The Cruelty in Surviving


colette_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title The Cruelty in Surviving
Synopsis The Nichols sisters both have their bouts of self-pitying cruelty.
Date February 16, 2010

Solstice Condominiums - Nicole Nichols' Home

It's been a busy day for Nicole. Sleep didn't last in Logan's bed at Saint Luke's, and she snuck out before long. It's likely something he's done a countless times before, so she only hopes he doesn't fault her for doing it. At least there was no real walk of shame involved, since she had nothing to be ashamed of. At least, she chooses not to be ashamed about breaking a few hospital rules concerning alcohol and tobacco.

It's about an hour into the evening before Nicole realises she hasn't even eaten yet today. She stands in front of the fridge with half-lidded eyes, sore and heavy from lack of sleep and crying alike, staring at the contents of the shelves. Nothing looks appetising. She settles on a single lime, moving to a glass cutting board to slice the citrus fruit into wedges. She sets them on a plate on the kitchen island before adding to the setting a shaker of salt, a shot glass, and a bottle of tequila.

It totally counts as eating if she eats the whole lime while consuming shots of tequila, right?

The knock on the condo door is an unexpected interruption to the night; four quick raps of knuckles and then an even more unexpected voice. "Sis!" Comes muffled through the door, "I don't have my key!" Followed by another four rapid knocks, "O— Or my phone!" What a terrible night to realize both of those things. Right now, on the cold stoop of the brownstone, Colette is hoping Nicole is even home.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila…

Colette can hear the crash inside the brownstone that accompanies Nicole falling off her stool and onto the hardwood floor of the kitchen. Scrambling to get up and sliding on her stockinged feet, it takes her a little longer than she would like to get to the front door. When it's flung open, Nicole is barely able to hold back her tears, staring almost in disbelief at her little sister.

It's without thinking that her hand comes up in an angry open-palmed slap across the younger girl's face. And just as quickly, Nicole's pulling Colette in for the tightest hug she's ever given in her life. Only then does she start bawling.

A slap and a hug change things, change the reaction she was expecting. Colette's been crying so much the last few days, it almost feels like she's lost every last tear she can shed. But somehow, wrapped in her sister's arms on that doorstep, Colette just swings her denim covered arms around her sister's waist, burying her face into Nicole's shoulder. There's a brief, momentary hiccup of a sob, but she manages — even if barely — to keep her emotions under wraps.

A crumpled McDonald's bag lays discarded on the threshold, the smell of burgers and fries still clinging to her, along with the smell of a girl who hasn't had a shower in over a week.

Nicole should be so lucky to possess even an ounce of her sister's composure right now. Instead she just holds the girl and cries for what seems like a long time. Loud, wailing sobs echo off the walls of the condo. Finally aware that her front door is still open, she ushers the girl inside and scoops up the bag of food, shutting and locking everything up behind her.

"Sissy… God, I'm so sorry." Nicole wraps one arm around Colette again and kisses the top of her head. She hands her back the sack from McDonald's and flits off to the living room. The snot unattractively collecting beneath her nose needs to be dealt with before it becomes a mess. "I- I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to…" She can't quite say it, so instead she pantomimes a half-speed version of the slap she delivered. "I just… I don't know what got into me." Standing in that vague area between kitchen and living room, she shakes her head. "Jesus. I'm… You're home." Even if her own home isn't necessarily Colette's.

"It's nothing…" Colette very quietly explains with a shake of her head, despite the red mark across her cheek. She swallows tightly, bringing up a wool gloved thumb and forefingers to dry at her eyes as she glances over to the bag in Nicole's hands. "S'just some cookies left inside, I— stopped to eat." Furrowing her brows and offering a side-long look to the closed door, Colette hunches her shoulders forward and tucks her hands into the pockets of her jacket.

"I— I don't have a phone anymore, it— " Colette cuts herself off, doesn't explain what happened to it. "I um, I— I came by 'cause I heard about what happened to that lady you were working for. Um, the— mayor candidate?" Green eyes wander up to Nicole, and Colette's teeth toy with her lower lip for a moment before she looks down at the floor, not really moving far from the doorway. "I… Just thought— I dunno."

Nicole lets Colette talk, try to explain things, while she blows her nose and then cleans up her face with a fresh tissue, bringing her tears back under control with a series of deep, controlled breaths.

"Do you think I didn't do some investigating when you stopped calling and texting? Do you think I didn't care about where you might be?" The tone is accusatory, but not angry, to Nicole's credit. She reclaims her stool at the kitchen island after righting it and pats the one next to her, pushing the alcohol, salt, and citrus further away to give her space to rest her arm on the counter top, nails tapping lightly and rhythmlessly.

"I think you've been drinking." Colette says flatly, her brows furrowed and eyes lidded partway, but her voice is small. "Like dad." Not the good kind of rough around the edges probably gayer than a rainbow dad she has right now. Not that one. "I think you need to go lay down and drink some water before you wake up with a hangover tomorrow…" Colette starts unbuttoning her jacket, reaching up to her scarf and unwinding it from her throat to hang over the back of a chair on her way through the living room.

"I need to borrow your shower," Colette explains as she unshoulders her jacket and lays it over the back of a stool in the kitchen that Nicole had been patting. "Then I've gotta take off for a little while. I just— wanted to see how you were handling things…" Green eyes track to the liquor bottles, in silent answer to that question.

That was the wrong thing to say.

Nicole's face blanches. She's off the chair again in the space of a heartbeat and she grabs Colette by the arm. "You take that back!" she shouts in the girl's face, a fleck of spit hitting her on the cheek. "You take that back!" Again, tears start to stream down her cheeks. "I am nothing like that man! How dare you?!" It hurts. She could have been stabbed, shot, and set on fire and it wouldn't compare to the pain of being compared to the man that sired her. Her grip eases up in tandem with the heavier flow of tears.

Closing her eyes tightly, Colette turns her head away from Nicole when she's shouted at, brows furrowing. "Yeah he never got drunk and yelled at us when he had problems," she offers in a defensive barb, "you're right." The dark-haired shakes her arm away from Nicole's after the grip to her wrist, green eyes offering a see expression. The teen leans her hip against the island in the kitchen, lifting up one foot and rolling up her pant leg to find the zipper on the inside of her calf high boot. Drawing it down with a grepping noise of the metal teeth, she slides the boot off, revealing bare feet— she didn't even have socks on with all that walking. The process is repeated with the other boot, letting it land heavily onto the ground, zipper jingling when it does.

"Look you're drunk, you just… need to have some water and get some sleep." There's a somewhat dead tone Colette's offering as she kicks her boots out of the way to the side of the island and looks back up to Nicole. "I'll be outta' your hair once I get cleaned up."

Nicole's seen Colette like this before, this is exactly what she was like when Nicole first took her out of their parents home; distant, defensive, hurting. Something terrible had to have happened.

"I don't want you out of my hair." Nicole reaches for her sister again, this time gentler. "Please, please, please don't leave me again." Yes, she's drunk. It makes her that much more frantic. "I- I don't know what happened to you while you were…" She trails off, not knowing quite how to complete that sentence. "But please don't shut me out right now, Colette." It's so very, very rare that Nicole actually uses the girl's proper name. It's always Sissy or 'Letty between them.

"I love you." Nicole makes a grab for her sister's other hand. In this state, she seems so fragile and so much smaller than Colette can ever remember seeing her before. "I'll sober up. I'll throw out all the booze. But please don't go."

"I'm not leaving because of the booze!" Colette never shouts, she never yells, she never raises her voice to her sister. Colette also doesn't take the offered hand, just breathes in and out sharply, a few huffing breaths that shows she's barely abe to keep herself from breaking down, tears welling in her eyes. "I— I have responsibilities I— I have something I need to do." Someone she needs to find. "I don't— I don't have time to stay here and help you feel better. I can't take care of you."

Right after those words leave Colette's mouth, it's obvious that she doesn't want to have said them. "I— I'm sorry." Comes out harshly whispered, throat tightening as she tries to swallow down the emotions there. "I… I just— I need— I need space, you're— I'm sorry."

Nicole's voice cracks as she makes several attempts to form intelligible words. She sinks down to the floor, gripping at one of Colette's pant legs. Colette doesn't want to take care of Nicole? The elder is betting the the younger never once considered that perhaps she didn't want to have to take care of a teenage girl during what should have been the best years of her life.

Most sisters get to grow up, leave their parents, and live their own lives, until they're ready to give them up and raise children of their own. But Nicole was forced into the role of parent while she was still in college. Never once did she complain. It never occurred to her that such a situation would be one to complain about it.

Nicole pulls herself back to her feet again and tries to stare daggers down at her little sister, but the look in her eyes is just far too wounded to achieve the desired effect. She wants to ask Colette why she's even here. Is it just to use the goddamned shower? Why didn't she just go and use Catherine fucking Chesterfield's shower?

"I don't know what they did to you, Sissy. But you have no right to take it out on me." Nicole crosses the kitchen to pull open a drawer of silverware, lifting the plastic organiser slightly to retrieve something between it and the bottom of the drawer. She returns to Colette's side and sets a key down on the island next to her. "There. So you won't have to worry about knocking the next time you decide that you want something from my home." My home. Not our home. The use is only somewhat deliberate.

"Nothing," Colette practically hisses out as her eyes water, "they— didn't do anything to me." Neck muscles tightening, eyes watering, Colette can't keep her jaw steady as she hears the click of the key down on the counter. She draws in a shudder of a breath, holds it in, and then just nods her head as her lips work to try and keep them from bubbling out a hiccuping sob. Her face turns red, tears dribble fatly down her cheeks, and without any makeup on right now she looks so young.

"I don't wanna' talk about it…" Colette breathes out afterward, one hand covering her mouth as she whines out those words, her eyes squinting shut as they blur with tears, her lips contort to try and hide her teeth and she just chokes out a sob and covers her face, ashamed. "I— need— I need to shower…" Colette whimpers out, turning around as she tries to muffle the sounds of an emotional breatk into her palm.

It's something Nicole remembers only too well. She was never afforded the luxury of having a listener for a moment like this herself, but she's experienced it with Colette before. Nothing happened to her now, just like nothing happened to her in the house they grew up in. Reaching out, Nicole pulls Colette in again, cradling her in her arms. "Sissy, I love you," she assures her softly, "Sissy, it's okay. You don't have to talk about it until you're ready." Kisses are dropped one after the other, several in quick succession, on the top of Colette's head. "Just stay the night. For my sake. I need to know you're safe. Please just do me this one favour. Please just do this for me."

Even if she wants to be stubborn and self-reliant and go prove herself right this minute , she can't do anything once she's in safe arms. Colette isn't crying because of what happened to her; not anymore. These tears she's shedding are from the realization of how terrible she treated Kaylee and Doyle today, how she abandoned Brennan and the others to have to take care of the remaining sick people on their own.

Colette is crying because she took her anger at herself out on her sister, she's crying because she abandoned Joseph after struggling so hard to get him back, she's crying because she hates the person she's becoming, and those tears she's spilling onto her sister's shoulder is because she knows Emile Danko was right, because she's never going to be the same again…

…because she survived.

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