elisabeth_icon.gif niki_icon.gif

Scene Title Friends?
Synopsis Niki and Liz meet for coffee, and Jessica puts in an appearance as well.
Date November 14, 2008

The Nite Owl

Although Elisabeth had been hoping that the woman she met two days before would take her up on the offer, she wasn't really counting on it. She sort of figured it would be one of those ships-in-the-night kinds of things. So when Niki did, in fact, call her up, Liz was pleasantly surprised. Agreeing to meet Niki the next morning, Liz makes a point of not being late. In fact, she's a bit early — sitting at a table this time, a cup of steaming coffee in front of her, she waits for Niki to arrive at the diner.

Niki arrives. For a change, she's in regular attire. Just jeans and a sweater…comfy clothing. She shows up at the appropriate time, looking just a bit nervous. She looks about before seeing Elisabeth's table and starts over towards it. She tucks back a stray lock of hair, and smiles. "Hi there."

Saturday is definitely for casual clothing. Liz herself is wearing jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. "Hi," she greets the other blond with a smile. "C'mon, have a seat. Weird weather, huh?" The rain out there this morning is not THAT cold, though it's sort of icky and gray out. The waitress brings a second cup of coffee and fills it, topping Liz's off and saying, "Let me know if you need anything else," before leaving.

Niki takes her seat, the tall blonde settling in at the table. "It's winter. You have to expect bad weather every now and again." She adds cream and a bit of sugar, before looking over to Elisabeth. "How was your week? No holy terrors in class, I hope?"

Elisabeth chuckles. "Nope, no holy terrors. I'm actually surprised that it's as warm as it is. 60 degrees is a bit higher than the norm for this time of year." She shrugs. "The week was good. I tapped one of my kid-geniuses to help with the calculus class that I'm subbing in right now — all the rest of the classes, I manage pretty well in. I mean, I have a college degree, I can manage algebra and even geometry, but calculus? That I have no clue about. So this kid in one of my classes has been showing some signs of basically being brilliant. Now *he* gets to teach while I observe." She smiles. "Works out well. I think he's happy with it too…. though the 'why' on that part is something I try to avoid."

Niki smiles. "I was going to ask what it was that you taught. And yeah…it's freezing, by my standards. I used to live in California, so this is just insanely cold by my standards." A sad smile. "My son was like that. Smarter than I'll ever be." Sad. She sips from her coffee cup, hiding it in that.

Elisabeth shakes her head. "I'm supposed to be teaching music," she tells Niki easily. "They're moving me to half music, half American history after the New Year. I've just been subbing wherever they need me since the beginning of the school year, that's all." She sips from her coffee and asks quietly, "Wanna talk about him?" Because she kind of figures that maybe that's why Niki called … no one to talk to about the things on her mind.

The other woman nods. "That's good, at least…you're getting closer to doing what you want to do. Not a lot of people get that luxury, specially these days." She looks a little awkward at Elisabeth's statement, and she opens another sugar packet, pouring it in and stirring. "His name was Micah. He was eleven. He was everything to me."

Elisabeth nods a bit and says softly, "I cannot imagine how hard it is to try to find a way to recover from that. The pain of losing a parent is constant enough… I still find myself picking up the phone to call my mother when something strikes me that I know she'd find amusing. Or when things happen that…. just make me want her support." She keeps her hands around her cup.

Niki nods. "My mother died when we were still little. I've had a lot of people die around me. You'd think that it would get easier as time goes on. But it never does, not really." A long sigh, and then she looks up to look at her. "I'm making awful company, I'm sorry."

Elisabeth shakes her head and leans forward to touch Niki's arm. "No. You're not." Her tone is gentle. "I was not kidding when I said to call. I was not just being nice. Everyone needs someone to talk to about this kind of stuff, Niki. When the bomb first went off, EVERYONE was so traumatized, we couldn't even easily be there for our friends. And it changed relationships. I was able to get into a cop support group, and a lot of my friends slipped away… but I met some new ones, people who could talk to me and who I could talk to about my own tragedy without feeling like I was overburdening them. They had their own troubles, sure… but they weren't emotionally invested in my troubles. And that's what I offered you… and why I think you called me. Because I can feel sympathy and hurt for your pain without being emotionally invested in it… I can give you a safe place to say all the things you want to say about it all." She smiles a bit. "I'm no counselor or anything. Just someone who's been there, you know?"

Niki nods. "You're really the only person I have to talk to." She says, blinking a few times to stop tears from falling. "My family's gone, and I don't really know anyone in New York except the people I'm working with. And they're not exactly the sort of people to talk to about this."

Elisabeth grimaces and nods. "Yeah… I kinda got that impression." She takes her hand back and smiles a little. "So talk to me…. tell me what's going on in your head."

Niki sighs. "You don't want to know what's going on in my head." she manages with a wry smile. "I mean, it's a messed up sort of place."

Elisabeth settles her elbows on her table and comments mildly, "I wouldn't have asked…. hell, I wouldn't have even shown up… if I wasn't willing to listen, Niki. C'mon. Talk to me." She smiles slightly. "There's nothing you can say to me that would shock me." She pauses and considers. "Well, okay, I suppose there are a FEW things you could tell me that I might be surprised by." She grins and cajoles gently, "But I sincerely doubt anything you say would make me leave this table."

The tall blonde woman smiles. "Well, all right. You used to be a police officer, so I'm sure you could get it if you went digging anyhow." She pauses, then continues. "I'm what all the news media likes to call Evolved." she offers. It sounds so strange to -admit- it to someone…to just come out and say it. "I'm also what the psychologists call DID, and the common man calls multiple personalities."

Elisabeth tsks and murmurs softly, "I wouldn't go looking." She tilts her head as Niki comes right out and says that, merely listening as she sips her coffee. "I'd have a hard time deciding which of those situations would be harder to deal with in today's climate," she comments softly.

Niki chuckles. "It gets worse. My…alternate self…is a genuinely evil woman. She hurts people. A lot. Keeping her locked away is sort of a priority."

Elisabeth studies Niki and asks, "So…. how do you handle that?" Her demeanor has only changed insofar as she's perhaps more watchful of the other blonde. But the concern and sympathy remain.

Niki sighs. "I've got a psychologist working with me. But it's not really a sure thing. I worry about it every day. I don't know what to do. When I said I was in a coma after the bomb…not quite true. She took over. For two years."

Elisabeth winces. "Ouch," is her response. "Shit, Niki… that's got to be terrifying, worrying every second that you're going to go to sleep and wake up years later."

Niki nods. "Trapped behind the mirror. She did it to me even before the bomb. Took over my life…did…terrible things. I could talk to her, through the mirror. Trapped on the other side."

Elisabeth grimaces. "Wow…. Jesus, I don't even know what to say." She shakes her head. "Are you …. how do you cope with this? I can't even imagine."

Niki sighs. "Poorly." She admits. "But what's my choice? I don't have anything else I can do. I'd like to have someone watching my back, but I don't."

Elisabeth tilts her head. "Define 'watching your back'." She sips her coffee. "It seems to me that even the people you work fo…." She trails off and looks alarmed. "Niki… this job you can't talk about. Is this something that… your alternate got you into? Do you need an out?"

Niki says "Someone…I don't know. Someone watching me to make sure it doesn't happen, who I don't have to worry about killing me if it does. As for the rest…it's complicated."

Elisabeth nods slowly, her brows furrowing together. The implications of the part about killing are circling her head. "Not that I know much about alternate personalities or anything….. does the alternate you know the things you know? If I remember right — and don't ask me why I think this, I knew some people who watched soap operas for years — aren't alternate personalities usually created to protect the primary? Sort of like… mental bodyguards?" She shrugs a little. The thought makes sense given when the alternate took over on Niki — protecting the primary personality from the shattering grief of losing her son. "You realize that you just told me that you're worried about people trying to kill your alternate self, right?"

Niki says "I'm worried about people trying to kill -me-. She may do some horrible things…but it's not like I can be separate from what she does." She sighs. "It's a lot of stress."

Elisabeth nods, her eyes wide. "That'd be the understatement of the millenium, I think," she says as she shakes her head. A wry smile quirks her mouth. "Well… I don't know how much help I can be … but if you tell me what you need, and what you want me to do if it happens… I'm willing."

Niki chuckles. "It doesn't help so much, though I appreciate the offer. But if she takes over things, I don't think she's going to just give you a cell call."

Elisabeth grins and replies ruefully, "Well, that's why I said I don't know how much help I can be!" She shakes her head and sighs. "Man, Niki. You've got a hell of a situation on your hands. Is this doctor that you see…. is he - or she - someone you can trust?" She looks a bit worried. "Being Evolved on top of all this… in all honesty, I'm shocked and amazed that you've managed to not get yourself locked up yet. A friend mentioned to me recently that they're starting to detain people just for their abilities, much less for someone with abilities with problems of this magnitude."

Niki sighs, and shakes her head. "No. I don't trust her. And yes, I've been locked up. I can't say too much about it beyond it was doing what I do, or being locked up forever. Or killed."

Elisabeth nods slowly, reaching out to the other woman and putting a hand on her arm. "I'm sorry," she says quietly. "I know that's cold comfort. I wish there were more I *could* do for you… but for what it's worth, you have my ear anytime you need it."

The blonde nods. "I know. I appreciate the sentient. But there's nothing that anyone can do, I think." Her shoulders slump. "I'm sorry. I should go."

"Don't feel you have to," Liz says quietly. "You're more than welcome to just sit here and enjoy a cup of coffee with me." She offers a small smile. "Can't much help with the bigger problems, but I can keep you company until you feel better at least."

She shakes her head. "No…all I'll do is get more stressed out, probably. And that tends to be a bad thing for me." A deep sigh.

Elisabeth nods slightly. "Call me if you want to talk. I'll keep anything you say to myself, Niki. But I want you to know that you have a friend, outside of this circle of people you know. Just… take care of yourself, okay?"

She moves to stand, and there's a brief moment, a brief pause. Finally she looks back. "She doesn't need a friend." She says, her voice flat. "She's got one already."

Elisabeth goes tense, grasping what just happened, and speaks quietly. "Then perhaps she needs two — one inside and one outside." She makes mental note of the differences in tone and body language between Niki and her alternate. "You're clearly there to protect her by whatever means necessary. But I think she needs someone to talk to, someone who can listen while she works through her grief. You're with her at all times, but sometimes it's easier to talk to someone not involved when it hurts that deep." She pauses. "What's your name? She didn't tell me."

It's there. Body language is different. Tone is different. She loos back. "Jessica. And she doesn't need your sappy little Oprah crap. It's under control. Stay away from her."

Elisabeth shrugs and replies mildly, "You know what? I respect your right and ability to protect her, but only *she* gets to make that call. Have a good day."

The blonde smirks, and then heads for the door. "We'll see." And that's all she says before moving out the door.

Elisabeth whews softly and can see why Niki's scared to death. Jessica's a friggin' sociopath.

November 15th: Moving On Up

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 16th: The Watchmaker's Argument
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