2007-06-26: Dirty Money


Niki_icon.gif Benjamin_icon.gif

Summary: After the incident on the subway with Lachlan, Niki tries to explain and they talk briefly over her financial … arrangements.

Date It Happened: June 26th, 2007

Dirty Money

Monica's House, Queens, New York

Niki didn't say much on the way home. She was lost in her own thoughts, and figured Benjamin was lost in his. After getting off the subway - nowhere near home - she called a cab, and it's this vehicle that pulls up to a building in Queens to let them off. Niki pays the driver; she has to fish around in her purse to find the change first, but she does it. "I can explain," she finally says as she steps out into the night, approaching the steps. Most of the lights are off.

Benjamin didn't say much either. He still thinks he's responsible for Megan passing out, and the other crazed lady there on the subway. Wordlessly, he gets out of the cab and frowns a little as Niki beats him to paying the driver. He'll just have to get the tab next time. Not that he sees himself as doing anything major for Niki as far as favors and repayment goes. "Huh?" he asks as he looks up at the woman, following her to the house. "I'm sure there's a reason.. I know you're a good person and wouldn't intentionally harm someone."

"When we were both getting help," Niki begins as steps inside the building; it leads to a hallway that leads to a few families' residences. She fetches her keys from a pocket, looking over her shoulder at Benjamin all the while. "I was there 'cause I'm not always in control. Of… my life. Sometimes— someone else takes over. That's who hurt Cass. I'm… not healthy, Benjamin." Frowning, she unlocks the door to her residence and steps in. It's dark inside, but she quickly flips the light on, flooding the living room with warmth. Happy family photos fill the space; Niki is only in a few of them, and aside from her, most of the family pictured are of black descent. "I'm going to check on Micah. Make yourself comfortable," the blonde says, flashing a tenuous smile at Benjamin before heading down the hall.

Benjamin remains quiet as he follows Niki in. He listens to her patiently, mainly out of sheer tiredness. "You seem healthy to me.. but what do you mean you're not in control? Like the time I found you outside the club? I thought you were just drunk or on drugs." He heads into the living room, the pictures are given a brief glancing over as he shrugs out of his jacket. "I already know you're pretty strong. Which is putting it mildly.." Indeed. He settles onto the couch and opens up his briefcase.

Niki opens one of the hall's doors; Micah's room. She's satisfied t see the boy asleep in his bed, she lingers there moment, watching with a conflicted expression before softly closing the door and returning to Benjamin. "I was," she confirms with a wince. "It was like I was trapped. The Company was treating me for multiple personality disorder," she explains. She's been explaining that more than she'd like lately and it shows in her reluctant tone of voice. She lowers herself onto the couch, hands on her thighs. "It's confusing, I'm sorry."

"Oh.. I see.. Okay, that would explain it then." Benjamin seems to accept this without question, and why wouldn't he? "No, it's not confusing. It's something you don't have control over, so you shouldn't apologize. What are you doing for it now?" Papers, typed up, no signature on them, are pulled from his briefcase and handed to Niki. There are multiple instructions and suggestions on how to handle all that cash on the papers.

"I'm— " The question seems to throw Niki. It's so simple, but… she laughs, even though there's no humour to the sound. "Nothing," she answers honestly. "I'm not doing anything but the best I can." She looks over the papers, taking in the fine print. She places them on the coffee table when they've been skimmed over. "I've been thinking on what you said. About how the money can seem like it's coming from a legitimate business? I might know a way."

"I guess sometimes that's all you can do. I know you're a good person, so I can't blame you for anything that happens. You can't control it, you're doing what you can." And that's that. It does seem simple to Benjamin, despite the complications. "That would probably be the best way to hide your.. inherited money. It does make things more difficult to trace.. what idea do you have?"

Niki just regards Benjamin with an amazed - bewildered, even - expression on her face. How is it that people can be so understanding of things that are so horrific? "What I was doing before. In Vegas," she says with a shrug. "It wasn't much, but it paid the bills." Pause. "Sometimes." Pausing, she watches Benjamin presses her lips together in somewhat of a wince. Ultimately, she flashes a … sympathetic smile. "Just a second," she says before standing up, only to disappear into one of the bedrooms to retrieve a laptop. Emerging with it, she plgs it into the wall and sits down beside Benjamin. "You remember how I said I ran a website?"

Benjamin can't help seeing things the way he does. Everytime he's met Niki, she's been, well, Niki. Except for the time she was Gina. But that was explained away! "Right.. Okay.. running a legitimate business on the internet. Many people are doing that these days." So, what's the deal? He waits patiently for Niki to produce whatever is waiting on that laptop.

It doesn't take long for the laptop to load; when it does, Niki navigates it on her lap, bringing up some old files in a particular folder named 'lasvegasniki'. Clicking an image file, she places the computer on the coffee table beside the paperwork and angles it toward Benjamin without a word. A picture of Niki posing in her underwear and a scant white shirt. A screencapture, there's a chat box and some advertising on the side for the website, it explains itself.

Benjamin waits.. and then looks when presented… and he looks.. and remains quiet. Far too quiet for what seems far too long. Then finally, "I.. see.. well.. I'm not going to judge cause.. uh.. well.. You are a very attractive woman, so I presume you did pretty decently at this.. Personally, I would have thought you would have made enough to live comfortably on.. Uhm.." And before he can put his foot in his mouth any further, "Burn those papers when you're done with them. It's suggestions… but I think we can hide the money with something like this. There shouldn't be a problem."

Niki just waits it out. After Benjamin finally responds, she says, "Yeah?" and sits back into the couch, turning to face her accountant friend more. As an after thought, she closes the laptop; it clicks and the scantily clad image is no longer in sight. "It was up and down. It's not like it's glamorous. It's not a way to get rich, but I guess I don't have to worry about that anymore if we can work this out. I figure, if I start it just enough to make it seem like it's still active…"

Benjamin is grateful for a few different reasons, when that laptop is closed. "Well.. the adult entertainment industry is huge. No one will look at you and think twice about the income. So… uh.. yeah.. that'll work.." Fussing with his briefcase, he shuts it tightly. Not that partly naked women make him uncomfortable.. well they /do/ but in dif.. nevermind. This is /Niki/. Whom he's never looked at like that before. She was married, she's now a widow. It's not right. "So. Uhm, this weekend.. come over to my apartment and we'll work on the particulars and make everything start looking legitimate. Okay?"

Poor Benjamin. Niki brought up the tamest of tame images for him. It flashed a lot of leg and that was it. "Yeah— I mean, as long as you still don't mind. Thanks for this, Benjamin. I don't know what I would have done without you."

Benjamin gets up from the sofa. "I don't mind at all. You need the help on this." Clutching his briefcase, he offers a brief and tired smile. "Just give a call on Sunday and we'll set up the time. I don't anticipate having to work." Eyes on face, yes. Eyes stay on the face. "So.. see you then!"

Niki rises to walk Benjamin to the door; a short visit, but given their evening, that's to be expected. Besides, now they know the business plan. So to speak. She squeezes a hand to his upper arm once they're at the door. Another gesture of thanks. "See you then. Be careful going home."

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