Sympathetic Character


colette_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title Sympathetic Character
Synopsis I have as much rage as you have. I have as much pain as you do. I've lived as much hell as you have. And I've kept mine bubbling under for you.
Date February 13, 2011

Solstice Condominiums: Nicole Nichols' Home

A note left on the board in Central Park by Nicole Nichols asks her little sister to come home on Sunday night. The living room window of her condo is wide open, chilly breeze fluttering the curtains. It actually feels good on Nicole's skin. Lounging across the length of the couch in a pair of grey jersey knit shorts and a green tank top, she's plenty warm thanks to the way her ability works.

MSNBC is tuned in on the television, volume low. Nicole is only half paying attention. One arm dangles over the side of the couch, a champagne flute - a mimosa - loosely held with its stem between her fingers. It's only been marginally sipped at, but with Nicole, it's difficult to say how many she's had so far.

The mimosa helps mitigate the feeling of the cold wafting in through the street-side window when it opens, rattling in the frame before squeaking to a stop. Curtains blow, drift inward, then sway back down as the window seems to draw down and shut all on its own. Only the telltale track of muddy bootprints on the floor by the kitchen window proves that it wasn't just the wind that performed that mechanically impossible act.

Melted snow, rock salt and sand tracks across the floor with clomping progress, even as the darkly-dressed silhouette of her younger sister begins to fade ghostly into view. Black and white values first, transparent and ghostlike, then more depth and color until she's visible beside the sofa. Colette Nichols' ubiquitous olive-drab courier bag hangs over one shoulder, fingerless gloves are being tugged off, and beneath the back of Colette's short leather jacket, the grip of a handgun is a disconcerting sight to see.

"Sup?" More disconcerting is how sick Colette looks. Mismatched eyes are surrounded by dark circles, bags beneath them indicating lack of sleep. Her face is thin, high cheekbones no longer complimentary to her features but serving to show just how little she's been eating and how much weight she's lost.

That she smells of cigarettes is perhaps the least offensive thing, though the most ironic.

The glass is set aside on the coffee table and Nicole's up and vaulting over the back of the couch to land in bare feet on the other side and pull her sister into a tight hug. "I was worried you wouldn't come." The fact that when she breathes in the scent of her, and it's hardly familiar anymore, pangs something in the elder girl.

"I thought you hated cigarettes." She left the remains of her last pack with a note to say that she had quit even. That Colette smells like an ashtray surprises Nicole. "Not that it matters. But you look really sick, sweetie. Let me fix you something to eat? I made pot pie for dinner." Hands on Sissy's shoulders, Nicole leans back to study her for a moment. "Are you sick? Do I need to get medicine for you?"

Squirming out of the touch at her shoulders, Colette twists and drops one shoulder lower than the other to slide off her courier bag while walking over to the coffee table. It is set down on the floor with a heavy thunk of something weighty and solid inside, and the bag's dimensions seem stretched by something large and squarish. Pushing it under the table with a booted foot, Colette leans back and folds herself down into the overstuffed armchair at the corner of the sofa, crossing one leg over the other as she slouches back into the supple upholstery.

"I thought you'd never quit," is the way Colette bites back at Nicole about the cigarettes, looking over her shoulder to the brunette. "Tamara hated cigarettes, hell Tasha smoked until I asked her t'stop. I figure…" Colette makes a noise in the back of her throat, shaking her head slowly. "M'fine, really. It's— I'm not really hungry, I'm going t'eat when I get back to Grand Central later…"

Nicole knows well how much cigarettes are appetite suppressants, and someone who was as skinny as Colette to begin with is only bound to waste away when coupled with smoking and bad sleeping habits. "Hey— actually um… while I'm here I was wondering if there was something you could get for me?"

"You have to eat something or I'm gonna worry and then I'll want a cigarette and then where will I be?" Nicole eyes her sister's bag for a moment, but doesn't inquire just yet. Instead, she heads over to the fridge and starts rummaging through it. "Just something small… Aha!"

Whatever she's retrieved, it's obscured by the blocky frame of the fridge between Colette's line of sight, and the counter Nicole stands at. "You just think you aren't hungry. That's cigarettes. You remember how skinny I used to be." Not that she's put on much weight over the years. But her ribs aren't showing anymore, and that's something.

When Nicole heads back into the living room, it's with a pudding cup and a spoon held out toward Colette. "I promise I will actually manage to sleep tonight if you eat this." Then, her head tilts to one side, curious. "What do you need me to get?"

Colette's eyes narrow on the presentation of the pudding cup. Of all the things Nicole could have brought, chocolate wasn't on Colette's mind, and it's also chocolate that makes her hesitantly lean forward, plucking the cup out from Nicole's hand along with the spoon. There's something of a wry smile Colette manages at the reluctant acceptance she exhibits, and on slouching back into the chair, she cradles the pudding cup near her chest, laying the spoon down on the arm as she uses both hands to peel the tinfoil lid back.

"I need whatever John Logan's most recent address is," Colette explains before licking the chocolate off of the lid with a crooked smile, "Okay— you win this time," she murmurs into the pudding cup, then flicks her mismatched eyes up to her sister. "I don't want a phone number or anything, I don't call people anymore. I need t'know wherever it is he's staying most recently, 'cause I need t'get a hold of him for some stuff."

Picking up the spoon, Colette experimentally stirs it around in the plastic cup as she talks. "S'nothing too big, just— everything everyone's told me about him since we first met makes me think he might be the right guy for the job."

"Why can't I handle it for you? I mean, whatever it is." Nicole settles back on the couch and takes a sip from her OJ and champagne cocktail. "I can probably arrange a meeting. He's got a couple places he bounces around. I can make sure he's in a specific one for you when you need him there."

That Colette is actually going to eat the snack she's presented with brings a smile to her elder sister's lips. Thank goodness for small favours. At least Nicole will have the comfort of knowing she ate something tonight. "I can get you into his place at Dorchester no problem. I don't have to be there for whatever you want to talk to him about, if you don't want me to be… But the place has good security." Apart from the fact that people seem to keep breaking into her fiancè's home. "So it might be good if you don't go Sue Richards around the place."

"Not his apartment," Colette insists, jabbing her pudding-covered spoon in the direction of Nicole. "I don't really want him to know I'm coming in advance anyway, it's easier t'catch people off-guard when y'gotta bargain with them if they don't have time t'psyche themselves up first. All I need you t'do is tell me the places he bounces around at, an' I'll figure out the rest." Scooping up the first actual bite from the pudding, Colette turns the spoon around in her mouth to more effectively clean it off.

"'Sides, it— you don't wanna' know what it is I'm doing. I've got a lot of crap going on, and it just— " a troubled look briefly washes across Colette's face as she looks down and away from Nicole, into her pudding, then back up again. "It's easier for you t'say you don't know what I'm doing if you don't know what I'm doing. Y'never know who's gonna' try and get up in here," she explains, tapping the handle of her spoon against her temple.

"So where's he at, that ain't Dorchester?" The question's easy enough, and it gives Colette time to hasten her pace at eating as well. She's hungrier than she thought she was.

Brows draw together, but other than a stormy and conflicted expression, she doesn't needle Colette about what she has planned. Nicole's kept herself willfully ignorant about her sister's comings and goings this long. One more… plan isn't much to ask. "He's got a place above Burlesque that I know of for sure. That might be a good place to find him. I can always make him think he's meeting me somewhere, too, if you want a neutral location. Or somewhere on your own turf?"

Perhaps Nicole isn't as much a stranger to shady dealings as she lets on. She eyes the way Colette eats and gets up from the couch again, heading back toward the kitchen. She opens up a cupboard and tugs out a box. Something goes into the microwave, the cheery beep! of one button press, and the oven lights up and begins cooking. After about twenty seconds, the contents in the microwave are made obvious.


"He's a technopath now," Nicole supplies, somewhat without context. "But don't let on that you know, or he'll be pissed. And… He and I are already rocky enough that… I want to avoid making it worse if I can." She comes to stand against the kitchen island, sipping at her drink again. "How're things with you and Tasha? Is she doing well?"



Back up.

"He's a what?" Colette barely manages to get her spoon out of her mouth before she starts to talk, chocolate smudged across her bottom lip. "If— he's a technopath now then— what the fuck was he before?" As far as Colette had ever known, John Logan wasn't even Evolved. "What'd he just— manifest or something? I— a technopath," gets whispered out as Colette slouches back, covering her mouth with one hand as she wipes a finger across her lip to clean it.


Nicole looks a little sheepish as she shrugs to her sister. "It's a recent development, yeah." She doesn't divulge what he was before. That's Logan's business. "He's trying to keep it quiet, though. Understandably. So… don't let on, okay? But I wanted you to know."

Her lower lip is bit down on, then gently the rim of her flute before Nicole tips it for another swallow of juice and bubbly. "If he says anything about me, would you tell me? I really love him, Sissy. I just… Sorry." She shakes her head quickly. "You don't wanna talk relationships with me." She never has. A sigh. "I miss having you here. This place is so empty without you."



Back up.

"Aren't you engaged?!" Suddenly there's indignation in Colette's voice as she sits forward sharply, brandishing her spoon as if it were some sort of threatening weapon against the noise of popcorn popping in the microwave. "It— The last time we talked you— you were head set on marrying some douchebag you'd only known for a couple of weeks! I can't— what do you mwan you fucking want me to tell you if John Logan says anything about you? DIdn't you tell me he didn't care?" Colette's frustration is more projection, if anything else, because it's easier to pick apart someone else's relationship torubles than settle her own.

"Are— you seriously fucking telling me that you're already over that Russo jerk?" Torn on how to feel about that, Colette parts her lips and offers a slow, confused shake of her head.

"Don't you have two girlfriends?" Nicole points out without any malice or condemnation. "He cared enough to try and wreck Brad's face. And he's not a douchebag."

The microwave's beeeeeep! is obtrusive in the conversation, but also well timed as to lay right over a muttered curse. "Let me level with you, Sissy. And just take a deep breath and listen to what I have to say. Then you can ask me questions, okay?" Nicole doesn't know that she actually expects she'll be listened to, but she drains the last of her drink and leaves the delicate glass in the sink, going then to tug a green plastic bowl out of a lower cupboard, which she then pours the popcorn into.

The bowl is then set on the coffee table in front of Colette as Nicole sits down next to it. Tables are for sitting, too. "Think of my life as a very bad soap opera. Because it's ridiculous, and makes more sense if you pretend it's somehow scripted to be dumb." She takes a single piece of popcorn from the bowl and munches. Mmm. Fake butter flavour. Popcorn was totally appropriate snack for this conversation.

"Brad and I are dealing with Heller. We both caught his attention in ways we don't like. I was… kind of drinking myself to death because of how worried I was over you. And he found me in a bar in… Manhattan, maybe? Or Brooklyn? I don't even remember. But I had apparently climbed up onto a table and said I could kick anybody's ass." The smile there is one at her own expense. Like, see? This is how ridiculous my life is! "Brad dragged me home, made me sleep it off. Because he cares."

Dark brows lift and Nicole pauses to eat another piece of popcorn. "Not a high point in my life. Not something I'm proud of. But nobody got hurt, and nobody caught it on camera, so I may yet live it down. But… Brad asked me to trust him then. He said he would make sure that we both made it through okay. His sisters are wanted by the government." Like you being the implication. "He asked me to be on the show, and I… had no idea. He asked me to marry him as a publicity stunt. So we can stay in the media. And we won't disappear like your dad."

Then she takes in a deep breath, Nicole's mouth settling in a serious line. "Any questions?"

Colette's quiet, even if her expression shows rueful presentation across it. The half eaten cup of pudding it set down on the coffee table, spoon balancing precariously on top. "No," Colette explains in a hushed tone of voice, leaning forward to push herself out of the chair. "No I'm— good." Walking over to the coffee table, Colette crouches down and tugs up her bag by the strap, letting out a small sound of effort as she brings the heavy bag up onto her shoulder. "That'd be a fantastic plan of yours, Sis. It— it would, really."

Colette's brows furrow, her lips sag into a frown and her head shakes slowly. "But it's dumb," is the only way she can explain herself, bluntly and with acerbic edge. "Because it doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what you do. They will find a way to get to you, they will find a way to get you, and it'll be over before you know it."

Swallowing down something emotional, Colette looks away and starts circling around the armchair. "The sooner you realize that this is an us versus them thing, the better you'll be off. 'Cause we— we can't have normal lives anymore." There's no anger in her voice, just frustration and what sounds like sadness.

"Thanks— thanks for— " Colette shakes her head, biting down on her bottom lip. "I gotta go."

"Please don't," Nicole begs, standing up and sending the bowl of popcorn toppling over onto the floor, spilling its contents. Ignored. She offers a weak smile as she starts after her. "You know if they come for me, I won't go quietly." Her lips press together with a shake of her head. "We've never had normal lives, 'Lette. We wouldn't know what normal was if it slapped us in the face. Could you please just—" Frustration silences the rest of her thought.

"Just what, agree with you?" Colette spins around and swings her arms out to her sides, beginning to bubble over. "Fine— I think it's a wonderful idea, Sis. I think you're so much better off pretending to be in love with someone because you're afraid rather than actually doing something about the problem like I am!" Face turning red, Colette clenches her jaws shut and wrinkles her nose.

Nicole and Colette have argued, more so as children than as adults, more so now than any time in the last six years. But now, here, she knows what these words are, what the anger is. She used to have the same temper at Colette's age for different reasons. She isn't mad at Nicole, she's mad at herself.

"Go ahead just— fucking live your life however you want. Do— do whatever it is you want like you always did and— " Colette's voice hitches in the back of her throat. "Just dont expect me to pat you on the back for it."

"You won't let me do anything to help you!" Nicole fires back, her posture easily mimicking her sister's if not intentionally, but by genetic quirks of character. She and their mother used to be juxtaposed the same way in such arguments. "You live your life the way you want to without any regard to how it makes me feel!"

Hands bunch into fists, slowly raise into the air before they burst open with splayed fingers. "Do you suddenly have an idea of how that feels?!" Nicole's eyes are wide as she leans forward and shouts back. Her volume isn't so much born of anger as it is utter frustration with her situation with her sister. "I have killed for you! Twice! So don't say I don't know how to take some fucking action! I am way stronger than you have ever given me credit for! You think you are the only one who ever suffered."

Now, her arms fold over her chest, not quite looking imperious, or haughty, but something close to it. "I've lived as much hell as you have. Why do you think I acted the way I did when I was growing up? I've got ten years of experience on you, little girl." As soon as the words leave her lips, Nicole instantly regrets it. "I didn't mean that." Her expression melts into one of remorse. "You aren't a little girl. You haven't been for a long time. You don't… need me to look after you anymore. But it'd be nice if you'd let me pretend that I still can once in a while. Let me in, Sissy. Let me help you. I want to help you."

Struggling to not cry, Colette swallows back her emotions with a strangled sound in the back of her throat. Jaw trembling, she can't put together the words she wants to say, the ones that would make everything better if she'd just let them out. Colette doesn't explain herself, she just fades away, turning transparent and indistinct, before finally disappearing save for the clomp of her boots across the floor, making staggered progression towards the window she'd come in from.

Colette doesn't have the capacity to say what her heart wants her to, doesn't have the clarity of thought to frame the words together. Even I'm sorry would be a start, but Nicole doesn't even get that much. All she gets is the rattle of the window, a disembodied hiccup of a sob, and the chill feeling of cold air blowing in from the street outside.

Colette can't tell her that she just wishes she'd come with her and stay with her.

Because she's afraid she knows the answer.

When Colette fades from view, Nicole lets out a frustrated whine. "Stop doing that!" But she doesn't attempt to pursue, even though it wouldn't be terribly difficult to guess the path to the window.

Instead, after her sister has fled, Nicole shouts angrily and kicks the downed bowl of popcorn across the floor, making a further mess of her living room's hardwood floors. For the quietly interrupting television set, she conjures up a crackling blue ball in her fist and hurls it at the screen. A loud pop and a plume of smoke herald the death of the set.

There's nothing so visual to indicate the re-breaking of Nicole's as of yet unhealed heart.

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