The L-Word


dirk_icon.gif nicole3_icon.gif

Scene Title The L-Word
Synopsis Nicole gets some valuable advice on its use, and learns never to trust Dirk with a wad of cash.
Date March 14, 2011

The Corinthian: Casino Floor

The Corinthian takes its name from a classical order of Greek and Roman architecture, and nowhere in the building is its influence more apparent than on the casino floor, which is supported by slender fluted columns elaborately decorated with scrolls and acanthus leaves. They match the white marble floors and compliment the pale gold colour that the ceiling and room accents have been painted while allowing for most of the attention to rest on what people come here for: the gambling.

Slot machines, roulette tables, blackjack and baccarat are all common fare, but there are also private poker rooms off the main floor with soundproof windows looking in to allow bystander observation while simultaneously providing the occupants with the quiet required for concentration. Pai gow, played with a set of Chinese dominoes, and sic bo can also be found at the Corinthian, catering to New York City's large Asian population.

Metal catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor are patrolled by surveillance personnel and allow security to look down through one-way glass on the proceedings at the card tables or around brightly-lit clusters of chiming slot machines.

It all started out with wild goose chase and a little white card. That's what Dirk will tell K if he's ever questioned. How dare some stupid little school teacher not even a real teacher but a coach treat him like he's inferior. Just because Graham Cracker, or whatever his name is, gets to stare at the heinies of little boys and girls all day, that doesn't mean that Dirk's job is any less valuable that his. "I could probably buy his job with what K pays me… stupid teachers. Think they're sooooooo much better than everyone. He wants to see K, fine."

Plink plink plink… The sounds of coins being loaded into the slot machine one by one soothes Dirk. When all else fails, go back to where it all started. Except this isn't Atlantic City, Kristen is at the Studio, and he's meeting a different lovely brunette. Too bad she's taken. Twice. Oh well, there's still Quinn.

Someone is asking for her in the casino? While not entirely unheard of, it's still rare for a guest to ask her to meet them there. But being as how a happy guest is a guest that will keep plugging money into a slot machine, or placing bets on cards, Nicole tears herself away from her paperwork in her humble, dimly lit little office (she'll replace that bulb sometime, soon) to stroll out to the casino.

She doesn't quite hide her surprise when she spots Dirk. Surely that can't be anything but coincidence, right?

No. There's just no such thing as coincidence in this city. Everything is connected. Nicole runs her fingers along the back of her neck, up into her hair to give it a good shake and fluff it up a bit. For him, she'll look a little less polished. No blazer and matching slacks today, but rather a low draping, very red blouse and a short, black skirt with a chain belt slung lopsidedly across her hips. It's not Miss Nichols' usual look.

There's a word for it: Vamp.

Lips painted to match her top (nails are, too) part in a brilliant smile that covers all traces of her previous shock. "Mm," had actually been the beginnings of Mister, but it occurs to Nicole quickly that she doesn't actually know what follows the title. So blue eyes narrow faintly, crinkling at the corners with amusement, and she doesn't miss a beat. "Dirk. What a pleasant surprise."

And it may actually be. Nicole grabs the empty seat next to his machine and drags it closer to him before she sits down. Bracing her cork wedges on the rung that encircles and joins the legs of the chair, she crosses her legs at the knee. Deceptively demure, but wholly aware of herself and her body. "What brings you to my little slice of heaven? Certainly not the quarter machines. Can I get you a drink?" Something with an umbrella?

"I like the sound of that, Mmm Dirk, maybe I can get a little of that in the morning… After you write whatsisname a Dear John letter or something." The petite blonde seems distracted and it's not by the lights flashing before his eyes as the wheels on the slot machine stop on a jackpot that makes all the little old ladies around them turn and glare with envy. Dirk doesn't seem especially happy about the win.

Without taking his eyes off the screen, he starts pushing the button at a rhythmic pace again, this time playing down his winnings instead of building them up. "I think K's in trouble," he emits in a low tone. "Some doucherag tried to muscle his way into her office the other day. Said he had pictures."

Nicole's attention to Dirk's slot is only cursory. She's seen people be impassive about winnings before. Many because what they've just gotten isn't enough to make up for what they've lost. But Dirk's distraction makes sense when he tells her what's on his mind.

She leans forward in her seat, maybe rewarding his flattery in the way she rests her arms on her knees to allow for a generous, though not completely indecent view down the front of her shirt. Not that she suspects he'll pay much attention to it. "Tell me what's happened." For all that she's seemingly rivals with Kristen Reynolds, Nicole does actually care about the other woman. She reminds her a lot of herself, and if it weren't for Dirk's urgings and Brad Russo between them, they might have a chance at friendship. "What kind of pictures, do you know?"

"Nothing," comes the growl of frustration from the petite man, he doesn't like not knowing what trouble might be coming Kristen's way. "He wouldn't tell me, but he did give me this…" Dirk pulls a white card from his jacket pocket and holds it scissored between his index and middle finger, for Nicole to take or not. "I call him Graham Cracker. Graeme Cormac is what he told me his name is. Did a tiny little background check on him and he's a teacher or coach at some school."

The assistant's anger doesn't seem focused on that particular subject though. "He treated me like I was down the ladder from him. What the hell, man, I'm a million times more important than some ass patting pedophile loser. I'm Kristen Reynold's fucking personal assistant. Not some nobody he thinks he can push around."

There's a curl of lip at the treatment Dirk's received as Nicole plucks the proffered card from his fingers, studying it. "Seriously. People don't realise that assistants are why other people have the time to be successful." She would know. She doesn't have a lot of time to be successful herself, lately. She needs an assistant.

But that's neither here, nor there. "What do you want me to do?" It's not the kind of question that's pointed and snarky. It could have been, easily. What do you want me to do about it? Rather, it's a sincere request to know how Nicole can help Dirk.

"Honestly?" Dirk finally looks away from the machine, turning his blue eyes toward Nicole and freezing on her own. Holding the stare, he doesn't say anything for a little while, his lips curled into a grimace that doesn't do much for this appearance. For the first time, Dirk looks like he actually could be a little bit dangerous, not just some smiling jokester that sits behind a desk filing his nails. "What I really want is for you to do that freaky glowing eyes thing at him and make him leave K alone. She's got enough on her plate with Russo quitting."

Finally tearing his gaze from her, he turns toward the machine again and presses the red button to make the characters spin again. "Failing that… what kind of help can she get from the big guys if this gets ugly?"

Nicole grins at that. She recognises the threat he represents. And he's no threat to her. Presumably that will hold as long as their goals align, like all things. "Sweetheart, with me, she isn't going to need any of the big guys. But if by some chance she does, I have strings I can pull. So don't you worry."

And now it's her turn to look distracted, and a little angry. "Russo's quitting, is he? Would have been nice of him to tell me. You know he hasn't spoken two fucking words to me for a whole month?" Nicole's smile is more like the face one makes when they suck on a lemon. Sour. "I told him I love him. Because I thought it was what he needed to hear. And he's walked away." She rolls her eyes. "Do all men shut down and fuck off at the first sign of the L-word? He's the one that put a stupid ring on my finger and…"

And? "I thought he would be easy to manipulate. Instead, all he's done is fuck up my own life in the name of trying to help me." Not that Nicole's been keeping track of the things that have gone wrong as a direct result of getting engaged or anything.

There's a hiss as Dirk winces at the mention of the word that is not lesbian, lesbonic, lesbian squared, even lebanese. "You did that? Man, no wonder… Something you need to know about Bradley Russo, that word makes him run for the hills. There's two instances where it didn't, Karolina and Kristen. Both times he had to say it first. I think.. I know K's sort of a cold fish when it comes to that sort of thing. She'll never say it."

Reaching down to pat the woman on the knee, Dirk tears his eyes away from the machine just as another set of light flash up and bells and whistles go off, earning him another glare from the blue hairs all around them. "Never say that word to a man you love, sweetie. It just makes them fidgety and feel caged. Always wait for them to say it first. If you think you're about to? Tell them you're a lesbian and you want a threesome or something. You can back out of it later if you don't tilt that way."

Nicole glances down to the hand on her knee, then back up to Dirk's face. "I'm not very experienced with men. Please don't tell anybody. Women dig the L-word." Which is maybe a nice little way of implying that Nicole maybe does. Tilt that way. "It doesn't matter anyway, does it? They're split up, just like you wanted. So I'm off the hook, aren't I?" Feigning disinterests now, Nicole examines her nails, looking for chips in the red polish and giving only a brief glance to the lights flashing on Dirk's machine.

"What are you doing tonight, Dirk? Are you free?"

"Off the hook, as much as you want to be," Dirk agrees with the woman. He doesn't take his hand off her knee, even gives it a little squeeze as a small win flashes across the screen in front of him. "Tonight, I might be trying to find an assassin to take care of Mister Teacher." A slide of his baby blues and a faint smirk toward her is prelude to, "kidding~"

When he does take his hand off her knee, it's to push the collect button and wait for the ticket of winnings. A few thousand dollars, which isn't a bad haul for an hour or so at the slots. "Maybe we can get together and you can tell me all about the kind of help the bigger fish can provide if K gets into trouble. After all, the Studio's been pretty good to them, I think."

"Sure. Drinks?" Nicole's head inclines a fraction, the smirk returning to her lips as her attention goes back to the man next to her. "How do you feel about Flannigan's? I normally drink at Desperado, because I love to watch drunken fools get thrown off the mechanical bull, but I have the feeling you'd be relentlessly pestered at a gay bar." That isn't to say that she thinks he would or wouldn't enjoy that, just… that it isn't conducive to their having an uninterrupted conversation.

"I'll be getting out of here just after six, so… Meet at seven? I'll have had dinner," is a lie, "but if you want to indulge in some pub food, I won't be offended. The chips are brilliant." Nicole raises a brow, and then reaches out to pat Dirk's cheek. "And you leave the hiring of assassins to me. It's my job to ensure that Daniel Linderman's investments are protected." The K behind Studio K being one of them.

Slipping off his stool, he leads Nicole all the way to the cashier's box where he cashes in the ticket and waits for his winnings. Small bills. It takes them a while to count out that many and all the while Dirk has his back to the woman behind the cage and is looking at Nicole. "Eh… You'd be surprised, I'm a little too macho to be bothered at a gay bar. I think they smell my testosterone and get the willies or something, so if you like watching mechanical bulls we can go there."

He's nonchalant about reaching behind him to grab the fat stack of cash, of which he leaves a small part of as a tip. "C'mon, lemme show you how a real winner spends his money." His free hand reaches for Nicole's and he drags her to the middle of where he was playing the slot machine.

"Hey ladies~" he sings as he fans his face with the bills. "Catch!" His little yell is drowned by the surprise screams of several of the patrons as they clamber for the bills twirling through the air, littering the ground. "This is the fastest you will ever see old ladies move," he says as an aside to Nicole as he steps over one of them toward the door.

Nicole flashes the girl working the cage an apologetic look that should possibly be accompanied by her drawing a circle around her ear with a point in Dirk's direction when he asks for small bills. At least he tips the lady.

When he leads her back toward the game floor, she expects him to go for a hand of Pai Gow or something. But Nicole's eyes go wide in stark horror when she realises what Dirk is about to do. "Oh no, please don't do th-" But then money is flying and she's tipping her head skyward. Most people would think Nicole was saying a silent prayer to God. But instead, she's looking at the one-way mirror above them to people she can't see, but knows are watching them. She holds up a placating hand and shakes her head.

And that's when she's reaching for the radio clipped at the waistline of the back of her skirt. Bringing it to her lips, Nicole presses the button and waits for the little chirp that tells her she's live. "Nichols to sup'." She lets go of the button and waits for the response of go for supervisor before continuing. "The guest at…" A quick glance to the nearest slot machine reveals they're standing at, "Echo fifteen is mine."

A resigned copy follows. No one's going to be escorting Dirk off the premises for that little stunt. Well, no one except Nicole that is, who keeps her radio in hand as she grabs Dirk by the arm. "Next time, anywhere but the casino floor, Mister Generosity. Try the hotel lobby next time? Or Burlesque?" She's not mad. In fact, there's a part of her that's amused, but she's going to hear about this from those that oversee the casino. Despite her station, this is not her domain. So at the very least, this will be exasperating once the novelty has worn off.

Or maybe she'll wear a stupid smirk the whole time and say something like, yeah, but it was pretty funny to see those old women wrestling each other for the money.

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