Similar Losses


cash_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title Similar Losses
Synopsis Two women meet amongst the roses and make a connection over the loved ones they've lost.
Date November 27, 2010

The Corinthian: Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is both that as well as greenhouse, glass walls and rooftop ceiling off this little getaway from whatever weather happens to be uselessly battering at it. When the snow falls, it makes a flurry against the glass, an inverse snow dome, but right now it's clear, with a smoggy, starry night domed beyond. The outside courtyard that lies between its closed doors and the opened ones of the warm and bright hotel interior is empty of people save for those moving back and forth, a temporary and interstitial space.

It's warm in here, and smells of dirt and fragrant flowers, crowded with beds of roses, miniature explosions of colour and thorny stalks alike. Dense Indian Hawthorne hedges below the height of a knee create an artful and polite barrier between flowering displays and the gravel pathways, of which there are six coming together into a star-like pattern. The center of this starburst arrangement holds a small three-tiered fountain, bringing with it the scent and sound of trickling water. There are benches around the edges, wooden slats left naked of paint and new to look at, polished smooth.

It's early. Early enough that the first rays of Saturday morning's light haven't quite begun to filter through clouds and the greenhouse glass into the Corinthian's Rose Garden. As such, it's quiet here. Nicole Nichols enjoys this time. She's taking a well deserved break from pouring over reservation lists and menu choices for the Corinthian's restaurant, her labour of love. She's been in since well before dawn, making sure every little detail is perfect. It's a blessing for the efficiency of Chambéry, while a bit of an annoyance to those who end up working beneath her.

It's easy to tell how upset Nicole is by how many hours she puts into her work, and how much she nitpicks the little details. Since the events of the 8th, and the reported murder of Kain Zarek, Nicole has done little else but work since she's returned from her self-imposed exile to Grand Central Terminal. Strolling through the garden is something she's needed to do for a couple of hours already, and she enjoys it that much more after waiting as long as she did.

Compared to the outdoor chill, the warmth in the Rose Garden and the fragrance never falters. A misting can be felt in the air, moisture still dripping off leaves and glistening off petals in the lights that second as sunlight for the flowers that demand more. The lamps help them forget what season it really is, or what season it thinks it is.

Usually it's quiet, even when there's people about, but there's someone up and working just as early as the woman of obvious upset. Dressed simply, in work-styled clothes, dirty blonde hair short with dark roots, a tall woman steps out from behind a rose fence, with a spritzer in one hand, and a cutting and trimming tools hanging from a heavy leather belt. "Neither me nor the flowers are used to visitors at this hour, though it appears that you need their company. Just forgive the dampness."

Nicole is a little surprised to find someone else in her little Fortress of Solitude, but she's quick with a smile for the gardener apparent. "Oh! Good morning." She sweeps the woman up and down quickly, a brief appraisal, but nothing judging in her gaze. "You startled me a little. I guess I haven't been in here early enough to find someone actually working in here. And, I don't mind the damp," her smile widens a bit, "it just makes it feel like it's rained." Her hand is offered out. "I'm Nicole."

"It is customary to make ourselves scarce if someone comes in," the woman in her early thirties says in a soft voice that's both quiet and largely unobtrusive. Probably what most employers want in the hired help. "But it looked as if you might need someone to speak to, and while the flowers make good listeners, they are unable to give reassurances beyond their beauty and fragrance."

Like many employees, she has a name somewhere on her uniform, for easy identification. "I go by Cash," she adds, though it's visible above her chest on the work clothes.

"Nice to meet you, Cash." Nicole tucks one hand into a pocket in her simple black dress, something that would have been high fashion in the 60s, and brings the other one up to finger a gold chain around her neck. Whatever is hanging at the end of it is tucked under the neckline of her dress. "I work here myself. Mostly in Chambéry. I'm, ah, Mister Linderman's assistant." She works for The Big Boss. "So, really, you don't have to hide on my account. I'm one of those seen, not heard types, too."

A soft sigh escapes Nicole's lips and she peers off at the flowers. Not dismissively, but thoughtfully. "Is it that obvious that I'm troubled?" She peers back, curiosity in her almost luminescent blue eyes.

"That is something we have in common, though I have decided to break that this morning," Cash says without much inflection to her soft voice. While the announcement of being an assistant to the big boss might have put other employees toward nervousness or anxiety, she seems largely unaffected. But she'd been extremely polite before she heard that, so she may not believe she has anything to be concerned about.

"It not obvious, but I know the look. I lost someone close recently, so I recognize others that are going through similar losses." With how many losses that have happened lately, would it be any wonder she'd meet many sharing similar losses?

"Mister Zarek and I were close," Nicole admits. "He was a good friend." Though she doesn't make the man turn in his grave by proclaiming that he was a good man. "It's weird not… seeing him around. Not getting messages from him or anything." One hand settles down to test the surface of one of the benches around the fountain and sits down onto it once she's decided it isn't damp like the flowers.

And it's as she settles in, it feels as though the reality of her loss finally sets in. One hand comes up to cover her mouth, forefinger pressed beneath her nose as she starts to cry. Nicole's head tips down, her dark chocolate hair with its electric blue highlights shrouding her face as she stares hard at the ground with tear-blurred vision. "I'm sorry," she murmurs, lifting her hand enough so the words aren't muffled against her palm. "I so did not expect to…" Her other hand waves vaguely to fill in the blank. Crying? Yeah, Nicole never expects to start crying in front of someone else. Especially since she hasn't even started drinking yet. She should have control over her emotions, dammit!

There's a few quiet movements, a sound of metal against something soft, and then the seat of the bench gets a second body on the side of her. The spritzer bottle is gone, sat down beside her, and the only thing Cash is holding is a white rose with genetically engineered blue tips on the petals in full bloom is held in her hand. It's one of the rarer flowers in the rose garden, from Brazil, clipped from one of the bushes and held toward the crying woman in offer.

"It is understandable. Crying is necessary sometimes, to allow the emotions out, to open up your heart to healing… It took me weeks for me to cry when my husband died. But once I allowed myself to, my heart no longer cased with stone, and I could allow other emotions in again."

She speaks like poetry, Nicole thinks. But even if Cash's words seem almost too formal, too poetic, too… flowery, pun not intended, she appreciates them anyway and offers a grateful smile that can be seen only in her eyes, because her mouth is still hidden behind her hand. She reaches to accept the rose, careful to avoid any thorns. "These are my favourite," she admits. "Thank you."

The hand covering the twitching of her lips, a side effect of her grief, drops to her lap so she can bring the rose up to inhale its scent, her eyes lidding even as more tears fall. "I'm sorry for your loss," Nicole says not without sincerity, despite the overuse of the phrase.

Blue eyes, so light they're almost metallic, glance over to meet deeper blue eyes. It's not quite a smile, but it may be the closest that the woman's given. That slight curve that made Mona Lisa so iconic, without being a real smile, as one would consider. "What I did to cope with my loss was do what I know my husband would have wanted me to do with my life. This is where I have wanted to be for most of my life, near such delicate beauty. To actually care for roses on the cusp of winter."

A glance is cast toward the flowers, with that hint of a smile still touching her eyes, even if her voice remains relatively unchanged. There's almost an accent to the way she talks, so light that it's barely there, but perhaps most recognizable in the formal word usage and lack of inflections. With the flower taken, Cash stands again, pushing the dyed blonde lock off of her forehead and out of the way, "I am afraid I did not know Mister Zarek, and I regret that I have nothing else to offer other than that rose and my sympathies."

"You shouldn't have to offer me anything, Cash," Nicole assures her. "I feel like I'm imposing. And… I would appreciate if we could keep this little display between us? My male colleagues would never let me live it down if they were to catch wind of me having broken down in the Rose Garden of all places. Like a typical girl." And she prides herself on being nothing like a typical girl. "But… I thank you."

"Where are you from?" Nicole asks, attempting to make small talk to get her mind off her sorrow. It's that, or go back to work, and she can't do that until her tears have dried and she can make her eyes appear to be something other than red and puffy. She carefully brushes one thumb under each eye, so as not to smudge her subtle make-up. God bless waterproof eyeliner and mascara.

"'Typical' is a matter of perspective, but your secret is safe with me," Cash says with that small hint of a smile. "But I am afraid my life story is fairly boring, as I am from nowhere exceptionally exotic," she adds, the first hint of quiet amusement in her voice. Barely there, but still there. "But I have been many places. None worth mentioning at the moment." There's another pause, before she reaches into one of the chest pockets and pulls out a small folded handkerchief. Clean, apparently unused today, and with small embroidery on the edges of rocks with flowers and vines. "I can lock the doors from entry if you need some more time to yourself."

Nicole takes the handkerchief and uses it to gently dab at her eyes. "Could you?" Her lips twitch in a smile. "I wouldn't ask normally, but… That would actually be really nice right now." She frowns at the small smudges of make-up she leaves behind on the handkerchief, feeling guilty about it. It'll come out in the wash, sure, but still! "How long have you been working here? Maybe I've just been inattentive," and Nicole hopes very much that isn't the case, "but I don't really recall having seen you around before. And you look like someone I'd remember." It's difficult to say if it's just a silly compliment, or something that would be more at home coming from the lips of John Logan.

"I only started working here earlier this month," Cash simply states, not minding the make up on the white fabric at all. At closer inspection, there would be vaguely visible stains. Probably from yard work, mostly. "My husband only died a few months ago, and it took me some time to get out again. I find gardening to be more therapeutic than most things. Plants never complain, never judge. But they do wither and wilt with neglect and harsh weather, and die with time." Much like people. "My work is done for a while, though I will have to open it again in a few hours. But until then the garden is all yours."

"Thank you." Nicole is quick with the gratitude where it is due. "You're very kind. And you obviously love what you do. I'm glad you're here. The flowers will thrive with you around, I'm sure of it." Her composure is regained, but her heart still feels so very, very heavy in her chest. "I hope that we can get to know each other better. If that doesn't sound strange. You're very pleasant to talk to." And Nicole honestly doesn't know too many people she can say that about these days.

"You are quite welcome," Cash says, even bowing her head a bit in respect as she backs away, the spritzer in hand and tools and keys knocking on her heavy belt. It's functional, not stylish, but she does seem to care a great deal about her job. "You can find me here most days if you ever want to talk in the early morning and evening, as well as the afternoon, more often soon, as they will need more attention. But if I am not here, the flowers are willing to listen as well," she says with the same partial smile, before she begins to walk away, unhooking the keyring to lock the doors so that the woman can have some privacy.

Nicole nods her head mutely, wadding the handkerchief in one hand, the other coming up again to brush her fingers over the chain around her neck absently. There has been too much tragedy in too short a time span. Nicole could certainly make use of the quiet surroundings for reflection.

But it will be a very long time before the pain subsides.

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