2007-02-02: An Unlikely Guardian Angel


Gina_icon.gif Benjamin_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: It's probably more than a one in a million chance that Benjamin would run into her again, this time on the streets of NYC, but then again… it's not exactly the same person he remembers from that brief encounter on the highway.

Date It Happened: February 2nd, 2007

An Unlikely Guardian Angel

Outside of Club DnA's, Midtown, New York

It's been dark for a several hours already; neon signs and streetlights have long since replaced natural light, and what warmth the sun may have provided has been replaced by a sharper wintry chill. Though it may still be early by New York standards, the city that never sleeps, it's still /late/ nonetheless. For the most dedicated of partiers, any time is a good time. Nightlife has taken the fore on the streets that are most well-known for clubs: dancing, dining, and the seedier aspects of the city are all out in full force. On one particular street - one of oh-so-many, here in NYC - a crowd mills about outside a club called DnA's.

It's been a very late nighter for Benjamin. There was a business dinner and meeting at a trendy restaurant near some of the never ending supply of nightlife in NYC. Dressed in a nice suit and overcoat, he walks out of the restaurant, the crowds of revelers tuned out for the most part. He hasn't shed being a Serious Adult in /years/. Yet, a reminder of his college days has popped up quite recently. It's that reminder that has him taking pause on the sidewalk instead of hailing a cab to get back home. "What the heck," he murmurs and strolls down the sidewalk, looking very out of place in attitude and attire as he looks to the clubs. Not that he's going to go into one.. it just.. has him thinking. (Despite the late hour, and the probable need to make sure his apartment is as how he left it that morning.)

Music steadily emits popular hits remixed with intense electronica from the club; every time someone opens the door that leads down into the club itself, the base can be heard blaring. The whole sidewalk is basked in an unearthly green glow because of the neon sign above the entrance that simply says "DnA's". The group milling about on the sidewalk are dressed in club-going attire, most of them are drunk (or something else entirely), and all of them are making quite the sidewalk-block. Out of their midst, a laughing woman steps out in gold high-heeled sandals; the blonde should be a little familiar to Benjamin, but she looks quite different tonight than she did on the side of the road in January. The front part of her hair is clipped back and her clothes are much flashier, consisting of a barely-there short dress that shimmers gold. Parting from the crowd, she steps out onto the road without looking where she's going whatsoever.

Benjamin slips his hands into his pockets, shrugging his shoulders into the warmth of his coat. His gaze is drawn upwards at the signage above the club, not really paying attention to his path. His steps slow to a halt before he shakes himself out of the daze. Turning for the street to hail that cab, he too isn't paying much mind. However, his state of mind seems to be a little more grounded than the blonde's. Ben nearly collides with the blonde as he pulls himself up short. He finds himself staring indecently at the short skirt before he snaps his eyes upwards. Yup. The blonde looks familiar, in that nagging sort of way.

Benjamin almost collided with her? The blonde woman doesn't seem to notice in the least. She's looking through her tiny clutch purse - which matches her dress, naturally - as she blindly walks in front of the yellow, checkered cab that starts to slow down for the man hailing it. But there's an oncoming station wagon that isn't rolling along quite so carefully. In fact, the driver either doesn't see the flashy pedestrian as she steps out from behind the cab, or he doesn't care. Giving up on finding whatever she was looking for in her purse with a whimper, the blonde looks up just in time to see the vehicle inches from ramming into her. As she just barely whirls around in time, she shoves her hands against the front bumper of the station wagon, and there's a loud *CRASH* and grinding of metal as if it hit something - but it's the vehicle that rolls back a few inches, not the woman. Lucky last second stop, huh?

Ah, relief. Here comes a cab. Home is just a .. okay .. not so short drive away. Benjamin feels a little weird about actually looking forward to going home. But it's a good kind of weird. Reaching for the passenger door, his eyes go wide as /he/ notices the oncoming car. "Hey! Look out!," he yells and abandons the side of the taxi to do something stupid and nice. He runs from the door in the blonde's direction. His intent? To shove her out of the way, but his reaction timing is slow. (must be that old age creeping up on him!) He skids to a halt, pinwheeling his arms a little at the crashing sound. "Oh my God, you almost got.. hey.. I know you!" He sounds almost accusing in tone as his eyes dart from the woman to the car, amazed at the near miss.

Despite the loud impact-that-wasn't, the blonde looks unhurt. The station wagon backs up on its own and veers around her, speeding down the street with a squeal of rubber on pavement, its driver shouting muffled obscenities. She stares after it for a few seconds, then just … reels, rocking back on her stiletto heels, steps to the side to keep her balance and reaches out for-Benjamin, as it turns out. The woman who he met as Niki looks up into his face; her own is heavily made-up, black kohl and mascara lining her eyes. A glossiness makes those blue eyes sparkle in a strange way. Dilated pupils? Check. There's no immediate recognition when she looks at the well-meaning near-stranger. "Hi," she coos anyway with a coy little smile, then proceeds to almost fall down.

"Woah, hey.. holy smokes.. you could have been," Benjamin starts, but doesn't finish as he moves in to help steady the woman. "Uhm, you found your way into the city alright it seems.. Ni.. Niki wasn't it?," he says as he tries to steer her to the sidewalk. The dilated pupils can't be missed and he turns to put the woman into the cab.. only to turn and find it gone. Already taken. Darn New Yorkers and cabbies. "Nuts," he mutters. "Are you okay? I don't think you've just been drinking.. Uh. Do you remember where you were staying?"

As she lets herself be guided up the curb and onto the sidewalk (a bit reluctantly, mind you), the woman clutches the arm of Benjamin's overcoat, clinging so close that she's practically leaning on him - but it's pretty obvious that he's just a balance post. She gives a naturally saccharine little giggle and shakes her head. "Ni-Ni-Niki-" she mimics his stuttering, "Turned /boring/." Gina, not Niki, laughs sweetly - only there's nothing particularly sweet about this situation, is there? She's obviously high on something. She takes a step away from Benjamin and gestures sweepingly with her arms. "Okay? I've never been better. NYC's no L.A., but I think I'm gonna have fun here." Where she was staying, what? Ignored.

"Uh huh," Benjamin says as he looks around for any companions that might have been with Niki.. another cab.. an escape. "So she got boring. Okay. I can understand that. The boring part that is." He looks at the woman warily and falls quiet as he tries to think of something to say, or maybe where he could drop her off to detox or whatever. "Do you have some friends I can call for you? You really shouldn't be walking. I've never taken drugs that weren't prescribed, so I'm not sure what you should or shouldn't be doing."

The group milling on the sidewalk (which has been cut by more than half now, as most of them have gone inside) all seem to be the woman's "friends" - at least, by the way the men in the bunch leer over every now and then. Every one of them looks more than a little sketchy. "Are you coming back in?" one of them shouts over. Gina looks over her bare shoulder, smiling, and waves. "I'll be *right* there. Save a spot on the dancefloor for me?" The group descends into the club, leaving her, Benjamin, and sundry street scum and random walkers on the sidewalk. "Oh… I remember you now. You fixed Niki's car. Hey, look, I told you - I'm *fine*. I'm so fine, in fact, that I know exactly what I should be doing. The night's still young," she insists casually, a smile tugging one side of her very glossed lips. "See ya!" With that, the woman turns to leave. She makes it several steps before— "Mmh." She sprawls onto the dirty sidewalk, facedown, dropping her little, shiny purse in the process.

Benjamin looks past Niki at those beckoning to the woman. "I don't think that's such a good idea, someone could take advantage of your condition. Let me get you a cab.." He stares as the woman refers to herself as a separate person, and just humors her. She's flying higher than a kite at the moment. "No, wait," he starts, ready to try and grab her arm.. only down she's gone onto the ground. He stares wordlessly, attributing the 'graceful' dive to alcohol and drugs rather than any alternatives. Not that there would be any. A sympathetic wince is made as he moves to quickly gather up the purse and to check on its owner. Purse in hand, he crouches and gently shakes Niki's shoulder to try and rouse her. "Fudge with nuts," he murmurs under his breath over this whole debacle.

Niki's not home right now, and Gina is completely unresponsive. If Benjamin were keen enough to notice, her heartbeat is a bit fast, but stable, and she's breathing just fine. Is she unconscious? Is she just… asleep? One thing's for certain: she's out cold. One of the guys from the club pokes his head out the door, but seeing the blonde just sprawled there, he waves his hand dismissively and disappears.

"Great." Benjamin mutters, then with hesitation, opens up the purse to look for identification, a hotel card, something. Otherwise, he's putting the woman into a cab and dropping her off at a hospital. Rose hasn't been staying with him long, but he knows already.. that she's going to give him a hard time for the late night.. and if he brings a strange woman home to sleep off whatever.. well he'll never be able to face the world again.

Inside the purse, there is one thing that might prove helpful: a driver's license, designating her as Nicole Sanders out of Las Vegas, Nevada. There's also a scant amount of money, car keys, a cell phone (in which the ringer is turned down, but there are about 25 missed calls), a small plastic bag of white powder, and some pills. Obviously she prioritizes her purse contents. On the ground, "Nicole Sanders" stirs, giving a quiet, barely audible moan, but just winds up pressing her cheek into the cement.

Benjamin looks panicked when he sees the powder and pills. The purse can't get shut fast enough. Surely there must be something horribly awry in this woman's life for her to turn to drugs. She'll be in obvious trouble if he takes her to a hospital. He's sure of that. Nothing in the purse indicates where she is staying. "I'm going to regret this later. I just know it," is mumbled under his breath. The purse is tucked under his arm as he tries again to rouse the woman. "Niki? Miss Sanders? You need to wake up.." Crouching at her side, he attempts to roll her over.

Ask and ye shall receive. "Wh… what?" a quiet voice emerges. Already, it's more alert than it was before. Thickly mascara'd lashes blink several times, slowly at first, then faster; her eyes come to rest on Benjamin with mild surprise and concern, as if seeing him for the first time tonight. Above all, the woman looks confused. Disoriented, and it's not just the various substances in her bloodstream talking. "You're… where…" Fright sets in and Niki rapidly backpedals on her palms on the sidewalk, her heels scraping the cement too. She looks from side to side, up and down the street. Tremulously, she questions Benjamin. "/What's going on/?" Though her voice is delicate, her words sound unusually dire.

Benjamin looks about the same as the woman, but without the substances in the bloodstream. ".. You're outside a club. In New York? And you seem to have taken a lot of stuff that you shouldn't have? Other than that. I don't know. I was about to.. I don't know what I was about to do, but leaving you on the sidewalk wasn't it. Here's your purse.. I'm sorry.. I looked through it, but only to find information, like where you were staying. Sorry. Everything's still in it. I think I should get you to a hospital." He offers Niki back her purse as he rises, gazing down at the woman.

The news Benjamin gives her takes its toll on Niki. Someone who was conscious and talking a few minutes ago shouldn't be this confused and distraught - those must be some pretty intense drugs she's on. In reality, it's been awhile since she woke up somewhere she didn't remember going, and the feeling isn't welcome again. She takes her purse somewhat robotically; when a piece of plastic within it catches her eye, she places a hand over her mouth and looks a little ill. "Oh God… I'm sorry… I didn't mean to… …" She looks up at Benjamin, lines of distress creasing her otherwise smooth skin. "I'm not— I'm not staying anywhere, I just got here." Presumably. "No, thank you," Niki shakes her head and struggles to stand up, using the wall of the club behind her to do so. "I don't need to go to the hospital." Quieter, she adds: "Not /that/ hospital."

"Uh.. I didn't specify which hospital.. Miss Sanders? I don't think you're well," Benjamin says, trying to be as placating as possible. He's been to a shrink enough! He can talk someone down. Right? Erhm, not so much. "You don't seem like you just got here. Did you park your car somewhere? I.. sorry. I know you don't know me and I don't know you, but you really don't seem to be in any kind of condition for.. anything."

If only he knew how not well she was, Niki thinks. It also looks like she's fighting to stay conscious - or at the very least, fighting to keep control of her five senses. Gina may have been at peace with what she was doing to her body, but Niki isn't. This is all wrong. She looks into her purse, plucks the set of keys from it but, with her shoulders drooping slowly, she lets them fall back in. "This sounds really stupid, but I don't know… where… I parked my car." An entirely different person than earlier in the evening, she looks at Benjamin apologetically. "I swear you're my guardian angel or something. Of all the people in New York City…" Niki closes her eyes tightly for a moment before trying to focus them on the friendly stranger. "Um." Another look is shot into her purse. Not enough money for a hotel. "I just need… to go somewhere safe. I'll be okay. Thanks for… randomly being here to help me."

Benjamin flushes with embarrassment at the compliment. "No.. hardly. I just.. I'm normally never in this part of town. There was a business meeting." He takes a few steps back, away from the woman. "Somewhere safe, that's for sure. Those guys were looking at you like a piece of meat." The man looks torn as he fights an inner battle with himself. Finally, he sort of blurts out, "Look, I kindasomehowfeel responsible. Dunno whybutIcan either help you to a hotel or… this is incredibly stupid in a city like this, but I have a spar.. no wait, not anymore. There's the couch. Uhm, forget I suggested it. Come on, let's get a cab and I know of a decent hotel."

Niki glances back at the club once, frowning. "You're not responsible. Believe me, you're nowhere near responsible." Although it is more than a little strange to run into him now of all times, but… "I'm sorry to intrude on your evening like this. I swear I'm not always such a mess." She smiles at Benjamin, but as she thinks about that statement and questions its honesty, her smile loses its conviction and she looks down at the dress she doesn't even recognize. She turns her attention down the street, watching for a cab. "That's very kind of you—" Niki holds onto a streetlamp pole. "I hope the 'decent' hotel is a cheap one, because I think I counted twenty bucks in my purse. I'll find somewhere to stay. Don't worry."

That inner struggle continues and Benjamin caves. C'mon Benji. Do the right thing. "… I insist. My couch, or you let me get you to a hotel. I can't just leave you on the street or anything in this condition. You're really out of it. Twenty dollars won't get you very far in this city anyway. So. Nevermind about the choice. Come on. I'll help you track down your car in the morning. There are a few officers with the police department that I know, I do their taxes, they can lend a hand." He moves to assist Niki, sure that she's incredibly off her rocker with drugs. This has to be a genuine act of a good samaritan or some clueless moron with a death wish.

Invoking deja vu from the last time they met, Niki wraps her arms about herself in a weak attempt to fend off the night air. It's winter, after all, and her attire is the antithesis of warm clothing. Mostly, she looks sick more than cold, however. She regards Benjamin with a wholly worried expression before eventually giving in; even so, she's reluctant, despite her obvious need for refuge. Hopefully he /doesn't/ have a death wish, or he's pretty much screwed. Of course, that may be the case regardless. It's a risk Niki very cautiously takes. "I owe you even more now, Benjamin," she insists more genially, following carefully. "Next time I'll save you, okay?"

Benjamin shakes his head in adamant refusal. "You don't owe me anything. I was brought up better than to just walk away from someone needing help." There's no death wish, but the nice guy mentality sure could get a person killed. "Oh.. I have a daughter.." The word is foreign to him still and there's a brief pause of wonderment before he continues, "Just so you don't think I'm a pervert or anything with teenaged girls.. and she's.. she's a teenager. I'm pretty sure that excuses her behavior." It's the best warning he can summarize as he's not used to Rose being Rose. He then turns to hail a cab to take them back to his place.

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