back in one of the chairs, feet kicked up on the coffee table, a folder opened in his hand as he browses through it slowly. A pair of wrap-around shades conceal his eyes and protect them from the light. "It has everything to do with what I want from you," he replies, a faintly amused smile curling to his lips as he looks up, "I presume Daniel's going to back Chesterfield, given their… common background."

"I can't presume to know Mister Linderman's reasons for backing any candidate," Nicole responds coolly. "If he's backing Jenn Chesterfield, and I'm not saying he is, I wouldn't have the first clue as to why." The purse strap slung over the woman's shoulder is adjusted idly and her hand slides to her side, disappearing subtly behind the handbag.

"That's fine, I know what they are," Cardinal replies in mild tones, going back to flipping through her file, "Quite the interesting history you have here. One might almost think, from all this, that Daniel was into something untoward… maybe even that he's the one that Rebel was referring to that blackmailed dear Allen out've the White House." A look up, a thin and unpleasant smile curving his lips, "It'd be interesting to see what'd happen if this hit… oh… CNN."

"What kind of common thug are you?" Nicole snaps furiously, bracing her free hand on the wall with her fingers brushing over the lightswitch again. "What do you want from me? I'm already understanding that you have plenty you think you could do to me. Why don't you let me decide if you need to bother with any of that, hm?" Blue eyes narrow, a brighter shade than in any of her dossier photos. A trick of the light, perhaps? "What. Do. You. Want?"

"Who said I'd do anything to you, Miss Nichols…?" A smirk just-curves to Cardinal's lips as he leans back, regarding her steadily, "What do I want? I want Miss Chesterfield to lose this election. I'd explain my reasons, but you probably wouldn't really care."

"I see," Nicole responds. By some miracle, she's keeping her composure. Visually, at least. Inside, she wants to destroy something. Well, she wants to destroy the strange man in her living room. She may get her chance someday. But where there's one, more will follow. And she has the feeling two more thugs will just replace him if she were to slide her hand into her purse and fire the gun there at him. "And what sort of guarantee do I have that you won't make some attempt to ruin Mister Linderman anyway after the election, provided you get your outcome?"

"You don't get any assurances in this sort of situation," Cardinal points out, a brow lifting, "However, if I wanted to do that, I'd just wait until he was publically supporting Miss Chesterfield… and then I'd make it all public, effectively sinking her campaign and him at the same time. I think this is a more…" A faint smile, "…equitable solution, don't you? You keep your job, your sister's life stays on track, Daniel continues to carry on like a spider in the middle of the web, everyone's happy. Maybe he doesn't get one little thing he wanted, but at this point you'd just be protecting his interests."

"And I assume you want all of this kept between us, rather than me telling my boss that someone's blackmailing him?" Nicole is thoroughly unamused, not surprisingly. Her lips purse just a little tighter and she shuts her eyes for a moment. "Fine. I'll sabotage Chesterfield. If you don't think I'm doing what you want, you take it up with me. You leave my sister out of this. No exceptions. You mess with my sister, and I will take your fucking head."

"I'd prefer Daniel stay out of it, he has his own problems these days anyway," admits Cardinal, pushing himself up to his feet and offering down a faint, tired smile, "Fair enough. Honestly, I'd just as soon let shit fall where it lands, but— you know business. It's not personal, towards either of you."

Nicole stands away from the front door, gesturing toward it with the tilt of her head. "Don't make it personal, then." It's obvious from the narrowed slits of Miss Nichols' eyes that it already is.

A hand lifts in a gesture that says 'what can you do?' as Cardinal offers her a wry sort of smile. "I'm just doing my job," he says, heading for the door, "Same as you when you did the things you did. Only difference is who we work for."

"And that I never broke into anyone's home or blackmailed anyone." You know, personally. "Minor details." She scowls and glances from the man, to the door, and back again. She doesn't tell him to leave. He seems ready to do that on his own.

"Just means I'm more honest about my work." A glance back over his shoulder, and Cardinal tilts his chin in a nod up to her, before stepping out the door. It's pulled closed behind him neatly, clicking shut.

The deadbolt is thrown quick on his heals with a loud and definitive thunk! Visible from the street, the light in Nicole's living room goes out in a brilliant flash of light. Quickly intensifying before seemingly exploding.

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