2008-02-28: A Secret Truth


Niki_icon.gif Logan_icon.gif

Summary: "No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power." — Jacob Brownowski

Date It Happened: February 28th, 2008

A Secret Truth

Nathan's Office, Pinehearst Research

Fort Lee, NJ

As evening settles in over a quiet Pinehearst Research — calm; a sure sign of an impending storm — the door to "Nathan's" office receives two sharp, solid knocks. A familiar face who hasn't been around for a little while stands in the corridor, close to the door she's seeking entrance to - almost in the frame. Niki's most recent ordeal has made her tired and harshed her features, giving her even more of an edge, and that works, for what she's pulling off. Blonde hair pulled tightly back into a severe ponytail, she wears a black suit — pants and jacket — with sharp lines, cinched in all the right places, to kill any vestiges of vulnerability.

Waiting for the a response, she tosses her head and plants her knocking hand on her hip. Jessica mode: on.

There are two men in the room. It's anyone's guess as to who will answer the door. The past few days have been paperwork, plans, arrangements, and Nathan trying to see past Logan's shoulder to see what the hell he's up to. Easier said than done. Logan is good at this, and Nathan is a beginner. But learning.

The desk lamp is on, illuminating a contract - the underside of it, in fact, Logan's hand planted on blank white paper as he tries, tries to get rid of the pacing entity in his office that only he can see. Also easier said than done. "I can keep this up all night," Nathan promises, and before Logan can really reply or continue to concentrate on trapping Nathan behind so much reflective surface, there is a knock on the door.

And the disruption causes Nathan to disappear. For now. Go figure.

Logan doesn't turn the contract right side up, just clears his throat and quietly calls, "Come in." His jacket is hung up in the corner of the room and his tie is missing, the collar of his shirt opened at the throat. It's evening and he's a workaholic, there's no one to impress.

The handle twists instantly and Niki urges the door open, taking a few steps in and nudging it shut behind her with the high heel of a boot. A self-confident, devilish smile is waiting for Logan on lightly painted lips, telling nothing of the fact that she's been mysteriously off the radar for about five straight days. "I have something for you, Senator."

Logan allows a flicker of surprise to show, picking up the downturned contract and slipping it into a desk drawer as she approaches, all the while keeping his attention trained on the black-clad blonde woman. "Ms. Sanders," he says, leaning back, his mouth twisting in a smile that can't not be somewhat smarmy. But mystified, too. "What, a souvenir from your impromptu vacation?" Pointed question.

Niki can't help but eye the contract — from here, she can't tell it's even that — as it's tucked away, but she's quick to answer. "Nooo," she says contrarily, folding her arms as she strolls further into the office, closer to the desk. "I ran into some trouble," she explains casually, forcing the confidence of her smirk to reach greater heights of cockiness. She shrugs a shoulder. "I took care of it. Hey, do you want your present or not?"

"That's good to hear," Logan says, gaze wandering away from her briefly, as if to scout out the room - the window, the rest of the space, the photograph framed in glass on the wall - before meeting her eyes again, all in the passing of a moment. His linked hands part, palms upturning, hands linking once more. "Sure. I like presents."

Niki is ultra perceptive of little glances such the one Logan cast just then. She knows them. But save for a flick of a quicker glance toward one of the reflective surfaces, she ignores it. "I paid a little visit to our friend Dr. Suresh," she says, reaching into the interior of her jacket, underneath the lapel. Do jackets as tailored as hers even have pockets in th— the point is, she brandishes two full vials of clear liquid. She tosses them, as if carelessly, on the desk. The glass is sturdy enough not to shatter. "That's the all stuff he was working on for— " For her. "Niki. And, coulda been for Nathan. Thought you might have fun destroying it."

The glass makes a ringing clatter as they dance and bounce on the smooth polished wood of his desk, one caught on the very edge by a quick moving hand, and the other, slightly quicker, caught under a flatter palm. He stares down at where his hands cover the things, then finally picks them up, around the same time he stands, studying the nondescript glass and its nondescript contents. "You've been busy," Logan says with graveled approval, pacing around the desk as he studies the items. "When you say all…"

"I mean, unless he's got a secret stash somewhere, that's it. I watched him clear it out. It just took a little…" There's that cocky smirk again; not that it ever really disappeared. "Persuasion." Niki doesn't even have to lie. She really did push Mohinder around to get what she wanted.

And he comes to stop until they're both on the same side of the desk, Logan collecting both vials into one hand, the glass gently and innocently clinking together. One for safe keeping, perhaps, for the good of the labs, and one to be destroyed. Or perhaps both. Better the research never existed, in the end, but he'll decide later. It depends on how present Nathan is, and judging by the fleeting phantom of the glass in the photograph past Jessica's shoulder— best to get rid of both. "I can't thank you enough. I'll have these taken care of, gladly."

Niki turns to follow Logan's movement, sharp blue-eyed gaze like a homing beacon on the man. Jessica didn't accept thanks well — there weren't many times where it would have been warranted. Instead, she says, "Good answer." Sitting down on the very edge of the office desk, pulling a leg up and intertwining her hands around her knee, she looks up at Logan. "Indulge me, Senator. What'd I miss?"

The vials are disappeared into a pocket, Logan's gaze landing on her for a moment, judgmental of both what he has to tell her to keep this alliance alive, and— well. Circumstances. He tries for vague. "You missed a lot of paperwork and money moving," he says, keeping his tone dismissive of detail. "Making sure this place is running on what it needs, that's all."

"Sounds thrilling." Colour her bored — by all appearances. Niki-as-Jessica decides to be bold. "I want in the game." She slides off the edge of the desk, heels hitting the floor with a succinct *click*, and comes to stand directly in front of Logan. That smirk of hers has been banished: she fixes him with an exacting need-to-know stare. "Come on, Logan," she says, toned ever-so-slightly more enticing than menacing, though she walks the line. She steps in closer, again. "What're you really doing here."

Show a bully strength and he shows you weakness. As it happens, Logan doesn't entirely fit this profile - he just tries to match strength for strength until something breaks, so he doesn't back up as she approaches him, back straight and hands resting in his pockets. "How about I skip to the part where I present what's in it for you?" he says, with a half-smile. "There's a similar company based in Hong Kong - scientific research, some of the same ideas. But I think we have more cards than they do. Either way, I've cut a deal, and it's made me and Pinehearst four million dollars richer." Now there's a lie, but it's delivered smoothly as truth.

Niki affects the vaguest lift of one eyebrow, coolly considering that news — which she takes as truth smoothly as it's delivered, suspecting the only lie is by omission. The cool and power-hungry gaze is interrupted only momentarily by a flicker of something else - concern, suspicion. It comes and goes. She doesn't move. "And?"

"And," Logan repeats, his body shifting forward so subtly that it would be hard to say when exactly he stepped forward to close the space, other than the vaguely claustrophobic feelings of intimacy. "And what, Jessica? I could tell you the ins and outs of what this means for our research here but I don't think it'll be as interesting as money." Pause, then, "Besides, this isn't a good time for me to go into it."

That's what Jessica would want to hear. Cash-money. But Niki has her reservations — not that any of them are voiced, obviously. On the contrary. She gives Logan an approving stare; her gaze doesn't have far to stretch, given how close he is, a proximity that doesn't seem to ruffle her strong poise in the slightest. "I don't care about the science," she says dismissively. "But if you want me to keep working with you, I have to know what's driving you. It's not money." He's a Petrelli. He's loaded. "Jessica" looks Logan up and down slowly. "So it's gotta be power."

"Of course," Logan says, gently, as if this were obvious. Underneath the surface, his consciousness shifts around in metaphorical restlessness. What went from his naive bodyguard, someone he could use easily and blindside, to someone who can read him more openly than anyone else, if only due to experience. "It's power. You've heard the song and dance of this place - we're here to change the world for the better, save everyone. Great sales pitch. Want to know a secret?"

Change the world for the better, save everyone. It did sound like a good sales pitch, back when she was naive; not so long ago. Everything's changed. Now, Niki makes a show of rolling her eyes at the altruism. Grinning like a fox — like Jessica — she touches her tongue to her upper lip for a moment and arches dark blonde brows before prompting, "Only if it's a good one." Good in this case might easily be switched out for naughty.

"I think it's a good one. The secret being: it's true," comes the apparently secret admission, an easy smile cast in her direction as he steps back a little, planting distance between them. "Not everyone'll agree with it, no. But this company is set to change the world, and I know it's in my best interest to be a part of it. Power. Overseeing exactly how this change occurs. Pinehearst has the means and I want to direct it. That's what's in it for me. And for you, if you want a stake in this just as much." Logan turns his shoulder to her, pacing away, and flippantly he says, tone dry, "How does First Lady sound?"

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