Rainy Day Woman


sf_nicole_icon.gif sf_zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Rainy Day Woman
Synopsis Never mind the weather as long as we're together, you say.
Date September 8 , 2020

Rain has been coming down for almost an hour now. Lightning has been cutting forking paths across the sky and the wind nearly blew Nicole’s umbrella inside out as she made her dash from the building to where an assistant was waiting with her car outside. What a miserable night. But at least the numbers had been looking good. Faulkner would have a second term as senator yet.

The wipers move back and forth, back and forth, clearing and streaking the windshield both. Nicole mutters to herself as she lights up a cigarette. She’s got to get those replaced. This week, she decides. With the filter stuck between her lips, one hand wraps around the wheel and the other puts the Buick into gear, pulling out of the space and turning onto Montgomery Street. Grant is faster, as Isaac seems fond of reminding her, but it has a stoplight that, in Nicole’s opinion, takes entirely too long to change if she hits the red.

“Jesus Christ,” the personal assistant mutters, flipping the right lever on the steering column down to kick the wipers into high gear. It’s raining hard enough that the AM news station barely comes in. Not that the combination of sundown and storm clouds has ever been particularly favorable for the radio signal.

Nicole curses as the car hits a low spot in the road, water spraying up alongside her vehicle and slowing its momentum briefly. A stream of smoke is blown out the side of her mouth before she reaches up to take the cigarette from her lips and set it instead in the pull-out ashtray beneath the combination CD-cassette deck. This fifteen minute drive is going to take closer to twenty or twenty-five at this point, and that’s just annoying.

As she approaches FDR Drive, she glances around to check for traffic. Since there is none, and most importantly, no police cars to be seen, Nicole takes the corner without slowing. A small act of rebellion, she’d once told her protégé.

The truck that comes racing down the drive doesn’t even have its lights on, but the sound of its roaring engine brings Nicole’s attention up and out the driver’s side window. She slams on the gas to try and make the corner and get up to speed before the truck can come upon her.

Another deep puddle sends the car hydroplaning, fishtailing out of control. The reflection of her own blue eyes in the window, wide with fright of the inevitability bearing down on her seems sharper than the shape of the truck…

Three Years Later
Dorchester Towers
Upper West Side
September 8, 2020
3:27 AM

Nicole wakes up screaming.

Rain hammers the windows of the high rise apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and has been for hours. Sitting upright, Nicole rests her head against one sheet-covered knee, tented over the mattress. She’s covered in a sheen of sweat, cold and clammy on her skin. Her night clothes are soaked through with it. For several minutes, it’s all she can do just to remember how to keep breathing.


A voice comes from her side, the louder echo of two unheard ones before it.

Zachery sits on the edge of bed with one leg pulled up onto the mattress with him, in baggy sweatpants and a white undershirt, his hair still wet from outside. He hasn't slept yet, as the telltale 'fresh out of scrubs and a hospital shower' look suggests.

His hand rests against the back of her shoulder, his fingers cold against hot skin as he slides them across the collection of scars that trace her spine, over to her furthest shoulder, and attempts to draw her gently toward him.

"You're alright," he offers, voice low and calm, watching her face with a keen sort of concern. "It was just the door."

Nicole blindly reaches for her husband when she finally hears his voice and registers his weight on the mattress next to her. She curls her hands into the fabric of his shirt and presses her head against his chest. She’s listening for his heartbeat, as though she can time hers to his and find calm that way.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. The rain almost always brings about the nightmares. Most nights, she’ll try to outlast it. To stubbornly stay awake until Freyr sees fit to call a ceasefire to the showers. Traveling by vehicle is almost an impossible endeavor in these conditions.

But he knows better than anyone what that accident did to her, physically. Maybe it helps him understand what it did to her mentally, too.

After a time spent counting beats of Zachery’s heart, Nicole finally begins to relax. Gradually returning to herself. To the here and the now. Her head lifts so she can look at him. “Hey…”

As she clings to him, so does the smell of the rain. He rests a hand on her head as she listens to his heartbeat, as untroubled and steady as his motions.

He waits patiently, until he can send her a tired smile when her head lifts. "There you are, kitten." He breathes, pride and confidence on his voice even at this lowered volume and slowed pace. "See? Nothing to worry about. The rain's out there."

The hand on her head runs over her hair, until his palm slides over her cheek. "And I'm in here with you, doing what I do best." He leans downward to plant a kiss on her lips. "Saving you."

Nicole smiles weakly, but returns the kiss without hesitation. “My hero.” Her gratitude is genuine. Facing nights like these on her own is difficult. Her hand comes up from where it’s curled at his shoulder and cups his face in a mirror of the way he does hers.

“How are you so good to me, duckling?” She asks, her heart in her eyes when she does. There’s never been a doubt that Nicole is absolutely devoted to Zachery since they were reintroduced after he saved her life. It had started quietly enough, but built into something so strong.

"A lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck." Give or take. Zachery's hand leaves Nicole's face so he can guide her own back to her, once he's convinced she's calmed enough. "Now," he checks his watch - no phones allowed in the bedroom unless in case of emergency - before beginning to pry its band loose and pushing himself off of the bed. "I'm going to freshen up. I'll grab you some water."

His devotion shows less clearly than hers, sometimes - overt adoration is rarely his language of choice, but all the same, he has trouble tearing his eyes away after a final and contemplative glance thrown in Nicole's direction. When he finally takes a deep breath and turns to walk toward the adjacent bathroom, he stretches both arms up and folds them behind his head. Been a long day of awkward shifts.

"Tell me something good that's happened recently," he calls back during his saunter. "Your dinner dates have kept you from me."

This, too, is part of helping her unwind from these episodes. Something positive to balance out the negative memories. Dragging the covers off of her, Nicole slides out of bed and starts peeling out of her pyjamas so she can toss them in the laundry basket and find something new to wear. “Isaac is doing tremendously in the polls.”

It’s always about Isaac Faulkner these days. But with the election looming, it’s a small wonder her mind is so laser focused on the campaign and how it’s going. But sometimes it seems like her world revolves around the Senator.

Then again, from what Zachery’s managed to hear through the rumor grapevine at the various cocktail parties and fundraiser galas they’ve been to since the start of their whirlwind romance, this is just always who his wife has been. Before Faulkner, it was his father, Daniel Linderman. It’s a wonder she finds time for herself at all, let alone anything else.

His ability to keep busy with his own work suits their marriage very well, in that respect.

A gust of wind slams heavily into the building, rain hitting it like nails just as the bathroom's faucet sprays water into the sink.

Zachery stands over it, lit from one side by what light escapes the bedroom, hands braced against the marbled countertop and his eyes on the mirror in front of him.


Isaac's been lucky too.

Zachery watches himself as his expression falls, and as some imaginary weight drags his shoulders down. He permits it to do so only briefly, quickly gathering both hands up in front of him and splashing water into his face before blindly grabbing a fresh towel off of a stack at his side.

He's still scrubbing his face dry when he speaks up again, half turning his face toward the door without taking his eyes off of the mirror. "You've been working incredibly hard," is added with an air of encouragement lifting his voice, "are you remembering to reward yourself?"

It's a bit of a clinical way to put it, but when you only see each other for an average of about one waking hour each day, efficiency can be nice.

“Winning the election will be my reward.”

So that’s a no.

Nicole pulls a faded Joy Division tee shirt out of the second drawer of her dresser, followed by another pair of cotton jersey shorts. She looks down at the short stack of folded fabric in her hands and angles a look toward the bathroom door and what sliver of the space she can see through it at her current angle.

“What about you?” Even with her out of his vision, he can hear the hesitant smile in her tone. Genuine, but tenuous. Like she’s afraid to commit to it. It isn’t like her to be afraid to commit to anything. “Have you had a win tonight?”

"I came home to you."

That's also a no.

"It's… complicated, as emergencies tend to be," comes a slightly more straightforward answer once the water in the bathroom stops running. "Still. I did my best, and-" Zachery reemerges mid-sentence with his undershirt summarily disposed of, a glass of water in one hand and eyebrows raised at seeing Nicole up and about.

Looking her up and down is probably to blame for the fact that he almost forgets he has a sentence to finish, and then also for some of the arrogance that eases itself into his voice when he offers the glass out in front of him and says, "My best is very bloody good."

“Well that sounds miserable,” Nicole mutters, mostly to herself, fairly certain she won’t be heard over the sound of running water. If coming home to this mess is a win tonight…

The pause makes her take notice. At first, she looks toward the door to the rest of their suite, thinking maybe something beyond it has caught his attention. Then, she looks back to him and realizes it’s her that has his eye. Demurely, Nicole averts her gaze, as if shy about having her husband’s attention with her form in a state of near undress.

It’s deliberate the way she turns her back to him so she can set the folded night clothes on top of the dresser. “Yes,” she agrees, the scars along her back on full display. “It really is.” That she has the luxury to be standing at all is a testament to that.

She shouldn't be.

But there is something fun about a secret. Certainly one kept this long. This close.

Nicole's back is admired in silence, as Zachery moves slowly closer with purpose guiding his steps. Once he's close enough, he reaches past her to place the glass carefully beside the gathered clothing.

He lingers while he's still half at her side, his hand on the edge of the dresser. Just short of touching but close enough to get a glimpse of her expression when he asks, "Are you feeling a bit better, now?"

“I think so.” It’s always easier when she’s awake. She has control then. In her dreams — those nightmares — she’s helpless to stop what’s coming. In the waking world, she can make choices to protect herself.

A surreptitious glance is cast to him from the corner of her eye, roaming the sliver of him she can see in her periphery up and down. Nicole’s hand, still resting atop the pile of clothes, slides down to the edge of the dresser, then over as if inching toward the glass. Instead, she stops just shy of her husband’s hand, smallest finger stretching out to cover that last little bit of distance between them to overlap his index.

"Good." Zachery decides, his gaze flicking in front of them before he slides his fingers over hers and grabs her gently by the hand.

Only then does he move in front of her, keeping his other hand at her back, palm now pressed against her spine. And yet, looking into her face as if charmed by it, he pauses.

There is an unfamiliarity that reigns in the wake of two workaholics passing in the night, even if there is no uncertainty in the smirk on Zachery's face. He's enjoying himself either way, even if these moments are few and far between.

"You know," letting go of her hand, he begins to slide his palm up along her arm, fingers barely brushing skin on their way. "We could make our own rewards."

She’s easily guided to face him when he takes her hand. For a woman who’s otherwise so very confident — especially in the face of men — there’s always something so soft and uncertain about Nicole when she’s the focus of Zachery’s attention.

It’s as though their liaisons are so infrequent as to make every interaction feel new again. Nicole closes her eyes, breath hitching in her throat, lips parted around a soundless note that would be like a whimper of encouragement if it could find a voice, while his hand glides over the bare skin of her arm. That in itself is an encouragement.

He knows so very well her reactions. The way her chest seems to contract and her spine goes stiff with anticipation. How her heart starts to race and the blood rushes to her cheeks. And elsewhere.

Without opening her eyes, Nicole wets her lips and nods her head a little shakily. “I think I’d like that.”

She is guided once more, prompted by the hand that finds its home against her clavicle. Zachery grins, pride clear on his face as he takes intentionally slow steps closer to the empty bed beyond, with Nicole placed squarely in the path of his destination.

The hand is a suggestion, never outright pushing - this marriage persists as seamlessly as it does, after all, because of the freedom that surrounds it. Independence is only as rich as the constants you choose to return to.

He has worked hard to get here. To earn this moment in which he asks, voice low, "Isn't it strange to think we almost never met?" The kiss he leans forward to deliver is deliberately light - any potential passion in the thing held back. It serves to prompt a choice.

Conversation, or impatience?

And he doesn’t need to even entertain the notion of a push. Nicole is a willing participant in this dance, moving back easily as she’s guided. The trust is there, in that her eyes don’t open, even as he kisses her. But it’s almost non-committal in nature. It’s affirming — yes, she enjoys this and she’s looking forward to more — but not guiding. They can take it as slow as they please.

It isn’t until the backs of her legs hit the mattress and her knees fold, dropping her down to sit on the edge of it, that she opens her eyes again to look up at her husband. She smiles then, but it’s a fleeting thing. “It is strange.” It’s hard for her to think back on the accident, but easy enough, somehow, to acknowledge that something good came of it.

If she hadn’t nearly died, if she hadn’t nearly lost the ability to walk, she would never have been remanded to his care. She would never have met him. For a moment, she’s the patient again, sitting up in bed and admiring the handsome doctor who saved her life.

That smile of hers returns, broader and stronger than before. “I love you.”

He'll tell himself, later, that her surviving is the part that mattered. That matters still.

That as he looks down at her, she is exactly as she should be. Alive and well, and his, for the quiet now.

She is a prize he's all too content to watch as he reaches to tip her face upward by the chin, his words drawn forth by the same gratified contentment that holds his own back straight, his posture perfect. "I will never get tired of hearing you say that."

The color creeps into her cheeks and Nicole looks softer and more delicate than he already knows her to be when it’s just the two of them alone. Maybe more like he knew her to be when it was just her on the table, clinging stubbornly to the life only he was able to restore to her. Zachery Miller knows better than anyone how fragile a thing his wife truly is.

Fragile, but not without strength. Never weak.

“I will never get tired of you making me feel it.” Her hand captures his wrist loosely so she can bring the hand at her chin up, press lips to palm.

If she was weak, she wouldn't be in here.

Approval pulls Zachery's smirk a little wider, and he runs his tongue along his molars before suggesting airily, "You know, you should take a day off."

Thus begins a game. A game they both know the ending of, for the same reason that this current endeavor feels as new as it does. "Maybe a long weekend. We stay somewhere sunny. Beach front villa." He shifts his weight so as to push a knee against the inside of hers. His hand is moved just enough so that he can brush his thumb over her lower lip.

“You know I can’t do that,” Nicole muses with a grin. More like she doesn’t know how to take a day off. Her gaze dips to where his knee nudges hers and she accommodates by sliding that leg aside. Her eyes lid all the way as his thumb brushes over her lip.

A flash of lightning brightens the room enough to be noticed against the dark of her lids. Nicole opens her eyes again to stare out the window just in time for the crash of thunder that follows. She gasps, the breaths that follow after are sharp and shallow.

Somewhere sunny. Somewhere the opposite of this hell she feels trapped in right now. “A…fter the election, maybe?” Slowly, she becomes aware again of his hand at her face, his leg against her leg. Touch. Pressure.

Meanwhile, he waits, watching her as she watches the window.

Except. That last part seems wrong, doesn't it.

"After the election, then. For a full month." The decision is voiced with unwavering stability and challenge mixed in with his amusement. It's a full month he himself doesn't have. He'd be hard-pressed enough for the weekend, if they're honest.

But they don't have to be. And it might get her attention while he slowly moves his hand downward across her neck, then breast, then detouring further down along her stomach as he starts to lower himself slowly onto a knee and into her field of vision, his other hand on the inside of her thigh.

It's no hey, but it might as well be. The fucking weather will not be allowed to demand attention better than he can.

“A month?” She turns her face and stares up at him, incredulous. But before she can protest, his hand has gone wandering the continent of her skin. When she gasps again, it’s to a very different effect.

Then she reclines further back onto the bed, elbows connecting with the mattress and keeping her half-propped up to watch him, embarrassed but excited. “We’ll see.” Nicole’s voice is a little too shaky to sell the confident negotiator affect she’s trying to put on.

When he catches her looking, his own comfort levels only rise. "Relax," he tells her, regardless, this time less a challenge and more a gentle reminder. "And also…"

His hands go on another exploration, until both of them are at her hips, fingers curling around the one item of clothing she's got left so that issue, too, can start to be resolved.

"When," he pauses both for dramatic effect, and to plant a kiss against her thigh, "you win the election."

Nodding twice before she eases herself back the rest of the way, Nicole turns her attention up towards the ceiling. “Okay,” she responds in that way that translates to I promise I’ll try. The fingers hooking at her waistband cause one more hitch of breath, but she’s rolling her hips up off the mattress easily to accommodate the removal.

Nicole tips her head back and lets out an audible sigh at the kiss. “Yes.When they win.

The next crash of thunder goes entirely unnoticed.

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