2008-02-23: Bad Guys


Benjamin_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif Church_icon.gif

Summary: The definition of "bad guy" becomes more and more hazy. Niki, Benjamin and Church are placed in roles they wouldn't have played against each other even just a couple of months ago.

Date It Happened: February 23rd, 2008

Bad Guys

Level 4, Company Headquarters

New York City

Still in pain from meeting the column the hard way, Benjamin's popped a few pain meds. Unfortunately not the happy fun stuff as there's work to do. His suit jacket's been discarded someplace since bringing in Niki and his tie is loosened. He's standing just inside her cell, holding an icepack to the back of his head and the lovely knot that's formed. If Niki's not awake by now, he can give her a little nudge of his ability that works better than a shot of caffeine.

Her head heavy, the blonde in the cell is in a position she's been in before: in restrains and stuck in a locked room. For less-than-kinky reasons, unfortunately. The cell Niki has been placed in has a cot against the wall, and she's been handcuffed, sitting up, to the metal rungs of the headboard behind her. Stripped from her coat and street clothes and placed in the complimentary hospital pyjamas of drab blue pants and white tanktop, she she's trying to wake up. Her head lolls back down every time she lifts it up; her hair, still tied back, hangs over one shoulder and a few strands have escaped here and there to cling to her face.

Benjamin goes ahead and gives Niki that nudge she needs to wake up. "You just had to do things the hard way Miss Sanders, or since we're all casual at the moment, Niki," that would be Ben's roundabout way of saying hello, and welcome to their facilities. Even with the restraints, the man keeps his distance, and his position next to the door. "Interesting contact you've been having lately. With one Nathan Petrelli, as well as Pinehearst."

Niki's head snaps up, her focus still blurry, gaze distant. "…Benjamin…" she slurs. Blinking heavily a few times, her eyes gradually widen, and her slack features start to tense. She doesn't answer; instead, she looks at Benjamin as if seeing him for the first time. "What … happened to you?"

"We're not talking about me Miss Sanders. We've got questions for you." Benjamin avoids Niki's own question, since it's for the best. He doesn't remember the woman outside of Company documentation. "What's your association with Pinehearst?" Throwing Petrelli after seeing the name Nathan was an educated guess. The senior Petrelli is with Pinehearst, it could very well be that Nathan has involvement.

Niki moves her hand in an attempt to casually lift it, to brush her hair away from her face, but there's only a resounding clang and scrape of metal as the handcuffs pull. She tugs again, harder — clang — again — clang … her strength is gone. She looks at the walls surrounding her and the clothes she's wearing, and her brow furrows as she realizes where she might be. A harder gaze is turned on Benjamin. "I work for the Senator."

"I see, you work for the Senator," Benjamin says as he pulls the ice pack away from the back of his head. He looks at the pack in his hands, turning it over slowly before putting it back into place. "So you work for Senator Petrelli, but what's your involvement with Pinehearst?"

"Nathan supports their projects," Niki answers as if it should be obvious. None of this should be earth-shattering, but then, she's keeping it simple. "And I support Nathan." All the while, her gaze follows Benjamin's every move critically. What happened to him?

There's none of the friendly recognition in Ben's eyes as he regards Niki. There's an easy explanation of that, based on appearances as to where she is. "Is your support for him something more than the pair of you sharing a common bond? Being kidnapped together out of Suresh's lab?" He doesn't move from the door. Without backup present, he's not pushing his luck. "Miss Sanders, what sort of projects do the pair of you support?"

"Nathan's a misguided little bastard." There's Church, outside the window, pushing on the intercom. But only enough to suddenly interject, even though he is listening. Has he been listening? "So's his old man." Okay, he's done and his hand is off of the button. Carry on, Ben.

Niki is growing more and more restless by the second, shifting her shoulders about uncomfortably; they can't move much, with her arms restrained as they are. She eyes Benjamin, eyes the direction of the intercom, and eyes Benjamin yet again. "I don't know about any projects." Truth. Mostly. "I just make sure he gets where he's supposed to be." Lie. Sort of. Is there such a thing as half a lie? "Look, I don't know anything, let me go!"

Benjamin chuckles, glancing behind him through the glass at Church. Clearing his throat, he faces forward again, his expression sobering. "Don't mind him. Arthur Petrelli only murdered one of ours. That tends to make us a little cranky. So, back onto the topic at hand. You. Pinehearst. Your involvement? We'd like a little elaboration, and unfortunately, we don't think you're being honest here. Now, I'm a familiar face to you, I had hoped you would talk. Tell us what you know, but you're making things harder for yourself. The next person you get to talk to won't be so nice." He leans up against the wall, casual like and calls out, "What do you think Church? Should we dig a little deeper, press harder, or pass this to the next level?"

Church puts his hands on the edge of the window, leaning his forehead to it to stare in at Niki. He doesn't answer Ben right away, lifting a hand to the intercom. "Niki. The guys you were in there with- some of them are the worst of the worst. You're only in this cell cause you attacked us- all we want to know is what you know. I wanted to just bring you in to chat, but you chose to make it hard on everyone. Now, Niki- believe it or not, the men behind Pinehearst are more of a danger than those behind us. The ones behind Pinehearst? They're more likely to strip your soul dry and leave you to the buzzards in the end than help you off the ground. I know from personal experience." The Company doesn't. Tries not to. "Just tell us about your job with them in more detail, and maybe we can get past this. If you don't know about any projects, so be it- but you had direct contact we'd like to know about, for everyone's sake."

" What?" Niki is thrown off-guard for a moment, her voice momentarily light and panicked; dig deeper? Press harder? That sounds an awful lot like torture. "No!" she shouts, defiance instead of fear. Listen to them, telling her things she already knows.

"You don't understand," she says again, a repeat of the subway, shaking her head. "There's nothing I can tell you." That's not what she meant, when she insisted they didn't understand; there's lots she could tell them, but nothing she's willing to give up. For everyone's sake. It's too risky. So instead, Niki turns her head away from both of them, becoming stonily quiet.

Benjamin turns his attention back on Niki and hasn't anything else to add to what Church asks for the moment. Expression softening a bit for the restrained woman, he speaks up, "Then help us to understand. You're working with them, just tell us what you do know. Surely there's something you can tell us."
Church watches the blonde through the glass, head tilting slightly as Niki repeats herself. There's no way she knows nothing- she is too smart for that. There must be a reason that she can't. Wheedling it out of her probably would do nothing. So he tries to rephrase himself. "What can you tell us, Niki?" He's imploring. He doesn't want to take it from her. "I think I might understand you now, but I don't think you quite understand us, and why it is so important we rope down Pinehearst."

Niki closes her eyes. She's not going to be the victim again. She's not going to spill everything — Nathan, Logan, what she's doing to do her part, the lies she's pulling off — to these people, risk someone messing up, someone finding out, something going wrong along the way. Her eyes open, slanting up darkly through a wisp of hair. "Then why don't you tell me."

Benjamin opens the door to the cell, and exits, shutting the door behind him with its solid thunk and the sound of the locks engaging. Outside the cell, he stands next to Church and adjusts the ice pack against his head. "Miss Sanders… Niki, we have some idea as to what they may be up to, and none of it's good. They're tampering with things that shouldn't be tampered with." Scientists and doctors may beg to differ, but to the average joe? It's like that line in Jurassic Park. 'Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.'

The other agent was thinking exactly that. "You've seen Jurassic Park, right? Well, take that nice old happy rich dude, and make him into a bitter, vengeful, unmerciful, crazy god-complex bastard with bad hair and an undeserved wife, and then you've got Pinehearst." Wait, no- "Life. Undeserving of life. Wait, what did I say?" Church blinks widely over at Benjamin. Hello, Freud, We love you.

"And I told you, I have nothing to do with that." Even more of an edge cuts Niki's voice, holding threat, warning. Not that she can do much of anything, where she is. She draws her knees up along the bed, eyeing the window over them. She strains against her cuffs with a rattle, the muscles in her lithe arms flexing in the exercise in futility. "My job is to protect Nathan." Her gaze darkens, and it's only half affected. It's not hard to feel hate toward those who threw her in a cell. "Probably from people like you."

"You were making a movie reference," Benjamin supplies helpfully. A movie he himself was thinking of. "Couldn't have put it better myself." He frowns a little in Church's direction and elbows the man slightly. Stop drooling about the boss lady or he's telling his mother Church is stepping out on her. "Niki, the only reason you're where you are is because you attacked us and exposed your ability in public. We weren't going to just lie down and take it. We don't mean any harm to the Senator." Yet. "Have you associated at all with Arthur Petrelli?"

If they really were innocent of any wrongs, do you think they'd hire bodyguards? Not unless they had something that was worth protecting- and when you look at who it is that means nothing good. Church swats lightly at the elbowing. "What he said. You attacked us first. I just wanted to talk…" The man mutters, looking downtrod about all of this. "It's not that we don't like you." Nothing personal. Ttly. He lets Ben get the next bit at first, visibly tensing away at the full name. It is like saying Candlejack. The fear never leaves you, does.

Niki laughs at Church, a scoffing, sarcastic sound, hardly more than a breath. "I had no other choice," she insists; of course, look where she is now. "I didn't know Church could get all— " Hot? This sentence is going nowhere good. She trails off with a sour expression. "Yeah, you don't mean any harm to him yet," she says, sticking to her story. This version of it. "You came after me, what's to stop you from going after Nathan?" Except for the fact that he's a Senator. She pointedly ignores Benjamin's question on Arthur. Arthur can read minds. Fess up to even knowing him at all? Doesn't sound like the best of ideas.

Does Ben like Niki? He's not sure. She's definitely easy on the eyes, that's for sure. "Niki, I guess since you won't cooperate, we can just leave you to think about this overnight." Unable to sleep a wink. "Did they force you to work with them?," he was ready to just walk away, let the big guns deal with Miss Sanders, but the 'no other choice' statement catches his interest for some reason.
"I think the word is 'hot'. Didn't know I had it in me, eh?" Even now, Church has room for a smile. At least she can't slap him from in there. "I told you before, Nathan is misguided. He thinks he's not being manipulated, but someone is doing it." His smile fades when Ben asks that next question, and brown eyes turn to Niki expectantly.

"'They' didn't force me to do anything," Niki says somewhat mockingly, smirking, even faintly devious. She'll play the bad guy if she has to in this world of grey. Glaring resentfully at the two men behind the glass, she lifts both dark blonde brows. "What do you know about Nathan?" she asks in acidic rhetoric — a touch more than she ever would have wielded once upon a time, but perhaps neither of these two men know enough to tell the difference. Her expression sobers fast. "You stay the hell away from him." Locking him away might do some good, but not here. Been there, done that.

"Down boy," Benjamin mutters aside to Church before addressing Niki again, "Which is the whole point of manipulation. You don't realize it." Haha, oh Benjamin. "Or maybe Mr. Petrelli knows damn well what he's doing, who's pulling the strings and he's a willing participant." His brows raise as Niki's attitude worsens, "You're the one who said you had no choice. Tell you what. How about Church and I leave you alone now, you can sit down here tonight, think about if you want to cooperate or not. We'll come back in the morning, or maybe someone else can talk to you. We're flexible. I'll even do my part to maybe wear you down since you want to be difficult." If Niki remembers anything about Ben, it should be his ability. Not just putting people to sleep, but keeping them awake too.

"I don't want to bother with Nathan. I've known him since he was…damn- twenty years old? I don't- yeah. He probably doesn't remember much of me, though. So don't tell me I don't know him. I know him well enough to know that sometimes he's too proud to see out of his own swollen head." Okay, okay, I'm getting Down now. Church lifts a hand to brush around at his hair, frowning downward. Did Ben just play Bad Cop? That's kinda… Awesome. "One more thing. Where were you going with all those clothes and stuff?" Stuff meaning Guns.

"I told you, it's my job to look out for Nathan," Niki answers, sitting back and affecting a little self-satisfied smirk. Hints, flashes of a personality that's no longer separate. "And trust me, you don't know Nathan," she says with a ghost of a wry laugh, a secret joke that isn't funny. Church doesn't know Logan. She watches the men closely with that unsettled glare of hers. Are they really going to leave her here?

Benjamin played Bad Cop with Abigail, it was fun. Only because he wasn't sure how else to act then. Now? Something can be said for Company indoctrination! "Hey, you like Miley Cyrus right? You've got kids. We can provide you with some listening music while you're awake all night." Now that's just mean and going a little too far, even if he sounds helpful about it. Clapping a hand to Church's shoulder in fraternal comraderie he says, "I'm famished, and I could use a beer. Let's go grab a bite to eat. We can talk to her s'more tomorrow."

Church peers back through the window with a frown. This is getting worse and worse. What did they do to her? Sometimes she seems like Niki, but sometimes she only sounds… wrong. Something is wrong here, and it is bothering him. The smirk only seals that. The clap on his shoulder is almost ignored. "I'm starting to wonder if you're even Niki." Guns, throwing the first punch, being so angry- sounds like someone else, a little bit at a time. "…All of her, anyway." There is a new flash of distrust in Lawrence's eyes, back under that steely new glare into the cell.

Niki's eyes haven't moved. She's staring at Church when he looks back. "We all have our parts to play. Lawrence." Her voice is, deeply honeyed and sly. She's playing a part, but it doesn't come from nowhere. She leans back, straightening her shoulders as much as she can, tipping her head up, as if she's comfortable in the restraints.

If Benjamin could remember his friendship with Niki, he'd pick up on the wrongness here. All he has to go by is what's in her file. Super-strength, multiple personality disorder. The basics on her life. As far as he's aware, this is how Niki is, or should react to this situation. And now? Time to move on, play his own part, let the more experienced interrogators handle Niki further. "I'm going back upstairs. I'll wait a bit for you." In case Church decides food and beer does sound good.

And maybe his is to make sure Jessica will never see the light of day again. Church just glares back at who he assumes to be the worst of the alters, hearing Ben and not answering. Poor guy doesn't remember. He'll be filled in on what he has forgotten later. That he knew Niki- was a part of her life.

"Evidently. I wonder which one I'll end up in." His features seem suddenly tired, ragged, maybe even torn as he turns off the intercom. That's it. He's done here. The only response that Church gives Nikica/Jessiki/Whoever the hell she is afterwards is a middle finger at the window, and then he is gone. You're not getting out, bitch.

Niki tenses all the more, but doesn't move. But she does shout. "Screw you too!" She was a much better captive last year. "You can't keep me here!" she shouts once Church is already walking away, angry and frustrated,, leaning ahead against the pull of the cuffs. But when she's fully abandoned, save for whoever sits behind the wall next to her,, she slumps back against the uncomfortable metal frame, her handcuffs rattling. She lets her feet slide down along the cot, and he head rest against the cold wall, her harsh expression fading into something simple and desolate, but she doesn't relax.

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