Elusive Blonde In The Wild


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Scene Title Elusive Blonde in the Wild
Synopsis It's not exactly her native habitat, but Niki finally spots the unlikely. And Girls' Night Out is going to be a regular thing!
Date April 25, 2019

Red Hook Market

Red Hook Market is a place Elisabeth is becoming right familiar with. As the weather warms, there are more and more open stalls around and today she's browsing for some lighter-weight clothing for Aurora and herself — she can't purchase everything from out of town! It's just wrong.

The blonde is shadowed by a professional bodyguard whose dark eyes are watchful… though not as watchful, perhaps, as the blue eyes of the woman he's following. She still hasn't lost that hyperawareness that comes of her past couple of years.

The Market is Niki Zimmerman's home turf. Seated at a café table just beyond a small bar that sells wine, beer, and simple cocktails, she's wearing a pair of sunglasses even despite the overcast day. A red sweater and a pair of white skinny jeans tucked into black knee-high boots round out her outfit.

The sunglasses are pushed down her nose as she lifts her voice to carry. "Elisabeth fucking Harrison," is given as a call out and greeting. She'll put money in the swear jar later. Niki raises her hand, then turns her wrist to curl fingers in toward palm, beckoning her friend over. "Out in the wild, no less."

Turning at the sound of her name, Elisabeth is startled — if only because fucking is usually applied to her name by people like Teo and Richard when they're messing with her. The bodyguard who is her shadow moves instantly to flank the blonde, but Elisabeth's immediate grin lights up her face and he eases just slightly.

"Holy shit! It's about goddamn time I ran into you," she offers with a cheeky smile. Heading over to the table, she leans down and hugs Niki hard. Perhaps harder than the other woman might expect, because the sudden rush of tears has to be hidden in Niki's shoulder. "Jesus," she whispers, "I can't believe you're real."

Being home is definitely a lot more complicated than she ever thought it would be.

The hug is returned with a fierceness reserved for only the best of friends. "I could say the same for you!" She was there at Sunspot when the crossing happened, so it isn't as though she's been in the dark about Elisabeth's return. "You look good!"

There's a glance given to the guard before Niki pushes her sunglasses back up, a hand on the back of Liz's head for a moment to reassure her that, yes, she is real and yes, it is okay to cry. It's a little bittersweet, but she's had time to come to terms with her friend's miraculous resurrection, even if she was never dead in the first place.

"Well, I guess I'm at least putting weight back on," Elisabeth laughs around a bit of a sniffle. As she draws back, she wipes her face to remove the trickles. "Oh … geez, sorry. I don't lose it like that so much anymore. It's great to see you!"

Blowing out a quick breath, she waves her hand in front of her face and laughs at herself. "And here I thought I was over that. Geez. Richard said you were local and I've been so busy getting Aura settled, I'm only right now starting to reconnect. In the wild, as it were," she offers cheerfully.

"Tell me everything! How are you? What are you doing? Are you liking it?" The burst of questions shouldn't be surprising — she's always had a million of them. But there are seven years to catch up on!

"Hey, I'm the last person you need to apologize to." Niki reaches up to rub at her cheekbone under her shades. "Whoa there, tiger," she laughs softly at the barrage of questions. "One thing at a time." She draws in a deep breath and smiles, leaning back in her seat and taking up a glass of tomato juice in her hand.

"I'm doing alright, all things considered." Which usually means she is doing the opposite of alright, but she's never been one to admit to it. "I'm a councilperson for the Safe Zone Council, and I do a little salvage work on the side. Enough to stay afloat." She also deals cards, but she doesn't admit to that part. Not yet anyway.

"This place," she gestures with her free hand to the marketplace, "is home." Granted, it's felt empty since Tuck's been gone. "And it's great. I do what I can to help the people and rebuild the community. Trying to take up the fight in a more… productive way." Niki shrugs her shoulders.

"Mmmmm." Productive way, huh? Elisabeth knows the code for 'doing alright.' It means there's still Shit Goin' Down. Which… honestly, doesn't surprise her much. "Seems like a lot of us, even when things are 'peaceful,'" the subtle emphasis on that is evident, "have a hard time not essentially assuming it's only temporary." Her brows pop up her forehead. "A councilperson? Damn… I go away for five years and you decide to up and be respectable again? Shit…" She's missed a lot. The wink she shoots Niki, though, is amused.

"It's strange to be here," she confesses, looking around. The Textile Factory used to be her home base when she worked for FRONTLINE, so … it's old stomping grounds for her, but it's viewed in a very different light now. "I'm finally starting, maybe, to get a feel for the market and the people around here… but I have to admit that I'm a little boggled sometimes as to why New Yorkers are so damn stubborn as to not just pack up and leave this place to be leveled and started over."

Elisabeth smirks. "And yes, I am forced to count myself in that group of idiots."

"We put I-heart-N-Y all over merchandise for a reason. Move over, Stockholm Syndrome." Niki cracks a grin and takes a sip of her drink. "I had a hard time letting go for a very long time. I saw a lot of loss…" And the guilt is still there, that much is evident. "This feels good. I help out with the community garden, secure funding for our schools, that sort of thing. It helps people move on. I don't know if we can say we're thriving yet, but we've got a good chance at doing it."

"It's a hell of a lot better than most of the places I've seen," Elisabeth points out softly. "And I think people are resilient. We will create life in the strangest of places." Like underground in the hydroelectric plant eking out an existence in a world where… you know that inevitably the virus out in the world will get to you. "I can't even imagine all the things you saw and dealt with," she tells her friend quietly. Reading about the war years and the years after doesn't begin to touch the depth of each person's personal experiences. "I'm glad that you're finding your way back."

She studies Niki's face and then smiles softly. "I missed you, you know. There were times when I desperately needed someone at my back so we could kick ass and take names in two directions at once."

"A lot of people think this place is just a shithole," Niki admits with a shrug. "And maybe they're not wrong, but it's ours. What's the alternative? Leave it to become a major metropolitan ghost town?" Not that those don't exist out in some parts of the country. Hell, entire states are no-go zones. For Niki, this just means that New York is worth the effort to reclaim and rebuild.

"I missed you too. When Richard told me you were dead…" Niki falls quiet and shakes her head once. "I'm glad those rumors were greatly exaggerated," she quips, forcing a grin.

Elisabeth swallows hard, and the has to laugh as she's assaulted by another rush of uncontrollable tears. "Sorry, sorry!" Hand-flapping ensues as she tries to make that shit stop right the fuck now. "God, I'm turning into a regular Niagara Falls. I haven't cried this easily since the hormone crash after Aura was born. For fuck's sake. Don't mind me."

She feels stupid that just finally laying eyes on the woman who was her best (female) friend has made so much of an impact. It should make that impact, but it doesn't mean she handles such overwhelming emotions so well.

"Shithole or not, New York is home. And goddamn it, we're gonna bring it back even better than before, right? Right."

"Goddamn right." Niki reaches out and squeezes Elisabeth's arm. "And, hey, cry if you need to. It's good for the soul or some shit like that. My therapist puts it way better." At least, when she was seeing a therapist, that was the case. These days, she's going it alone. Like she always did before.

"Congratulations on your daughter, by the way. I know you both went through some awful shit, but… She's lucky to have you as her mom." Niki doesn't need to tell Elisabeth she's lucky to have Aurora. Every mother knows.

With a chuckle, Elisabeth just nods on the 'good for the soul' and blows another breath out. "Yeah, the therapist keeps telling that it's good I'm crying at the drop of a hat and having panic attacks. Means I finally feel safe enough to have them," she snorts with a roll of her eyes. Because, you know, therapists.

"Thanks. She's…" Elisabeth just smiles that small smile that hints of gratitude. But Niki's loss of Micah means she also doesn't want to overshare — no matter how long it's been, it can't possibly stop hurting. She saw that for herself with her own mother. "I'm the one who's lucky. And now that she's the apple of Richard's eye, I get to laugh my ass off when she flummoxes him." Because that's funny.

Niki grins. The pain is still there, ever-present, but it's a part of her now. It's never really forgotten, but it's something she's learned to live with. It doesn't keep her from being happy for her friends. "Rich loves those kids," she confirms with a quiet breath of laughter. "He's like a different person when they're around." Richard-the-Dad is somehow vastly different from Richard-the-CEO-and-Savior-of-the-Multiverse.

"I'm glad you're feeling safe here. I mean, the world's still fucked, but it's a lot less fucked than it was. It's trending into the positive." So long as you can get past the presense of Pure Earthers and bigots like Nystrom who have air time. As far as Niki's concerned, they're drops in the bucket that society will correct. Or maybe The Society, proper noun.

"It's funny… for all that the place is a mess and we know things are coming," as evidenced by the fact that Elisabeth of all people has a fucking bodyguard — even the idea of which she would once have laughed her ass off at — "it's a hell of a lot better than it could be. There is no such thing as perfect. And I'm okay with that idea these days… I'll take trending to the positive as a huge step forward."

As she takes a brief look around Niki's watering hole, Elisabeth smiles. "I'm finally feeling like it's home. It's finally starting to feel right." She looks back at Niki. "Don't look now, that's usually when all hell breaks loose," she teases. "So now that you know I'm allowed out in the wild — albeit with the ball and chain," she jerks her thumb back toward her shadow, "girls' night sometime soon?"

"See? You get it," Niki gently nudges Elisabeth under the table with one booted foot. "I'm glad you're feeling at home. This is your home, and we're glad to have you back." She can't begin to imagine what her friend went through, but she can at least express gratitude that she's got her back.

"Absolutely," the blonde says of girls' night. "We should do that. Lord knows I could stand to get out more." With other people, instead of drinking tomato juice by herself on a patio.

The grin she flashes is brilliant. All of the friends she has met up with, each has their place in the jigsaw of her life. Reconnecting with this fragment… she's not sure Niki will ever fully appreciate the place she has amid the confusion on Elisabeth's emotions. Liz isn't sure she could find the words — a feeling that one more piece of her shattered life is carefully now in its proper place. It's a fragile feeling, as if a broken crystal vase is being ever so carefully put back together.

The feeling brings a rush of emotions again and Elisabeth just rubs her forehead, still grinning. "Soon. Like… this weekend or something, okay? I want to hear all about everything. Good, bad, ugly, fabulous. All of it."

"Okay, sure." Niki nods with a smile. "This weekend. I'll make sure I'm around." She nudges her shoulder against her friend's. "It's good to have you back. Leave the leash at home for girls' night, okay?"

Niki tips down her glasses and winks at the bodyguard. The girls, she believes, can handle themselves.

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