Mutual Favour


logan_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title Mutual Favour
Synopsis Logan and Nicole break several rules in his room at Saint Luke's Hospital.
Date February 16, 2010

St. Luke's Hospital

St. Luke's Hospital is known for its high-quality care and its contributions to medical research. Its staff place an emphasis on compassion for and sensitivity to the needs of their patients and the communities they serve. In addition to nearby Columbia University, the hospital collaborates with several community groups, churches, and programs at local high schools. The associated Roosevelt Hospital offers a special wing of rooms and suites with more amenities than the standard hospital environment; they wouldn't seem out of place in a top-rated hotel. That said, a hospital is a hospital — every corridor and room still smells faintly of antiseptic.

It's been an exceedingly rough night for Nicole Nichols, and the morning - all three or four hours into it - isn't looking much better. Visiting hours are most definitely over - or haven't begun yet - but it would seem Nicole has a small amount of clout that allows her access to John Logan's room at Saint Luke's. When she discovers it empty, that really leaves her with no small amount of annoyance. All the same, she shuts the door behind her rather than raise a fuss with the nursing staff just yet. Maybe he's hiding under the bed? It could totally happen.

Nicole does, in fact, check under the bed before setting her oversized tote down on top of it. Fishing into the bag, she procures her cigarettes. She really picked the wrong week to quit smoking. Taking one out and readying her lighter, she decides the private water closet in Logan's room is a good a place as any to sneak a smoke.

As soon as the door starts to open, there's a crash as the crutch that was leaning against the inside go tumbling down. "Ff— !" Cigarette determinedly pinched between two fingers, it somehow doesn't come loose as Logan raises up his hands to ward off the crashing implement of hard plastic and metal— or rather, just the one hand, considering the other is in a sling and set against his torso. By chance of luck, the crutch skims off the rim of a toilet seat and narrowly avoids a broken leg set upon the ground, the other sound one curling against it.

Guilty green eyes snap up, before the man seated upon the ground relaxes visibly when no, it's not a nurse, or— someone like Robert or Zarek, in all unlikelihood. "Oh, it's you," he says, pinching his cigarette between his teeth as he uses his other hand to try and wave away the smoke. "You didn't find me."

Considering his usual vanity, this a change. A hospital gown is never chic, his shins and feet bare of anything but bruises and bandages, but with burns gone and skin replaced by a magical healing touch, he doesn't look as bad as he did 12 hours ago. For one thing, he can move.

Nicole winces at the commotion as she opens the door, her first instinct to turn her head away so as not to catch the man on the loo. When she can smell cigarette smoke, and hers hasn't even been lit yet, she peers in and a weak smirk tugs at the corner of one mouth. "Sorry."

The nice thing about the restrooms in hospitals is that they're infinitely more roomy than those in, say, hotel room, as they're meant to be handicap accessible. Nicole slips into the room and retrieves the fallen crutch carefully, setting it aside before shutting the door behind her. "Great minds, huh?" She lights up her cigarette and leans against the sink. "You look good for a guy who's been in a bus crash," she comments. She looks horrible for someone who hasn't been.

"I always look good," Logan murmurs, resting his head back against the wall. Under the lights, he could do with more blood in his flesh and sleep in general, and no neglect to shave where patchy beginnings of stubble are growing in along his jaw, which he scratches with curled in fingers before taking his cigarette in hand. "Daniel came by to see me. Magic-touched away the worst of it." As for the rest of it, fractures beneath bandages and a shattered leg— one that's undergone so much fucking abuse that he's lucky it's still attached at all, after all these years— aren't explained away.

Let Nicole wonder, as much as there seems to be plenty on the woman's mind. Something vaguely noticed when he drags his attention back up, dragon curl smoke breathed out in an exhale. "What're you doing here?" is how he thinks to approach it.

Nicole only hmms absently at Logan's explanation. From the first inhale of nicotine and menthol, she's already begun an unfocused staring contest with the wall opposite her. The man's question is almost entirely missed.

"Jenn Chesterfield is dead." It's the first time she's said it herself. Even when she called it in, she wouldn't say the ambulence was for a corpse. Nicole's gaze doesn't shift or give any sign that she's actually going to give Logan her attention. She simply takes another long puff from the rolled stick of tobacco between her fingers.

That does sound like an answer to a different question, or not an answer at all. Logan doesn't press, though, studies the burning end of his cigarette before he's tapping dead ash into the toilet bowl, makeshift ashtray that it is. His has burned down enough that, after a second's hesitation, he lets it fall the rest of the way before he's picking up the pack he had smuggled in for him, poking fingers into cardboard and paper. "That's what I get for not reading the news," he mutters, finally, clearing his throat, sticking the unlit cigarette between his teeth and talking around it. "She didn't win the thing, did she?"

"No," Nicole responds numbly, in a far more timely fashion. Tears are quickly blinked away, traces banished with the pad of her thumb. She comes out of her reverie so that she can lean over and tap her own ashes into the toilet.

"I'm not sure why I'm here," she confesses. "I just… I didn't want to go home. And you were the only person I wanted to see." The look in Nicole's eyes when she finally looks at Logan is nearly apologetic. "I don't know why."

It wouldn't be the first time someone's wanted to see him and doesn't know why, but for the life of him Logan can't recall if he's ever sunk chemical hooks into the woman in front of him, pale eyes squinting now as if maybe he could detect it before he lets it go. Not everything has to be chemical. Just everything of importance. Sound arm tucked against him, he drags the edge of his thumb against his mouth in thoughtful fidget, meeting the look he gains.

"Works for me," he says, voice dry from however many from the pack he's indulged. "She was killed, then?"

Nicole's voice is hoarse as she confirms with a nod, "Yeah." She shuts her eyes tight to the images flooding back to her, hoping that if she can just squint hard enough, that the blooming rainbows across her unseeing eyes will finally block it out.

"Have you ever strangled someone before?" Nicole's eyes open again, brows furrowing as she stares at the wall just over the top of and behind Logan's head. "You've got to really want someone dead to strangle them, right? I mean, you have to be pretty fucking ruthless, don't you?" There's a no offence in there somewhere. Or maybe a what kind of person does that?

Even if she wasn't staring at the wall, pretending to be something he isn't is almost who he is and it probably wouldn't have made a difference. Meta-deception. To react would be the lie, save for one bitter, feline lift to the corner of his mouth hidden by angling a look away, concentrating on putting flame to cigarette before he lets the lighter drop with a clatter.

Smoke is exhaled in a short burst through nostrils, hooking up his elbow to rest against the toilet seat beside him, watching the ribbon of smoke leaking from the end of his cigarette. "Determined," he offers.

"Determined," she repeats with a solemn nod. Tipping her head back, Nicole frowns, "I should have walked her to her car." So many regrets, empty as the hollow tone of her voice. She knows it's futile to beat herself up, but worries she would be a bad person if she didn't just a little bit. "She was my friend, Logan." That much is fairly obvious in the despondence of her reaction. "I could see this happening if we had managed to win the election. I knew Jenn's enemies were powerful, but…

"Who would want her dead after she lost? I don't understand it." Dark blue eyes flick to the other occupant of the room as she flicks away ash, looking for some answer she can't seem to find.

This could also be why she wanted to see him, although how much Nicole knows about John Logan is something he's to guess rather than to know. The answer seems easy enough to him, lifting a shoulder partially bared from the careless, loose swoop of his hospital gown. "Someone who doesn't care about the election," he says, before the immediate haze of smoke leaking out between his words is sucked back in at a gasp. The rhythms and patterns of muscles tensing around ruined bone is hard to predict, but whatever he's taken before he came in here was enough to stave off the worst of it. Still, he's quick to take in another breath of toxic air.

It stops him from asking if they fucked Jenny first, at least, the question forgotten as he concentrates on ashing his cigarette instead. "I'd start pretending like it was just a job if I were you. Never know."

That's one thing about Nicole, she's never been good at pretending any of her assignments are just a job. Not working for Daniel Linderman, not working for Allen Rickham, and not working for Jenn Chesterfield. Perhaps it's unprofessional, but what she lacks in an ability to separate her job from her life, she makes up for with a zeal and devotion that most in her career simply don't possess.

His answer, simplistic as it is, does give Nicole pause, however. She peers at Logan, seeming rather nonplussed at this novel concept presented to her.

How could this possibly not be about the election?

For someone who's ate, slept, lived, and breathed nothing but politics for far too long, it doesn't seem possible to Nicole that this slaying could be unrelated. Except for the part where it makes perfect sense.

Of course, that means that there's an array of suspects that Nicole can't account for, and that causes her to frown again. Murder is such a terrible business.

Except when it is business, of course. Whoever reaped the benefits is probably sleeping soundly as opposed to frowning into space like one Nicole Nichols — he knows he would be. Logan allows her that, content to let his eyes slide shut, but the fact he doesn't want to sleep— having not killed the right person— has him dragging himself forcibly away from any threat of attractively falling asleep on the floor of a bathroom.

He worries his teeth against the edge of a nail, before he more pragmatically takes a breath of smoke, embers flaring like a beacon under the washed out light of the bathroom glow in a determination to burn through it. Though he doesn't immediately set about the arduous task of standing upright, peering back up at Nicole. "Her daughter's pretty," he comments.

Nicole wants to bark back her daughter's a twit, but that isn't something she would have said to Jenn's face, and it doesn't feel right to speak ill of the woman now, even Catherine isn't the one who's dead. Instead, she concedes, "I suppose so," tossing her spent cigarette into the toilet bowl carlessly.

"I don't get it. Killing with a gun is so much easier. Quicker." Messier. At least, that's how she remembers it. But she was also trying to make a bloody smear of the man. Though certainly not a cold-blooded killer, the thought doesn't disgust her one iota. She shakes her head and pinches the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger. "I shouldn't be talking about this with you." Not because of an ongoing investigation or anything like that, but simply because she doesn't think the man deserves to be burdened by her troubles. Whether he cares about them or not isn't something that really occurs to her right now.

"Why do you still have broken bones anyway?"

Logan might chip in with less personal, but guns can be plenty personal too, so he allows the subject to go by, whether or not he agrees with her assessment. There'll be time for theorising, depending on what Danny Linderman will want to be doing about it — if anything. For now—

Looking down at himself, his nose wrinkles, taking another determined drag from his smoke before his finally follows Nicole's, even as smoke continues to ease from nose and mouth. "So people'd feel sorry for me for longer," he responds, picking up his lighter and slipping it into the plastic on his cigarette case a little awkward, before letting the hand of his broken arm curl around it. "Mr. Linderman was very obliging. Shouldn't worry, though, I'll be a wonderful dance partner by the time the gala comes around.

"Help me up." His left arm goes out expectantly. Bitch of a thing for one's entire right side to be fucked up. He feels lopsided. "If I flash you, just be polite or make an appreciative noise."

"You got it," Nicole responds with what might even be a breath of laughter. She reaches moves over and carefully pulls the man to his feet, gaze avoiding being accidentally flashed. "C'mon, then. Up ya go."

Once she's got him more or less steadied, she retrieves his crutch, but keeps it tucked under her arm, content to let him use her as a means to get back to his room proper. "I do so hope you will be back in dancing condition in time. Otherwise, I'll be dancing with my sister, and that will just raise so many questions." Despite her heavy heart, Nicole manages to make a quip. It's an honest effort to talk about something else. "…Thank you for telling me where to find her, by the way. Manny and… I guess her friends got her back. Don't know if you'd heard."

"Thought I was forgetting something."

Water drains in the porcelain bowl and gushing away the evidence of however many cigarettes were starting to yellow the water. A quick glance towards the air freshener before he gives up — the little room is rank with smoke and there doesn't seem much point, and he doesn't— really— care. Movement is awkward, though whatever brush of healing Daniel managed to get to bone means that walking isn't entirely out of the question — still, it's a listing hobble, half-hops, Logan's arm firm around Nicole's shoulders.

By the time they're halfway towards the bed, his forehead is beaded with sweat and skin further blanched, jaw set. Worth it. "Know if they got rid of the Refrain?" he asks, voice strained. A pause, then, "And the girl's okay?"

"Colette's fine," Nicole answers. There's some sympathy tinging her tone, not oblivious to Logan's pain. "Manny made it sound like it was a success. I think I'm the one who owes him favours now. I'll have to bring him a case of beer for while he's laying low, at least."

Nicole's free hand hooks the straps of her bag and carefully removes it from the bed, setting it on the floor so that Logan can have plenty of room to sprawl once they finally get him situated. "Speaking of booze, I brought you something."

Getting back to the bed is a little like achieving a home run, relief and accomplishment tangible by the time he's pulling himself up and on. With careful balance and a little help, he gets all limbs where they should be, lying back and looking a bit as if he'd just run a marathon. Bloody hell. Dragging his good hand down his face, smearing away the greasy tracks of sweat, Logan sets about getting comfortable, back against the pillow rather than lying down just yet. Too easy to go under when he is.

And Nicole's words belatedly catch up to him, turning green eyes towards her, a raised eyebrow communicating all the inquiry necessary.

Dipping down to rumage through her purse for a moment, Nicole retrieves a flask, two plastic cups, and a litre of tonic water. No wonder the woman who rarely carries a purse had such a large bag. "Gordon's. It may taste a bit like poison on the way down, but that's why God, in His infinite wisdom, created tonic."

What it does for malaria being an incidental bonus. "You came prepared. I'm impressed." This showing does gain a tired grin, once he's dragged bed sheets over legs broken and not. Logan reaches across with his left hand, fingers dancing a little at the end of it. "Go on, pour us on, though I suspect I'll be the lightest weight you've known just for tonight. We can drink to Jenny Chesterfield, and her daughter's legs."

The latter comment earns Logan a dirty look. "How about I drink to Jenn Chesterfield, and you drink to my legs?" Nicole pours less from the flask into Logan's cup than she may have on any other given day, topping the ubiquitous red cup off with tonic before handing it over to the man. The shot she pours for herself is far more generous. She has the good sense to tuck the evidence back into her bag before setting herself down on the edge of Logan's bed, crossing those legs of hers one over the other mostly for his benefit. "To Jenn," she toasts, tapping her beverage to his.

Plastic against plastic doesn't have the same pretty *ting!* effect, but it'll do, careful not to slosh the tonic saturated drink that would probably still get a glare from his attending and maybe even Wendy Hunter. "And your legs," Logan concedes— she did bring the alcohol, and they certainly are nice legs— before, with a quick glance down at them and a wry smile, taking a deep drink, the dry, bitter beverage appreciated with some relish. You never do know your vices until you have to go without.

Nicole drinks a bit deeper than she might otherwise, but if Logan's paid any sort of attention over the length of time he's known her, it's obvious that the amount the woman drinks is directly proportionate to the amount of stress she's dealing with. "That's more like it," she teases with a small grin. "I will also drink to those green eyes of yours." She takes another drink and adds, "A girl could get lost in those if she stares too long, I reckon. Probably a few guys could, too."

"Both in equal measures," Logan says, while letting them flare brightly green as a result of her ability being deftly capped, though this time it's purely for show, kind of like how peacocks fan their tails. He doesn't let it last, anyway, the glow dimming back into their usual dilute, jade of a poor quality. "Sometimes at the same time. Don't flirt with me when I can't do a thing about it, Nichols, or I'll think it's out of pity." He finishes off his drink, and tips the cup at her — either to take or refill, he's not sure he has the energy to protest either way. "I've a delicate ego."

"You have the largest ego of any man I know," Nicole contests, quickly refilling Logan's glass. The idea of pouring him smaller amounts of alcohol is so that he can feel like he's keeping up with her anyway. "And beside that, I think I'm much safer flirting with you when you can't do anything about it." She takes another drink to give her mind time to work. It's slower than it should be, which is rather unsurprising, all things considered. "I wouldn't know what to do if you did do something about it," she answers quite honestly.

Drink is swilled around in its classy cup, before sipped from, this time, going slower now as Logan settles back into his bed. "Aren't we contrary," he comments, steering a look up towards the ceiling, fingernails beating in an absent rhythm against the curving sides of plastic. Gin is collected out of the corner of his mouth with a touch of his tongue, shooting her a glance before his gaze wanders away again. "You wouldn't have to know what to do, I'd show you. Besides, you're probably safe — there's a lady. Comes from money. She'll be here in the morning, you know."

Nicole blushes a rather brilliant shade of crimson as Logan teases her. "Probably safe?" she echoes, voice hitching as she tries to keep her lilt curious. "So you do have someone steady. It's hard to tell with someone you. And hardly surprising, I suppose." It doesn't sound like the woman's hopes - if she had any - are crushed. "Does she know you're going to be my arm candy for the gala?" Yes. He's the arm candy, rather than vice versa. To be fair, though, he can likely give her a run for her money on that front.

"It's only steady 'til I fuck someone else, innit?" Contrary to popular belief, Logan isn't stupid — blunt talk about stomping over conventional social contracts are certainly deliberate, casting a watchful kind of attention back to her as he says so, but not dishonest either. "Then it's back to steady when I'm done. I dunno. I haven't told her but I don't think she'd be surprised. Your first instincts were right — I don't do well with steady." Light weight indeed, tongue a little looser, musing, and eyes sleepier in a most unbedroom like way. "She stayed, though. 'ere, I mean."

Nicole takes a shot straight from the flask, rather than water the bitter gin down with bubbly tonic. She pulls a face. The liquid (expectedly) burns going down, leaving a warm feeling in her belly. She's steadily becoming more liberal herself. And that's not in regards to her political affiliations.

"It must be nice to be you," Nicole reasons. "I haven't slept with a man since two-thousand-and-six." The syllables of the year are carefully enunciated, so as to give them the proper deference. "You must only sleep alone if you actually wanna." That's certainly not to say that Nicole doesn't generally want to sleep alone, but… It's the principle of it, right?

Logan thinks about that for a second, before he wrinkles his nose. "People can be tiring. And uncomfortable. I like having a bed to go to that're free of 'em. But sex is nice. Two-thousand-and-six is ages ago — careful or you'll wither up from disuse. It says on the Internet." One more for the road — if he drinks and passes out, maybe he won't dream. Unlikely, but—

He holds out his cup. "Why? Career woman," he adds, makes his guess early.

The idea of withering from disuse causes Nicole to pull another face, this one unaided by gin. Which she dutifully pours more of for Logan, splashing more tonic in as well. She wouldn't want him to coma himself or something.

"Hardly. Even career women have time for sex," Nicole insists. "My type just tends to be the sort of man who's unavailable." That is to say, not single.

Another sip, then a slow breath out. "Ah, well. At least it don't sound like somethink you need to get out've your system," Logan says, South London roots pushing through with hard consonants and deliberate syllables. Here goes. The last of his drink is drained, nose wrinkling once it courses down, before loosely passing back the cup — this time there's no urging for more, not quite desperate enough to test the coma theory. "Unless you do, in which case, 'ave with it Zzzarek and make yourselves both less soddenly miserable."

"Oh, Logan. That's disgusting." Nicole sets her own cup inside of Logan's now empty one. "Zarek? Really? Do you hate me or something? God only knows where that dick of his has been." Though her theory really should mean that Logan isn't much cleaner. He at least looks the part and hasn't told her when he needs to take a piss. "And I am not unreasonably miserable," she inform him with a wag of her finger. "You would be miserable, too, buddy!" She stops just short of actually poking him in the chest. That might hurt if she did that.

"I'm— " A hand goes up, waves her words away. "I'm just doing the math. It's a working equation, though I suppose getting laid won't help 'im if it 'asn't by now." That hand moves to rub beneath an eye, before both flicker open as if just realising he'd closed them. "Jesus. Alright, love, I don't want to sleep but I think I'm about to." He reaches, then, sudden alertness training his gaze back to her eyes like it hasn't done since they first started drinking — fingers splay in invitation. "Do us a favour? Stay. For a bit. 'til it looks like it's safe."

Nicole can't help but smile. Draining the last of the booze, she drops the cups in the trash neatly. Carefully, she eases herself down to curl up at Logan's side, lacing fingers with him, her skinny form taking up very little of his precious mattress space. "Of course. I'll stay as long as you like." Her own eyes close heavily for a moment before she forces them back open to meet his gaze. "Thank you." She's doing him a favour by staying as much as he's doing her one by letting her stay. "For… a lot of the stuff you've done for me. Like, all of it." Her words are beginning to trail off to a sleepy murmur. It's been a rough week. "Maybe ya only do it because Daniel says you hav'ta, but all the same…" She yawns, lips parting just slightly. "Thanks."

Despite aloof talk of empty beds, there's a certain comfort in the weight of another warm body curling up next to him, and Logan closes his eyes, fingers in their loose tangle with hers. There's a quip, here, something witty and vulgar, dismissive, but he leaves it alone instead. It's easier to communicate like this, anyway — and this consists of a drowsy kind of nudge to serotonin, projected comfort that seems to go hand in hand with the drag of alcohol already working similar miracles in her system. "D'mention it."

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