Prince Valiant And The Drunken Damsel


nicole_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title Prince Valiant and the Drunken Damsel
Synopsis In her drunken state Nicole finds a friend.
Date December 20, 2010


"I can fuckin'… drink your ass… under the fuckin' table, okay?" Dive bars in Manhattan are generally busy even this hour of the afternoon. But they aren't usually this quiet. It might have something to do with the slight figure of a woman — a well-dressed one — standing on a table and pointing one long, slender finger at several patrons in turn. "And do you wanna fuckin' know why?" she slurs, dangerously close to getting that finger whacked by the ceiling fan as she flings her arm upward in a grand gesture.

Under the yellow lighting, chunky highlights of electric blue are more garish against dark chocolate hair. But there's no mistaking her once one really stops and looks at her. "Because! I have had drinks…" Nicole Nichols pauses, squinting blearily at the faces staring up at her in all her electric blue minidress'd glory. Her leather boots are depositing grit from outside on the table.

"I have had drinks with politicians!" Nicole declares, holding her hand up again with one finger extened for punctiation. "And they know how'ta put it away!" Right up until she catches the tip of her blue-painted nail on the ceiling fan. This prompts her to withdraw her hand quickly to her chest and cry out a started. "Ow! Jesus — fucking— fuckery fuck!" That sounds serious.

The door to the bar swings open quickly, nearly hitting some kid on the inside in the process. "Sorry," Russo murmurs as he slides around the corner to peek out the window. His eyes roll emphatically as he breathes a little easier, it seems he's lost his temporary stalkers. His lips curl into an easier smile while his arms cross over his chest, only the smile is short-lived. Within seconds he's frowning. He whispers a nearly unhearable, yet crass, expletive under his breath as his pale blue eyes scan Nicole.

There's a furrowing of his eyebrows while he slides further into the bar to sit next to her. "Heeeey," he soothes easily. Then, in usual Friend's-Joey fashion he flashes her the most charming smile he can manage, "How you doin'?" with a wink he's motioning to the bartender, "I'll have a diet coke. And a water. And please… make it snappy." His breath is still ragged in his throat as he glances towards the door. "Damned celebrity-ness." He shoots Nicole a softer, more sincere smile now.

"So…" A glance is given to her "…it can't be that bad, can it?"

A helpful patron is looping an arm around Nicole's waist and hoisting her off her perch, much to her dismay. "Aaaahhhh! Heeeeey!" But soon she's deposited into a seat and, hey! There's a face she thinks she knows.

Nicole squints and leans in close to examine Russo's face a moment and then giggles. "How you doin'?" she shoots back. The giggle fades, as does the smile that came with it when he asks her if it is that bad. "It's awful, Bradley," she informs him with just too much seriousness to discredit her drunken state.

She attempts to enunciate her words clearly, but it somehow only makes the slur to them more pronounced. "I just… I… I just… I just." Nicole raises her finger, the tip is cracked but not picked away from the rest just yet, left to hang jagged, "Hang on. Lemme start again." She presses a hand to Russo's shoulder, fixing him with a wide-eyed look. "Okay? I'm gonna try it again."

Except that she leans an elbow onto the bar to shout at the tender. "I need more scotch!"

No. No, she does not.

Russo's lips twist the the side as he idly gives the bartender the subtlest shake of his head. "Right now… you don't need scotch. Right now you need to tell me what's going on. You talk? We'll negotiate the scotch— even if this— " a nearly apologetic glance is cast to the poor bartender, "— nancy cuts you off."

He reaches out to squeeze her shoulder. Whether or not he knows what's going on, chances are, he's been there. Too many nights he spent in dive bars like this one following Lina's death. Oh the joy.

The bartender puts Russo's drinks in front of him, shifting them along the counter to encourage the host to drink. And from the looks of it, his non-alcoholic drinks will be on the house this time, thanks to his handling of Nicole. Bonus.

"You're gonna be okay, Kid. Just take it easy, take a deep breath, and tell me what's going on."

"But Brad. But Brad. But Brad." Nicole clutches at the arm of Russo's shirt, as though this will make her plea more effective. "But Brad. But. Brad. If I stop drinking, then I'm gonna start thinking again. And you don't want me to start thinkin' again, do you?" Her head is shook several times in rapid succession. "Nuh uh! Nobody wants that. Nobody."

Her face scrunches up as it turns from entreating to sorrow. "My ssssssssssssister's in trouble, an' she's just gone and that prrrrrrrrick," the last syllable a squeak, "is poking into things." A somewhat poor choice of words and order there. "And. And. And. And. And. And. And. Brad. Brad." A shake of the man's shoulder to really drive it home. "Brad. I'm gonna die alone. Because—

"I don't even know. I don't know what I've done to deserve it." As much as she looks like she might want to, Nicole doesn't start crying. Thankfully. "I do my best for people and they either go and say oh no, I'm married and then get themselves fuckin' killed, or they. They. They. They. They take my key and then they never call me back on the first time or they never come around when I need them and. And. And. And. And. And when I say, I love you, I just—"

Nicole tips her head back, her voice a low, mournful wail that's fortunately being drowned out by the rising volume of conversation now that she's done making quite so much of a spectacle of herself. "My life sucks! Oh, God and that fucker's gonna kill me and nobody will even care."

Russo chews his bottom lip as he listens to Nicole's drunken ramblings. There's little to say, and less to criticize— most of her fears (at least those connected to Heller) are warranted. He hmmms quietly as his eyes soften. "Nicole," when he speaks, his voice is unusually quiet. "Life isn't predictable. When you close your eyes and turn around, it has this tendency to surprise you. Just remember, you're not alone. You're never alone."

Especially in this. Although that much is left unsaid. "Your sister will be okay. He doesn't know where she is. You don't know where she is. And you will never be alone. People with friends, grace, and some measure of kindness will always have people if they want them." He sighs quietly while his jaw tightens, "It's just a matter of not wanting them too late." With a hard swallow he brings his coke to his lips again.

"And he won't kill you," he says a little quieter. "Don't worry so much. You have people looking out for you, even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes." He shoots her a small, lopsided smile.

"I don't even have any friends," Nicole asserts with a pout. The fact that Brad didn't just walk out when he saw her making an ass of herself enough to possibly wind up on YouTube or the evening news or both should tell her otherwise. But she's too far gone to see it right now.

"I haven't slept in, like, a month. Because… Of that… thing. That thing from the club. With the girl." His words aren't sinking in. Nicole just flits on in spite of them. "I'm not even tired because I…" Something stops her from explaining that she can use her ability to allow her not to sleep. One should be hesitant to label it good sense, but it might be its cousin. "I just am not."

The woman brings her arms down on the surface of the bar and buries her face against them. Her voice is muffled, but still audible if only because she speaks up. "Nobody looks out for me but me. And I don't even wanna do it anymore. Maybe I should just paint a target on my forehead and get it over with!" So melodramatic.

"Thing with the girl…" Brad repeats quietly. His smile twitches slightly as his head tilts, "Are you telling me you're into the ladies? Really? I wouldn't have pegged you for a lesbian." His fingers drum impatiently on the counter.

He sighs heavily while he hmmmms, allowing his elbows to rest on the bar. "Look. I…" There's a flicker of a smile as he tries to find some words of comfort, but sometimes, there's nothing to be said other than, "It sucks. That fucking sucks. Everything sucks. But. You're not dead. You have a life ahead of you if you want it. I promise you… I will help you stay safe any way I can. You have at least one friend in this."

And there it is. Nicole has a friend: Bradley Russo. Even if she doesn't want him.

Nicole's jaw hangs up for the space of several seconds. And that's before she lifts her head to peer at Russo again. It hangs open for several more seconds after that.

It's an improvement. Or was until Nicole decided she needed to get her words out and defend herself. "No. — Well, yes, but… Only sometimes! And it depends on the girl!" She flouners, sputters and a hand lifts to wave nebulously at the tricky topic. :That isn't what I meant." Her face is flushed almost red from the alcohol coupled with embarrassment. "I'm not a lezzer. I'm just—"

Lips are pursed tightly. "You're teasing me," she decides too late. Nicole's only left to brood for the time it takes him to explain that she isn't alone. That she has him. "You… Would… Do that for me?" He hasn't said what he'd do for her, in all fairness. But that he would do anything seems to hold a lot of weight to Nicole.

Russo grins at her response as he nods slightly, "I am. Teasing you. And I am willing to help." He hmmms quietly before finishing off his coke. "It's not simple, Nicole. Life isn't simple and frankly… I should be just as scared." As evidenced by recent events. "But. We can do this. And…" he casts a glance to the door before turning back to her with a sly smile like the cat that caught the canary, "…well… things will be okay."

He reaches out to touch her shoulder again. "But if this is gonna work— if we're going to make it out of this, I need to trust me." He shoots her a tight smile, "Do you trust me?"

Confusion is all Bradley Russo is rewarded with at first as Nicole jumbles and unjumbles words in her head to make them make sense in her scotch-addled brain. "'Course I trust you," she says finally, brows knitting together. "You're Brad fuckin'… Russo."

She didn't almost forget his name. Honest.

Two fingers reach out to lift up Nicole's chin to meet Brad's gaze. "That's right. I'm Brad Fuckin' Russo. And I try to make good on my promises. I will do what I can to keep you safe. You have at least one friend in this. But…" his fingers grasp the water, "You have to follow my lead. And you have to trust me. Just know that I have a plan, okay? I actually— " he glances at the door "— have a plan. Even if it doesn't seem like it."

Fingers under her chin earn a blush and a hard swallow. Nicole remembers to feel flustered around him. He is her celebrity crush, after all. Not that Nicole Nichols, Linderman's Left Hand Bitch, will admit to this. She's supposed to be too hard for that stuff.

But harder liquor softens her edges and leaves her exposed. And so, she blushes and relearns how to breath after a few seconds and looks decidedly girlish. Despite excessive inebriation. Some of that girlishness fades as she sends a dubious stare to the glass of water, as though it's presented some sort of personal affront to her.

She takes one sip, if only to appease him. After so much scotch, water, tasteless water, tastes awful. "D'you really hav'a plan?" Nicole murmurs sceptically around the rim of the glass, seeming to forget to lower it away from her mouth and back to the bar's surface even though she seems to have no intention of taking another drink from it. "Because I heard that one before. And 'sides that, I am supposed to be the one with the plans. I'm s'posed'ta do the thin'in' around here, Baba Looey."

The blush is noted, but Russo is too gentlemanly to mention it, instead latching onto the little information he can actually give. "I do have a plan. But I'll need…" Russo stifles a chuckle while he shakes his head. "Look. I'll need you to be willing. That's all. Just willing. And I can't tell you what it is until it's enacted… but…" he presses his palm down on the bar, "you'll know it when you see it. And when you see it? You need to jump onboard."

And then, somewhat unrelatedly his eyebrows arch, "So we're doing this show this week. Nothing really fancy just something holiday-like. An homage to former shows and I would love you on it. My last interview of the day… You free?"

"Jump on it." Wait. "— Board. On board. Jumponboard." Nicole nods her head rapidly and decides maybe, just maybe, the water isn't such a bad idea after all. She chugs half of it down, which probably isn't the best way to go about hydrating herself again, but it's something.

Nicole's dark brows hike in somewhat of a mirror of Russo's expression. "Holiday show. Sure. I could fit you into my schedule somewhere between," gin o'clock and rum thirty? "panic and sleeplessness. I'll even use a pen." It sounds clever in Nicole's head the way she says it. Reality isn't quite there.

"Good!" Russo hops off his chair as he reaches into his wallet and places a hundred dollar bill down on the counter. "You need to make sure you come. Just remember, a promise between friends never needs a reason." He grins a little brighter while he offers her his hand, "Annnd… you're not going to be sleepless. You're coming to my apartment and sleeping there. I have a guest room— it's got a nice bed and… well… it's just better than sleeping alone in your house. Or not sleeping in your house as the case may be." With a small smile he reaches out his second hand to help ready her.

"And my holiday show will be phenomenal! Believe me. Tell everyone you know to watch. If only to jack my ratings." He winks at her overenthusiastically. "C'mon. Let's get you home." Pause. "To my home." Smile.

His what? Sleep where? The glass of water is set back on the bar finally. "Well, well. I guess you are good with plans," Nicole teases coyly. At least, she thinks she's being coy. She's really just being excessively drunk. "I was going to say you should take me back to my place, because if you put me in a cab, I was just gonna go find the next bar that I haven't made an ass of myself at yet."

Somewhere down on the opposite end of the bar, an eavesdropping patron snorts.

Nicole looks a little wounded. But it gives her some resolve. "'Kay. Your place it is, then." With his assistance, she slides down off her chair. Her skirt maybe only bunches up marginally, just for a moment. The flash of panties was hardly noticeable, okay? And anyway, only a pervert would be watching and waiting for that to happen.

Or anybody who happened to be curious as to whether she can stand up on her own.

Nicole's hands are warm in Russo's, which is somewhat surprising when one considers they've been wrapped around a cold glass of water. She also doesn't seem to have a coat, and doesn't seem concerned about the fact that she doesn't have one. She fishes her BlackBerry out of the pocket sewn into her dress and holds it out to Brad. "Yooooou'd better hold onto this for my own good," she tells him. "I'm liable to drunk text someone in my sleep."

Someone who's number has been reduced to five digits. Much too easy to punch in.

Miss Nichols attemps to save some face by stepping toward the exit on her own, but after a wobbly pace or two, she reaches instead for Brad's arm. "Lead on, Prrrrince Valiant!"

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