Lucky, in a Sick Sort of Way


elisabeth_icon.gif niki_icon.gif

Scene Title Lucky, in a Sick Sort of Way
Synopsis Liz and Niki cross paths at Redbird and talk about Niki's sort of awkward situation, and Liz's ambitions.
Date October 14, 2010

Redbird Security - Basement

At the bottom of the stairs there's a sturdy metal-reinforced door, locked not with an electronic mechanism but with an old-fashioned mechanical combination lock. A bright yellow biohazard sign is hung up on the door.

Once through the door, the basement is mostly open space interspersed with support columns of grey brick. A thick layer of grey latex paint covers the walls and floor, the ceiling overhead tiled with squares of sound-suppressing foam. A few filing cabinets are pushed up against the near wall, and a single computer desk, the box unconnected to anything except for power, sits between some of those cabinets. The rest of the front part of the roomis an area with folding chairs around a table and a pull-down screen across from a podium with a projector sitting on top of it, evidently for meetings. Deeper in the room, two dozen free-standing posts with sand-filled bases are scattered about, with strings and lines of yarn of all manner of colours connecting them. Post-it notes and photographs have been attached here and there with little pieces of tape. The far wall, behind the string map, bears the legend in stark white block letters upon the grey that stretches across most of the wall and from floor to ceiling: 'FIGHT THE FUTURE'.

The right third of the room has been divided from the rest by a wall of bulletproof glass and metal framing, accessed by a simple glass door near the main entrance of the basement. Inside, three locked gun cabinets sit against the wall, and the rest of that section of the room has been turned into two shooting lanes. Cheap pulley assemblies on the ceiling attached to electric motors hold target posters.

The firing range door is open, the blonde in the range is going through her third clip. There's not a sound coming from that room, though, even as people step into the basement. Ah, the wonders of audiokinesis. Elisabeth sets the pistol in her hands down on the shelf in front of her and starts pulling the target toward her.

Niki is descending the steps with the last of her computer equipment haul. There are two desktop computers, and one monitor settled up against the wall, and she's setting the second monitor down with the others. She sighs quietly, and lets her hair down from its ponytail, shaking out the blonde locks. She moves to the open doorway of the shooting range and smiles tiredly. "Hey, Liz. You're in early."

Turning to look toward her friend, Elisabeth raises both brows. "Holy shit. Richard's going to let you bring that stuff down here?" The man's paranoia about having this room be absolutely Rebel-proof is legendary. "And hi yourself. I'm damn glad to see you made it back in one piece, Niki."

"I'm not setting any of it up," Niki explains with a shrug. "It's safer down here, without power, until I can get it to a fence. I have no intention of actually accessing anything on it. So you just tell Richard not to get his boxers in a knot." A slow smirk comes to her lips. "He is a boxers man, isn't he?"

"Oh, fair enough," Elisabeth replies with a grin. She slips the pistol she was using into the innerpants holster at the front of her jeans and pulls her shirt over top of it. She'll clean it later. As she approaches Niki, a slow smile quirks the corners of her mouth. "I'm not kissin' and tellin'. If you wanna know, I guess you'll just have to find out for yourself," she teases.

Niki chuckles and shakes her head. "He's all yours, Liz. Despite what I've heard about what you two have going on, I don't play that way." She steps back so the other woman can pass through the door to the range. The smile fades to something a bit more serious. "I told you I'd get him home safe."

Elisabeth just stops in front of Niki and says quietly, "I owe you." She's not kidding. "I never thought I'd …. " She trails off and shakes her head. "Christ, about half the time I think I'm just plain stupid for falling for a guy, much less a guy like Richard." She crosses her arms and looks up at Niki. Speaking of the men that we love and their PITA-ness. "I heard about what happened after I left the meeting. Are you…. holding up?"

Niki shrugs off Elisabeth's gratitude in a sort of it was nothing fashion. "Actually, I think you and Richard are good for each other. You both do stupid, dangerous shit. You appreciate the necessity of it. It makes it a lot easier, when you're on equal footing with your partner." A brief smile fades when talk turns to the meeting. "I'm holding up," she confirms. "I have to. I really have… no other choice." She shrugs, the look in her eyes a little distant. A little sad. The way she gets when Elisabeth knows that she's thinking of Micah.

It doesn't last very long. "I'm not sure how I feel about Aric anymore, however. He was reading our minds. I know you and Richard are paranoid for good reason, but… That's not okay." Niki can only assume that Aric was under orders. He can't really be stupid enough to think it's okay to read the minds of his allies, can he?

Elisabeth says quietly, "In point of fact, Monica's mind was apparently screaming at him in her hurt. Like a lot of us, he's got down sides to his power. Aric hasn't yet learned how to keep what he accidentally hears behind his teeth." She watches Niki thoughtfully. "That said, I have told Aric that if he hears something I need to know about to tell me — but only because Rupert Carmichael's influence is very subtle and potentially deadly to all of us," she admits.

Niki doesn't like that answer, and it shows, but she accepts with. Giving a short nod, she then shrugs. "I understand that. I just… I don't like the idea of him invading my thoughts." A short roll of her eyes and it's dismissed. "It doesn't matter. I have nothing to hide. Just private thoughts that I would prefer stay private." For a woman who struggles with grief while trying to appear strong the way Niki does, it's hardly surprising.

There's an immediate nod. "He's not supposed to be delving into anything. Simply listening to the surface chatter, Niki," Elisabeth replies. "Apparently strong emotions create what amounts to a megaphone." She grimaces. "And he's under strict instructions that if he hears personal shit to keep his fucking mouth shut." There's a faint grimace. "Believe me, I don't want him reading my thoughts either." She grins a little. "For what it's worth? I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it," isn't the same as it's fine, but it's close enough. Niki rakes her fingers through her hair. "I had a rough night. I don't mean to be so… Prickly." She frowns faintly, directed at herself. "Sorry. I'm just… Kind of at a loss, knowing D.L.'s alive. Supposedly."

Elisabeth seems to weigh her words and then finally decides coming clean is the better option. "Monica told me. She was trying to figure out how to break it to you," she admits quietly. "I told her that we needed to verify it and find out what the hell was going on before we told you. After what happened with Micah…." She trails off. Her guilt over telling Niki about Micah only to have her friend get there mere hours too late will forever ride Liz. "I couldn't in good conscience tell her to tell you until we had better information," she admits softly.

"I don't know your husband, but I…. guess I wanted to sort out if he thought both of you were dead just like you thought both of them were before you got told." She looks up at her friend and says quietly, "Because if he doesn't think you're dead and he just left you alone, I hope Jessica beats the shit out of him." She hates to think about that possibility, and it shows on her face, but the need to protect Niki outweighed the need to blurt out the information. "I hope you'll forgive both of us for keeping it quiet a little longer."

Niki stays silent for the duration of Liz's apology and explanation. Whatever she's thinking, it's going on under the surface. "I understand why neither of you said anything, now that I've had time to think about it," she admits. "It just… caught me off guard. To hear his name from Aric's lips was…" She gives a frown that looks something more like a sneer, but it's short-lived. "I… I don't know whether I hope he thought I was dead or not. I don't know that I could… That I could be together with him anymore without Micah," she admits.

There's a grimace. Elisabeth actually understands that far better than Niki might think. "Trask's grief over Cameron … destroyed what we had. We still talked, but… " She shrugs a little, leaning back against the wall of the range, crossing her arms. "It was never the same. I think he looked at me and all he could see was the child who, from his perspective, was killed," she admits to her friend. She looks away for a long moment. "It broke something in him, more so that I couldn't feel the same hurt." And now the man is working for the Institute. "Frankly, I wonder if he went around the bend about then," she admits, looking at Niki again. "It's the only explanation besides running an op that I can think of for him to be in Braintree working for them."

There are no easy answers for the conflict she and Elisabeth are experiencing, so Niki doesn't try to offer any answers. "I suppose I'm lucky," she offers instead. "In a sick sort of way. Finding out about Barbara. Niklaus. And Tracy." The last name is given with a shrug. She's yet to meet her other triplet, but she has Google.

Liz laughs softly. "You wanna know something nuts? So'm I." She shrugs slightly. "Norton was…. not good for me. And in spite of it all, I don't think I'd trade where I am right now."

Niki offers a small smile. It's no less genuine despite the lack of total enthusiasm. "You could be right. I envy your ability to move on. There hasn't… Been anyone else." There's a small sigh. "I suppose I'm just not right for it. Who'd put up with us anyway, right?" By us, she means herself and her alter egos.

"Ffft," Elisabeth retorts. "Now who's assuming the worst?" She grins a little. "As ridiculous as it sounds, well…. I guess I'm a romantic at heart. If it's meant to be, you'll work it out. Just cuz Jess is bitchy doesn't mean some guy won't love you just the way you are. She's not that much worse than a bad bout of PMS," she teases Niki.

"A bad bout of PMS doesn't tear your arms out of your sockets," Niki points out with a huff of laughter. "Maybe you're right. It's just… I'm kind of at the age where…" She's only a couple months older than Elisabeth. She feels older than that. "It hasn't happened yet." Though what it is specifically isn't said. "God, I… I had a really bad episode after seeing Rebel in the park. I had a fight with Jessica. In front of Peter." Which is to say she had a fight with her reflection. "I'm surprised he didn't take off and leave. Instead, he… He was good to me. I don't know, Liz. Maybe you're right. Maybe there is someone out there who can put up with it."

Elisabeth winces in sympathy. "Well, now that might be a little odd, but eh… what the hell. We're all a little odd." She grins and pushes off the wall. "How many men do you think are out there who like women who can kick their asses and shoot guns better'n they do and shit like that?" She winks. "We'll just stick together and do what we do, lady. If it works out, great. If not….. well, next year you can be the best aunt ever and harass my baby daddy for the rest of our days, okay?" Niki's never quite as alone as she thinks.

That draws a surprised, somewhat puzzled look from the other blonde. "Baby daddy?" A glance is flashed to Elisabeth's midsection before Niki's eyes come back to settle on her face. "Are you…?" She can't be, can she? "Is there something you wanna tell me, Liz?"

"Nope. Not yet. I'm thinking about trying next year, though." Elisabeth shrugs. "I'll be taking a mostly desk job by then, and well….. there are some things about that future that I do want, Niki," she says quietly. "And there's never going to be a good time. So…. assuming that I survive long enough, I'm… thinking about putting something that I want ahead of all of it." Selfish? Yes. Will it work out the way she wants it to? Eh… probably not, but optimism has ever been a fault of hers.

Niki reaches out and wraps her arms around Liz in a tight (though not superhumanly so) hug. "That's great!" Her hands settle on Liz's shoulders when she leans back, a wide smile across her face. "Good for you. Seriously. You're still young, and you have plenty of options for making that work out."

Elisabeth laughs outright. "Well, my little black book's a great deal thinner these days, you do realize, right?" She hugs Niki back, though, and just chuckles. "So… now you know! You got about six months to help me get all Richard's goddamn penguins in a row so I can put this plan into action!"

Niki laughs and shakes her head. "I meant career options, silly. I figured Richard is to be the lucky man." Provided he also manages to live long enough. You only live twice, after all. "If he doesn't get his penguins or ducks in a row, Jessica will sit him down and have a chat with him. Promise."

"Well…. only if he wants to be," Elisabeth replies with a smile. "It's kind of one of those 'hey, this is something I want to do, and you don't have to be part of it if you don't want.' I'm not about to rope him into daddyhood if he's not interested. Someone else has volunteered if he's not." She grins. "And between you, me, and the fence post… my career's got some relatively big steps ahead. On the down-low, I'm looking at a promotion in the spring. But you and Richard are the only people who'll get to know until it happens." It amuses her that Niki caught the reference, too. "We can't all have rocket-powered penguins."

Memories of finding a whole slew of penguins in the frozen library causes another bout of laughter to bubble up from Niki. "Congratulations," she replies, briefly squeezing the other woman. "You deserve it." Then, she shifts over to wrap one arm around Liz's shoulder's. "Come on. Let's go and have a beer to celebrate." She tosses her a sidelong grin and a wink, "Before I have to start drinking for two."

"You're on!" Liz replies. "Dear God, I could use a girl's night at the bar," she adds on a laugh, wrapping an arm around the taller woman's waist and heading for the stairs.

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