The Way It Is


colette_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title The Way It Is
Synopsis Don't tell me my love's not the one that I want. That he's not the one that I need. I'd rather find out for myself.
Nicole tells Colette what she's found out about Judah's situation, and shows off her new jewellery. There are no congratulations.
Date January 1, 2011

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

Snow is melting, the air is warm, and the first day of two-thousand and eleven has largely been a bright and sunny one for many of New York City's residents. Out in the verdant confines of Central Park, the grass has turned soupy beneath the meltwater runoff of slushy snow. Park benches are mercifully dry after having spent a day under warm spring-like sunshine and the turn of temperature into the fifties has been a welcome reprieve from winter's chill caress. Perhaps this Indian Summer is apology for last year's apocalyptic snow storm.

Seated on a park bench, hands clasped together between her knees and head down beneath the hood of her sweatshirt, Colette Nichols blends in to the evening park goers. With darkness coming before five in the evening, an early start to acts best left out of daytime hours can start early during the winter, even if it feels a touch more like spring at the moment.

In clear view, Colette has positioned herself adjacent to a large bulletin board that once was used to advertise concerts and events in Central Park. Ever since November 8th, 2006 this board has been a posting for those who lost their lives in the Midtown explosion or those who are still missing. There is a photograph of Nicole Nichols pinned up here, sun-faded and weather-warped from a time when Colette had thought her sister dead or missing.

It is on Nicole's picture that message ribbons are attached, that notices of wanting to meet are left for one another. Symbolic, and warning all in the one. Tonight, Colette is waiting for her sister beneath the jaundiced yellow glow of a lamp post on that lonesome bench.

At least the weather has taken a turn for warmth, that's something to hold on to.

When Nicole alights on the bench next to her sister, it's without much warning or fanfare. She simply drops down onto it and rests her head on Colette's shoulder. "I love you." Because it deserves to be said first and foremost. "I miss you," is a very close second. With the warmth in the air, the quiet sniffle isn't from the weather. "We have a lot to talk about…"

The older Nichols woman lifts her head again and offers a tired, but genuine smile. "Did you want to go somewhere else? Or is here safest? I don't know how your… little system works." The underground system. The Ferrymen. Nicole's hand reaches for Colette. Even the yellow light washing over them, dull as it is, makes the large diamond on her fourth finger sparkle brilliantly. It doesn't have the same effect on the tinier diamonds around her wrist, or the blue topaz stones the twinkling princess-cut is set between.

It also doesn't seem to get a reaction from Colette.

The hug, and the words on the other hand do. She shrinks down against the affection, not out of surprise. Somewhat ubiquitous vision has perks when it comes to observing without seeming to observe. Leaning her head against Nicole's shoulder, Colette murmurs, "it's fine here," against her sister's side, eyes partway shut and gloved hands wringing together.

"Did you find out something about Dad?" Mismatched eyes alight to Nicole's evenly blue ones, and through the ragged fringe of her bangs, Colette looks with pensive hope towards her sister. No congratulations, no questions, no recognition to her new status as engaged to one Bradley Russo.

She's not that callous.

"It's not about Judah," Nicole murmurs. "They're looking for you. The government. There's this man, Colonel Heller. He found me at Logan's… club. He acted like he was looking for Logan. I mean, he was, but he was there to find out what I knew about you." A breath is blown out heavily. A lot has happened since the sisters have last had the opportunity to speak. "He had a photograph of you from the day we met up. After you found out about your dad." Her lips press together, "I said I hadn't seen you since your birthday."

Color drains from Colette's face, what little of it there was left over from summer. Her eyes don't blink when her head bobs up and down into a slow series of nods. "Heller," Colette offers in a hushed parroting of the name, unfamiliar to her as any, even if the title of Colonel was typically reserved for the white-haired guy on the side of a KFC bucket prior to this in her mind.

"Thanks…" Colette finally admits after a protracted moment of awkward silence. "S'that everything?" One of her dark brows lift up, teeth worry at her bottom lip and there's hope that there's more; not because the information is particularly valuable, but because it's the only excuse she has to see her sister.

"The harbor's super tight in security, so I have to go by land onto Staten Island tonight t'get home… so…" Colette's brows furrow anxiously, "I just… I can't afford to stick around too long."

"Is that all? Of course not." Nicole elbows Colette in the ribs lightly. "What kind of sister would I be if I couldn't have left that much in a note, huh?" But the lightness of her tone has to drain away in favour of more seriousness. "I believe that Judah's alive, and that he's all right. All I've been able to find out is that he was arrested by his old partner - Damaris - and transferred to Heller's custody. He's gonna be fine. I'll try and find a way to see him. Let him know you're safe.

"That's what he would want, you know. He wants you to be safe. Stay out of trouble." Nicole presses a kiss to Colette's temple. "I'm working with a friend who's also had a run-in with Heller. And we're doing our best to not end up tried for treason in the process." A glance is given sidelong to Nicole's little sister. "You… didn't see me on the Advocate on my birthday, did you? — Thanks for the card, by the way. Best one yet. I even managed to laugh once I put my heart back into my chest."

Snorting out a laugh at the mention of the card, it's clear Colette is struggling to keep her composure and not react when it's revealed that Kaydence-Lee Damaris is the one who arrested Judah. Fucking Grabbyhands.

"No TV at the Garden," Colette manages to say, lifting up a gloved hand to her face, pressing gloved fingers at her eyes. She stays this way for a few moments, then lowers her hand from her face slowly, looking back to her sister. "I don't really like his show anyway, he's kind've a douchebag, y'know? I think I saw it once— maybe twice? I dunno, I don't really like television…"

There's a weary look in Colette's eyes as she turns her attention back to Nicole. "Why, you announce your candidacy for President or somethin'?" There's a crack of a smile at that, a furrow of Colette's brows and a wrinkle of her nose; an attempt at peace.

"Oh, come on. You know I've had the biggest crush on Bradley Russo since I was in college. That's not even fair. You know I never miss his show. Ever." For a moment, the two are just sisters again. Catching up. Laughing. Having fun. "No YouTube or anything at the Garden? Jesus, Sissy. I think you are literally the last person in New York to know."

Nicole shakes her head and then holds up her left hand to really show off the new ring to Colette.

"Sis there's not even really electricity at— " Colette's brows furrow, her lips part and her eyes narrow as she catches the glitter of the ring in a whole new different light. Silence, awkward silence, then a noise that might have been saying something before her mouth snaps shut again. Mismatched eyes are wide, brows are furrowed and the first words out of Colette's mouth are perhaps the least supportive thing she could possibly say.

"You're fucking kidding me, right?" Dark brows shoot up towards Colette's bangs and her expression looks like she was just offered an unappetizing meal. "You— who the fuck is— how fucking long have you even known that asshole? You— fucking— are you fucking stupid!" Forgetting herself, Colette wheels up off of the bench, gloved hands flipping up and down at her side.

"Were you in Vegas or something? I mean Christ that— " Colette's voice cuts off, a breathy noise isn't quite speech, and she just stares at Nicole.

Not the least supportive, but actually the most expected words. Nicole knows her sister well. "Sit down, Sissy. You're going to cause a scene." The words are those of a demand, but the tone is light and teasing. "I'm almost thirty, Colette. I'm not getting any younger. And in my defense, he asked me on live television." She holds out her right hand this time, hoping to receive Colette's in return. "I'm engaged. Not married. C'mon. Sit down."

"No." Colette insists with a quieter tone. She'll calm down, but she won't sit down, perhaps just for the sake of being contrary. "I don't care what you call it, I don't care if he did it from the surface of the fucking moon you— don't just fucking marry someone because they ask you to. You— you do it because— because you — " Jaw unsteadied, something about this seems to have twisted an emotional knife somewhere in Colette, and each time she tries to explain herself that blade slithers around in her heart one way and another.

Defiantly remaining standing, Colette shoves her hands in the pockets of her jeans, staring down at her feet. "Do you love him?"

That isn't really playing fair.

"So what? You can see people and I'm supposed to be okay with letting you go and letting you have that part of your life, but I can't have that?" Despite the accusation to it, Nicole sounds more wounded than she does anything else. "I know this idea of me dating anyone is alien to you, but you could…"

Nicole sighs heavily, tipping her head down as she decides how to answer the question posed to her. When she finds the words, she lifts her head again so she can look Colette in the eye. She deserves it. "Bradley Russo is a lovely man. He is good to me. He's a flawed man. He has his baggage, same as I do." They're well matched in that department. "We're both up to our necks in this Heller thing, and he has a little sister that's in trouble. He would do anything for her, just like I will do anything for you."

Like she's doing right now.

"We're both very politically minded. And I will make him president if that's what he wants from me." But does she love him? Nicole doesn't say. "He's going to need a campaign manager. And he's going to need a wife for the family ticket." Same as she told Logan. "I can be both. Brad will never mistreat me, 'Letty."

"You— this— this isn't dating!" Colette raises her voice again, this time more like a hiss than a shout. "Have you even been on a date with this guy? You— what happened to Mister Logan? I thought— I thought you two were— " Colette's voice hitches in the back of her throat, shoulders hunched forward and lips downturned into a frown. "If you're just using him for whatever he can give you then— then fine that's one thing, but don't expect a fucking congratulations for it."

Swallowing tightly, Colette looks away and furrows her brows, then looks back to Nicole. "You don't get engaged to someone you don't know. An' if he's the one who proposed to you, s'because he has some sorta' fucking agenda. I don't care what this guy says he wants, but I'd sooner trust Mister Logan than some Hollywood fuckhead who wants an Emmy or whatever the fuck they give our for bullshit journalism…"

Nicole takes Colette's lecture like a champ, sitting calmly while somehow managing not to look dismissive or like she isn't listening. "Mister Logan isn't about to ask me to marry him, Sissy. I told him I love him and… I told him about… the stuff that happened to me as a kid." Now, she actually looks sad. "I don't think he cares. He told me not to say that I love him. He seemed… annoyed by me when I tried to warn him about Heller."

The walls Nicole has built up around her start to crumble. She raises her hand up to cover the lower portion of her face, careful not to muffle her voice too much. She's not shedding any tears quite yet, but she's dangerously close. Her throat is tight around her words and her expression anguished enough for it. "And then tonight we met to talk and… He kissed me in front of the entire Orchid Lounge, after I told him he couldn't. I have no idea what to think anymore."

There's a squeaking noise from Nicole that proves some things are just genetic between sisters - the sounds they make when they cry is one of them. "I wanted him to tell me not to get married. And I wanted you to be happy for me."

"I'll be happy for you when you give me a good reason to," Colette insists with her hands on her hips, "but some douchebag television guy isn't that. It isn't what you even want, it's just— a fucking— a thing. It isn't real." Colette's tone softens, her brows lift and she takes a step closer towards Nicole with a slow shake of her head. "You marry somebody 'cause you love them, or 'cause you're an illegal alien and need a green card or whatever…" There's a crack of a smile at the corner of Colette's lips as she reaches out a gloved hand for Nicole.

"I'll be happy for you when you're happy, but this dickbag ain't gonna make you happy. He's just a business arrangement or somethin', you don't even know 'em." Furrowing her brows, Colette purses her lips and breathes in slowly. "People who're emotionally invested can't give you a straight answer on nothin'," is what Conrad would say, and so Colette chooses to echo the sentiments. "Logan can't tell you up from down 'cause he cares. Possibly." There's a wrinkle of Colette's nose at that. "I'll tell you what's what, 'cause that's how we've always been…"

Pursing her lips to the side, Colette tries her best to smile. "Trust me I'd believe you could fall for this big scary old guy named Ben in the Ferrymen before I'd buy you and Russo together. That's how unlikely it is."

"The men I've loved have only disappointed me, 'Lette." Nicole says softly only after she's sure her voice isn't going to crack embarrassingly. "But I'm… Brad and I are good for each other." She wipes at her eyes. "He won't show up to a party with some… pretty, busty blonde on his arm when I'm set to show up alone." And it's maybe a little unfair of her to suggest Logan would. "Allen wouldn't tell me he loved me. He just had to go and… Only say it in his own way when he died."

Dark blue eyes scan the park behind Colette absently before returning to her face again. "I care about Brad. And he cares about me. He's not the man you see on the television. He's a good person."

"Says the woman who's known him how long?" Is all Colette can manage as a response, her lips crooked down into a frown and jaw giving the faintest of tremors. "You wanna' fuck up your life, that's your call. We're both really good at that, but don't expect me t'be happy every time you go and make a dumb choice, I sure's fuck don't expect you to do the same for me…" Mismatched eyes flick away from Nicole, and Colette stares off into the darker distance beyond where lamplight illuminates asphalt paths.

She's silent, shoulders slouched and head down, staring off into a point of darker parkland where the snow has not melted away from the warm weather of the new year. "I'm glad you think you're happy…" Colette distantly admits, brows furrowed, "hopefully it's a long-term delusion."

"Stop it," Nicole orders. "This is not okay. Maybe this is what I want. I am a messed up, fucked up, complicated piece of trash, Sissy. Brad is willing to put up with that. With all my flaws and all my quirks. I like him, and I don't want to be alone forever. I've followed Brad's career for a long time. I know a lot about him. And… we clicked. The moment we met, we just… fit together." Her smile is a little sad, but there's still much fondness there. "We have a lot in common. I… I'd like you to meet him in person sometime soon. I know you'll like him once you get to know him. You just have to give him a chance."

The older woman pushes herself to her feet. "My life's in shambles, and Brad doesn't care about that. He cares about me. Please. Be happy for me. He's no John Logan," and who is, "but he'll be good to me." Nicole reaches out to nudge Colette in the shoulder gently. "Go talk to Mister Logan if you're so concerned about who I marry, huh? You see if you can get him to talk straight to you. He's got this number set up for texts." The Mistress of the Text Message doesn't have to pull out her phone to remember which numbers correspond to which letters. "Five six four two six. L-O-G-A-N. I think he may be the better contact if you have an emergency. He can at least pass a message on to me without drawing any red flags, yeah?"

"I don't have a phone anymore," is Colette's terse answer to the 1-800-PIMPS-4-U offer that Nicole was giving. "It isn't safe anymore, s'why…" she nods in the direction of the message board, then takes a step backwards, tucking her hands into her pockets. "I wanna' be happy for you, Sis. But— this ain't happiness, this is just… I dunno." Dark brows furrow together with worry as Colette slowly shakes her head.

When she finally does meet Nicole's eyes again, there's clear concern in hers. "I don't think it'd be a good idea for me to meet this guy, not with the cops looking for me. Wouldn't be a good idea for me, or him. You… go do whatever it is you wanna' do, Sis. Just— " Colette cuts herself off, looking away and down to her feet.

"Be safe," Colette murmurs, a lacking response.

"Sissy…" Nicole reaches out and pulls Colette into a tight hug, murmuring into her hair. "We wouldn't know happiness if it hit us like a train on a track." She drops a kiss onto the top of her sister's head. "I love you. I love you so much." She then lifts Colette's chin gently with her fingers so she can press a slow, lingering kiss to her mouth. "I wish you could stay… Just for the night. I want you to."

It's the first time that Colette has ever pulled away from Nicole, eyes glassy with tears and shoulders rolling to break the attempt at embrace. "Speak for yourself," the young woman blurts out assertively. "I— I know exactly what happiness is, and maybe it took me a long time to actually realize it, but— but I know what it is." Throat tightning, Colette swallows back the remainder of that train of thought, even as her legs are starting to turn smoky and intangible, her lower extremities being painted into the background of the park.

"I— I have to go back to Staten Island," is a lie, because there's no way she's going to catch the boat in time. She'll go, eventually, but tonight will be spent in the confines of Grand Central Station.

"I love you too," is something Colette says only when she realizes she hadn't yet.

"I don't understand why you're so upset!" Nicole all but shouts, reaching out to grab Colette's arm like a vice grip to keep her from disappearing. "Why?!"

Nicole releases her hold on Colette again and steps away, her hands up in surrender. "Whatever." Her voice lowers again, glaring at the space she knows her sister still occupies. "Judge my decisions." She isn't the one wanted for terrorism, and she stops herself just short of saying as much. "Don't get yourself killed. Or I'm gonna have to ask Sable to be in the wedding." Not that there's anything wrong with Sable. Except for the fact that she'd probably baulk at the idea of a bridesmaid's dress.

Mismatched eyes grow wide as Colette raises her voice, "Because you always do this!" Her visibility wavers back and forth, seeming to be partly in black and white some moments, then transparent others, then all but entirely visible the next with no visible pattern. "You blame everyone else for the fact that you're not happy, then you go run off with some guy who treats you like shit and I have to be there when you break down! Do you remember Terry?"

Both of Colette's brows raise sharply and her hands shake at her side. "Do you remember when you just fucking ran off with him and came back like two months later!? You thought he could fix everything that was happening with dad." Not Judah either.

"You always turn to some guy to make your life better instead of trying to fix anything by yourself! You— " Colette's breath hitches in the back of her throat. "How is this any different than Linderman!? Did he fix everything!"

Yeah, she went there.

"Her. Terri was a woman." Yeah. Mister and Missus Nichols withheld that bit of information from their younger daughter. Nicole crosses her arms over her chest defiantly. "That was different. It was about cocaine and… It was not like this at all." Her lips purse tightly, eyes narrowing to slits.

There's an actual shudder of rage when Colette dares to insult what Daniel Linderman represents to Nicole. She squares her jaw and takes a few seconds to breathe before she responds, lest she snap something she'll regret. She needs to prove that they can do better than these explosions of theirs. "You don't know what it was like for me at that time. You didn't get into the sex and the drugs after… what Richard did. I did." Her voice stays quiet, and even. "Daniel showed me I could do better than that. He told me I had potential. He taught me how to redirect my energy and be a better person. So that when Mom got sick, I could be there for you. Don't you ever discredit what Danny's done for me."

"You need to learn how to take care of yourself," Colette insists yet again, her jaw giving way to a faint tremor. It is a slightly gray pot calling an only marginally darker one black, but the difference is there, even if it isn't a staggering one. "Not depend on someone else to take care of you… because one day— " Colette's slim frame ripples and distorts, fading away like paint washed out by thinner.

"One day whoever you're counting on will be gone."

A cool wind blows in through the park.

"Then what?"

Colette doesn't stick around to hear the answer.

She has to find that out for herself.

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