Room 55


nicole_icon.gif richard_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Room 55
Synopsis Sometimes an accident is just an accident, but it pays to be sure.
Date December 6, 2019

Elmhurst Hospital

Richard Ray had been listening on the police scanners for word of how his SPOTs are doing on their inaugural mission. He didn’t expect to care much about word of a single-car accident in Park Slope. The description of the victims of the accident, however, caught his attention.

Passenger is a white woman, mid-thirties, registered electrokinetic. Probable concussion. Possible fractured clavicle. Lacerations on head and face.

Driver is a white man, mid-forties, registered unknown. Probable concussion. Possible fractured ribs. Laceration on neck.

Vehicle is a 1967 Cadillac.

A Cadillac hearse.

Victims are being transported to the nearest medical facility.

Elmhurst Hospital

Elmhurst, NYC Safe Zone

December 6, 2019


Room 55’s door is nearly closed, but still open a crack. It’s not necessarily inviting, but not forbidding visitation. It swings open on well-oiled hinges, not even so much as a squeak. Monitors beep quietly, steady signs of life. Zachery Miller lays in the bed nearest the door, his throat covered in a thick bandage. Blankets and hospital gown cover his other injuries.

On the far side, near the window, Nicole Varlane lays in her own bed. Bandages are wrapped around her head. A butterfly bandage holds a cut together on one cheekbone. Her right arm is held immobilized to her body by a sling. Her eyelids flutter briefly, signaling that she’s on the edge of consciousness.

Zachery is awake. It's not the light from the shuttered window nearby that woke him. Neither the noises of hospital staff or the steady beat of electrical monitors. Not even a whole building full of physically unwell people landing a steady stream of information onto the beach of his mindscape, littering it with unnecessary knowledge.

It was the smell. The smell of being back here. Again.

Drawing deep creases into the blanket laid over his form, he pulls his knees up and to the side, pushing himself up in staggered motions. Fully intending to stand, but managing only to sit, for the moment, when a stuck down bit of cotton in the crook of his elbow catches his attention.

He just sits. Piecing things back together as he stares at nothing, half-lidded, before finally looking up and into the rest of the room beyond. Or he intends to, anyway, before he catches sight of Nicole and his eye locks onto her face, the muscles in his jaw locking under a bruise that's painted across the right side of his face.

Would it be better or worse if she didn't wake up just yet? He looks unsure.

The door may be cracked, but technically the pair aren’t cleared for visitors just yet. That hasn’t stopped Richard Ray, who considers things like ‘clearance’ and ‘sign in sheets’ and ‘permission’ to be formalities that don’t apply to people like him.

(By which he means ‘sneaky bastards’, not ‘rich people’, to be more specific. He was breaking the rules long before he had a bank account with more than ten bucks in it.)

The door to the bathroom is pushed open, and the man steps out - dark suit, dark shirt, red tie, dark sunglasses. He came straight from work, it seems. “Miller,” he says in crisp tones, “Good. You’re awake. Drugs still in your system, or are you lucid?”

He steps over to the two beds, and although he’s talking to Zachery there’s a flicker of greater concern as his face turns towards Nicole.

"Ah-," is not an answer, but it leaves Zachery in response nonetheless. Whatever thoughts he had regarding Nicole are momentarily forgotten as he turns his head to look at the unexpected visitor with the same suddenly alert look someone might have upon being tapped on the shoulder seconds prior to a bar fight.

For a moment it looks like he's about to question Richard's presence, but autopilot takes over in trying to answer a question asked of him, instead. "Lucid enough." Probably. He pushes himself forward and off of the bed, landing on his feet with a flinch of unexpected soreness and an expression of somewhat bewildered annoyance as if to say must you be fucking everywhere.

A deep breath enters through Nicole’s nose and exits past her lips as a sigh as she opens her eyes. First she stares at the ceiling overhead, registering presences, voices. Location comes second. The paradoxical scent of sick and sterile. Blue eyes blink heavily, devoid of the glow of power that is characteristic of her.

“Hey…” Slowly, Nicole turns her head to look at their visitor, and at Zachery climbing out of bed. “Should you be doing that?” she asks him, concern and pain alike contorting her features. She remembers what happened, remembers his voice sounding so faint. Her heart constricts a moment. She swallows, her throat is dry.

“No, he really shouldn’t. Get the fuck back into bed,” Richard states, snapping his fingers at Zachery and pointing back at the bed, “Company insurance isn’t paying for your stay just so you can hurt yourself more. If you injure yourself because you’re being a dumb-ass I’m going to dock your pay. If you need to take a piss there’s a pan under it, or there should be. Was the last time I was in one of those.”

He looks over at Nicole with a more-worried expression, then back, “First thing, was this an accident, or did someone try and kill you both?” It is a very legitimate question to ask, really.

As if he just can't help himself, something between a disbelieving, humourless grin and a sneer finds itself on Zachery's face, before an errant ache while inhaling cancels it out with a wince. He shifts his weight to grab for the bed behind him, but decidedly does not, actually, get back in.

A few seconds are spent studying the other man's face, before Zachery, too, looks toward the other bed. "I'm fine," he quietly answers in a rare even-tempered voice, pushing the hand down against the mattress to start to move in Nicole's direction. Shooting, in the meantime, another look in Richard's direction. "Just let me-…" His tone does more than enough to convey a severe displeasure with being told what to do, but an unsteady step later, his words leave him as almost more of a plea than anything else. "I'm fine. I'll lie down in a moment."

“I’m alive,” Nicole assures in a gentle voice, giving a tired smile first to Richard, then to Zachery. “Please don’t…” Her protest is drowned beneath a sigh of resignation as she watches Zachery make his halting way forward, bridging the few feet between their beds. There’s very little sense in trying to tell either of the men in the room what to do, but perhaps Miller especially.

“I think that tree ambushed us,” Nicole posits, reaching up to gingerly press her fingers to her face, feeling around the butterfly bandage, then patting at her hair to see if any pine needles remain. (They don’t.) “In cahoots with that building that jumped out in front of us.” Which is to say, “Yeah, it was just an accident.”

“Okay.” Richard’s manner relaxes perceptibly; it’s clear that he was assuming the worst up front. He brings a hand up, fingers raking back through his hair as he steps over to Nicole’s bed and picks up the chart from the front of it to look over her condition.

Since Zachery seems to think he’s just fine.

“Good. I mean, not good, but,” he vaguely motions with a hand, “You know what I mean. These days I tend to assume everything is some malevolence until proven otherwise.”

"Would you look at that," Zachery mutters when he gets to Nicole's side, offering her the barest and briefest of smiles while he somewhat blearily looks her over to see what the hospital staff has done, "we finally found something we have in common, Cardinal."

He reaches forward as if to try and fix Nicole's blanket but the need to fidget comes on a little too enthusiastically - he ends up squeezing his eyes shut instead, exhaling sharply while leaning both elbows into the edge of the mattress in front of him. Not the most graceful thing to do in a hospital gown, but he can't see the bruises that would have reminded him of his concussion. Bending forward causes another noise of pain. Maybe this was a bad plan after all.

Awkwardly at her side, for lack of anything better to say, he breathes out, "Hi."

“Hi yourself, handsome.” It’s a little like saying I forgive you in another language. She manages the barest of smiles for him, still overcome by her worry for him. Especially given his current posture. But she lets him have whatever small dignity he can scrape out of this situation and turns her muted gaze back to Richard.

“I mean, that’s not a bad assumption, given the givens. I’m sure you won’t be the last person to ask me that question.” Her chart notes a mild concussion, minor lacerations, and a dislocated collarbone that’s been repaired. All in all, not the worst that could have happened.

Nicole’s hand finds one of Zachery’s as she lowers her arm back to the mattress, as though it just happened to be a convenient place to rest her hand and he just happened to be in the way of it. “I don’t know if you came to check up on me, or him, but… thanks. Regardless of the answer to that.”

“You, mostly,” Richard admits without a hint of shame whatsoever in that. The tips of his fingers brush down the paperwork he’s reading, and he slides the chart back into its place, “Wasn’t too bad, fortunately, it looks like. Your sister’s in the middle of an op right now but I’m sure she’ll be here ASAP…”

He looks at Nicole seriously, “Do you need me to send someone trustworthy over to take care of Pippa?”

Zachery flinches again at the hand- as if he wasn't expecting it. Regardless, his own hand pushes weakly and thoughtlessly up against hers in response.

It's the only part of him that doesn't move when he regathers his wits and pushes himself into standing halfway straight again, reaching his free hand to touch and inspect the bandages around his neck. The question of Pippa has him knit his brow, stand a little straighter still, and throw a glance out toward what he can see of the hallway outside the room.

"She's with Ingrid," Nicole assures. "Thank you, though. I appreciate the offer." The fact that he thought of her daughter at all. "If they don't hear about this, so much the better." Not that she won't tell them eventually. Just, maybe when she looks a little less ghastly.

"Hope 'Letty's thing is going well…" Hopefully they won't be comparing cuts and bruises when they meet up later.

Nicole follows Zachery's gaze with her eyes, not able to see nearly what he can, but she trusts there's nothing pressing. The only thing she's worried about at the moment is the man attached to the hand she's holding. "I'll be back on me feet again in no time," she assures Richard regarding the extent of her injuries. "Mostly it's the drugs that have me messed up right now."

The legal ones. Not the recreational ones. This time around.

There’s a slightly unsure look that Richard gives Nicole at the news that Pippa is with Ingrid of all people, but he nods a little. If she trusts the woman with her child, who’s he to argue?

“Good, good. And I’m sure it is, Liz and Kaylee are there too, so…” a vague motion of his hand - he trusts the people involved to be competent, clearly. He glances to Zachery, “Pretty sure he’s worse off than you are, honestly.”

Maybe he hurt his ears too, because there's no acknowledgement from Zachery as he continues to stare out the door.

"They should be here by now," he mutters absentmindedly, "Checking your things." Roughly dragging a hand down the unbruised side of his face, he steps away from the bed and starts heading toward the door out to the hall with an uneasy but determined gait. The call buttons are bullshit, he knows where things are. "I bet Schofield's got you. He's- the way he takes his breaks is…"

'Too long', an idle frown and an inordinately wild gesture of a hand implies.

Nicole’s hand slips free of Zachery’s with a soft sigh of regret. She doesn’t try to stop him. There’s an understanding of his need to look after her. Surely he’s capable of guilt. Not that she would intentionally try to elicit any feelings like that from him, but it isn’t as though this situation isn’t his fault.

When he disappears down the hall, Nicole looks back to Richard. There’s something that she wants to say, that much is clearly written on her face, but she simply frowns. “It’s complicated,” is what she settles on, as though Richard deserves more explanation of what’s led them to this moment. “We were arguing when it happened. I think we’re both glad to be alive, but I’m not sure we’re happy with each other exactly.”

“I’m not exactly in a position to scold you, but arguing while driving isn’t usually the best idea,” says Richard a bit dryly, turning back to the bed as Zachery disappears— a faint smile, “I’m just glad you’re relatively alright. Colette’s gonna be pissed, though.”

That goes without saying.

“Is there anything I can get for you, or take care of?”

“At least we weren’t drunk,” Nicole points out, chiding Richard as much as herself for past poor choices. “We’re lucky it wasn’t the two of us in this situation. Though I suspect you would have just incorporealized and I’d be here alone,” she quips, albeit weakly.

“Could you get me another blanket? I think I’m negated.” Which would be incredibly sensible, given her ability. “I’m not used to being this cold.”

“Pretty sure they negate trauma victims as a matter of policy,” admits Richard as he steps over to the shelves near the beds, opening a few cabinets before locating another blanket - stepping over, he shakes it out, “So that shock doesn’t, you know, result in shock.”

An electrokinetic joke. How droll.

“And your ability keeps you warm? Huh. That explains some things.”

"I don't think they checked me."

Zachery rounds the doorway and strolls back into the room with a rustle of packaging and two armfuls of snacks and juice cartons. One has Torrence written clear across the front of it in permanent marker. Why would they check him. He worked here and never exploded even a little. Plus, you know, he's still registered as unmanifested, that might help.

"Also," he continues, coming to a bit of a staggered stop at Nicole's bedside, struggling to hide a pained expression that's making him somewhat regret his immediate decisions, "do you have a button on your desk, to tell you when I've made an idiot of myself, or what? How did you even know we were in here?" Then, fumbling to lower a disposable plastic cup, two small bags of chips, a bag of baby carrots and a foil-wrapped, store bought egg salad sandwich into Nicole's lap, he asks her, "Wait. Is he your emergency contact?"

“I bet it does,” Nicole muses back to Richard, taking some enjoyment in his joke at her ability’s expense, even if she is so, so tired.

Her gaze drifts away from Richard back to Zachery when he makes his return. She’s both relieved and bemused. Relieved that he didn’t simply pass out in the hallway, mostly. “No,” Nicole is quick to assure. “Richard is not my emergency contact.” She chuckles quietly, followed by an immediate wince even as she raises her brows to Richard. He wouldn’t be the worst choice for that dubious honor, though.

“Richard just sort of… knows things. It comes with being as well connected as he is in this town.” News always travels faster than anyone would like.

“What she said,” Richard replies with a gesture of one hand towards Nicole, lips tugging up a bit at one corner into a crooked smile, “Information just tends to— fall into my lap.” Then get analysed, cross-referenced, and decisions made as to action based on that information.

“In this case, though, I just happened to be listening to the emergency bands,” he admits, “My wife’s— well, on business right now and I was listening in case something went bad.” His wife being a police officer, after all.

“And you two are pretty easy to recognize in a description.”

"Aren't we just," Zachery replies, lingering at Nicole's bedside and processing the information given with mismatched eyes narrowing. Keeping them trained on Richard, a forced smile only just barely manages to make it onto his face. "You should get back to that. Listening."


Nicole fixes Zachery with a look that suggests she might like to hiss at him about his manners, but it breaks off to a raise of brows at Richard. “We’re okay,” she promises. “We’ll be fine.” She reaches out to the pile of snacks and holds the bounty up with a smile. “See? I have juice boxes.”

What more can a person need in life?

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