Scene Title Unresponsive
Synopsis Nicole makes a grisly discovery in a stairwell.
Date February 15, 2010

1326 Broadway

Chesterfield Campaign Headquarters - Stairwell

"…Again, Ms. Lockheart, congratulations on behalf of Jenn and myself. Well done. Feel free to call upon either of us if you ever require our services. Buh-bye."

A distasteful a task as Nicole has ever performed, she presses end on her cell, finally terminating the call to Sylvia Lockheart. "Hope you choke on it," she mutters under her breath.

"Nicole!" Somebody calls the woman's name. "Do you want us to hold the elevator for you?"

Distractedly, the woman looks up and then shakes her head quickly. "No, no. That's fine. I'm going to do a little more work here. Go on and get some rest." There's champagne to finish, after all. And with the last of the stragglers gone, there's no one to see – or protest – her drinking straight from the bottle. She has a small bit of a buzz going once she finishes the bottle and finally prepares to leave, hurling a final curse at the television before turning it off. She'll take the stairs tonight.

Forty-some-odd floors should give Nicole plenty of time for reflection.

And a cigarette.

Pulling her coat on and tucking the last of her things into an oversized tote bag, Nicole plucks a Camel menthol from a pack and heads for the stairwell, lighter in hand. Nothing could have ever prepared her for what she would find on the stairs between floors forty-seven and forty-six.

At first, Nicole doesn't dare believe her eyes. Then, it becomes a desire to not want to believe them that evolves into a need for what she's seeing to be some sort of terrible black joke played by tired and weary eyes, complicated by the heady sensation of alcohol.

Nicole's scream echoes off the walls of the stairwell.

Fear, shock, anger, and sorrow rolled into one, the emotions that the broken body of Jenn Chesterfield elicits. Nicole scrambles down the stairs and to the landing, dropping her purse and cigarette without a thought. She hurries to her friend's side and calls her name. It rasps from her throat and roars in her own ears. She shakes the woman. An attempt to make her rouse and respond.

In truth, she already knows it's far too late.

She's still warm. Nicole lets the other woman lay still, blood on the backs of her hands now. She pays it no heed. Tugging off her own scarf, she presses it to the neck wound, cursing when she realises the material is too porous and only acts like a sponge, rather than staunch the bleeding. She pulls open the woman's coat and presses her hands over her chest. Compressions first, then a pinch of the woman's nose and a long breath into her opened mouth. Nothing changes.

"Breathe, Jenn. You've got to breathe," Nicole begs between rounds of CPR. "Come on. We have a city to save. You can't be lying down on the job now. Please, Jenn. Please!"

It feels like hours, but it's only a stretch of three or four minutes before Nicole finally collapses against Jenn's chest to sob.





She gives herself to the ragged count of "Five," to let the emotion overwhelm her before she sits up and wipes her nose with the back of her sleeve, willing herself to pull it together. For Jenn's sake.

Rather than immediately procure her cell phone and call the police, Nicole begins a frantic search of the surrounding area for any sign of who might have done this. Leaving her things, she dashes back up the stairs.

Back in the now-empty offices of the campaign headquarters, she presses her hand to a light switch. The lights flicker, but don't produce the desired effect. Scowling, Nicole surveys the room. The lunch area only has plastic utensils, which means sticking a fork into an outlet to give her a boost of power is a no-go. The letter openers are all those child-safe ones with the razor blades encased in plastic. And the clean look of tile means there's no carpet to rub her feet over. But there must be something. Something…


It's an experiment she hasn't tried since she was a child, but physics just don't change. Grabbing a blue balloon (a subconscious colour choice), she rubs it against the wool of her coat to create a charge. It takes much longer than she would like, but she's eventually able to absorb enough that she can once again press her hand to the light switch and this time pour enough juice through the circuit to blow the fuse. Hurrying through the dim illumination of the few emergency lights that stay on even when the power's gone out, she retrieves a box of Zip-Lock bags from the break area.

On the way back down to the landing, unshed tears blurring her vision slightly, she misses the last step and tumbles down with a loud curse. Rather than get up, she crawls across the floor to dump out the contents of her purse, fishing out a tweezers and a nail clipper.

One does not work for Daniel Linderman for so long without knowing to do a little damage control of their own if they're going to be linked to a crime scene. Steeling herself with several deep breaths, Nicole rolls Jenn over and starts looking over the back of the woman's coat for any signs of stray hairs that may not be her own, hoping to find something the attacker left behind. The few she plucks away with her tweezers and deposits into one plastic bag she's reasonably certain must belong to herself, rather than whoever has done this.

Setting the tweezers and sealed bag aside, Nicole now takes one of Jenn's hands in her own carefully. "Sorry to ruin your manicure," she tells the woman as though she might actually be listening. As though her nails were still manicure perfect anyway. With great care, Nicole clips short one of Jenn's nails, putting it in another bag originally purposed for lunch rather than evidence.

The rattling buzz of the red cellphone left on the floor, alerting to a call missed fifteen minutes ago startles Nicole. One hand over her chest, as if to press her pounding heart back into place, she breathes in deep. After a moment's hesitation, she reaches over and takes the cell phone in her hand, looking it over for a moment before having the good sense to shut it off. She takes only one more thing from the scene – the soft pack of cigarettes once belonging to Mason Chesterfield. She won't let those be shut away in some box marked with a case number in some police storage facility. Instead, she tucks them into her purse and then, with her collected evidence, scurries back up the stairs.

In the red glow of the emergency exit signs, Nicole goes to work, grabbing a roll of packing tape and securing Jenn's cell phone to the underside of her desk. The Zip-Lock bags won't make a lump between her waistband and her skin, but a cell phone, even with as slim as they are these days, definitely will. The risk of having it confiscated from her weighs too heavily on her mind to chance trying to carry the phone out in the cavernous depths of her purse.

The time has come, though, to retrieve her own BlackBerry and make the call.

Returning to the landing, reality crashes down again. She stares down at the lifeless, bloody and battered form of Jennifer Chesterfield and Nicole wonders how she ever thought there was a chance that she could save her. It builds a lump in her throat.

9. 1. 1. Send.

By the time the line is ringing, Nicole's sobbing again.

What's your emergency?

"This is N- Nicole N- N- Nichols. I'm at Thirteen-Twenty-Six Broadway." She takes in a deep, shuddering breath, then coughs hard and wetly, clearing her throat before she continues. "I'm in the stairwell of the… Forty-seventh floor. It's Jennifer Chesterfield. She's unresponsive."

Unresponsive. It's denial at its finest. If she doesn't say it, perhaps it won't become truth.

Another sob shakes her and the phone trembles in Nicole's clenched hand. It's a struggle just to keep it held up now. "Oh, God! Jenn!" Heavily, she sits down on the bottom steps, crying and listening to the operator instruct her to stay on the line and assure her help is on the way.

There is no helping this.

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