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Scene Title Orange
Synopsis Colette finally finds the girl in the photograph.
Date February 10, 2009

Financial District

In spite of itself, New York's financial district has weathered these tough times like it has other crisis' in the past. The neighborhood and it's people certainly aren't a strangers to them. The Financial District has its own scar, and it's own Ground Zero, though from an admittedly earlier tragedy. While the memorial to the September 11th attacks stands out amidst the skyline of this hub of New York's commerce, it is a wound that the city learned to survive, just like the events of November 8th.

Despite it's proximity to the fallout area and the Red Zone, the Financial District has bounced back onto its feet well. Public and private corporations funneled billions of dollars into the economy of the neighborhood to ensure that Wall Street didn't collapse along with the remainder of New York's heart. This multi-billion dollar effort was not without obvious results, and this neighborhood of New York is almost exactly as it was before the Bomb. While the western edges of the borough at Battery Park City were temporarily evacuated during the initial fallout scare, this region hasn't seen the dive in property values or spike in crime as strongly as other similarly hit areas such as Staten Island and Queens has.

Buildings in the area look well-tended, the city streets are kept clean, and the NYPD has a strong presence here. Overall not much has changed in the local attitude since the Bomb happened, save for the jagged northern skyline, and how the neighborhood slowly begins to degenerate in condition the further away from City Hall and Wall Street you go.

In a city of 8.2 million people, finding one face in a crowd this large is a Herculean task.

A yellow cab rolls to a stop along a snow-covered sidewalk. While the weekend had given the city some time to thaw with unseasonably warm temperatures, Winter wasn't quite yet ready to let its icy grip on the city go just yet. Bundled up with her face covered by a middling blue scarf, a young girl stumbles her way out of the back of the cab after handing money to the driver. Bumping the door closed with her hip, the girl juggles a messenger bag and a pair of plastic grocery bags full of food as she tries not to slip on the ice. Black hair is caught by the strong, cold wind, blowing messy locks away from mismatched eyes as she climbs up a low snow-bank onto the sidewalk.

Meetings like this go by many names; Serendipity, chance, fate… Sometimes though, there is only one moniker that truly fits these encounters…

Breathing out a heavy sigh, Colette Nichols looks up towards the brick facade of Le Rivage Apartments, then to the once-again absent doorman with a roll of her eyes as she struggles with the bags. As the cab begins to pull away, the young girl struggles as the handles of one of the grocery bags snap, spilling canned food and an orange onto the ice sidewalk, the vibrant-colored citrus fruit rolling away wildly, "Son of a bitch!" She squeaks out, stamping one foot onto the ice.


Sometimes, the stars just align. Steve Caiati is making her way through the Financial District after a meeting at the Linderman Building to discuss the possibility of employment there. Something just felt off about the whole deal, though the salary offering was incredibly generous. Tempting, but it's still working for the mob, effectively. Rather than simply jump into a taxi to head back to her hotel, she's decided to let the chill air of New York clear her head, so that it might be easier to gather her thoughts.

That's when she sees the girl with her groceries. One brown boot stops the orange from rolling further down the sidewalk. "You poor thing. Here, let me help you." Steve crouches to pick up the fruit as well as a couple errant cans.

There's a scoff from Colette as she takes the orange, not really thinking much about it, "This happens to me all the time, I'm used to it by now…" Her eyes scan the sidewalk, crouching down to pick up a can at the same time as Steve, their hands colliding in front of the can of beans, causing Colette to break out in an awkward laugh, withdrawing her hand for the stranger to help her pull it all together. "I swear they just fucking make these bags to break right before I get — " She finally looks up to her benefactor, eyes rolling until they settle on the woman in front of her.

Colette doesn't finish her sentence. She just stays there, half hunched over, hand outstretched. Her eyes grow wider, mimicking the opening of her mouth as her lower lip just gives a faint tremble, fingers on her right hand twitching ever so slightly. She lurches forward, covering her mouth with one hand and looking like she's about to vomit for a moment, her eyes watering almost immediately as she lets out this rasping, strangled noise in the back of her throat.

"Oh my God." Is all she can croak behind her gloved hand.

Shit. Was she part of the crowd during the attack on Allen? Does she think I'm that horrible Sylar? "What? What is it?" Steve tries to play it off with a nervous chuckle of her own. "It's just a broken bag. The cans are only a little crunched. You can have Spaghetti al Dente tonight." She rises to her feet after tucking another couple cans in the crook of her arm, smiling faintly. There's no hint in her features that she recognises Colette at all.

The girl is crying, just, right here in the middle of the sidewalk. The cans are completely forgotten, she's gone as far as just dropping the other bags as well to free her hands so she can hurriedly tug away at her scarf, revealing her face as if that was going to help matters. "N-Nicole I — Oh my God, O-Oh my God!" She starts to move forward, reaching out one gloved hand, fingers curling slightly against her palm. Her eyes close, tears rolling down her cheeks before they open again, "Nicole."

There's a strangled sound like a whimper that comes from Colette, one glove dhand trying to wipe away at her mismatched eyes to clear the blurriness that tears have afforded her. "I — Oh my God, y-you're — you're — " She laughs, and it's an awkward and confused laugh, "I-It's… it's me," the tone is mildly pleading, "It — It's me, S-Sis… I — I can't — " Believe it?

Some things might just be too good to be true.

Wait, what? Steve fixes the girl with a confused look. There are no tears. No smiles. There's no happy reunion. "Nicole? My name is Stephanie - Steve. You must have me confused with someone else, sweetheart." Sis? Oh boy.

"No!" Colette practically shouts it out in rebuttal, one boot knocking a can away as she stumbles closer to Steve, a hand fumbling around in the pocket of her suede coat, "No — n-no you're — " Her eyes blink again, hesitating as she looks up at the older woman, just watching her, listening to her. There's a ghost of a smile on her lips, one that lingers for just a moment as she withdraws a crumpled photograph from her pocket, turning it around with a shaking hand, her brows knit together. "No." There could be a myriad of reasons why she doesn't seem to know Colette, so many possibilities that are equally as confusing as the next. Sure, her hair is a little different, sure she's dressed a little nicer, but the voice, her eyes, her smile — she even smells the same.

The photograph is held up, hand trembling as it is. How many times has she held this photograph, and the burned one before it up to a complete stranger asking if they've seen this one woman. How many times has she had to hear people tell her that her sister is probably dead. She always believed, somewhere, deep down inside that the most important person to her in the world was still alive out there somewhere.


But this picture doesn't just display hopes and dreams, it displays a riddle without an answer. For there, seated at a booth in some form of restaurant, is a dark-haired woman with a smirk spread across her face, hands flat on the table and head almost imperceptibly tilted to one side. Sitting next to her, Daniel Linderman is just as recognizable to Steve as she is to herself.

"Nicole." Not Steve, "It's me." Her voice cracks as she says it, "I — P-please… It's Colette."

And now it's Steve's turns to drop what she's carrying as she stares at the picture. That's not her. It can't be her. That's Daniel Linderman. A man she'd never met before coming to New York with Allen Rickham. She doesn't own a dress like that. Steve's face scrunches up as she leans in a little closer. "May I see that?" She takes the photograph before proper permission is granted, holding it up for her own inspection.

"That's my bracelet," Steve murmurs softly, rolling back the sleeve of her coat to inspect the diamond jewelry, almost as though she might be afraid that it had taken leave of her arm to show up in a photograph of a woman that can't possibly be her.

But it is her.

"Where did you get this?"

Any semblance of recognition is cause for a smile, and that is the only thing on Colette's face right now, despite the incredulous tone of Nicole's voice. "I — Our apartment." She says in a shaky, wavering tone of voice, "I — I found it there, I — After the bomb, I thought you — " She swallows nervously, this whole unbelievable scenario causing her to stammer and stutter more than she already does. Colette reaches out, not for the photograph, but just to rest her hand on the older woman's arm, swallowing dryly as she does.

The moment there is some semblance of contact, Colette lurches and lets out a shuddering sob, her cheeks wet with tears now, "I — I though tyou were dead…" Her voice drops to a whimper, "I — I didn't have anyone, I — " Choking back tears, she stares up at Nicole again, one blind eye and one green eye searching a pair of blue. "What happened? Why — d-don't you remember me?"

"I don't know, sweetheart. That's… me in this picture, but I don't remember it being taken. I've only just met this man. And… I don't have any idea who you are." It's breaking Steve's heart to say these things to Colette. She obviously believes they're sisters. But… they can't be. Steve doesn't know Colette. "I don't have an answer," she says softly, almost more to herself than to the girl. "I'm from Baltimore. I've never lived here. I wasn't here when the bomb went off." So she can't be Colette's sister, can she?

What does she even say to that?

Colette just stands there for a moment, closing her eyes and swallowing awkwardly, lips working out shapes that should come with sounds, but there's nothing there. Her hand shakes slightly, and she swallows tightly before looking back up again, "Y-you — Yes you are." Her breathing has become something of a hyperventilation now, practically panting as she sniffles and tries to fight back to sobbing that wants to come out. That hand on Steve's arm squeezes gently, "I — "

What does she say?

Colette's eyes open a little wider, looking from the bracelet up to blue eyes quickly. "You — You have a birthmark on your stomach just to the right side of your belly button." Colette's voice is a squeaking, strangled thing, desperately scraping at anything she possibly can, "You — You had your — uh," One hand flails down by her own midsection, "That thing, the fucking — fuck — your thing removed before I was born! You were sick and there's like, a little scar here!" She jabs out her hand towards Steve's side, a finger tracing across her midsection where the woman had her appendix taken out at the age of ten.

"Y-you were — you were born on December 24th, 1981! D-Dad always joked about how you were the good kid because you were born on Christmas Eve and I was born on Halloween!" She's frantic now, clinging to Steve's sleeve, "I — I have — We lived in Boston, Massachusetts, you took me — " She doesn't say it, "We moved away together, I — " Gasping for breath as she just blurts out anything she can imagine might do something, Colette is frenzied, like a maniac in the presence of this look-alike. "I — "

What can she say?

"I – I love you."

What else could she say, after all?

What can she say?

Steve gapes somewhat like a fish, searching for words amidst the turmoil of emotion. All those little details. The birthmark, the scar. Nobody - excepting various doctors over the years - has seen either of those. "I don't know who you are," Steve says helplessly.

"I was born on Christmas Eve, eighty-one. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. My parents were Cici and Chance. I — I —" Steve gasps, looking helpless.

What does she say?

"I have photographs!" She pulls a wallet from her coat pocket and flips it open to show Colette several pictures of a happy couple. But there's no family photos of the couple with their child, save for one where a dark-haired baby has turned her head toward her mother's breast, rather than face the camera. Steve stares desperately at the photographs, willing them to somehow prove she was raised somewhere else and has no siblings. "I was always camera shy, you see. I never wanted to—" Steve folds up the wallet quickly and presses a hand over her mouth to quell the swelling emotion. This has to be some sort of trick, doesn't it? There isn't any way someone can stand here and doubt their entire life, is there?

"I don't know who I am now."

What else could she say, after all this?

The hand is finally released from her arm, and Colette takes a half-step back, swallowing anxiously as her head gives a slight shake. There's a subtle shudder of a breath, eyes downturning to the cans scattered on the ground, a discarded purse, and an orange. It's that long, heavy moment of silence that followed where Colette tries to gather herself up, she can't panic right now. She can't freak out and ask too many questions, she can't just fall over and start bawling like she wants to. Grace wouldn't approve.

"I — " Her own voice sounds stupid to her, frustratingly so. Colette's head jerks to the side, eyes clenched shut. "My — " Hands curl up into fists at her side, and a few people slowly walking past on the street give confused looks to the two, eyes scanning down to the cans and the orange as they wordlessly pass by. She grows quiet again, kneeling down and just picking up the cans once more, stuffing them into the one good plastic bag, somewhat flattening the loaf of bread inside.

"I don't… know… I mean — " How does this get explained? Of all the ways she imagined this happening, it wasn't it, "M-Maybe I'm — " Her brows knit together, there has to be a reasonable explanation. This can't really be Nicole, can it? She has pictures after all. "Are you…" No. Don't ask that. Not yet.

"U-um, I — " No memory, maybe she could explain it, but a whole incorrect memory, it just is far too heavy. "I — " Her eyes upturn to the apartment building, suddenly horrified by having to explain everything, and at the same time not explain anything. "It's cold out here." She finally whimpers, picking up the plastic bag as she rises up to her feet. "Will…" She's staring at her sister, her own flesh and blood, the woman who protected and cared for her all those years.

It's like staring her past in the face, staring every horrible memory back in the eyes, without being able to commiserate about them. "I live…" She nods towards the doors, "I — I have… a box. Of — things — yours?" She can't even speak properly now, every tense bit of nervous energy in her is struggling to keep her from collapsing into an emotional heap.

This makes so little sense. Who is she? She can't be — but at the same time, she didn't deny the birthmark and scar.

"If — I mean, we… could we go inside?"

"I can't do this," Steve gasps, taking a step back. "N- Not right now. I need time to- to think." She pulls out her BlackBerry, fingers shaking as she calls up the contact list and starts a new entry. "Colette, right? I… Do you have a number I can reach you at, Colette? Wh- When I'm ready to talk?" She stares hard at her phone, unable to look up at the girl.

When will she ever be ready to talk about this? If she puts this girl's phone number into her cell, is she even going to bother calling her? Or will she just try to forget the whole thing happened and merely wait to see how long it takes for her to skip past the entry without flinching?

Steve shakes her head. "Never mind. Let's go in and talk. I'd… like to see what you have."

"Most… of it's burned, like… like everything else I — " Too gloomy. Colette winces and stops, just turning around to stare up at the brunette behind her, lips partied and eyes wide. She takes these moments in abject silence to stare at her as though she were going to flake away into an illusion of wintry design all too soon. The girl doesn't say anything, but the redness of her eyes and the barely restrained emotion pretty much says everything as plain as day. But still, none of this makes any sense.

Coming up to the front of the apartment, Colette fumbles with the front door, struggling with so much weight from combined bags of groceries in one now. She shoulders in to the run-down looking lobby; it's not that it looks trashy, but it could clearly use maintenance that it's not getting. The moment she steps in, the doorman scrambles up from the chair he was napping in, blearily shouting a welcome. "G-Good morning Miss Demsky!"

"Fuck off Freddy." Colette snaps out, taking out everything she has at the moment on the doorman, "Go back to jerk — " Ease back, ease back. Colette clips her words off, jaw clenched tightly as she looks back to make sure her sister's doppleganger is following her. In the light of the lobby, it reminds her of their family's apartment lobby in Boston.

Those aren't happy memories.

Not dwelling on it, Colette thankfully doesn't have to go up flights of stairs or curse at the still out of service elevators. She just rounds a corner and heads down a long and dimly lit hallway without talking. She comes to stop at one of the apartments, then just stares up at the peep hole with a blank expression, turning to look over her shoulder. "I — Live here with someone." She seems nervous, as if a woman who is her sister's spitting image is going to judge her. "He — He's like… my… Adoptive Dad." Colette just blinks away a bit of glossy sheen over her eyes, fumbling with her keys. "A detective. He… He's not home." The door unlocks, opening to nothing but silence as she steps in through the threshold, pausing to look back with that lingering and empty stare she had before.

"You don't have parents?" It's the only thing she can think of to say. Steve's brows furrow as she follows Colette into the apartment. Reflecting, she realises that the girl's parents - her parents? - might have been killed in the bomb. It makes the woman wince. Good job, Steve.

"None that we care about." Colette says in a murmur, quietly slipping into the apartment, leaving the front door open as she maneuvers into the kitchen to lay down the plastic bag of cans on the countertop. She reaches inside, pulling out the orange, rolling it around in her palm as she looks up into the doorway. The apartment clearly belongs to someone other than a young, teenage girl. Notably there's no photographs of Colette, or photographs of anyone for that matter. Whoever lives here must be something of a hermit, judging from all of the books.

"H-here…" She's gone from emotional to cold and deferential, trying to keep her calm as she passes by the woman with her sister's face. She holds out the orange, "I suck as peeling them, I bite my nails." She looks from the orange to Steve's hands, "You peel it with your thumb, you — always used to help me." There's just a moment of hesitation in her words, used to swallow back the threat of tears again.

"Just… peel my orange and," She nods to the open door, "I'll… go get the box."

"Sure thing, sweetie. I'll wait for you here." Steve takes the orange and starts peeling it in a rather practiced maneuver. Which strikes the woman as strange.

She doesn't even like oranges.

The peel is discarded in a rubbish bin and Steve simply takes a seat, holding the orange in her hands, rolling it between her palms with a pensive expression.

Colette is gone for a little too long than it should take to retrieve a box. Disappeared down the hall into one of the adjacent rooms, she's a ghost in the silent house, the source of a few creaking sounds and what might be a sob muffled by a pillow. Almost five minutes later, Colette emerges from her room with a brown shoebox. She hasn't even taken off her jacket yet. "I — " Her mismatched eyes track to the orange, the way she's seated, the expression on her face. It's all Colette can do not to break down again.

She doesn't finish whatever it was she was going to say, just maneuvers through the living room towards the sofa, settling down on the arm as she takes the top off of the box and lays it haphazardly down at her side. "This is… its — " She closes her eyes, remembering the day these contents were delivered to the orphanage in a sealed plastic bag. Colette swallows anxiously, reaching down in to retrieve a burned photograph, identical to the other one she showed Steve, but most of Linderman has been scorched from it.

"When… I got out of the hospital, when my treatments for radiation sickness was over, I — " She looks down at the photograph, "I was sent to a state shelter. I — All I had was this… this plastic bag of shit that was taken from the apartment. This photograph." She smiles, faintly, "It's all the proof I had for the longest time that you existed…" She lays it down on the sofa between herself and Steve, not yet having dawned on her how goddamned odd the woman's nickname is. "I used to show it to everyone… just — ask if they'd seen you." Colette swallows and hands the box over, filled with stupid nick-knacks; a broken pearl necklace, a makeup compact, loose change that amounts to a dollar-fifteen, a broken pair of reading glasses, a hairbrush, and an old cell phone that won't turn on.

"I… The night before the bomb, you — you never came home. I was up on the couch all night, waiting for you to call and then — " She closes her eyes, it's so hard to remember what comes next. "I don't know I — I guess I was…" Her head shakes slowly, "I was… the bomb happened, and… I was in the hospital." She guesses. "Everyone told me you were dead. But — I just…" One hand rises to cover Colette's eyes as she curls up on the arm of the couch. "Fuck."

Steve stares down into the contents of the box, too numb to say much of anything as she swaps the orange for the memories, sifting through the items inside. She plucks up the compact, "You can only get this in France… It's my brand." She sets the box aside and turns to look at Colette, unsure of what she's supposed to do next. Does she embrace her? "D- Don't cry." Though she feels like she'd like to. She glances at the box again. Something strikes her as odd — apart from this entire situation on the whole.

"It's a collection," she murmurs quietly, change rattling as she gathers it up in her hands. "See? Colette, look at this." Steve holds out her palm, heavily laden with coins. "Mostly nickels. Check the mint dates stamped on them." She turns over a few of the coins carefully with trembling fingers. "Nineteen-eighty-one. Every single one of these nickels." She pauses and blinks, a distant look in her eyes. "Nickels," she repeats, as though there's some sort of meaning to it.

Halfway biting into the orange, Colette just breaks down when she hears the word nickels from the doppleganger's mouth, it's like everything makes sense. She chokes back a sob, squeezing the orange in her hand a bit too hard as citrus runs down one side of her hand. Blearily, she looks up to the woman seated by her side, "T-That — " A laugh from the girl turns into a sob, and she looks away, embarrassed. Her hand shakily brings the orange to her mouth, but she can't work up the jaw strength to bite down into the part that has been peeled back. Instead, her lips just rest against it, eyes closed and tears once more finding their way down her cheeks.

"That's your nickname." She says with a bittersweet smile, turning to look down at the woman who couldn't have possibly known that unless she wasis Nicole. "It's a stupid nickname," She adds with a croaking laugh, trying to hide her face behind the Mandarin orange. "I — I u-used to — call you Nickels when — I — I was too young to — " She covers her eyes again with one hand, leaning forward with a ragged sob as the orange slips out from her fingers and hits the floor with a wet slap.

She tried to be strong, but this is just too much. The only coherent thing she says, once the crying starts, is a choked, "I — m-missed you — I — I'm so sorry." As if it was all her fault, as if everything — the memories, the new name and identity, as if all of it were somehow her fault.

Steve dumps the change back into the box and wraps her arms tightly around Colette. She just has to comfort the girl. Even if she isn't Nicole. Is she? She isn't sure. Can't be sure. "Shh. It's okay." She rubs Colette's back gently, stroking her dark hair. "I wish I could wave some magic wand and just fix this, for both of us. But… I honestly don't remember anything." Even though the nickname sounded familiar when the two of them spoke it in turn, there's no glimmer - no flash of recognition. No moment of knowing this is it, this is who I was. "I don't know if I'm your sister. But… maybe we can work this out together."


Arms around Colette just cause the girl to let out all of these emotions even further. It doesn't even matter right now that maybe this Stephanie isn't even her sister. She looks like her, sounds like her, smells like her. All of this just brings back a torrent of worse memories though; this isn't the first time that Colette has been curled up in Nicole's arms, crying her eyes out. It's the sound of her voice, the soothing tone, the gentle run of fingers through her hair, all it needs now is the muffled din of her father shouting from across the house about how worthless she is. Or her mother crying in the other room.

It's just like home again.

Colette slides down off of the arm of the sofa, crushing the shoe-box lid as she comes to settle down at Stephanie's side, trembling with each shuddering breath. She just met her less than twenty minutes ago, and already Colette has buried her face into the woman's shoulder, sobbing her eyes out, fingers curled into the other woman's coat. There's not sensible explanation for this, why she has the face of a woman called Nicole.

Cradled in her arms, head tucked down against her shoulder, the older woman's scrutiny comes to what looks like a pair of cuts on the back of Colette's neck, just below her hairline. These two, deep and dark marks vaguely resemble the green-black hue of a tattoo, but they're paired close together, a parallel set of black scars long since healed over. Just as odd as the rest of her.

Fingers brush gently over the scars, thinking nothing of them. "I'm sorry." Because Steve feels like she should be. "I… If I am Nicole, I don't know if I can ever be her the way you remember." She sighs quietly, sniffing back a wave of tears that threatens to overtake her. How does one handle finding out their whole life may be a lie? Or worse yet, that it isn't, and someone's heart has to be broken a second time?

Letting out a weak, tired whimper, Colette presses her nose against the woman's shoulder the way she had so many times before with Nicole. She leans her head back, looking up at her with puffy, reddened eyes. There's a moment of tired, weak resignation as she nods her head slowly, mouth opening as if to say something, but nothing comes out. Instead, Colette just climbs forward, rising up on her knees as she throws her arms around the woman who shares Nicole's face, draping them over her shoulders. Colette presses her damp cheek to Stephanie's, and buries her nose in her hair near her ear, just holding her for a brief moment. Her arms squeeze, tightly, and then gently relax as she slides back and away, sitting down on one leg folded beneath herself. "I — " She shakes her head, rubbing at her eyes with the heels of her palms, "I'm the — one who should be sorry. I — you didn't ask… I…"

Clearing her throat, Colette shoves herself up off of the couch, legs wobbling as she gets dizzy from the sudden ascent. "You… have a life, and — you aren't her." She holds up both hands, palms out towards Stephanie, waving them back and forth. "You have pictures, you have — you were raised by people — parents." As if drunk, Colette staggers away from the sofa, waving towards the door. The scent of oranges has permeated almost everything. "Just — I'm sorry I — I thought you were… I…" Her fingers curl into her hair, "I'm sorry."

Steve rises from the couch quickly as Colette begins reeling. She doesn't know what to believe. Part of her wanted this to be true. She stares down at the photo in the box - her photo - and drags her fingers through her hair in a gesture similar to Colette's. "It's okay. I'll see myself out." She hurries for the door, not wishing to cause either of them more pain by staying here.

Where she doesn't belong.

Eyes downturned to the box, and then the woman rising up from the couch, Colette watches the best thing in her life start to slip towards the door. She lurches again, covering her mouth with a hand to try and restrain what she wants to croak out, and then whimpers in a strangled, "Wait." One hand fumbles inside of her jacket, and she heads toward the door, stumbling over her messenger bag, tripping and hopping on one foot like a remarkably awkward klutz until she lightly bumps her shoulder into the wall by the door. "I — just, I — " A shake breath comes through reddened lips, and Colette flips open a cell phone, and halfway through the process of looking at it she just pauses, staring down at the screen.

This was Tamara's Christmas gift to her. It's brought her in touch with Conrad since then, and now this. Her brows scrunch together, thumbs rolling over a few buttons as she looks up to Stephanie. "I don't know who you are — " Her eyes cast to the side, then back again, "But I — I love my sister. I — I'd do anything for her." She has to bite down on her lower lip to stop her jaw from trembling. "I — maybe I just fucked up your head with all of this — maybe you just… maybe she just really looks like you and — " The scar. Colette forces her eyes shut, "C-Call me, I — I'm going to talk to someone. I don't know… I mean — I have to talk to someone. But I mean you — " She winces, then tugs at her lower lip with her teeth again.

"Stephanie, or — Steve," Her nose wrinkles, now she realizes how silly that seems, "I — don't know what the fuck is going on. But, my Dad — Adopt-O-Dad, whatever — " She shakes her head and waves towards Judah's office, "He's a detective. I — I know a private investigator too, he's been looking for y— for Nicole. I — he's missing." She holds out the phone, showing her cell number. "A Professor Anselm from Columbia University, where Nicole went to school, he helped me by getting the names of some professors that knew you, and… and now he's gone too." She eyes the living room, then looks back to Stephanie.

"I don't know who you are, and… I just — Please." She urges forward with the phone again, "Just, take my number, even if you don't want to give me yours I — I just — I can't let you go." Blind in one eye, and likely having a hard time seeing with the other from the tears welling up in both, Colette does the only thing she can hope to in this situation.

Trust Tamara.

Steve takes the phone to bring up the number so she can add it to Colette's entry in her own BlackBerry. Then, she creates a contact for herself in Colette's phone. "There you go, sweetie." She hands the phone back with a gentle smile. "I… Even if I'm not Nicole, I want to get to know you better, okay? I need to go talk to some people, too. I think we both need some time to think and clear our heads." She can't help but pull the younger girl in for a hug, closing her eyes as tips down her chin and breathes in the scent of Colette's hair. She always wanted a sister. Maybe God's got a funny way of giving her something to fill the hole in her life now that Allen's gone away?

Get to know you. The words sting, especially coming from that face and with that voice. Drawn into the embrace as she is Colette just nods weakly, giving an awkward swallow as her eyes close the rest of the way. There's a shuddering exhalation and she nods again, a faint smile curling up on her lips as she remembers the way their goodbyes always were. Maybe she's not Nicole. Maybe this is all some enormous cosmic joke designed for Colette to be the punchline. Maybe God's got a funny way of giving her something to fill the hole in her life since Tamara disappeared.

"I'll… call you. Soon—ish." She doesn't want her to go, but there's no way Colette can compel a stranger what to do, especially one she just tried to convince was living a lie. When she draws back from the embrace, Colette looks up with mismatched eyes and a weak smile, staring up at the person she's been trying to find for so long. Right there, right in front of her. And she's letting her go.

But you know what they say about keeping things you love.

If you let it go, and it never returns…

"I promise."

…it wasn't ever yours to begin with.

February 10th: I See Russia, I See France
February 10th: Second Time, Same Biscuit
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