Pooling Resources


nicole2_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title Pooling Resources
Synopsis Two friends meet at a bar and discover their respective problems have the same name.
Date December 18, 2010

The Stop

An older building houses this bar/hotel mix, and upon entering the first things one notices is that the atmosphere isn't what would normally be expected. Entering pushing open a thick metal door, an almost fine establishment feeling starts to overcome the senses with a light cherry colored oak floor, and soft amber colored walls. A large mahogany bar rests in the left corner, with many different types of liquor resting upon its shelves. Towards the right corner of the bar sit a couple of pinball machines, a dart game, and a SNK 10-in-1 cabinet that seems ready for its daily quarter harvest. A few booths line the left wall, and decently spaced tables with four chairs apiece come out towards the center of the establishment. On the right sits two large pool tables, with racks of varying sized cues lining them. Directly across from the door sits a rounded staircase leading to the upper level.

"Five ball, left pocket."

The clatter of billiard balls clunking against each other reverberates through the unusually empty bar. The Stop is relatively silent this time of day, but then it's merely the afternoon— the crowd is very different than the party crowd that would show up later tonight.

Russo grins mischievously as he shrugs at his opponent, "Beginner's luck, I guess." With a wink, he tosses his cue back to the dark haired man and strolls over to the bar. Such a victory really deserves a drink, but…

With a sigh, he perches along the bar, giving a fleeting glance towards the door. His fingers drum along the top of the bar as the bartender watches him expectantly. Finally, after pressing his lips together and staring at the vast array of liquor he manages, "Whiskey sour." With a pause his nose wrinkles, "And a glass of water."

He doesn't look like his usual polished self today. Several days growth lines his chin while his army green sweater fits comfortably over a pair of dark-wash jeans. His jacket— a wool army-style— lines the back of his chair.

Moments later his two beverages are set in front of him. For him to… stare at.

Nicole Nichols is all dark countenance, dark hair, and dark glasses as she enters The Stop. A sombre figure cut in black wool until she sheds her coat. Draping it over the back of the chair next to Russo, she perches her sunglasses atop her head. Her dress is a tasteful black thing with a high waistline, and a keyhole cut-out giving a peek of skin and of gold chain tucked past the high, buttoned neckline. The skirt falls just past mid-thigh, leaving a couple inches between it and her knee high (also black) boots. Practical enough for the weather.

"Good to see you, Brad," she greets with a smile that doesn't quite meet her eyes. She doesn't seem insincere so much as she does preoccupied. Or troubled. "Wasn't sure you'd want to meet with me after… Well, I realise I sounded sort of crazy at the party." She doesn't feel the need to specify which party. There's really only one incident she could be referring to.

One booted foot braces on the rung of the chair, a palm planted on the bar for stability before Nicole hoists herself smoothly onto her claimed seat. "I'll have what he's having," she tells the bartender. When she smiles to Russo again, there's a little more warmth to it than the previous attempt.

Russo, unlike his drinking partner, merely shakes his head. "Don't even worry about it. We live in New York. If you don't sound crazy, you probably are." He shoots her a lopsided smile as he glances at the bartender and then back to his thus far untouched drink. His fingers curl around the glass eliciting a warm feeling in the pit in his stomach, reminiscence brings a new smile to his face, renewed as he casts her a wayward glance.

"Besides, if anything, I'd have thought you thought me the crazy one." He swallows hard as his lips twitch slightly, his smile faltering for something more cryptic. "New York city. Full of crazies." Smugly he smirks, bringing the glass of water to his lips and leaving the whiskey alone. For now.

"You were impaired." Which is the polite company way of saying strung out on cocaine. Nicole chuckles softly and stares down at her hands on the bar, taking her diamond tennis bracelet between two fingers from the opposite hand and turning it in a slow orbit around her wrist.

"I need a favour, Brad," Nicole admits in a quiet voice, something like guilt or reluctance colouring her tone. When her own whiskey sour and water arrive in front of her, she wastes no time in bringing the liquor to her lips. She's the first one to slide down that slope. "I'm afraid to go to my usual contacts on this one, but you… Can maybe work a bit more freely than I can." An explanation, or an excuse.

"I'm trying to dig up some information on a military man. US Army. Colonel Heller."

Brad's eyes narrow. "Heller," he repeats bitterly as his own head shakes. "Kristen and I… we've been hot on his scent for awhile." His jaw tightens as he trades the water glass for the whiskey, it's faint aroma enticing his senses for that which he desires most at this moment: just one taste, but he delays gratification as he pushes it away from him. Just a little. Just enough. Not so far that the bartender will take it away, but far enough that the smell won't consume him entirely.

"What do you know about Heller?" His lips purse while his nostrils flare slightly. Leaning back on the barstool his tongue clucks and his arms fold over his chest, "As an aside, I am working on this one already. He's— " there's a gruff sound in the back of Russo's throat. Something between a sigh and a scoff. "— he's dangerous. I have some army buddies I was considering talking to, although the studio hired someone already…"

Blue eyes widen in surprise when Nicole discovers that Russo's already aware of the man she's looking for information about. She watches the way he entertains the notion of a drink, though she doesn't quite recognise it for what it is. She may later.

Nicole slowly turns her head to peer around the bar, looking to see if there's anyone paying too close attention to their conversation for her comfort. She leans closer, resting her elbow on the bar and curving her hand around her mouth to obscure the movement of her lips. "My little sister's in trouble."

Her voice is low, and her expression deceptively casual for the undercurrent of worry in her words. "This Heller found me at a friend's establishment," that is to say, the colonel caught her staring at strippers at Burlesque, "and he had her picture. Tried to frame it at first as if he was there about something else entirely. About this Irish woman in a parking garage on the 8th. She's been in the papers in relation to some Humanis First thing. Lexington Lane? Asked me if I knew her first."

Nicole's lips curl in a sneer, visible in gaps between her fingers. "Then he showed me Colette's photograph. He asked me if I knew who she was." Whiskey tastes bitter on her lips and tongue. Appropriately so. "He gave me the chance to lie about it, I guess. I don't know what's going on. I told him that I haven't seen her since her birthday. — Halloween." She doesn't say yet that that was a lie.

Brad's eyes scan the bar, relieved he chose somewhere relatively off the beaten path— for him at least. He twists in his chair as he shoots the bartender a pointed look, causing the other man to busy himself on the other side of the bar.

His face twitches slightly before he finds himself swallowing hard around the lump in his throat. The scowl present is pressed away firmly in lieu of his rather infamous pokerface. The question hangs heavily on his mind before he manages to actually whisper it, "She's evolved, isn't she?"

His eyebrows raise gravely as he actually reaches for the whiskey again this time angrily, but he can't bring it to his lips, his better conscience keeping him in line.

"Heller stopped an anonymous tip we received to the studio. Someone shot and killed a bunch of evolved in a parking garage…" He frowns. "When we investigated? Heller escorted us out." With a hiss of breath, he shakes his head, "It happened. I am positive it happened based on what we found, and K and I… we want to blow it open. We just hired a private investigator to look into it… but…" That might not be enough. "I have some connections to the army— service and all that, even if it was years ago, some fellas I served with are career military. Maybe I can get some more info?"

Nicole doesn't nod her head in response to his first question. Just murmurs the word behind her hand, "Yes." Nicole's little sister is most definitely Evolved. Her eyes grow wider as she listens. His own experience with Heller. About the parking garage. "Oh, God. There was a mass murder in the garage?"

Her breath catches in her throat and Nicole looks for a moment as though she may be about to be sick. "Logan." She presses her lips together, appearing suddenly more earnest. "We need to find Lexington Lane before Heller does, I think. Heller said she and my friend had both been in a parking garage, a triage centre. Something like that. That can't be a coincidence." She's trying to replace fear with a need to work. It isn't working as well as she would like.

"The photo he had of Colette… It was only from last Wednesday. And he's arrested her adoptive father. He's NYPD. Detective Judah Demsky. Wherever he is, none of my contacts could find him after they arrested him during the riots." Nicole swallows back the lump forming in her own throat, attempting to wash it down with more whiskey. It doesn't help. "I think they may be watching me. I hope I'm just being paranoid, but…" She shakes her head, an askance look to her partner in this. What should I do?

Russo nods at the questions, listening carefully to each of Nicole's words; it's one of his best qualities. Yet at the same time, therein lays an issue. His thoughts are left to roll over each other as his arms unfold and his fingers drum against the bar. "Yeah. Heller tried to pitch the scene off as a triage centre to us too. I don't buy it. There was a bloodied handprint on the wall, cleaned but with Luminol…" He swallows hard as his eyebrows escalate. "We need to get people into protective custody of some sort, and don't trust the police on this one— I certainly don't. Heller's trying to tie the loose ends so to speak so yeah, we need to find Lexington Lane."

His jaw tightens, the seriousness of the situation imploring a certain heaviness on him. With a graceless smile, he nearly grimaces, "We need to pool resources. I'll contact the PI we have working the case and I'll use what I have to find Lexington Lane. Your friend? Logan? Have you been in touch with him? He needs to fall off the grid for awhile if he can. Heller is not to be trifled with. And as it stands martial law enables him to do whatever he wants and make it justifiable." Finally the whiskey is grasped and brought to his lips, that gentle reassurance from the amber liquid that everything will be okay rolls along his tongue.

"Ahhhhh." The next part of his scheme is allowed time to saturate with the booze.

"As for you…" he half-smiles, but there's nothing merry in this action, just a grim flash of teeth. "You need to stay safe and away from your contacts. I wouldn't put it past Heller to have someone tail you…" He turns to face her, "Do you know where your sister is? If you do… you need to contact her through the most obscure means possible. Come to the studio under the guise of an interview. I'll set it up with K. We'll get you out through the back entrance to lose your tail— I have some measure of control there and I don't think anyone could follow you out."

"Barring that you could contact her through the studio lines. We're much harder to track and trace considering the sheer number of calls that go out in a given day…"

"I'm sorry, Brad. I shouldn't have…" Nicole smiles faintly and reaches out to rest a hand on his shoulder. "I shouldn't have involved you. But at least you already were, huh?" She drops her hand back to retrieve her drink. "I kind of figured you were just gonna tell me to go to hell when I explained what kind of trouble this is." It doesn't take long to drain a short glass of whiskey when each time you take a swallow from it, you don't want to stop. Drinking herself into oblivion is something Nicole's been rather fond of lately.

She sets the glass far enough away from to her to indicate that she's done with it, but doesn't signal for retrieval or a refill. Her mouth is hidden behind her hand again before she speaks up once more. "I have no idea where Colette is. I told her not to tell me so that even… Well. It's for her safety." It's an uneasy thought. "I've been… using pay phones to get in touch with one of her friends. I don't even have her cell phone."

It's a shaky smile that crosses Nicole's face, her brows furrowed too much to hide her fear. "We're in way over our heads, aren't we?" She fishes a cube of ice out of her glass of water and settles it at the hollow of her throat. Water from the glass gathers at the tips of her fingers, follows the pull of gravity to cube, then skin and cloth. "If it gets real bad, I think I might know some place we can hide. Provided we can be sure we aren't followed there."

The fact that she's even come to the realisation that she — they may need to hide speaks volumes about what sort of trouble Nicole suspects her sister's in. Her wallet is withdrawn from the pocket of her coat and a fifty is set on the bar, in the nebulous space between the both of them to indicate she's got Brad's drink covered as well. And the excess? That's just for forgetting they were ever here. "I should go. I'll be at the Corinthian if you need me. Should be safe to call the hotel's restaurant. Ask for Reservations. I'll make sure they're routing those calls to me."

"I'll be in touch. I swear. And we'll get the bastard." And on that note, Nicole is gone.

Left alone with that drink, the water, and the bartender, Brad has even more weighing on his mind. His lips twitch into another grimace as he glances at the amber fluid— his drink— his solace, his comfort. But then can there be comfort in a world where innocent people are literally executed at the wall? A world where his sisters could easily be put to pasture simply because of who they are?

He stares at the drink, his jaw tensing further and his nostrils flaring. The culmination of the last few weeks, Heller's presumed threat, and his own sobriety mounts that anger.

In a single fluid motion the glass is slid off the counter and thrown as hard as Russo can manage against the wall, shattering into a million little pieces at contact and causing liquor to spill across it.

Brad's breath catches heavily in his throat while he rubs his eyes. He pushes himself to his feet and removes his wallet from his back pocket. Like Nicole, he leaves a fifty. Clearing his throat his voice is gruff, "For the mess."

With that? He's gone.

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