Please Don't Kick Anybody


ingrid_icon.gif joshua_icon.gif nicole3_icon.gif walter_icon.gif

Scene Title Please Don't Kick Anybody
Synopsis Trouble only comes when someone does attempt to kick somebody.
Date March 1, 2011

Solstice Condominiums: Nicole Nichols' Home

The car ride to Solstice Condominiums was quiet, save for Mick Jagger's voice coming from the Buick's speakers. Turned down low so as only to provide a backdrop that isn't road noise. There's little preamble as Nicole Nichols opens up the door to her condo and ushers Ingrid inside. With her fingers no longer in a white knuckle grip around the steering wheel, Nicole finds that her hands are shaking as she flicks the light on.

The space is a bit chilly, both in literal temperature and in look. It's all clean lines in the open kitchen leading into the living room, where the mod furnishings in black and white don't actually lend much more than character to the room. "I'm going to go turn up the thermostat." Nicole flashes a quick smile to Ingrid, reassuring as she locks up behind them. Safe and secure.

"Make yourself at home." A gesture to the living room and the kitchen in turn, suggests Ingrid can either take a seat on the sofa or one of the armchairs, or at the kitchen island while Nicole moves down the hall toward the bedrooms and bath so she can turn the heat on. "My sister hasn't been living with me, so I don't always keep it warm in here. It shouldn't take more than a couple minutes, though."

At some point during the drive, Ingrid started to cry. Not the kind of tears that consume her whole body, spitting and choking and sobbing, but the kind of tears that run hot and silent down her face while having a negligible affect on her breathing, which reestablished its rhythm around the same time. Making herself at home apparently involves sitting down on the sofa in the living room at the far end, and making her body conform to the corner where the cushions meet as much as she can. Her laceless shoes come off, left on the floor, and she draws her knees up into her chest, arms wrapped around her legs and hands forming a tight clasp.

She doesn't feel very safe, or very secure. Curls of blonde hair stick to her cheeks where her skin is wettest, and she can feels its texture in her mouth where her lips have caught one of the longer strands.

Concern renews its etchings in Nicole's features when she reappears from the hallway and spots Ingrid huddled up. "Oh, honey…" She had been about to breeze into the kitchen and do something she considers useful. I instead she kicks off her sneakers, nudging them under an end table at the end of the hall before she makes her way to Ingrid's side, crouching next to her at the end of the couch.

"Tell me what I can do for you," Nicole murmurs, reaching up to carefully brush the hair away from the younger woman's face before wiping away the evidence of tears with the pad of her thumb.

Ingrid refuses to meet Nicole's gaze, blue eyes still gleaming with moisture shying downward and away. The touch to her cheek makes her tense, and the next breath she lets out has a shaky quality to it. "M'okay," she mumbles, and there's a thickness to her voice meant to disguise how she's really feeling.

Which means that she isn't. Okay. She swallows hard and reaches up, using the back of her hand to scrub at her nose, then her eyes, and while she's wearing make-up, it's not heavy enough that the smearing is noticable.

"I'm going to go make some hot chocolate." Nicole rises to her feet again and moves toward the kitchen. She remembers a time where she flinched every time someone touched her. She only hopes this is just nerves. "Do you like yours made with milk or water?" she asks without looking over her shoulder, allowing Ingrid some pseudo-privacy in which to compose herself. Two mugs are retrieved from the cupboards. One is white, with a tiger on the ceramic in vivid orange. The same orange paints the inside of the mug. The second mug is a shade somewhere between lilac and powder blue. She retrieves the milk from the fridge, but waits for an answer before she makes a move to pour.

There's a moment's hesitation, like Ingrid isn't sure whether she wants anything to drink at all. Then she says, "Milk, please," in the most level voice she can manage. It isn't very. "It tastes better."

"I think so, too." Nicole tips the carton carefully to spill milk into each mug over chocolate powder, then stirs it all up before popping both mugs into the microwave to heat up. "That was really scary," she admits in a quiet voice. "Been a while since… Since I was in a situation like that."

"Me too," says Ingrid. One wet snuffle later, she's reaching into the pocket of her coat for her phone, which she flips open either to check the time or to see whether or not she has any unopened text messages or missed call notifications. She must not, because she snaps it shut again and moves to cradle it in her lap, nails hooked under the edge, uncertain.

"I shouldn't be here," she states, and it sounds more like a confession than a good bye. She isn't getting up. "I'm not— supposed to."

"Ingrid, there were shots fired. It doesn't matter where you're supposed to be." Nicole rests her hip against the counter as she waits for their chocolates to nuke. "Wherever you're supposed to be, those people will understand." She tips her head to one side and shrugs. "And if they don't, I'll put on my steel-toed boots and kick some asses."

"I'm not supposed to be alone with— people," Ingrid clarifies. "It's complicated. My—" Her breath catches in her throat and her lips press together. Fair brows knit. More tears create tracks on her cheeks and drip down onto her tinted stockings, skirt with a soft floral pattern in pastels bunched up around her thighs. A bracelet tinkles around her wrist under her coat. There's a sliver barrette shining in her hair.

"Please don't kick anybody, Miss Nichols."

Dark brows furrow in confusion. "Not supposed to be alone with people? Honey, that's a bit of a ridiculous notion. You aren't fourteen. You don't need to have a chaperone." The micro beeps and Nicole pops it open to retrieve the mugs, nudging the door closed again with a light bump of the side of her head, rather than risk splashing hot chocolate across her knuckles. She returns to Ingrid's side, offering out both mugs to her. "Guest's choice."

This doesn't require an internal debate. Ingrid takes the mug that doesn't have the big cat on it, apparently preferring the one with the more subdued tones and no picture painted across the side. She's used to surrendering the more colourful and ornate of two choices to Jolene. "I know I don't," she says, and while there isn't any defensiveness in her tone, there's something about it that sounds strange, like the words don't fit in her mouth the way that they should.

"Thank you." Her teeth click against the rim of the mug when she raises it to her pursed lips to drink, testing its temperature with a tentative sip. Too hot. "What that lady did was amazing."

"You're welcome." Nicole reaches behind her and hooks her hands around the lip of the coffee table, dragging it toward the couch so she can sit down on it, rather than encroach on Ingrid's space on the couch. She sets her mug down next to her and pushes up the sleeves of her semi-sheer grey pullover. "With the lights? Yeah. I had… I had heard that Quinn could do stuff with light, but… Nothing like that." And she can understand why she didn't know the extent of what Quinn could do with her ability, considering she's tried to keep hers under wraps.

"No," Ingrid corrects Nicole, and although she's swift to do it, it's too gentle to be a reprimand, completely devoid of any reproach. Meek but insistent. "I mean— I mean that she was able to do anything. Anything at all. I just—"

"Instead of freeze up? If you hadn't pulled me to the floor… I might have stood there gaping like a fish." Nicole's smile is gentle, but she doesn't leave her eyes on Ingrid's face too long, for fear of making her feel scrutinised. She instead idly fiddles with the diamond bracelet around her wrist, turning it in a slow circle. "There's no shame in being afraid in those situations."

"There is if you are who I am." Ingrid wrinkles her nose and feels the steam rising from the mug fill her nostrils. Her face puffs up around a little snort of surprise. She blows on it. The tears on her face have begun to finally dry, leaving tacky residue that will easily smudge off when she becomes aware of it or will fade on its own. "My daddy would be so disappointed in me."

"Because you got scared when guns started going off? Most rational people do that, you know. You aren't Supergirl. I mean, I don't think you are. If bullets bounce off your chest, then maybe it's silly to be scared of them. But you're human, just like me." Brown hair is tucked behind one ear as Nicole shakes her head. "Ducking for cover when people start getting shot is a smart thing."

"I didn't just get scared. I possum'd. Fleabaggy, skinny pink rat-taily, open your mouth and too many teeth possum'd." Another sip from her mug of hot chocolate, cooler now that the temperature has had time to adjust, and scowls into her drink. Ingrid swallows, drags her teeth over her lower lip and makes a claw of her fingers. "Their feet are like little people hands. And."

And. Possums are not really at the heart of what has her so upset. "Maybe it was the smart thing, but it wasn't the right thing. If I hadn't been wearing my headphones, if I hadn't been spacing out, maybe" Her voice cracks and the tears are back. "Maybe I could have done something before it started. And maybe Miss Darrow wouldn't be" Dying is what she means. Can't quite force out. It's caught in her throat. "They're gonna be so mad at me."

Possums. And facts about possums. Everybody has a different way to deal with stress. Nicole sees Ingrid's fact-spouting as something similar to the way she throws herself into her work when things go sideways. It's just a different way of engaging the brain.

"Miss Darrow's going to be just fine," Nicole insists. She doesn't know that for sure, but she needs to believe it just as much as she needs Ingrid to believe it. "I was alert and I didn't see that guy coming. There was nothing you could have done."

And speaking of stress relief… Nicole sighs, and she rises from her perch on the coffee table, mug in hand. "I'm going to go put some brandy in this." She holds her other hand out, but not in a gimme fashion so much. "Would you like some?" She knows she's young, but these are extenuating circumstances if ever she saw them. "Our little secret."

Ingrid seems to be giving Nicole's offer serious consideration behind the sheen of tears clinging to her face. She's trembling again, and when she opens her mouth to respond, she's cut off by a loud thump-thump at the front door.

Someone is knocking with their fist. Ingrid blanches. "Oh no."

Nicole grabs Ingrid's mug and sets it aside with her own on the table, then reaching up to grab her hands and tug her up. The knock on the door, unexpected like this, has her paranoid. And when Ingrid says oh no, that doesn't help. "Come here," she whispers. "Come with me."

She leads Ingrid down the hall, thankful they're both in their stocking feet so that their footsteps won't be heard, and takes her to her bedroom. "You can tuck in the closet if it'll make you feel safer," Nicole tells her, "behind the dresses. Don't come out for anything. Not unless I call you. Do you understand me, Ingrid? Not for anything." She smooths her hands over the girl's face once and offers her a shaky smile. "It's probably nothing. But just… Just please. Just stay here, okay?"

When Nicole turns away to shout to the visitor at the front door, her voice is loud enough to contrast the quiet that even she flinches. "Just a minute!"

Ingrid makes a small sound of protest at the back of her throat when the closet doors open, a mewl, and then another when the older woman's hand finds her face, which has contorted into an expression of quiet anguish. She's shaking her head, almost frantic — no, don't lock me in the closet or no, I won't come out for anything.

Thump-thump-thump goes the front door.


Nicole gives a quick squeeze to Ingrid's shoulders. "Probably just the press. You don't wanna deal with that." Then, she's rushing out of the bedroom, shutting the door behind her. Then the door to Colette's room, and the laundry, and the bathroom as she goes down the hall. In the living room, she grab the coffee mugs and Ingrid's shoes. The cocoa in both is dumped in the sink, the cups left to sit in the stainless basin. The shoes are tossed in the back of the coat closet.

Before she answers the door, Nicole rakes her fingers into her hair and shakes it all over to actually make her look more dishevelled, putting on her best tired face before she peers out the peep hole, then opening the door only as far as the chain on it will allow. "Can I help you?"

On the other side of the door stands a man, tall with broad shoulders and muscular arms made of sinew. A ruff of red hair like a rooster's comb stands up on the crest of his skull despite obvious efforts to tame it with gel that ends up giving it a greasy texture.

Nicole Nichols does not recognize Walter Trafford when she sees him, but Walter Trafford recognizes her. And, you know, he should — her name is on the callbox outside the complex where the mail is delivered. "Maybe," he answers tersely, and forces a smile that shows just a little too much tooth and fang. "I'm looking for a little girl. Blonde. Talks too much. About this high." He holds up a hand, palm flat, and indicates to a spot somewhere below his left shoulder. "Wee thing."

Nicole seems to consider the description for a moment, though she's more considering the man outside her door. And how he puts her ill at ease. "No," she responds with a slow shake of her head. "Haven't seen any kids around here." Which is what little girl implies. And maybe Nicole is being too kind, but she wouldn't call Ingrid a little girl by any means. "Sorry."

Walter is generally well-meaning, but the problem with well-meaning people is that the term is usually applied to them when they do something wrong. A booted foot wedges between the door and the frame — steel-toed like the kind Nicole threatened to pull on and start kicking people with. His hand curls around the door's edge.

He has very large fingers. "I don't believe you," he says.

Nicole looks down at the boot wedged in her door, and then to the man's fingers. She'll give him points for having enough brains to not leave her in a position to break his fingers if she should decide to slam the door.

Damn boys with brains.

"I don't care." Blue eyes are a little too bright to be natural, but they don't do anything so impressive as to flare in warning. That would be a neat trick on Nicole's part. "Go away before I call the cops." Or her downstairs neighbour. She's sure Robert Caliban has a gun on hand.

"Maybe I am the cops," Walter snaps back, and he wishes he hadn't been taught not to hit women because this would be so much more simple if he could. "Look," he says through gritted teeth, jaw clenched. "I'm not gonna hurt her. Could never hurt her. She's like my buddy's kid sister — now let me in."

Nicole breathes in through her nose, a step away from properly seething. "If you were the cops, you'd have said so and you'd have a badge." She purses her lips and lets out a sigh. "Can we try this properly? What's your name? Do you know her name? And tell me what her brother's is, for good measure. Because I have no fucking clue who you are, and I'm not about to—"

Annoyance at the situation has Nicole closing her eyes for a brief moment. "Names. Just… Start there." Because she's just noticed a spark jump from her fingers to the doorknob they're wrapped around.

"Fuck," isn't Walter's name, but that's his reaction to the spark, even if he doesn't recoil or pull his foot and hand out of the door. His eyes snap to Nicole's face. "Reynard," he says. "M'name's Reynard. And hers is Ingrid. Iggy for short. I'd show you how high she used to be since I've known her, but that'd require bending over and I don't trust you not t'take the opportunity to all crooked up my nose. No offense."

"No, that's fair." Nicole shrugs, entirely unapologetic. "I might crooked up your nose because you won't get the fuck out of my door." Her lips tug into a bit of a line, masking worry with bravado. "But seriously, get the fuck outta my door. I'm going to close it, and you're going to wait in the hall while I see if there are any little blonde girls in my home that want to see you."

"I told you she'd be a cunt."

No, this isn't from Walter, but a second masculine voice that drifts down the hallway from the blind spot just beside Nicole's door where Joshua stands slouched and hidden. The door suddenly shudders beneath Nicole's hand and strains hard against the chain that stops Walter from just walking in as the side of the brawler's fist comes down against the wooden surface, strains, forces it to stay. Then, musical, there's a chime-like sound, off-pitch, the effects of snapped metal.

The chain splinters, exploding from the pressure of Joshua's lean, the door opening askew where it hangs from only one intact hinge, the other broken beyond repair. "Ingrid!" he calls out, shouldering his way through the door, looking past Nicole and towards where Ingrid is hidden — then back to the woman in front of him. Teeth show. "Get outta my way."


Walter's voice had not been enough to draw the young woman from the hiding place Nicole imposed on her, but the younger man's evidently is. She appears in the mouth of the hallway in her red wool coat, unbuttoned, blouse, skirt and a pair of tinted nylons that dampen the sound of her footsteps more than her bare feet would, absorbing sound. Strings of tear-soaked blonde hair are pasted to her cheeks and the rims of her eyes are puffier than they probably should be, making her face appear swollen and pink.

The look Walter gives Nicole isn't accusing, but there's nevertheless unguarded suspicion behind his chilly blue stare. "She doesn't need your protection."

The door gives way and Nicole goes staggering back a few paces, her blue eyes wide with alarm. And none to pleased with the colourful assessment made of her. Protector instincts kick in, regardless of Walter's insistence. Even if it's maybe just herself that she's protecting here. She holds her hand out toward both men, lightning crackling and popping bright and appropriately electric blue in her palm. "You take one more step and I swear to you…"

Joshua isn't a pretty sight, for all that the planes and configurations of bone structure are by some standards attractive enough. Bruises mottle around his nose and mouth, still healing, a cut at his brow, his hair shaven down to a severe bristle over his skull. The scowl isn't helping, nor the play of electrical blue flaring light up his face. He might get tased again. This notion doesn't actually make him cower back, naturally.

It does have him suddenly grip the back of Walter's jacket, his arm, and drive the redhead directly towards Nicole, a swift kick to the ankle pitching the older, taller man into danger zone. There sharp snap and crack of electricity zithers through the air, the sharp smell of burning, flares of white blue veins where Nicole's energy pricks Walter's skin.

And then Joshua's bulldog tenacity, charging forward within a split second, a grab to her throat.

Walter drops. There is no other word to describe it. He doesn't process what's happened until after he's hit the floor, slumped onto one side with an arm pinned beneath him and the other slung across his face — the last thing he'd tried to do before colliding with Nicole was to shield himself.

This is not an entirely unfamiliar feeling. He has to put up with Howard, after all.

Ingrid's shrill scream of "Stop!" is much louder than the low groan that hiccups up out of the redhead's chest when he's able to roll himself over onto his back, followed by a hiss of pain spat out through his teeth that sounds like a curse in either Italian or French or one of those other languages he knows, or maybe he just can't accurately articulate—

"Don't hurt her! Please!"

Oh shit. That wasn't supposed to happen. All the same, when Walter goes stumbling toward her, Nicole grabs him and gives him the same effect as if he'd been hit by a taser. That's two men she's tased in her home in as many weeks. This city has gone batshit.

Any satisfaction from taking down one of the intruders at her door is short-lived, however, when Joshua's hand finds its way around her throat. Nicole reaches up to wrap her own fingers around his forearm, but she has little more to give than a weak jolt no worse than touching a door knob after shuffling feet over the carpets in winter. She lashes out then, a clumsy kick aimed between Joshua's legs.

Thighs shifting to dodge is one of those movements men learn from a relatively young age, and saves him from a hard blow and hours of frozen peas set up on his groin. And when Joshua then delivers a headbutt, previously bruised brow smacking into the more elegant slope of Nicole's, that's a move learned later in life — sharply executed and stunning in its impact, a blossom of pain that erupts in the very centre of Nicole's forehead. A shove guides the rest of a stumble, stagger or fall — whatever happens after Joshua is releasing her.

He checks his head with a swipe of his palm even if he doesn't actually look at it, looking instead towards Ingrid. "She went for a nutshot," is brimmingly defensive and snarly before he can get called on his behaviour, stepping back, shoving the door the rest of the way awkwardly open. "Move your ass. You too, skippy. A little zap never hurt nobody."

She'd called his name when she emerged from the hall, but Ingrid's instinct is to rush to Nicole instead of Joshua. She's not quick enough on her feet or strong enough to catch her when she falls, but she's there when her body connects with the floor. One hand braces against her shoulder. The other smears hair away from her face to check for blood, split skin, bruising — worse. With Joshua, she never really knows what to expect, and she's giving Nicole a shake to rouse her, bring her around by the time Walter is climbing back to his feet. "No. No, no, no."

"I'll show you a little zap," is most likely an empty threat, and while the bristling words are directed as Joshua, he's moving to tear Ingrid off Nicole. His arms slide under hers, hands clasped at her middle, and haul her up before manhandling her over the shoulder that's the least sore. "Fucking Springsteen. I'm telling."

Nicole might have sneered, if she'd had the time. Instead, Joshua's forehead connects with hers with a crack! she actually hears and sees (in that black blossoms eclipse her vision) before it registers as pain. She drops like a sack of bricks when she's shoved back.

Though, she isn't quite unconscious. She wishes she was. Nicole blinks heavily several times, trying to register her surroundings from her prone position on the hardwood entry floor. There's blood at her brow where it split, and it looks worse than it is, because that's how head wounds are. She recognises the blonde's arms around her, propping her up, and she reaches out to try and grab at her hand weakly when Walter starts to haul her away. "Ingrid…"

Joshua is already looking kicked puppy sullen, Ingrid's misdirection and attention spared towards Nicole— as opposed to commending him for being so heroic and manly— rendering him silent, mouth going into a line and hazel gaze shifting resentfully in defined eye sockets. Banter from Walter perks him some, chin lifting, not even batting an eye as the blonde woman gets manhandled up into fireman's carry, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Yeah? Who you gonna tell? Nobody."

He hangs back so that Walter can get himself and Ingrid out of the way first, before looking down at Nicole again, mouth twisting. "Sorry about your door, ma'am." Beat. "And your head." And home invasion generally and calling you a cunt. Whatever. The words come grudging, the kind adolescent apology that is obligatory instead of heartfelt.

Then he's headed away, boot nudging the awkward door out of the way as he goes.

"Nice," says Walter, following Joshua out into the hall. He'd shut the door behind him, but— well. He's got a little less than a hundred pounds of female slung over his shoulder, and although Ingrid isn't putting up any fight, he's not about to risk reaching out and making a grab for the handle while he's still disoriented in case there's still a charge lingering, waiting to snap out and bite him in a parting shot.

Ingrid cranes her neck, stretching against Walter as she strains to get one last look at Nicole on the floor, but then they're around the corner, and if she's able to find it in herself to struggle across the floor to the door—


It's a bleary-eyed stare Joshua gets in return, as if his words weren't even understood. They maybe weren't. Nicole slumps back on the floor with her eyes closed for the space of time it takes them to disappear out her broken door. She doesn't attempt to drag herself after them. Toward trouble. Instead, her phone comes out of her pocket. Not to call the man downstairs, or the one she's supposed to marry (whose ring she pointedly has not been wearing). She presses her index finger to the keyboard, a four letter text message to a five digit number.

To: 56426


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License