Unfair, Unflattering


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Scene Title Unfair, Unflattering
Synopsis John Logan meets Nicole Nichols on the roof of the Corinthian, where she apprises him of their complicated situation. At least one of them is left uncertain of where they stand by the end of the conversation.
Date December 18, 2010

The Corinthian: Rooftop

An exposed landing of concrete and iron makes up a generous offering of space when one reaches the rooftop. Thick and artful concrete walls visitors off from a sharp drop at two sides of the square courtyard, and the slope of roofing crowding against the others. There are places to snub cigarettes (though people do litter, smears of ash on the ground and cigarette butts stuck in snow) and one can participate in such a vice while simultaneously escaping the inside and enjoying the sight that spreads out before them.

The view beyond afforded to the rooftop of the Corinthian displays the best and worst of New York City. By daylight, the Hudson River twinkles blue and grey, and by night, it's an inky snake of water, wetly textured and glinting with star shine and city light pollution beamed back at it from the clouds. The other side shows the sprawl of Central Park, an incredibly generous backyard, green until it slowly reaches the decay of a rotten city center. One can see the beginnings of ruin from this height, yellow cranes in a limbo of construction gathered with shattered, gutted buildings.


Twilight and nothing.

No phone calls for Reservations, which has become Corinthian Code for there's a call for Nichols. It's left Nicole so upset, she hasn't even been drinking. The glass intermittently in her hand throughout the evening filled with bubbling, pale amberish-hued liquid is actually ginger ale. It does wonders to settle her stomach, but nothing to untie the knot there, or ease her troubled mind.

She's been particularly short with the staff this evening, but by now they've come to expect it. Their Christmas bonuses will be a bit extra this year as a way of saying sorry.

Nicole can only pace between her tiny office off of the kitchens, and back out into Chambéry proper so many times before a well-intentioned assistant is urging her to get some air. Have a cigarette. With her sharp attire and her name badge identifying her as official, high-ranking hotel staff, it isn't difficult to secure the roof of the Corinthian as her own safe haven.

For an extra fifty dollars, a just off-duty waitress has been stationed near the entrance of the hotel to inform Mister Logan, should he arrive, of where Miss Nichols can be found.

The electrokinetic has taken up a perch on the edge of the roof. The heat in her skin generated by her ability means Nicole is sans her coat (except for its usefulness over the concrete to protect against snagging black stockings), with the wind tugging at her black dress and dark brown hair. Sending ash from the menthol stick between her lips fluttering through the air.

He'd been surprised, by the woman waiting for him, but didn't think too much about it — about his predictability, or implications behind it and the voice message he'd been left, which he had only known about due to his new special talents, seeing as his cellphone had been lying dead and battery flat under his bed for the past few days. Logan had followed directions from the front door to the top of the hotel, but also some other idea made of mathematics, a signal pinging between his brain, a satellite, and the BlackBerry on Nicole's person give him a sort of guiding star to follow.

On the stairwell upwards, he'd paused to swallow whole a codeine pill from his palm, and continued on his way.

Dressed mainly in black, he'd thought to crawl into a predictable outfit and even shaved his chin before coming out here, desiring to communicate that all is right in the world for him despite everyone and their mum knowing his predicament, apparently. Black suit, black waistcoat, black shirt, and an ascort tie of similar inkiness save for white polkerdots the size of pennies. He is underslept, but that's par for the course, and outwardly uninjured. And armed, beneath his greatcoat, but not because of her.

Stepping into the sudden chill of the rooftop, that not all of us are geared against, Logan squints towards her silhouette perched precarious, before turning his glance upwards as if he could see the flow of wireless Internet in the sky. Maybe he can, even. He knows a sort of icy guilt, the kind that comes with shirking responsibility of some kind, and mostly alerts her of his presence by clearing his throat.

There's a sniff, audible on the wind before the woman - his age in just under a week - tilts her head back to ensure that her solitude hasn't been invaded by an unwelcome guest. The fact that nobody shouted hey! the fuck are you doing?! upon seeing her settled with her booted legs dangling over the edge of the rooftop was really all the confirmation she felt she needed. But a visual doesn't hurt.

Electric blue gaze, faintly glowing with the same intensity the stars seem to possess, turns back to the sky. "If I asked you to push me, would you?" There's too many conflicting emotions in her voice, raised enough for his ears, for Logan to discern Nicole's motives for asking such a question. It seems one she's asking in all honesty, though.

"I'm not asking you to. But if I did. For the sake of argument."

A beat.

"Who died?"

A seesaw sort of shrug follows the last question, getting the reference but not in the mood to humour it beyond a fleeting twist of a smirk as he nears, hands tucking into pockets and moving closer at a meander. "You wouldn't do a thing like that," Logan roughs out once he comes to a halt. "Not to me, anyway. Knowing my luck, I'd get arrested for that out've everything, and I'm not sure I'd do very well in jail. I'm far too attractive." His hands settle on the concrete ledge, glancing towards her dangling legs, but he doesn't bitch at her to stop giving him vertigo.

He can smell electricity on the air, as familiar to him as her chosen perfume. "And it's a long way down. You might hurt yourself."


A breath, slowly taken in and expelled again, visible in the form of steam and smoke. "You're right. I'd feel terrible if you were arrested for assisting me in such an ill-advised endeavour." Almost as if tempting fate, Nicole leans forward to peer down, down, down, down to a street below she can barely make out.

"Would you miss me?" It's an unfair question, and she knows it. A smirk is drawn on her lips around the last dying embers of her cigarette. One last drag and it's taken between thumb and forefinger only to be flicked into the air, left to be dragged by the wind and sent down the same drop she suggested for herself.

With some satisfaction.

It's unfair and she knows it and is smirking at him. It's for these reasons and more that Logan doesn't deign to reply, a somewhat chilly silence that even her ability might not be able to immunise her from. His pale eyed stare roams over her, head to precariously dangling foot, before he regards the city mapped out before them both. Up close, buildings, and then beyond, it lacks definition, resembles a computer chip. Depressing thought. His chin lifts against the cool air despite the chill nipping at his neck above silken tie.

Nicole braces her hands on the concrete ledge and swings first one leg over the barrier, then the other, coming to settle herself back on the rooftop so as to stop giving the impression that she may actually be about to throw herself over. "I'd like to think you would," she tells him. Lets it drop.

"We have big problems, babe." Her coat is left to drape over the ledge for now. She instead levels her gaze up the inches difference in their heights, tiny heels not giving her enough lift to make it up. The tilt of her chin is unnecessary, but feels appropriate.

It feels like it lends more strength to her words. "You were in a parking garage on the 8th. A triage centre. Five people were murdered. Lined up against a wall and shot." It isn't a question. Nicole watches his face, though. Watches for the beginnings of an attempt at denial.

Mostly just confusion at first, having not expected— out of all of the possibilities— for this to be tonight's subject. Or any night's subject, an awful glimmer of the past that felt sort of left behind and buried with the dead. Logan is silent again but it's a watchful, measuring silence, the one he will end himself once he figures out how to respond. Needs to allow memory to play out that reel, however. Elbows against the ledge, he is not much taller than her in his slouch, a hand up to absently loosen his tie, feeling along its slippery texture.

"I didn't do it," he feels the need to state first. Line people up and shoot them.

"I know." Because he deserves to know she doesn't think so little of him. If that weren't already abundantly clear. They've moved on from petty things like that. Moved on to personal vendettas and agendas. Nicole blinks once, following the line of his neck exposed by the loosening of black and white polkerdotted fabric.

Blue eyes do him the credit of finding paler, greener ones. "There's a man, a Colonel Heller. He's looking for you. He… found me at the club the other night." She doesn't feel the need to say his club, or something so blatant as Burlesque.

"He scares me, Logan," is the honest admission from Nicole's lips. "He said he knew you had been there. Showed me this picture of this Irish woman. Lexington Lane. S'been in the papers. Red hair. Prettier than I am. You'd remember her." Whether it's a jibe at him, or herself is left ambiguous. "I didn't… think anything of it at first. I thought he was really just looking for this other girl. But then a friend told me about what happened at the garage."

The fear is thick in the air. Or it feels that way to Nicole. Feels too heavily laden in the breaths she attempts to fill her lungs with. Leads her to want to breathe faster. "The government is trying to cover it up."

"The government had a fffine opportunity to cover it up at the time," Logan says blandly, although it's minorly affected. He isn't exactly bored by this news. Gearing his attention out towards the sun-stained horizon, he absently listens, filtering through the tide of information available to him with the name Heller in mind. It's too small a hook for such a big ocean, of course, and it would take more time than a conversation lapse, and he retracts again, a hand up to rub at his forehead, head ducked.

Hand drops limply. "They were looking for Messiah terrorists who'd come that way and led them along. Killing them outright. I sort've tried to smooth things over, tell them these weren't the terrorists they were after, so they randomly killed five of 'em. They got a gander at my Registration card, so that's probably— " He sighs, short and sharp. "I didn't have much of a choice at the time, short of bending over and grabbing my ankles."

Fingers twitch, like he could do with a smoke, but doesn't get out of his slouch. "The redhead was one of 'em who thought they could sass and threaten and rationalise a bunch of soldiers into not killing terrorists."

"Do you think they were terrorists?" Nicole asks. What relevance it has to the situation is perhaps somewhat mysterious. Or perhaps not so much when it comes to her. A silver case is slid out of her pocket, two cigarettes plucked out and slid between her lips. One for her, one for him. And once they're lit, she holds his out to him. "I don't blame you for what happened," she feels the need to say to his assertion that he had no other choice. The faint traces of faded lip gloss can't be seen, but he'll taste the hint of strawberry before menthol overpowers it.

"After I assured Heller you were on a much-deserved vacation, or a business excursion of some sort, - not that he maybe believed me - he…" Lips press together, slightly crushing the filter between. "He had a picture of Sissy." Colette. "He's looking for her. I… I don't know if he knows that I've seen her recently. He suspects, I'm sure.

"I played dumb. Told him I haven't seen her since her birthday." For all that she fears for Logan, she could keep her voice steady and even for him, despite the concerns and the doubts. She can't do the same when it comes to her little sister. "I think… I think someone may be following me. Trying to find her through me."

He hooks a finger around the cigarette, letting it burn away for a few seconds before he brings it up to siphon smoke through, eyes hooding. It billows up white while he nurses its embering tip to glow, letting Nicole's words wash over him. Mouth twitches a little at this last part, edging towards a smirk. "Then you'll just need to distance yourself," Logan says, distractedly. More concerned about what this means for himself. "Your sister seems to have a talent for burying herself in shit she ought not to. Not so much unlike yourself, Nicole." It's a gently spoken jibe, as opposed to sharp accusation.

"'course they were terrorists. Maybe not Messiah, or not just Messiah. The same folk Colette likes to run with. We've a lot of them, in this city. But what I didn't want to have happen was them to decide it'd be easier to mow us all down, or have someone try to fucking attack the soldiers and then get mowed down. So I lied. For what good it did five of them."

"And I am well fuckin' paid for my efforts, I will have you know." An attempt at downplaying the similarity between her sister and herself. "I did arrive at that conclusion on my own, thank you for the suggestion." A shade of indignation there. "I told her not to tell me where she is. Where she's going. How to contact her." Nicole's eyes lid heavily, a shake of her head. "But the stupid little girl will show up at my door eventually, full of this misguided sense that she's the one who needs to look out for my well-being."

That is to say it's nobody's job to look out for Nicole but Nicole. Sadly, she doesn't feel that Colette does an adequate enough job of looking out for herself to warrant leaving that task solely to her.

This same line of logic, that she needs to distance herself from her sister, and not know things, is the one that she follows and applies to his situation. Keeps her from asking why he didn't tell her about what happened. Because she was safer not knowing.

Assuming her safety factored at all into his decision not to tell her about what happened around him during the riots. "Retroactive damage control," Nicole decides, without offering much in the way of context for him to follow the tracks her train of thought has jumped. "Loose ends. You."

Acrid smoke slides out in a stream from pursed, puffed out lips. "We work here," she states. "We're supposed to run into each other. Share fags on the roof." It's not an attempt to assuage Logan's concerns, but Nicole's own. Justify having contacted him. "I'm sorry."

She can't.

The human equivalent of a feline flattening ears back against its skull is less obvious, but Logan kind of gives the horizon a hard stare in silent response to her ire, head ducking a little. He flicks his cigarette and watches embers flutter down, watches it spiral — why does it do that, anyway? Seems a confused path to take, corkscrewing and fluttering apart. "I've set up a secure line for myself," Logan says, eventually. "Text only. Works as an email, instant messaging, whatever. 56426 — or just my name. Good for emergencies and sensitive— "

He shrugs. Sensitive something. "The colonel didn't give you a contact number, an email, did he? In case you're overcome with the compulsion to sell someone up the river."

"Like you? Never." As if she had to say. Maybe she does. Nicole ashes her second cigarette, less interested with the trail of the faded glow of spent paper. "I told him I had no idea what was going on with Colette. Tried to get details. All he told me was that he'd… That if anything came up, I'd hear about it." Blue eyes slant toward the dark figure Logan cuts on the rooftop. "And I don’t think he meant it in the because you’re such a concerned sister sort of way, either."

A smoke-laden sigh fills the space of the air in front of Nicole and she finally rests her forearms over her black coat, staring out at the ruined skyline. "How secure? It’s only secure on your end, isn't it? I mean… If they’re monitoring the stuff I send, and receive, they're still going to see it, right?" Brow furrow, lips quirk upward. "Where'd you learn a neat trick like that, anyway? There’s something… different about you, babe. And I don't think it’s that you're just tired."

Cigarette-free hand comes up to rub against his face, before Logan stands properly, palm balanced still against the ledge and other hand occupying itself with tapping away ash. He would like to argue, I am just tired, but she nips that in the bud fast enough that the Brit clearly doesn't appreciate it. There's a resentful sidelong glance sent her way, but also decision making reflected in pale eyes, before he brings his smoke up to his mouth again.

In the same instance, Nicole's cellphone chirps loudly, shrilling Spears' Toxic tinnily into stony silence. Smoke is snorted out in vague amusement, before he lazily turns his attention back out towards the city, only paying a kind of attention to what she might do in response.

She feels a little guilty, calling him out like that. Only a little, though. There's too much of a sense of entitlement about her. This feeling that she deserves to know what’s going on, being as how she cares so much. As if that should be enough. That her interest in his well-being should be reason enough for him to share with her. It isn't, of course. She's just selfish enough to believe it should be.

It's something both Nichols girls have in common.

When Nicole's cellphone begins ringing, her eyes go wide and she looks a moment like a deer illuminated by the headlights of an oncoming Mac truck. One hand dives into the pocket sewn into her dress to retrieve the offending mobile and stare at the screen somewhat incredulously as Britney Spears informs him both, I'm addicted to you, but you know that you’re toxic.

End is pressed rapidly.

That so never happened.

"It… used to be something less flattering," Nicole offers dumbly in her own defence. "Now it's just less flattering to me." A dart of her eyes notes that his hands aren't in his pockets, where he could stealthily make the call. "How did you do that?"

He can't even pass it off as a new trick, really. Biochemical manipulation has a lot of potential for variation, a jack of all trades master of none kind of power that granted him some form of charisma that occasionally makes up for his shortcomings in charm and physical intimidation both. But no where does it say, also, machine-talking. Logan's chin tucks in against responding as well as the rooftop wind, watching it carry off embers from his cigarette he didn't even get to spend, before giving it away altogether, pitching burning stub off the edge of the rooftop.

"Something happened, an— attack, I guess. My old power got traded in for something new. I was going to keep it a secret, but you'd probably hear about it eventually — still, trying not to spread it 'round, so. It's meant to fade."

Nicole blinks once. Twice. That was… an unexpected answer. "So, it's… Different." That's what traded is meant to imply, presumably. A tip of her head first down, then up, then levelling out again. "So you… do things with… cell phones?" Brows knit. "The Sanders kid could do something like that. Talk to machines and anything with a computer for a brain. That close?"

Not that it really matters. Well, to her. What he’s capable of does matter. It just doesn't necessarily benefit her. Knowledge of it doesn’t benefit her. Doesn’t stop her from wanting it. "So if I start bleeding electricity, you’re not the man to call anymore, I take it." Obviously. Nicole hasn’t done that in a while, thankfully. Not for a little over a month, anyway. "I won't tell anyone. Our secret. Just like all the other ones we have."

And speaking of that, "I haven’t seen smoke coming from Battery Park, so I’m guessing we haven’t tried to coerce Robert into manipulating that fiery wife of his on our behalf, hm?" The attempt to sound amused is dry at best. And a little flat. Nicole pitches her second spent cigarette off the roof. She's ready for another. And some scotch. "How’s that coming?"

Ah, fuck. This and this being why Logan had debated not coming. He is not ready for a cigarette, nor scotch, not continuing on much further than they already have. "Stagnant. Look, I'll be in touch." And he pushes away from the edge of the rooftop, then, corner of his coat flagging open like a wing caught in a breeze — or just momentum, as the case may be. Gun handle swinging a little where it's strapped close to his ribcage.

He doesn't seek out her eyes in a departing kind of glance, of acknowledgment — an animal aloofness motivated towards wanting off the roof.

"Logan." The name, and request for him to stay are all but lost on the wind for how weakly it’s spoken. But where she cannot raise her voice, Nicole can still move her limbs, long legs - though not quite so long as his and maybe only marginally more attractive by virtue of her gender - carry her in long strides to get ahead of him. Put herself between him and his egress.

She should manage a smile, or a sheepish curve of her mouth, a lift of brows. Instead, she just looks helpless. "Would you kiss me goodbye?" A strand of dark brown with stray traces of blue catches on the breeze and sticks briefly to lashes and lips before she's tugging it away with long fingers and blue-painted nails. It's selfish, like feeling she deserves to know things she has no business asking after. But in this way, maybe that’s what she and him have in common.

Which can be fortunate. And unfortunate, should it clash.

Like now. Logan halts jerkily when she steps into his path, standing hangdog sullen as she makes her request. His eyes flick callous and silent judgment over her, vaguely overwhelmed by her coltish femininity, a repeat of the same challenge carried along with asking if he's alright, asking him if he would miss her. All of this or maybe he hasn't flipped his sexuality over enough just yet after the other night. Or something to do with calling off a hit because he needed drugs. Of all things.

All of these things. "'scuse me." He side steps her after he's decided he can make up for his behaviour another night, with only a glimmer of doubt of his talents that does little halt him continuing on his stride. There is only minor tension winding up Logan's back, like he's expecting vindictive electricity crackling after him any second now.

Perhaps she even thought about it. Instead, Nicole steps the direction opposite even though he’s moved to step around her anyway. Gives him a wide berth so that he can exit. She asked, and he answered. She could shout at him about how he’s such a jerk to treat her this way. Or start crying about being blown off. Maybe he even expects one or both of these to happen. "Careful out there," sounds like a typical goodbye, rather than a fond exchange from one lover to the other. It isn’t meant to impede him.

Nicole can do them both the courtesy of waiting until he’s gone and the door’s shut with a firm click! behind him before she gives in to the desire to sink down in to her despair and the cold courtyard, and cry.

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