Cruel To Be Kind


gwen_icon.gif jessica_icon.gif niki_icon.gif peter2_icon.gif

Scene Title Cruel To Be Kind
Synopsis Peter, Gwen, and Niki discuss her possible future options with the Company. Jessica has a thing or two to say about that.
Date October 3, 2008

Primatech Research — Cell Block B

The fluorescent lights flicker just slightly with the resonant sound of the cell door sliding shut. For the time being, four concrete walls and a large glass window are the only company given to Niki Sanders. With one of the Company medical staff just departing, it leaves the blonde woman to her own multitude of thoughts. In the day since she was willingly brought in to the Company care, Niki Sanders has received notably different treatment than her previous incarceration. Not bound to her bed, or restrained in any way, she is given free range within her cell and minor amenities. A portable DVD player on a swiveling stand with a flip-up LCD screen for entertainment, and a copy of the morning's newspaper left by her door. She has also, remarkably, not been put on suppressant medication for her Evolved powers, a request put in by Agent Petrelli in order to show a measure of good faith. However, for the protection of herself and others, a pair of armed guards have been positioned outside of her cell with tasers should she attempt an escape.

What should be a return to the solitary silence of her confinement is interrupted by the appearance of a familiar man in a black suit moving into the field of view of her cell. There's an audible static crackle as he presses the intercom button, one hand still tucket into the pocket of his slacks, "Good evening, Niki." He manages a smile behind the glass, his voice coming in through the intercom system. "Hopefully you're feeling alright?" Peter takes a step closer to the glass, brow furrowed as he peers inside. "I came to check up on you, see how you're doing…"

The blonde woman looks up, opening her eyes. "Stressed." She admits, as she looks to the door. "Trying to keep things…well, under control."

"Well, stressed isn't too bad." Peter admits with an awkward laugh, "The pills left for you are mood regulators, nothing out of the ordinary. You can take them if you want, but we're not going to force the medication on you." He shifts his weight to one foot while speaking, the other foot idly tapping against the lower half of the concrete wall below the window. "I want you to know you're not a prisoner here, Niki, not this time. Doctor Salonga's choice to apprehend you last time may not have been handled in the most delicate manner, and for the time she's recovering from her encounter with you."

Looking away from the window, there's a crackling click as Peter takes his finger off of the intercom button, but continues to speak, clearly to someone outside of Niki's field of view. After a moment the intercom clicks again, and his voice returns. "What I came here to talk to you about, actually. He looks to the door, then back to Niki through the window. "Do you mind if I come in?"

The woman chuckles. "Stressed can be bad for me, Peter. And bad for people around me. You realize if I'm not locked up, the instant that Jessica comes out, she's going to leave." There's some concern. But she nods. "Please, come in."

Peter lets Jessica's words hang for a short while as he lets go of the intercom button, walking over to the door as one of the armed guards releases the lock, allowing the sliding bolts to withdraw from the concrete wall. After a few more moments, the door swings open, and Peter steps down into the cell, both hands tucked away into his pockets. "So," He begins with a lopsided smile, leaving the door open with one guard attentively watching the room. "Jessica would up and leave, where?" Peter raises his brows at the rhetorical question, tilting his head to the side. "Daniel Linderman practically owns Jessica, and by proxy you. Neither of you have any family to go to, and the best occupation you have is at Exotica." His lips purse as he says that, looking over to the DVD player for a moment, then back to Niki. "It doesn't sound like there's much to leave to."

Letting that notion hang in the air, Peter leaves only enough space to consider, but not quite reply. "What I'd like to talk to you about here, Niki, is something a little more progressive. I think, and there are people within the Company that share my point of view, that you would be a remarkable asset to us with your firearms training and your special talent." The dark-haired man takes a few more steps forward, looking Niki up and down. "We're willing to offer you a job here, in whatever capacity you feel you're best qualified for. In return, I'm relatively certain your debt to Mister Linderman could be absolved, and we could set you up with a lifestyle of your choosing. If you want to be a field agent, we can offer you free schooling and training. If you would prefer to do clerical work, I'm sure there's staff openings." His eyes wander the blonde woman, offering her a slight smile. "It's a bit more long-term than just… running, wouldn't you say? Sensible, and you'd be free to come and go as you please."

Gwendolyn has had a rough day. Her bag and tag required some manual effort, and she ended up with a run in her stockings. Hugh's off on some errand for the Company involving several hours on a plane both ways, and now she's been asked to run some assessments…splendid. She stalks through the halls, a few files in hand, absently leafing through one until she catches the presence of agent and captee having a chat. Curious, she obviously and noisily pauses by the window, head tilted as she studies them.

Niki flinches as if struck at the mention of no family to go to. She turns away for a moment, rather than letting Peter see her eyes water up. She takes a moment to compose herself, and then finally turns back. "I don't know, Peter. It sounds good. But Jessica can't be trusted. She hurts people." Which would actually probably make her a good field agent.

Peter tilts his head to the side, nodding, "She hurts people because she is hurt." He says in a quiet tone of voice. The sound of footsteps heard through the open door give him pause, and he turns to look over his shoulder to the dark-haired woman visible through the window. Affording her a welcoming nod, Peter doesn't seem to recognize the agent, but his expression implies quite clearly that she's not intruding. Turning back towards Niki, Peter takes a few more steps closer to the woman. "Niki, you have to remember that Jessica lost just as much as you did. I read your profile, and what Doctor Salonga had left in her notes about your sessions. Jessica did what she did to try and protect your family, and while her actions may have been somewhat misguided, they were done out of concern for the people she loved — even if it doesn't seem on the outside like that's what she was doing."

Pursing his lips in thought, Peter looks back to the woman at the window, a thoughtful expression on his face as he motions for her to join him in the room, giving the security detail at the door an approving nod. "I know Jessica can hear me right now, what we're discussing. I want the both of you to know that what I want for you isn't out of selfishness. If at any time the both of you agree you wish to leave, I'll open the doors." Peter manages a faint smile, treating Niki as if she was most assuredly more than one person, a decidedly different approach. "I don't mean to sound insensitive, but what we're offering you here is a lot more than you have going for you at the moment."

Gwendolyn's brow arches up ever so delicately; her expression takes on an amused cast. But she offers a smooth nod of thanks to the security apes, and tucking the files into the crook of her elbow, enters the room, closing the door behind her. "Mr. Petrelli. Ms. Sanders." she says, her accent terribly crisp and London posh. "Pardon for interrupting."

The blonde woman looks over at the new arrival, and then back to Peter. "And you've cleared this with everyone? I mean…going from "we want to run some tests on you" to "we'd like to offer you a job" is sort of a long leap. I'm just saying."

"It's not an interruption, actually I think you might be able to help me here." Peter turns to be able to adress both women at the same time, taking one step back as he does. "You do have me at a bit of a loss, though, I don't think I've had the pleasure." He affords the dark-haired agent a polite smile, then shifts his eyes over to Niki. "I was hoping perhaps you might have some insight on the matter at hand." Peter turns to look back at Niki, giving a mild shake of his head. "It's not official, no. But there's precedents, I wasn't an agent of the Company until I received medical treatment, and an Agent offered me induction into the group. I could have a few words with Mister Bishop, see what could be done…"

Peter looks over to the female agent again. "Niki here," he stick to first names, so much less formal and it's clear he's trying to keep the atmosphere relaxed, "is currently staying with us in a recuperative measure for a medical issue. Now, I'm willing to mediate for a position in the Company for her, given her skills. However, I've only been with the Company a short while… I was wondering if perhaps you could give an opinion on your own time with the group?" He cracks a smile, "Off the record, of course. I just want to give Niki here some perspective on her position, and any information she could want, and having someone a little more experienced than myself's always a plus."

"Well, mine is a very different situation than yours." the Indian woman offers a genial smile. "You're both Evolved; I am not. I can tell you that first and foremost in the Company's interest would be to help her acquire control over her abilities and her…difficulty with duality." That amicable expression then turns toward the blonde. "I don't know if you've been able to access your rather remarkable strength or if as of yet that is still only your sister's purview. I've only read your file in passing. Ask away, if you'd like. And I apologize, manners matter, don't they? I'm Gwendolyn Wickham."

Niki frowns a little. "I think I'd feel more comfortable knowing that it was something official; I mean…I just don't want to end up going back into testing. Guinea pig, you mean. Jessica comments from the mirror. It's going to be more of the same. Trying to kill me off and trying to use you for a lab rat. You're an idiot if you think any differently. Niki looks back to the new person. "Niki Sanders. It's nice to meet you. And…not with any kind of reliability."

Peter nods slowly, shifting his hands out of his pockets to fold his arms across his chest, inclining his head as Gwendolyn introduces herself, "A pleasure." His eyes flit back over to Niki then, listening to the paired conversation as he breathes out a heavy breath. "Well, I wanted to see interest first. I didn't want to take the matter to Bob unless you were open to the idea, now that I know…" Peter cracks a smile, "That's a little more likely. Now, there is one thing I know that could win you over in their eyes." One hand motions in the air, to accent his point. "We're going to have to move in and recover Elle Bishop, and soon. You know Adam and Huruma, and as far as I'm aware they still trust you to a degree. If you would be willing to work with us in an unofficial — and paid — position, for that one task, I'm relatively assured that the Company would see it as just one more measure of good faith on your behalf." Peter quirks his head to the side, looking over at Gwendolyn after a moment, then back to Niki.

"And as for your unstated concerns, I assure you. We're not going to use you as a lab-rat. The minute you want out, you can go. You came here of your own accord, and you can leave of your own accord when you feel that you're ready. Right now, though, like Miss Wickham said," He affords the dark-haired woman a smile, "You need to either come to an agreement with your own inner selves, or try and see what we can do. I'd much rather not have to resort to therapy and medicine. This is your time here, on your conscience. You can use it however you wish."

Turning his focus to Gwendolyn, Peter looks the woman up and down in an assessing manner for a moment before commenting. "On that note, since I haven't had the opportunity to discuss matters with Mister Bishop yet, nor had the pleasure of looking over your file — Do you feel you'd be available for a field assignment in the coming weeks? We're going to need to organize a recovery for the apprehended Agent Bishop, and both myself and Agent Buckley would appreciate any volunteers."

Niki looks uneasy about the prospect of a rescue. "I want to help Elle. But I'm…probably not the person you want to have help you with something like that." That would be Jessica. Niki considers, and looks thoughtful. "I have your word on that? What if some higher up decides your offer of door opening is no good?"

Gwendolyn's amusement never seems to end. She folds her hands in front of her and leans back, regarding the younger man. "Has the directorship of operations changed? I failed to get the memo." Looking back at Niki she says, "Mr. Petrelli is correct in the assessment of whether or not you'd be a lab rat. That surely wouldn't be the intention. But testing for baseline is important, as it will be for the development of a strategy to keep your more violent anima constrained. The goal whoever, is ultimately to help you become functional and able to live your life without fear of being overtaken anymore." She then gives a little shrug. "I can't speak after Agent Petrelli's authority, or who he's spoken to. I can at least assure you that there's benevolent intent in all of this, even if the manner is not always as sweetly coated as we'd all like it to be."

Peter furrows his brow at Niki's assertion, "I was asking all of you." He says quietly, then looks down to the floor, "If that happens — If someone in the Company opposes you being let go, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I can try to advocate for you as best as I can, but your willingness to cooperate thus far has reflected well on you." His eyes divert to Gwendolyn though, at her comment, and there's a visible frown that crosses his face, and a somewhat disheartened look as well.

"Actually," His brow tenses, "There hasn't been any official operations orders regarding Agent Bishop. I spoke with Bob a few days ago, and his hands are tied. He told me that if he orders a direct intervention regarding her. He fears Adam Munroe's retaliation, and to be frank, Bob seems to be doing his best to try and recover from his injuries, let along try to manage logistics. I'm operating under the imperative of Agent Buckley, whom at the moment is working with Bob's blessing on handling this matter as he sees fit. Currently, it's a strictly volunteer operation, in entirely unofficial measures. We're working off the books."

Niki nods. She seems to consider it. "I'll try to help. The offer's not a bad one. I still don't know that I'll be useful in a rescue, though. And I don't know that Jessica's going to take the offer."

"Then may I offer you a piece of advice, Agent Petrelli?" asks Gwendolyn in a smooth, gentle tone. Her gaze goes back to Niki, a slow blink offered in apology for the interjection.

"Don't misinterpret," Peter says with a somewhat grim tone of voice, "If given the opportunity, and seeing as how this operation is off of the books, if there is a possibility of eliminating Munroe or Huruma, we're going to take it." Peter's expression turns remarkably cold as he says that, narrowing his eyes for a moment before looking up to Gwendolyn, letting whatever flight of thought that was slip past. "Of course, suggestions are always welcome."

Niki seems hesitant at the notion of killing someone…and that's enough. There's no external sign of it, but there's a sudden shout of protest from the mirror. The blonde looks back. "It sounds like a good idea." she says, still seeming fairly sociable. "But it could be dangerous." She takes a step or so closer to Gwen.

"Yes, we'd all jump at the chance of decapitating Monroe." Gwendolyn admits, adding, "But that's not my advice." She regards Peter with an equally level manner. "The agents of this company come from all walks of expertise. With a collective of many years of experience under their belt. I'm not suggesting that none of us would be willing to do what needs to be done, but you're a new face, and while you are a tad infamous, you're also unproven. A forcible hand at shaking the reigns will stir resentment. "You seem to have an air for sound judgment and that's good. Just don't forget diplomacy. Some of us old horses," her smile returns, wryly including herself, "do require a touch of it when what's presented looks like a young whippersnapper elbowing his way into a field of expertise we've been long at." She looks back to Niki. "My dear, please don't take it personally, but I'd rather you take a step back. As far as I know there's been no determined regimen to keep your alternate under control, and should she emerge, not even my training would enable me to keep her from popping my head off my shoulders like the top of a bottle of Orangina."

Peter's gaze flits over to the security detail by the door, then moves to interpose himself between Niki and Gwen with a few slow and steady steps, offering Niki a warm smile. "You've got a good point." Peter nods to Gwendolyn, resting one hand on her shoulder, his eyes focused on her for a moment before his voice echoes hollowly inside of her head, I recommend we make our way outside now, just to be safe. I think I saw a bit of a shift there.

He turns to look at Niki, inclining his head to her in a nod. "Take some time to think on it. I'm going to talk to some people about getting you access to the weight room so you can have a bit more personal space and freedom." He eyes the pills, then looks back to Niki. "Take them or don't, it's entirely up to you. I'm going to confer a bit with Gwendolyn, as it looks like she's got a wealth of logistical understanding that would be pretty unfortunate of me to ignore," He cracks her a smile, glancing at the Agent sidelong, then looks back to Niki. "If you need anything, buzz out to one of the guards, and I'll make sure we get it." As he talks, Peter is gingerly slipping an arm around Gwendolyn's shoulder, not so much in a carousing and flirtatious gesture, but one clearly designed to help escort her to the door and out of Niki's cell.

Sure enough, there's not. Jessica takes her lunge in at that, as she tries to grab for Gwen's arm. "I'm not so much a fan of negotiating from a position of weakness." It's a fast move; her assumption is that all she really needs to do is get a hand on the woman.

An Israeli soldier was once clocked as moving so fast in a Krav Maga maneuver that his opponent literally hadn't completed a blink by the time the gun was turned out of the line of fire and removed from his hand. One of Gwen's hands presses flat against Peter's side and shoves him toward the door; her duck and shift putting her out of Jessica's grasp. As she comes out her opposite hand lashes out, the hard ridge of her hand connects at a very specific, textbook point of Jessica's neck at just the right angle and direction before she is also skittering back toward the door. "Tranqs!" she barks.

Seeing Niki move, Peter becomes painfully aware that Jessica is now the one in charge. The dark-haired Agent looks frantic, preparing to move to interpose himself between Jessica and the other woman, but when the person he's trying to protect ends up countering his balance and shoving him aside, Peter trips over his own two feet and stumbles back and away, landing on his backside with an entirely stunned expression. The last thing Peter expected from the bookish looking Agent was a maneuver quite like that, and before he can think about a response, there is the popping hiss of taser darts firing out and at Jessica, followed by the crackling snap of an electrical charge being sent down the lines.

"Down on the ground! Get down on the ground now!" One of the security team shouts, both of the men by the door having fired their tasers at Jessica, a third man quickly entering the room to pick Peter up by the arms and drag him away from Miss Sanders and towards the door, even as he kicks his feet to regain his footing, looking wholly shocked at her level of aggression.

Gwen's strike hits the pressure point in her neck, momentarily causing a fluctuation in the bloodflow to her brain. It ends up dazing her…a lot. She stumbles back, reels, goes down to a knee…and then gets tagged by the taser darts. There's a shriek before the combination of strike and darts puts her quite unconscious, body still twitching from the voltage running through it.

Gwendolyn frowns in an almost schoolmarmish fashion down at the twitching woman and tsks before looking over at Peter. "Are you alright, Agent Petrelli?" Her eyes flick upward toward her hairline. Looking momentarily miffed, she smooths back her coiffure and straightens her blouse. "My husband would have been positively incensed if he'd come home from his assignment tonight and found me in the infirmary or the morgue. Shall we step outside and let these men speak with our Gemini here?"

Stumbling towards the door with one security officer dragging him by the back of his jacket, Peter looks completely blindsided by the turn of events as he's pulled out of the cell. The guards who tasered Niki circle, one of them calling out on his shoulder walkie, "We've got an incident down with Sanders. Send me a tranq kit down here and some restraints, and find out where Salonga and Knutson are!"

Peter looks over to Gwendolyn as they make their way out, the door to the cell closed and the valve-lock twisted shut, sliding the steel bars in place, leaving two members of the security team in the cell with Niki, and a handful more outside. The security lightning in the hall changes from white to yellow. "I — " Peter checks himself, patting down his chest before looking back to Niki through the large window, "Yeah… yeah I'm fine." His tone of voice indicates that he's physically well, but clearly shaken from the incident, and demoralized. "I'll be fine." He seems, right now, more concerned for Niki than anything. "That… didn't quite go as I had hoped." It's a hushed tone of voice, and Peter looks over to the other agent as he says that, expression muddled with worry.

"You're too trusting." Gwendolyn says quietly as she watches the men work inside the cell from their safe spot outside. "Which isn't to say that you shouldn't consider the good of your purpose…but you must understand, at times you must be cruel to be kind, in the right measure." Her tone is firm, before finally brightening her smile and saying, "Now. I don't know about you, but I'm for a nice cup of tea. Shall we?"

October 2nd: Truth in the Reflection
October 3rd: A Meeting of Minds
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