Running in the Family


colette_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title Running in the Family
Synopsis Colette discovers her sister is home early, and not under the best of circumstances. Nicole apologises for her many mistakes.
Date October 13, 2009

Nicole Nichols' Brownstone Apartment

It's been the better part of a week that Nicole's been back in New York, but she's kept her head down so word of her return wouldn't spread, as word so often does in circles like hers. So while it isn't out of the blue for Colette's phone to light up to show her sister's calling to check up on her, what she hears when she answers isn't perhaps expected.

"L- 'Letty?" On the other end of the line, Nicole doesn't sound like herself. She sounds spooked. "It's Nickels." As if that wasn't obvious. "C- Can you come home? I mean, to my place? My home? Could you?" The words are stammered out quickly, like she's jittery on caffeine or something.

The sound of clanking and a torque wrench revving up in the background of Colette's cheap cell phone is loud against Nicole's ear. "What?" Comes the blurted reply from the other end, "What did you leave at home?" Colette hesitates, moving away from the sound of machinery and noise. "Hold on a sec." A little easier to hear now, there's the click of a door shutting that's barely audible on Nicole's end of the phone. "Hey, sorry about that. What's up? Did you need me to go check on your apartment?" Obviously she didn't hear the whole message. "I'm out on Staten right now, uh, I could maybe go by tomorrow?"

"No. 'Letty, I said—" Nicole falls silent, waiting until the background noise is quieted before trying again. "I'm at home, 'Letty. I've got a ride waiting to pick you up. Can you come? Please?" The elder Nichols girl sounds so little like the big sister-slash-mother she's tried so hard to be for Colette over the years. "Please, please, please. I need to see you. Please?"

"Wh— " Abortive words from Colette's end on the phone. "You're home!?" There's a moment of silent confusion, and Colette's voice takes on an uncharacteristic sharpness and frustration. "I can't just— " she cuts herself off, tension growing in her tone in a way so unlike her. "I can't just leave right now II have— " This is her sister. Anyone else, especially right now, would just get hung up on. Well, anyone else except for Judah… or Tamara… or— okay so she's just being fussy.

"Where're you coming to pick me up? I… ah, I'm not at the Lighthouse right now. I can get there pretty quick though. Is— " Suddenly, she's beginning to panic, Nicole wasn't supposed to be back for weeks. "Is something wrong?"

"I just need to see you." Nicole's voice is strained. She sounds on the verge of tears. "I know, I'm coming at you out of nowhere with this, but I really need you." It's so unlike her to make demands like this of her sister. "I can't come personally, but I called in some favours at work and there's a guy waiting for you at the Lighthouse. You should know him. He's dropped work off for me at home a few times." For a moment, it sounds as though the line's gone dead. There's only silence on Nicole's end. "Please, Colette. I'll make this up to you. You know I wouldn't do this if it weren't important. Please. Please, please, please.//"

In the end, that's all it took. Colette may be trying to change as a person, but there's some people that she'll always been that little girl to, always be loyal and obedient to. Nicole Nichols is one of them.

An anxious walk all the way back to the Lighthouse from Anarchy Customs takes well over an hour, leaving Colette to find the car waiting for her that would take her on an admittedly round-about trip off Staten Island. Linderman Group's associates have no need for the ferries, able to cross the Arthur Kills bridge without scrutiny by Homeland Security's checkpoints. A short drive through New Jersey — short and nerve wracking — eventually brings Colette back to Manhattan, earlier than she'd intended.

Crossing from the upper west side to the upper east side, it isn't hard to start recognizing scenery when she approaches the brownstone apartment that Nicole calls her own. Out of the car thorugh the drizzling rain and up the front steps, she hasn't taken a single moment to clean herself up. Fumbling for her keys, it's the sound of the lock on the door being undone, and then it's eventual opening that alerts Nicole to her sister's arrival, less so the headlights on the street out front.

"S— Sis?" Colette's voice calls out to the darkened apartment, rain running in fat rivulets down the front window, casting serpentine shadows on the opposite wall from the passing headlights outside.

"In here!" Nicole's voice calls from her bedroom. As Colette makes her way there, she can see an odd blue glow spilling from the doorway. It's not steady, like a lamp would be, but seems to flicker. It's accompanied by a quiet crackling sound that grows louder as Colette nears.

Inside the bedroom, Nicole is huddled in the corner, in the dark. The source of the eerie blue light is her. Electricity crackles along the woman's skin, causing her to jump now and again as she's startled, rather than in pain. Rather than the usual cobalt, the frightened eyes that stare up at Colette are a brilliant electric blue. "Help," she begs without thinking.

"Holy shit!"

That's not really the greeting Nicole was expecting, or hoping for, but this also isn't exactly the scene that Colette was planning on walking in on. "H— Holy shit holy shit!" Frantic, Colette darts in to the bedroom from the doorway, then just skids to a stop as she stares down at the jumping arcs of blue light. "I— I— oh fuck— oh— oh shit what— what happ— " There's no live wires in the apartment. There's no broken electronics. Nicole is sitting on the floor, it should be grounding out, all those books of light, energy and science that Conrad shoved down her throat obvious makes this—

"Oh." She mumbles, "My" green eyes go wide, "God." It does run in the family.

"I was struck by lightning on my last day in Vegas," Nicole tries to explain. Her words are rushed, seemingly fuelled by the electricity that causes her to move in a jerky, jittery manner. "And I can't figure out what to do. It was okay for a while. And it just— It's just kept building. I didn't know what— I didn't know who else to call." Now, the tears flow down Nicole's cheeks. "Sissy, I'm scared."

Staring blindly at her sister, Colette comes to a stop in the flickering blue light. Black smudges of grease smear across her cheeks and one fingerprint of it on the bridge of her nose. She smells of engine grease, gasoline and mechanical lubricants, like she's been working under a car in a garage. There's a moment of hesitation, and she smells the gasoline on her clothing, and unzips her black hoodie, letting it fall to the floor to reveal an equally black tanktop trimmed in red. "I— " another abortive stop-start approach, and Colette's green eyes grow wide. "H— Hold on!" She shouts, darting around the bed and bolting out of the bedroom into somewhere else in the apartment. There's a noise from the kitchen, clattering, clinking, then a slam of a drawer and Colette comes running back in, holding up a pair of oven mitts.

Dark brows furrow, and there's an absolutely helpless look on her face. "I— I-ah… " green eyes flick from one mitt to the other, her shoulders slack and she lets them drop. "I— I dunno what to do, I— "

"Don't leave me," a panicked Nicole begs when Colette rushes off to the kitchen. She struggles to regain her composure in the time it takes the younger Nichols to return with the oven mits. "I don't think that's going to work," she says softly, wiping away a few more errant tears. "Just talk to me. Tell me what it was like when you…" She waves one hand in a stuttering circular motion. "Your first time? Maybe we'll think of something that'll help if you can just tell me what it was like for you?"

Not quite the first time conversation Colette planned on having with Nicole, but then again it's not the best subject for either of them. Swallowing audibly, Colette creeps towards her sister, not getting too close for fear of the sparks and crackling pops. "I— " she's at a loss for words, her sister is just like her. "I— I was scared, I um…" she swallows dryly. "I was scared when it happened. I— I hurt somebody, and— I— I was crying." Her own eyes begin to water as she moves down to her knees, edging just a little closer to her sister, wanting so much to reach out and hug her, but not being able to for fear of electrical shock.

"I— I ah," there's another dry swallow, "I tried to hide it for days." Teeth press down on her lower lip, nibbling worriedly. "I just— I tried to pretend it wasn't happening. I— I don't know it— it's all like a blur. I don't really remember…" Green eyes look up to Nicole, tears threatening to well down over her lower lids. Seeing her sister this distraught, it's wearing hard on her.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there for you," Nicole apologises in a quivering voice. "Believe me, I think I know how you felt." She tries to give a shaky smile, but it doesn't last long enough to count for much. "I- Ah… I restarted a man's heart," she tells her sister. "I was so scared I was going to kill him, but I was more afraid that he would do if I didn't do something. I'm not even sure that he's grateful. He might just kick my ass when he gets out of the hospital."

On the bed, Nicole's BlackBerry chimes to alert her that the battery's running dead. She reaches out for it, withdrawing her hand with a cry of surprise when a spark jumps between her fingertips and the device. She gives it a second try and this time is successful in retrieving the device. "…Holy shit. Sissy, look." She carefully extends one hand, bringing the phone close enough for Colette to see.

The screen indicates the phone is charging.

Colette had practically jumped out of her skin at the zzap that the blackberry's casing took. And it's with saucer-wide eyes that she looks to the glowing screen. At first she doesn't get what's so important, until she sees the charging notification. "Ho— " Colette's voice is hushed, "Holy shit." There's a broad, amazed look on her face, those tears that threatened to fall earlier dribbling down her cheeks. "I— It's got an induction charger, I bet like— it's getting the ambient electrical impulses from your skin and feeding them into the reserve battery thorugh the induction port." Rambling that bit of scneitific chaff in her head, Colette cuts herself off and stops oogling over the amazing ability before inching closer to her sister.

"S— Sis." Her smile, hesitant as it is, seems tempered by the reflection of crackling blue in the tears wetting her cheeks. "S'gonna be okay…" her voice is a small, quiet one. "S'gonna be alright. Just.. just keep chargin' it and— and maybe you— " maybe something. She's not sure what.

"It's too small," Nicole says, frowning at the screen. Careful not to lean close to her sister, she climbs to her feet and hurries about the room, looking around for something - anything - else to pump some electricity into. She snaps her fingers, causing herself to recoil at the spark it creates. "Kitchen!" She races off down the hall, assuming Colette will follow.

"Kitch— Wait!" Scrambling up to her feet, Colette's boots squeak and scuff against the hardwood floor as she thunders with clomping footfalls to the doorway, grabbing on to the frame to stop herself. "Sis!" Her voice rings out across the hall, boots squeaking again as she takes off running towards the kitchen, "Don't touch anything metal! Don't touch the sin— "

With a towel wrapped around the handle, Nicole's pulled open one of the drawers. She's still clutching her BlackBerry in one hand, and in the other she has a light bulb from the utility drawer. It glows bright, and grows brighter, before there's finally a loud POP! as the filament burns out. "Shit." She tosses the bulb into the trash bin at the end of the kitchen island and looks around frantically for something else. "Can't see a goddamned thi-" She reaches for the lightswitch, and that's when she goes rigid as the electricity within her pours through the switch as she flips it on.

There's a loud noise, something between a BOOM! and a FZZT! as every source of light in the house winks out. Nicole herself is thrown backward, left in a heap on the floor. Nothing crackles from her now. When she looks up at Colette dumbly, her eyes are their usual colour. She stares for several long moments, trying to come up with words from her frazzled mind. She only manages two words.

"Well, fuck."

The younger sister is stopped in the doorway of the kitchen, eyes wide and brows furrowed, head head slowly tilting to the side to regard her sister with breath hitched in the back of her throat. She swallows back her words, and then only upon seeing that Nicole is both no longer sparking and also alive does she pick up that dropped towel and rush over to her sister— and starts swatting at her relentlessly. "You could've killed yourself! You— do you have any idea how scared I was! What if you didn't ground out! What if— " The last towel slap doesn't really have much oomf behind it, because for all her hysterics, Colette finally noticed the lights on the street outside went out.

There's a glow of headlights, bright against the considerable darkness outside. Green eyes turn back to Nicole in the dark of the kitchen, brows raised and teeth nibbling at her lower lip. "Look what you did," is quickly hissed out followed by another slap of the towel, this time at her thigh.

The swats from the towel are half-heartedly fended off with raised hands and twisting her body away. Nicole looks outside to the darkened street, and then back to her sister. "Uhhh… It was an oopsident?" She's just so relieved to no longer be a human live wire that she can only laugh at the incredulity of it all. Finally, she sits up and wraps her arms tightly around Colette. "I was so scared. Oh, God. I'm so glad you were here. I didn't mean to scare you, I just… I couldn't do this alone. I'd have sat in that room for days. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep-" A sudden yawn cuts her off. "Ho, God. I'm tired."

The moment Nicole's arms wrap around Colette, the younger girl snaps her bare arms quickly around her sister, squeezing her close and burying her face into her shoulder. There's one, tiny little ragged sob that comes out, before she starts laughing against Nicole's shoulder. Sniffling back those tears, Colette just presses her cheek to Nicole's neck, voice quiet as she holds her older sister with a tightness that says she's afraid she might disappear if she lets go. "Don't scare me like that ever again…" she murmurs against her sister's unusually warm skin, a side effect of the electrical charge she'll only later realize.

There's another sniffle, and a hiccuped laugh, and Colette's fingers wind into the back of Nicole's shirt. "I love you so much," she whimpers, "don't you ever scare me like that again." She's trembling now, almost more scared than Nicole was, and the shake of her head from side to side, accompanies the slow movement of crouching down to kneel on the floor beside her sister, not letting her go for a moment. "We really are two of a kind."

"I'll try not to, Sissy," Nicole promises, redoubling her hugging efforts once Colette's crouched next to her. "I'll really, really try." She laughs at her sister's sentiments. "Let no one say we aren't related." On weary legs, she stands and offers Colette a hand up. "I need to sleep. Would you crawl in with me?" She tugs the girl in for another hug and inhales deeply. "You can use my shower first, if you like." Has she been working on a car?

Biting down on her lower lip, Colette looks away when Nicole stands up, using one hand to try and wipe away the obviously present tears. Swallowing noisily, she looks up, eyes reddened around the edges as she reaches up and takes the offered hand. "Yeah I uh…" Green eyes wander the dark, then go back to her sister. "You blew the power for the block. Nobody is taking a shower," she admits with a small laugh, hefting herself up to her feet, then taking a few steps closer, one arm sliding around Nicole's waist, rising up on her toes, and pressing a kiss to her sister's cheek. "You'll have to deal with me smelling like a mechanic an' stinkin' up yet bed."

She leans her slight weight against her sister, head resting on the taller woman's shoulder, then turning up enough to look up at Nicole's eyes. "Your eyes… glow, you know. When you— when whatever that is… is." There's a tiny smile, appreciative as she brushes her cheek against Nicole's shoulder and starts leading her towards the bedroom slowly. "Electricity and light aren't too different from each other…" being nerdy helps nervousness, being clingy apparently does too as she presses her nose down where her cheek was.

"Yeah?" Nicole counters, "Well your everything glows when you're… I dunno. Happy, I think." She has to poke fun at her sister at least a little, or she might just fall apart at the severity of her situation. It's all fun and games right now, but it was terrifying only a few scant minutes ago. "Don't worry about the smell," Nicole assures her little sister. "It really isn't going to bother me. I've spent enough time in Vegas to appreciate any smell that isn't booze or recycled hotel air." She loops her arm around her sister's waist as the walk down the hall. When she reaches the bedroom, however, she's tugging off the younger girl's shirt. "But you're not sleeping in my bed with that thing on. Freaking grease monkey."

There's a crooked smirk at the mention of Vegas. "I wanna' go out there sometime, maybe Mister Daniel," because that's so not how you would address him, "can fly us out there? I'm gonna' be old enough to gamble in a few weeks!" Dark brows shoot up to her hairline, and she lets out a squeak as her tanktop is tugged at, a blush fading across her cheeks as she hesitates in mid-stride, biting down on her lower lip before lifting her arms up and letting her sister take the grease and gasoline-stained shirt up off over her head. Pale, bare skin is all that's left, even if it smells only faintly less like a garage's flood.

Face bright red, Colette pushes towards her sister and urges Nicole back thorugh the bedroom door, boots clomping on the floor before she hesitates, and steps down oh her own heels, sliding the loose shoes off, letting the overly long cuffs of her loose black jeans scuff along the floor. "My birthday's just in a couple of weeks," she quietly reminds Nicole, sticking close to the older woman for sake of modesty alone. It isn't the first time they've been like this around each other, but it's been years.

"You gonna' throw me a birthday party?" The question is innocent, even if it is suggestive that she wants one. For now, eventhe frustrations she has about what happened to Joseph, her hunt for Danko, all of it is gone. She's the younger sister again, and is afforded to be babied. Pale fingers move up across Nicole's button-down dress shirt, undoing buttons from the bottom up slowly as she starts walking towards the bed again. "Me, an' you, an' dad, and my friends…"

Nicole lays her hands over Colette's even as the younger girl works at her buttons. She doesn't move to stop her. Perhaps unexpectedly, she leans in and kisses her sister on the mouth briefly. She falls back onto the bed heavily and stares up at Colette. "Dad's dead, 'Letty." She watches the girl's face intently, waiting for the first sign of the need to console.

Green eyes flutter shut, fingers tremble, and Colette breathes out a small and anxious breath. She swallows, nervously, nodding her head once as her fingers wind around her sister's hands. Squeezing them, tightly, her response is something of a deflection. "I— I meant Judah can come. Not— not him." When those dark green eyes open again, and Nicole's fallen back down with a crumple of the blankets to the bed, Colette watches her sister quietly, teeth worrying at her lower lip. It's been a long time, since she's felt this scared and vulnerable, watching her sister electrocute herself was enough of a wake up call.

Affording a small smile, the younger girl leans forward and takes a knee on the corner of the bed, then crawls up slowly to hover over her sister. Those eyes fall shut again, and Colette leans forward to lightly press a kiss to Nicole's lips, her nose brushing from side to side slowly against them. "I know…" She always suspected, she always assumed, from the man her sister works for to what happened the night they were reunited at the Lighthouse. She doesn't need newspaper headlines or an obituary to know her sister protected her, like she always did, like she always has.

"I know…"

"I'm sorry," Nicole suddenly sobs, clutching at her little sister and crying. "I'm so sorry." For not telling you sooner. For putting you through this. For taking matters into my own hands. "I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough to save you sooner. I couldn't stay there any longer. I wasn't brave enough to stay and protect you. I'm so sorry I left you with him." Nicole's tears make the bare skin of Colette's shoulder slick and the older girl tries to wipe it away when she realises it. "'Letty, you are the most beautiful girl in the whole world. I love you more than anything. I am so sorry for all the times I've let you down."

The sound is reciprocated, the lurching sound of a hiccuped sob and Colette letting her head come down to Nicole's shoulder. There's a shake of her head, hair matted down in the motion, "S— stop…" She manages to whimper out. "You didn't— just stop…" The young girl slides one leg straight, then the next, and comes to rest her weight down on her sister, arms curl up behind Nicole's head, and her nose presses into the nape of her neck, fingers sliding into dark hair. "S'over…" she slurs the words out, bare shoulders trembling in that emotional escape. "S'all over now… he's gone, an'— s'just us." There's a dry, tense swallow, and Colette lets her nose press against the side of Nicole's throat.

"M'sorry for giving up on you…" That apology only comes after a long period of silence, the teen's face lifting up from Nicole's shoulder, flushed red and cheeks damp with tears. "I thought you were gone. So— so we both suck." She chokes out a sob that turns into a laugh, eyes closing as she smiles broadly, reaching out to brush her palm against Nicole's cheek. "Don't go away again."

"God, I'll try not to," Nicole breathes out in a weak chuckle. "I love you, Sissy." She lays the younger girl out on the bed and kneels up long enough to finish unbuttoning and tugging off her shirt, tossing it carelessly aside before curling up next to her, wrapping one arm across Colette's midsection. She drops a kiss on the girl's ear and sighs heavily. The drain of her ability and the fatigue of emotion are catching up to her.

The tug of blankets, a rustle of cloth, the creak of zippers and the jingle of buckles; Heavy jeans hit the hardwood floor with a click of a belt buckle, and Colette draws the thick comforter up over her pale shoulders, sliding in close to her sister as she feels that arm around her waist. Warmth from the cold that is setting in to the now heatless apartment brings Colette tightly to her sister's side. Her nose presses against the older woman's throat, fingers press against her back, and bare legs brush together until her fidgeting ceases and she settles down in Nicole's arms.

"I love you too…" Colette whispers as she presses her nose to Nicole's chin, green eyes closed and a hesitant smile on her lips. Strangeness, genetic aberration, quirks of all kinds run in the Nichols' blood. But it's by that blood the two sisters are bonded together, and by a closeness that not even death separated.

They're where they need to be.

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