As Badly


bob_icon.gif niki_icon.gif

Scene Title As Badly
Synopsis Bob Bishop holds court from his prison cell and forms an unlikely alliance with Niki Sanders.
Date October 17, 2010

Homeland Security Holding Facility

Sterile white walls. Recycled air. Charming.

Stark white walls, cement floors and flourescent lights hanging overhead are exactly what Niki Sanders expected upon setting foot in the holding facility. She might not have anticipated, however, the escort that met her at the front door or the friendly disinterest shown to her during the long walk to the cell where Bob Bishop is being kept, or the fact that he left her alone with the man on the other side of the bars, but this meeting was arranged by none other than Sarisa Kershner, and if Niki knows one thing about Sarisa, it's that she likes to break the rules.

Also: She likes Richard Cardinal and wants to see him succeed.

Seated on the bottom bunk, his hands a loose clasp in his lap and shoulders hunched, Bishop resembles an old emaciated gorilla in a third world zoo. If gorillas wore orange jumpsuits, anyway.

Although she's certainly capable — all she'd have to do is take the bars in her hands and twist — Niki isn't here to break him out. According to Sarisa, all he wants to do is talk in spite of the uncomfortable silence coagulating in the stale prison air.

Niki is perhaps understandably uneasy as she makes her way through the halls with her escort. Prison, jail, any place with a cell puts her on edge. Smacks of too much personal familiarity. But she isn't dressed in prison orange, or institional blue. She isn't in hundcuffs, shackles, or chains. She's here as an outsider, a visitor, rather than an inmate. She can tolerate this.

"Director Bishop," Niki greets in a quiet voice. Whether she uses the title out of respect or mockery is up for debate. "You wanted to see me?" The tone she adopts is almost the same one she used while she was an agent with the Company, and he was her superior. It's formal. Detached.

"Ms. Sanders," Bishop returns from his bunk, and does not rise. Behind the lenses of his glasses, his blue eyes are watery and bloodshot, sunken into his skull like a cadaver's. His mouth, too, is very small. "You've been sticking your nose where it doesn't belong," isn't an accusation, but spoken with careful neutrality and in a flat, emotionless tone. A makeshift nightstand made of books piled on top of one another beside his bunk is crowned with a plastic dinner tray, the plate and its meal of meatloaf, diaherretic mashed potatoes and soggy peas only half-consumed.

"Who are you dragging down with you this time? Tracy or Barbara?"

The blonde woman's eyes narrow to suspicious slits when Bishop makes his observation, if it isn't actually an accusation. She straightens her back when he mentions her sisters. Niki frowns, making deep creases on the sides of her mouth. "I have no idea what you're talking about." Because she doesn't.

"I don't want to play this game with you," Bishop says. "You're not stupid. Here's the way it is: I stand accused of treason against the United States of America, and unless I can prove I'm innocent, they're going to strap me down to a stable, stick a needle in my arm and pump me full of barbituates and potassium until my heart stops."

The ghost of a smile pulls at the corners of his withered mouth. He's lost weight. "I know that's what you want, and I don't blame you. There's nothing worse than outliving your own child, but you and I both know that I'm not the one responsible for what happened to your husband and your son. You want to see Linderman go down.

"Well, so do I."

"News travels fast even in here, does it?" Niki can only wonder if he's referring to the daring escapade a few nights back where she had Barbara in tow. "I don't want that for you," she offers flatly. Maybe she thinks death is too good for him. Or she really thinks he doesn't deserve any of this.

"You have my attention."

"I don't trust my lawyers. If I tell them where to find the evidence against Daniel and Angela, it's going to mysteriously disappear the same night I have an equally mysterious accident here in my cell." Bishop breathes in, his back straightens, and for a few moments at least, his posture belongs to a man behind a stately desk rather than bars. "You're looking for a woman named Iris Spencer. She's one of Linderman's, operates out of Las Vegas, but before she retired she worked for the Company. Never really agreed with what went down in Midtown. Didn't try to stop it, either, but her loyalties are— flexible. That will won't get you anywhere, but Iris has something you can use."

Iris Spencer. The name doesn't ring any bells at all, but it likely isn't meant to. Niki nods slowly to show she's listening, understanding. She's sure he's right. Angela Petrelli and Daniel Linderman carry a lot of sway in New York City. Niki crosses her arms over her midsection and leans to one side, exuding casual indifference. "What are you hoping to accomplish? You just trying not to go down alone? Or hoping to blackmail your way out of this mess?" Much like his tone earlier, there's no accusation here. No judgement. Both are good tactics. The question remains: "What does she have?"

"Paperwork." Bishop's answer is short, to the point, but it also requires some elaboration. "She and another one of his people were compiling evidence against him up until May of last year when her partner got caught siphoning funds from a Company bank account. Iris came to me for help, and I agreed to convince Daniel that she'd been coerced into it in exchange for a favour. I should have destroyed it all then. Told Daniel I did, but if Arthur Petrelli taught me one thing, it's never to pass up a good opportunity."

"Good move," Niki murmurs appreciatively. "So you want me to find Iris Spencer, get the evidence from her because she owes you, and then what?" Lips purse, expression thoughtful. Perhaps she's considering asking what's in it for me? What she asks is similar in its level of significance, but different in its reasoning. "Why are you asking me to do this?"

"Because you're the only person who wants this as badly as I do." The thick weave of Bishop's fingers tightens, and he clenches his jaw. "Which is why, when Iris gives you the accumulation of her work, you aren't going to give it to Kershner or Richard Cardinal. You're going to make copies, and you're going to make sure that one ends up in the hands of Raymond Praeger, and another in Bradley Russo's and Kristen Reynolds' — they're the brains behind the Advocate. The media and the Department of Evolved Affairs are your friends, Ms. Sanders. Make nice."

Niki smiles slowly. He does have her figured out, doesn't he? Except for one thing. "I don't need evidence against him to put a bullet in his head." She's largely unconcerned about whether or not Linderman is tried for his crimes in a court of law, judged by his peers or a tribunal for treason. "When Linderman figures out where all of the information came from, you'll still be a dead man, you know."

Bishop spreads his hands as if to say: That's a gamble I'm willing to take.

A nod. "I'll do it." Niki turns her head, as though she's ready to turn on her heel to walk away. "For what it's worth, I hope they don't kill you."

For what it's worth, Bishop says nothing, and Niki is left alone with the sound of her retreating footsteps and the guard waiting stony and solemn at the end of cell block, heavy steel door already propped open in looming invitation.

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