More Than A Painted Smile


colette_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title More Than A Painted Smile
Synopsis In helping devise a plan of attack for a raid on a vaccine shipment, Colette Nichols comes to discover a kindred spirit in the Ferry.
Date April 21, 2010

Brick House

As far as Ferrymen safe houses go, the Brick House has one of the lowest populations of any of the major buildings operated by the Ferrymen in New York City. With three floors sparsely furnished, some rooms blocked off to help hold in the heat better and only one operator present at the moment, it feels almost vacant again. Were it not for the glow of lanterns hanging from hooks on the ceiling and the noise of a kerosene heater vibrating noisily on the ground floor, it might seem all but abandoned on the inside.

The living room, however, has a semblance of life to it in so much as one person can create. Seated on the ratty old patchwork sofa,ear-muff headphones rested around her neck like makeshift speakers and emitting music out around the couch, Colette Nichols is doing more than just lounging amidst the relative security here.

On the makeshift coffee table made from nailed boards and milk crates, maps of New York City from pre-bomb atlases are laid out end to end, showing the full length of Manhattan, a portion of New Jersey and a portion of Queens and Brooklyn. Stacked atop the right side of the map, old second-hand college physics books hold down the corners of one map, while on the opposite side a metal tin of colored pencils does the same.

Colette has the red pencil out, hunched forward and drawing lines across the map with one hand, the other holding a computer print out with columns of locations, times and numbers in long rows. Circling spots on the map, she pauses, lifts the pencil up to tap at her chin and then begins scribbling again, plotting something out on the map pages.

Over her headphones, soft drum beats and electronic noises carry no lyrics, just an electronic ambiance that helps her think. With everything about to go on tonight, she needs a clear head, and after finding a corpse last night, she has plenty in her head to clear.

In from the bitter cold slips Tasha, cheeks flushed from just a few minutes outside — she never asked if she could smoke inside, though it's not as if a bit of smoke damage would do much harm to the battered and worn interior of the safehouse. Up the cellar steps are heavy enough steps that it's no surprise when she enters the first floor from below, a luridly bright purple and green scarf already being unwound from her neck and tossed onto a chair before gloves and a coat join it.

There's a slight tattle-tale scent of cigarette smoke, but the petite girl is already digging in her jeans pocket for a stick of gum to cram in her mouth. She cants her head curiously at Colette's project, then moves closer to inspect it, one brow arching up at the amount of work and effort. She moves to the sofa and plops down, not wanting to disturb the other girl as she works, nor does she think her voice would be heard over the music emitting from the head phones. She studies the map, trying to decipher the times and numbers silently.

When the cushions shift, Colette looks up with a wide-eyed startle then immediately smiles a bit awkwardly and ducks her head down, fingers fumbling to find the iPod tucked away in the front pouch of her carnation red hoodie. She fumbles for it, eventually finding it and haphazardly pressing all over the control wheel before finding pause. "Oh hey when— when'd you get in?" There's a sniff at the air, tell-tale odor of cigarettes clinging to Tasha, and Colette offers a lopsided smile.

"Sorry, I— was totally zoned out." Reaching up to unhook the headphones from around her neck, Colette lays them off to the side in the empty space beside herself, then pulls one of her legs up onto the sofa, tucking a socked foot beneath herself. "You're— uhh— " there's a furrow of her brows, green eyes cast to the side as she tries to recall a name she wasn't ever given. "//Nn— Nancy?" One black brow lifts and Colette's lips pull back into a nervously toothy grin, a hand sweeping up to tuck an errand lock of dark hair behind one ear.

"No reason to be sorry," Tasha says with a smirk — the other girl's nervousness amuses her. Her life has been too serious in the past couple of months, and she was the junior Ferry member in Boston by more than a couple of years, so it's nice to have someone her age around. She bends down to tug off one, then the other snow boot before pulling her own feet up onto the sofa, feed clad in colorful striped socks with a certain Charlie the unicorn on the ankle.

"Tasha, actually," she corrects, reaching her hand to the other. "I didn't catch your name either. Do I look like a Nancy? That seems like an old person's name. Like Nancy Reagan. Hugs, not drugs, right? Before our time, but I've seen reruns of her on like the Facts of Life or maybe it was Different Strokes."

Cracking a more honest smile, Colette actually bubbles up with a little bit of nervous — though amused — laughter. "Nancy Regan," Colette admits with a smirk, shaking her head. "Yeah I— s— sorry, I'm like, terrible with names. Tasha's pretty cool though," she opines with a hand taking the other girl's in a shake, though she ducks her head down and smiles a bit more sheepishly at the gesture. "Name's Colette," last names are a courtesy not often shared among Ferry, for good reason.

"So like, you're— that transplant from Boston, right?" One black brow lifts up as Colette considers the girl at her side, hands coming to fold in her lap as she draws her other leg up, folding that one beneath herself too; cross legged and slouching back against the sofa. "I heard about the kid you brought down to the Lighthouse, s'cool of you. That's a super awesome place, used to live there for a little bit, so I know he'll be in good hands." Furrowing her brows, Colette looks out to the map, then back to Tasha.

"I used to live in Boston, actually. Grew up there, me'n my sister." Colette's tone of voice matches the distant quality of her unfocused eyes as she looks past Tasha for a moment's time. "Grew up like three blocks from Fenway, my mom used to take me out to games and stuff with my sister when I was little. Never really— got the point of baseball." Her lips creep up into a smirk, "But you know, every season, I was out there like an idiot waitin' for 'em to win. I ah… I moved down here couple years before the bomb. New York's not too bad…"

Colette admits with a roll of her shoulders, "Yankee's not withstanding," the girl adds with a crooked smile.

"Colette's way cooler. Or prettier, anyway," Tasha says with a smile. "That's funny you grew up there — I grew up here," Tasha explains with a chuckle. "I was just out there for college since August. Before I got into Ferry in like February or so. I'm not Evolved but my … ex was." Her dark eyes drop, glancing down at the map, though about as unfocused as Colette's in that moment she looks away. "He got in some trouble, and he couldn't handle it so he bailed." Her tone is flippant, but it takes a moment for her to look up.

"I don't get baseball either. I used to go, sometimes, to the Yankees, and I played softball as a kid, but it was never my favorite. Too much time to pick dandelions and hurry up and wait."

Tasha nods to the map. "What's all this about?"

Wrinkling her nose, Colette cracks a smile and offers a squint to Tasha, cheeks coloring a bit as she sheepishly ducks her head dns deflects the compliment with attention to the map. "The ah— um, the map's— " a little flustered, but as she leans forward and unhooks a leg from beneath herself to rest toes-down on the ground, Colette gently tugs one of the maps out from beneath the physics books and pulls it on to the sofa, laying it out across her lap. "It's a map of the truck routes for the vaccine deliveries, I got Hana to print me out a copy before I left her place after the meeting."

Leaning over to Tasha and pointing out the red lines, Colette traces them with a fingertip. "I drew down all the routes for all the trucks here, there's five moving at different times today, and Eileen's narrowed it down to two that we're going to divert and hit." There's a look of green eyes up and over to Tasha, then back down to the map.

"The circled areas here outside the city are where the best points to grab 'em are. This highway," she traces a line with one finger, "has two trucks that are scheduled to be traveling together, so we can just jump them both at the same time. There won't be much traffic either, so…" Colette pauses, glancing at the map once, then letting her eyes settle back up on Tasha.

"Are— you helping out with this?" Only now does Colette realize that Tasha's likely already left the child at the Lighthouse, and the wheels of scrutiny begin to turn slowly.

"Yeah, I said I could. The weather's FUBAR'd all the passenger travel really so getting back without the help of maybe a teleporter is just wishful thinking, and really, I don't have anything to hurry back to," Tasha says with a shrug and a furrow of her brows. Sure, she has some friends in the Ferry but since dropping out of her classes after the disappearing act she had to pull, she'd lost touch with any of her friends from the art program.

Fingers following the path of the two trucks from origin to where Colette indicates the hijacking and theft will take place, Tasha nods. "I thought that's what it was. You're right — That location makes the most sense — least people affected in a more remote area, less traffic, less witnesses, less chaos, hopefully. And more vaccines. You vaccinated?" she asks, nodding toward the other girl, brows raising with curiosity.

"Good job," she adds, with a nod to the map.

"R-Really?" That's two things in one week that Colette has never been exposed to, compliments about her appearance a few days ago, and now compliments about a job well done. Working for the Ferry is often a thankless task, which makes any notes of appreciation seem even more pronounced. "Th— thanks." Colette sheepishly notes, ducking her head down, teeth toying with her bottom lip as she smiles a bit awkwardly. "It ah, the um… I mean, Eileen helped, and like, Jensen gave me some ideas, so— I mean…" dismissively shrugging one shoulder, Colette's green eyes drift to the side and away from the map, then back up and over to Tasha.

"No I— I haven't been. M'not registered, so… I can't just go down and get it done. But I've— " there's a more fond smile here, "I've got someone who looks out for me, sees the bad stuff coming and…" Colette's expression sags a little, shoulders sinking as she remembers her conversation with Sable, remembers Bella's lab, remembers the car accident and the fire. The corners of Colette's lips creep up, this smile's feigned.

"What about you?" Green eyes finally make their way back to Tasha at that question, changing gears quickly. "I mean— I— don't actually know if you're like me or not," she notes with a wrinkle of her nose, brows furrowed together nervously.

There's a flicker in Tasha's pale brown eyes as Colette's smile fades, and she offers a more sincere smile in return for the feigned one — one of something like encouragement and sympathy. There is something fragile about Colette, like a wild animal that's been cared for, mostly tamed, something frightened and yet needful of care.

"I'm not, or at least not that I know of. I … have a family member who is, but so far nothing's shown up. I wouldn't mind it if I was, though. Well, unless I got something awful and horrible that I couldn't control. But your power — well, I'm not really sure what it is, but what you said about making people blind except us? That sounds great. And the way you can be invisible or whatever? Color me jealous of that. I mean, I've been ignored plenty of times where I thought I was invisible, but it'd nice to choose to be!" Tasha flashes a grin.

Ducking her head yet again and restraining a smile by nibbling on her lower lip, Colette folds up the map in her lap and looks over to Tasha, then leans forward and lays it out on the table again. "I— I wish I had your attitude," Colette admits with a nervous smile, cheeks a little pinked from the compliment. "I— I was a big asshole when I found out I was Evolved. I blamed people like me for everything bad in my life, then— then when I found out I was one I just… I shut myself in." Rubbing her forefingers and thumbs together with both hands, Colette lifts her brows, closes one hand into a fist, then very slowly lifts it up to near eye level to Tasha.

"It's not all darkness and hiding though," Colette admits with a nervous smile, as if not sure how the brunette will react. When her fingers unfold, there's a gleam of purple and green light from between her fingers, the same shade as Tasha's scarf. But when her fingers unwind, the light is revealed to be emitting from an orchid made from neon-radiant streaks of light, like an air-painting photo brought to life. The flower blossoms from a bud and spreads out, then breaks apart into colorful petals that spill down from either side of Colette's hand.

"I— I manipulate light," Colette explains softly, watching the petals begin to dissolve like peeling flakes of paint. "Coloring, bending, concentrating…" lowering her hand slowly, Colette's expression hangs on that nervous thread still, never certain how any one person will react to seeing her ability in action in that way. She knows how she was.

It's easy to say how one would react — Tasha thinks she would have no problem with being Evolved; she was willing to forgive Dane for killing people on accident. He was, after all, trying to protect her. Her brows rise as Colette's hand rises, wondering what the other girl is up to. When the light creeps through the cracks of that closed fist, Tasha's head cants again, curiously, and her eyes widen when the flower is revealed, Colette's uncurling fingers much like petals themselves.

"Wow." The word is a reverent whisper, as Tasha's fingers come up as if to touch the cascade of spilled light, even as they disappear. "That's so beautiful. I've never seen anything like it… I want to paint it!" Tasha's eyes light up at the thought, though there is a frown — she has no supplies here. Unless she visits home, which she is putting off.

Huffing out a laugh of nervous disbelief, Colette raises one brow and looks a bit suspiciously at Tasha. "It— it's…" Colette nervously pulls down the sleeves of her hoodie, curling her fingers beneath them. "S'nothing… I mean— it'd be cooler if I could do photo-realistic stuff, but— that's super hard." Wrinkling her nose she looks over to the coffee table if only for something else to stare at other than Tasha, because that will get awkward fast.

"You— you paint?" One of Colette's black brows lifts up again, tucking behind the ragged fringe of her bangs. "I— I do, I mean, I'm not good but like, I do— watercolors and… and fingerpainting for stress relief." Colette doesn't admit the my psychiatrist told me to part, because the last thing she wants to give off is the impression that she's crazy. "I— I've got some watercolors at Grand Central, and— and Joseph has oil and acrylic, I— I could probably round up some canvas for you too if you wanted!"

Eager to make a friend, and also eager to find a way to turn Tasha's frown around, Colette throws herself at the slightest suggestion of a way she can help. "After um, after we do this stuff… maybe I could get you some? I mean if— if you're here for a while, you know. I mean you— don't— have to paint the light thing I— I'm not trying to— I mean— " flustered stammering begins here, and does not end.

"No, you know, I think it's cooler not being realistic… I mean, yeah, for … pragmatic uses of your power, photorealism, for the win, for sure, but for sheer beauty and art and all? I'll take a Monet or a Picasso or a Lichtenstein over … see, I don't even know any photorealistic painters, because they're boring. Buy a fucking photo if you want photorealism, I say," Tasha says, animated when the topic of art comes up, her eyes and grin flashing in equal brightness.

"I paint more abstract anyway, but my work at school was more design stuff… pays the bills, you know… I was probably aiming for commercial artist rather than go the starving artist route, so I was majoring in design. But my love's more for abstract. I'd love to see your stuff if you paint too! And … wow, that'd be cool. I don't know how long I'm staying, but I'd definitely be happy to paint with you, if you got the stuff. I do all mediums, but for something like that…" Tasha tilts her head, narrowing her eyes. "Acrylics, I think, or maybe even pastel work…"

"I can— I can totally do that." The smile spread across Colette's lips right now is an enthusiastic one, if somewhat bashfully tinted by the redness of her cheeks and the way her eyes seem to wander around. "I um, it— I've— never really thought've my ability as art before, or I— I'm not really like, all book smart and stuff about art things. I just do like, things from how I feel. Most've it's just— just for stress relief, but like…" chin down but eyes up, Colette's smile keeps coming back despite how much she's trying not to look like a grinning idiot.

"Whatever you want," Colette finally admits a bit enthusiastically, "I do supply runs for the Ferry so— so I know where all the good stuff's stashed. You want paint, you'll get it," the teen notes with a wrinkle of her nose. "I— It's really nice to have someone else in the Ferry my own age. I— up until recently I'd felt kind've like the runt, you know?" At first Colette's smiling, and then her eyes go wide and hands come up, waving nervously.

"N— Not that I mean you're a runt! I— you know I mean you're short but— not— that— I didn't mean, uh, you're— " nervous laughter comes bubbling up and Colette ducks her head and covers her face with one hand. "You know what I mean!" She squeaks out, embarrassed.

The laughter brings out Tasha's own laugh, more of a snicker, though not a mean-spirited one. "Yeah, yeah, you just totally called me a midget dwarf half-pint runt, Colette. I'm never speaking to you again, with all your … you know, average-sizeness looking down on me for being like, what, a whole …" she eyes the other girl, "maybe two or three inches shorter than you, like you're some Amazon princess."

The snicker becomes a bit of a giggle and she reaches to push Colette lightly in the arm. "Shut up, it's no big deal. Am I that scary? How old are you, anyway? This is a young group — in Boston I don't think anyone but me is younger than like 25."

Squeaking when pushed, as if she were some sort of chew toy, Colette's green eyes go wide and her arms windmill as she grips the couch, having been just off-balance enough to almost totter over from the nudge. That noise there makes her burst out with laughter, trying to muffle the giggling behind one hand, face bright red now as she struggles to balance breathing and laughing and errs on the latter's side of things. It's only after a few huffed breaths and a wipe of a thumb beneath her eyes that her toothy smile and giggling abates a little.

"I ah— wh— what?" Dark brows lift up as Colette tries to remember what Tasha asked, and then waves one hand dismissively as it finally clicks. "Oh ah, I'm— I just turned eighteen in October. My birthday's on Halloween," she notes with a wrinkle of her nose, "it— I didn't get to have a party like I wanted. But, s'just cool to be like, you know, old enough."

The windmilling has Tasha laughing more. One hand reaches out for Colette's shoulder as the other girl grips the couch, to help her to not collapse on the ground in a giggling heap, as much fun as that might be to watch.

"Wow. You haven't been inhaling too many of those paint fumes, have you? Or celebrating 4-20 for an extra day?" Tasha asks, though her smirk suggests her facetiousness. She gives a headshake at the information Colette gives her and laughs again.

"Old enough — no more jail bait, right? Crazy though, my birthday's November 5th. So we're like, you know. Practically twins. So you're a Scorpio, too. That explains the energy. Not that I believe in all that — I was raised to be a cynic and a skeptic by nature. That's why I'm the design major, not the painting major, see?"

Teeth pressing down on her bottom lip, Colette lifts her brows and glances down at the hand on her shoulder, then ducks her head and looks back to Tasha, smiling crookedly. "I— I'm sorry I'm— perpetually retarded," Colette explains as if that were an explanation at all — it isn't much of one. "Um, you— really?" There's a fond smile there, and Colette looks down to her lap, over to the table then back up to Tasha. "My sister was born of Christmas Eve, she totally buys into the whole astrological thing though, I— I never really did much but— we're energetic huh?"

Still smiling, Colette stares down at her lap, then looks up to Tasha with a wrinkle of her nose. "I— I'm really glad you came down here, Tash'." There's a pause, one brow raised as Colette watches the other teen with a look of scrutiny. "Oh my god I just got the best idea!" Colette's hands clap together, green eyes wide. "Code names for the mission today!" There's a mischievous smile growing on her lips as she hyperactively bounces in place a few times.

"Boris and Natasha!"

Oh, dear.

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