Playing Sisyphus


gillian2_icon.gif niki_icon.gif

Scene Title Playing Sisyphus
Synopsis A favorite treat and some decidedly sour news.
Date November 29, 2019


There are some odd things to find in the Ziggeraut. Including a cafe catered to those within. “Niki.” The accented voice calls out, not quite saying the name right, but recognizable. The clear cup with a sealed plastic top placed on the table, along with a thick straw, thick enough for the black blobs at the bottom of the drink. “And Gillian.”

That name is less recognizable. Both of their names are written on the plastic in black ink, even if they aren’t quite said properly. Gillian’s is a smoothie, dark purple in color, with the same dark balls at the bottom. “It’s better than it looks. It’s tapioca,” she explains from across the table, stabbing the thick purple straw through the sealed plastic at the top. “I found this place the first week I was here,” she offers with a smile. “Figured you might like a place to get a drink every so often. They have cold coffees, too.”

But mostly milk teas and smoothies. The last are the ones that Gillian prefers, as she takes a sip of the chilled blackberry.

Niki’s is some sort of cherry and lime concoction that she eyes dubiously, but only internally. She’s not rude enough to do so in the presence of those who made her drink, or the woman who suggested it. However, after stabbing her straw through the plastic and taking her first experimental sip, she nods approvingly. “Okay,” she grants. “That is pretty good.” Even if the chewy tapioca pearls are a little strange. They aren’t unwelcome.

“I suppose it’s a good idea to have a place to drink that isn’t just alcohol,” Niki reasons, a joke at her own expense. “I’m glad you found your way out here.” The topic pivots. She prefers to face things head on, rather than avoid the elephant in the room. This isn’t a vacation spot for either woman.

“I don’t recommend the way I came,” Gillian admits with a shake of her head. “Driving all the way here from Kansas City— it’s a whole lot of nothing. And we nearly ran out of gas.” And they had packed extra containers of it, they had near been on fumes when they made it to the final stop. She still feels a little bad about the rented jeep, but she had bought the full insurance. She called and said it was lost, so the company should get reimbursed. If not, she was willing to pay the full price of the old vehicle.

She had the funds, even if she didn’t have access to them here.

“Your trip was probably nicer than mine. And less boring.”

After another sip, she seems to ponder, “This probably would be pretty good with a shot of vodka, honestly, but…” She tries not to drink much anymore. It was one of her many resolutions when she joined the Council. “I’m glad you’re here for Squeaks. I guess this kind of makes us family too, in a way.”

They already had a few things in common.

“The teleportation was definitely quicker,” Niki grants with a tip of her head. “I mean, I guess I have to be here for somebody,” she supposes, on the topic of Gillian’s adopted daughter. “Since apparently I can’t undergo the Gemini procedure.”

Niki’s brow furrows as she leans forward in her seat, resting one forearm on the table. “What made you decide to let her go through with it?” There’s no judgement in the question, just honest inquiry.

Eyebrow furrowing slightly, Gillian hadn’t even considered asking if she could have gone through Gemini herself— she had figured it wasn’t an option when he said even Jolene couldn’t have. “Multiple abilities aren’t as fun as they sound,” she adds after a second, shaking her head a little. Cause no, it hadn’t really been fun when she’d briefly had them. She had been able to help stop Arthur, and it had given her an understanding of abilities she hadn’t had before, but that was it.

The lack of judgment makes her grateful, cause honestly she’s a little judgy about it anyway. “It wasn’t so much my choice. They were already going to do it with or without me being here.” She’d come on her own. And she’d said no when it first got mentioned. “And Squeaks wanted to do it. So all I can do now is make sure that she’s safe and has people at her side who care about her for more than what she can do for them.”

Cause she doesn’t trust that Adam cares about her beyond the tool that she will be for them.

“She seems like the kind of child who’ll do what she wants to, regardless of what anyone thinks,” Niki posits, tipping her smoothie in Gillian’s direction briefly. “It comes from having to look after yourself for so long. You get used to making decisions for yourself.”

Niki taps her foot absently on the floor. “I’m sure it’s hard raising a teenager. Especially one you didn’t raise from birth. You’re doing a good thing for that kid. She needs stability.” Even if she’s not likely to find it in this environment. They’ll do what they can. “How’s your other daughter doing?”

With the tip of her smoothie, Gillian acknowledges the hardship but keeps her fears and worries over personal failures to herself. She takes a long draw from the straw before she’s asked about Lene. There’s a small pause. Not everyone knew the truth about Lene. Most did not. But this woman… “Lene’s doing better,” she answers quietly. “I think the possibility of helping out in a potentially world-changing situation again is having a good effect on her. She’s too much like her father in that.”

That is said with a you know what I mean kind of way.

“Not being able to help people had made things very hard for her, so I feel like she sees this as an opportunity to do something big, take part of the weight off Jac’s shoulders.” There’s a moment when Gillian visibly hesitates as if trying to make up her mind about something…”If Peter were around, he’d probably be neck-deep in this fiasco.”

That has Niki sighing softly. “You aren’t wrong.” There’s sadness in her eyes. It’s been a long time since she talked about Peter Petrelli. “He never could stay away from the good fight.” She huffs a breath of laughter then. “I guess I can’t either. I thought it was his influence, but here I am. Without him around to talk me into it.”

Her eyes close as she takes a long draw from her smoothie. Long enough to cause a wince of pain when she stops. Brain freeze. “Miss that dumbass sometimes.” He’d make for a good partner in all of this.

There’s a long pause as Gillian looks down at her boba straw, toying with the little pearls suspended in the smoothie as she twisted it around. It took a moment before she said the thing that she only told one other person about since she found out. “It’s possible that he’s alive.” She had told Eve, and only Eve. Because Eve had just come back from the dead herself, and she had been so relieved she hadn't really thought about it really. “Rhys, the SESA agent? He told me that he was alive. I’m not sure if SESA had evidence or if it was just his ability that told him, but…” She trailed off.

This was a difficult subject. They had once bonded over this man, whom they had both lost, and Niki had more right to know he might be alive than Gillian felt she did, really. “I haven’t told Lene yet, and I don’t know what he’s up to or where he is— but, like I said. He would probably be hip deep in this mess if he knew anything about it.”

So she felt that they should both be prepared for that potential surprise.

Wordlessly, Niki’s gaze shifts to Gillian more seriously. “What?” The news takes her by surprise to say the least. Her brow furrows and relaxes twice, three times, while she tries to process what that means. “Are you sure?” she asks, setting her cup down on the table between them.

“Somebody would have told me,” Niki reasons, one corner of her mouth quirking upward in rueful chagrin. “He’d have — He would have come to find me. Tell me he was alive. He had to know how badly it ate me up inside that I couldn’t—”

Her voice cuts off. Her teeth clench together and she lifts her head, staring off at some point over Gillian’s shoulder. Finds herself reflected in a mirrored display case, a steely glare looking back at her. Stoic. Get it together.

Niki’s posture relaxes and she shakes her head. “If SESA knew, someone there would have approached me.” Her mom would have told her, wouldn’t she?

“It’s possible that Rhys kept this information to himself,” Gillian says quietly, grimacing at the possibility more that her mother would keep something from her than that Peter would— Peter had always struck her as being the type to… take the weight of everything on himself. The type to want those he cared about to not be burdened by his presence, or whatever it was. “I’m sorry. I know how much it tore you up. And he should have known how much, too.” For a moment, her throat feels tight, but she shakes her head a little to clear it.

This really was one of the most difficult subjects. She wanted it to be true, more than she could possibly say, because then he wouldn’t be gone. But she would have never expected him to have told her he was still alive, just like she hadn’t expected Gabriel to have done that either.

But Niki had. And that made her feel even more guilty for waiting as long as she did. “I should have come and told you as soon as Rhys did. Then you could have investigated it. I just didn’t know how to handle it. With everything.”


For a moment, it’s unclear what, exactly, Niki is refuting. That Rhys kept it to himself? That Peter’s alive? That he didn’t know how terribly his death weighed on his girlfriend?

“It’s okay. I… probably wouldn’t have told you either if it’d been me.” She hardly knows how to handle the information now. It certainly wouldn’t have come any easier months or even years ago.

Picking up her drink again, she gives it a little shake and declares, “This needs vodka.” Not that she’s going to do anything about it here and now, but after that news, it’s just the plain truth. “I hope it’s true,” she says in a quiet voice. “I hope he’s finally learned how to… stop playing Sisyphus.” Maybe that’s why he never came back. Maybe, with her, he’d never learn to quit.

“I hope so too,” Gillian responds with a small sigh, reaching up to rub at her eyes a little. She hadn’t realized she’d gotten tears in them, but she also didn’t want to admit it really, so she just made it look like she might be rubbing sleep out of them or something. She’s not crying, she has something in her eyes.


That something might be tears, though.

“This really does need some vodka,” she agrees after a moment. “But let’s face it, they probably wouldn’t have very good vodka.” Or that’s what she will pretend is the reason they shouldn’t do that. Anyone else and she might have suggested they try to find some.

“Maybe something with chocolate will do, though.”

“I happen to know there is a place here that has cake.” Some of the heaviness lifts from Niki’s voice toward the end of that mention. For both their sakes, they’ll pretend neither of them is pawing at tears on their cheeks. It’s just dusty in here.

“Shall we go find it?”

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