niki_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Strangers
Synopsis Niki and Elisabeth meet
Date November 13, 2008

The Nite Owl

When she lets herself into the Nite Owl, it's early — well before the first bell at the school is going to ring. And she looks cold. The early mornings are darn chilly. As she walks through to the counter, Elisabeth pulls her hat off her blond head and shoves it into the pocket of her heavy black coat. Peeling her gloves off as she sits, she drops her backpack next to her and smiles gratefully at the waitress behind the counter when a cup of coffee immediately makes an appearance. "Thanks," she says breathlessly, reaching for sugar and cream to doctor the stuff.

For her part, Niki is here too. But for her, it's not an early morning, it's a late night. She's in her suit, but she looks tired, looking at a notepad that's sitting next to her. Tired doesn't even sum it up. Dark circles under her eyes, as she looks to the waitress, and signals for more coffee.

Elisabeth glances around idly. It's an automatic thing even now …. or maybe especially now. Her cop habits haven't died out in spite of a couple of years off the force — in this town right about now, maybe they never will. She's always looking at people, taking their measure. When she notes Niki, her eyes settle for a moment. She takes a sip of her coffee, and then she nods at the other woman when she catches her eyes. Unlike most New Yorkers, who pretty much see nothing, Liz offers mildly, "Rough night?"

Niki nods, and looks over at Liz's comment. "Yeah, you could say that. It's been a little complicated." She manages a faint smile. "How about you? Just an early morning?"

Elisabeth nods a bit. "Yeah… I have to be at the high school in about half an hour or so. I'm just….. working up my courage," she says with a laugh. "Scary little beasts, some of them."

Niki smiles. "You're a teacher?" She asks, and seems to warm just a little to Elisabeth at that. "Congratulations. Got to be hard doing what you do." She stands, picking up her pad and walking closer. "Do you mind?" She indicates the chair near Elisabeth.

Elisabeth gestures for the woman to go ahead and take the seat. "Nah, go ahead," she replies as she sips her coffee. "It's a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, that's for sure," she admits. "Half the time they scare the pants off me, the other half the time I'm ready to kill 'em. I think there's a few minutes a day in each class that I'm not taking crap from them." She pauses to consider it, and then shrugs. "Maybe," she finishes with a grin.

Niki chuckles. "High school, that's got to be the worst age, too." She sits down, putting the pad back down to the side. "When they're out there trying to challenge you for authority."

Elisabeth shrugs slightly. "I think it's always been rough to be a teenager, but I have to admit I think this crop of kids has a ton worse than we ever did." She looks at Niki. "What about you? What do you do that has you sitting up all night?"

Niki looks vaguely amused. "One of those jobs where if I told you too much about what I did, either you or I would have to disappear." she says.

Elisabeth smirks faintly, slanting Niki a curious glance. It's something people say when they're fooling around…. but something in Niki's tone makes her a bit more wary. Ex-cop-spotting-trouble wary. "Oh, good," she replies mildly. "Cryptic is a good way to start the morning." She waves it off, though, her smile easy. "You like kids?" Because Niki seemed to like talking about the high school.

Niki nods, looking a little sad. "I like kids, yes. How about you? Doing it cause you like the kids, or is it the job?" She takes her coffee from the other place and slides it over.

Elisabeth sets her coffee cup in front of her, gesturing silent toward the waitress to ask for a refill. After it comes, she doctors it again and looks at Niki. "I like kids. After the bomb I needed something different. Thought I could make a difference here." She grins slightly. "Who knew ten years as a cop would be exactly the training necessary to wrangle a bunch of teenagers in the classroom?" she quips easily.

Niki nods. "Yeah…amazing how half a city blowing up can cause your perspectives to realign." There's some bitterness there. "At least you won't have to worry about them getting uppity on you."

Elisabeth laughs outright at Niki. "You're kidding, right?"

Niki says "Well, at least…you'll be -safe- if they do." A chuckle. "They never let you be completely safe." She sips from her cup.

With a snicker, Elisabeth replies, "No… there's no such thing as 'safe' anymore, I don't think." She looks perhaps a little sad by that. "Not in the schools, not on the streets. The best you can hope for is that you see it coming so you can duck." She glances into her coffee cup. "And isn't that a wonderful way to start the day, hrm?" She looks at Niki and smiles. "I'm sorry. Nice to meet you, by the way. Name's Liz Harrison."

The other woman nods. "And some things you can't duck. Niki Sanders. It's nice to meet you to. Nice to…just chat." she finishes that a little awkwardly.

Elisabeth chuckles. "Somehow 'just chatting' isn't quite so simple these days, is it?" she observes. "Everyone's scared to death to even make eye contact. 'ooooohhhhh, what if the person at the counter next to me is an Evolved? Do I want to take the chance? What if they kill me just for looking at them wrong??'" She shakes her head. "I think you're one of the first people that I've just bumped into and didn't already know before to sit and chat for any length of time in two years."

Niki nods. "Yeah. I'm sort of brushing back up on the whole human contact kind of thing. I was out of commission for a while after the Bomb. Comatose. So I'm working on…I don't know. Trying to find a life again. You're the first person I've talked to since I woke up just…talking, you know? Who wasn't at work, or a doctor, or I didn't just say meaningless pleasantries to."

Elisabeth tilts her head and says quietly, sincerely, "I'm honored." She offers a small smile, this one sympathetic. She's not sure why Niki chose her, but hey… "That whole trying to find a life thing sucks, doesn't it?"

Niki nods. "Starting over from ground zero is never fun." And then she sighs. "I'm sorry. I completely didn't mean to dump on you. This isn't what you need before going into work."

Elisabeth reaches out and puts a hand on Niki's arm. "Don't," she tells the other woman, genuinely sympathetic. "Sometimes it's easier to pour your heart out to a stranger than it is to anyone else — they're not vested in your problems and can offer an objective viewpoint and sympathy without pity." She shakes her head. "I was lucky — I didn't have to start over the way you had to. But I lost my mother in that blast. My world's landscape changed too. And for the last two years, I've pretty much felt like I'm rebuilding a life too. It's okay."

Niki smiles. "Thanks. I do appreciate it. It just feels a little awkward, that's all. I'm trying to not come off needy. Or clingy. Or, you know, like some kind of basket case. And I'm probably failing miserably."

Elisabeth laughs again, taking her hand back. "No… you're coming across like someone who could use a friend." She slants Niki an amused look around the coffee cup that she picks up to sip from again. "Aside from the whole 'if I tell you, one of us disappears' stuff, that is," she teases mildly. "Seriously, you're fine. You don't seem like a basket case. Hell, you're probably not any more lost than anyone else in this town."

Niki laughs. "Sorry. I really do work for someone that I can't talk about what I do. I didn't really know how to cover it." She spreads her hands a little. "And I don't know about -that-."

Elisabeth nods. "It's okay. I understand the concept of not talking about what you do." She smiles. "Ex-cop, remember? Had some friends in the Feds who were the same way. It's cool." She studies Niki and finally says quietly, "I don't know who you lost, Niki… whether it was someone in the blast or someone during the time you were comatose… but I *do* know that no one's ever really alone. For whatever reason, you took the step to actually sit down here and talk to a stranger. Reaching out and getting involved in the real world again? That's rough. But you chose it… so you're not as lost as it might feel."

Niki nods. "My husband." she answers, quietly. "And my son. I don't know it's as much a choice as desperation. Everyone needs someone to talk to."

Elisabeth flinches and says softly, "Oh God, Niki. I'm more sorry than I can begin to say." She puts her hand on Niki's arm again. Now she understands why the blond warmed to her when she mentioned the school. "I'm truly honored that you felt like you could talk to me." She smiles a little. "Here…" she moves to rummage in her backpack, pulling out a pen and a small notebook. She writes a phone number and her name and tears out the page to slide it across the counter to Niki. "I know we're strangers. And I know desperation. When my mother died, I turned to a support group, myself. And I wound up with an amazing friend out of the deal. Maybe that'll happen for us, maybe we'll just wind up being two strangers who meet a few times for coffee and talk… but you're welcome to call me anytime."

Niki looks at it, and nods. She takes it, and then rips a page out of her little pad, jotting down a number. "Here…this is me. Call me any time…I don't sleep much." A wry smile. "But you'd better get going or you'll be late for school."

Elisabeth smiles and shoves her stuff back in the bag, taking the number to put in her pocket. "Yeah, wouldn't want the teacher to be late, I suppose," she replies. And then she stops, staying still long enough to meet Niki's eyes and let the other woman see her sincerity. "Call me, Niki. Really. I'm not just saying it to be polite."

November 13th: Kiss and Make Up
November 13th: A Captive Audience
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License