2007-03-08: Don't Tell


Niki_icon.gif Claudine_icon.gif

Date It Happened: March 08, 2007

Summary: After the subway incident, Niki and Claudine share a cab, put it turns into another "trapped in a small space they don't want to be in" situation again pretty fast.

Don't Tell

Lower Manhattan, New York City

Night has most definitely fallen. It's later than she anticipated. Into the New York streets lit by streetlight and neon, ascending into the night air from the subway below, is Niki. She's walking at a fast clip, in a hurry to put the subway delay behind her and get home - that is, her temporary home - where she suspects her whereabouts are being wondered about. Heading onto the sidewalk along with the spill of other passengers who are eager to emerge, she heads for the curb, scoping out cabs. The NYC taxi scene is new to her, but it shouldn't be all that different from Vegas, right?

Niki isnt the only one scrambling out of the subway as Claudine's there right behind her, still wigged out from the whole experience. "Stupid subways.." she grumbles under her breath while stuffing her hands into her pockets. She's planning on walking hom from here..even if that's a stupid idea since she's a girl and alone.

The cabs are already busy. It's Lower Manhattan. They're always busy. One will no doubt stop for Niki soon, though, and if not, she can always call D.L. If he's there. Niki is in the midst of frowning slightly at the street when she catches sight of Claudine out of the corner of her eye. "Hey," she calls out gently. "Are you walking by yourself?"

Claudine looks back and mmhmms as she wrinkles her nose a little. It's cold and she feels her nostrils freezing up. She hates that. "Um..yeah..I mean..Columbia isnt too far from here.." she admits ruefully with a shrug of her shoulders.

"I'm catching a taxi, if you want to share," Niki offers with a light, one-shouldered shrug. "I don't really know where Columbia is. I'm still learning New York. But it's getting kind of late," she gestures lightly down the street, giving the city a glance about. "And you look cold. Come on, you can come and I can explain to you that I'm not actually some kind of… crackwhore," she winces at the use of the word. Did she seriously just say that? Yeeah. It's been a night. Thanks, Rose.

Claudine tries to suppress a chuckle, but cant and she just nods, and heads on over. "I don’t think you're one..that girl..definitely has issues. Back in the Philippines, she'd be smacked for even thinking of saying something like that to someone older.." she says with a sage nod. "

"She had her reasons. To be honest? I can't really blame her," Niki says with another shrug and a smile that only quirks one side of her mouth. There's little humour in it. "I was a different person then." Pretty damn literally, but the girl doesn't need to know that. They're not even on a first name basis. About that… "I'm Niki, by the way. Thanks, earlier… for the tip on the job." She holds a hand out toward the street, trying to lure a cab.

"It's no problem..I'm Claudine, and I sort of work there. I'm an intern with them, since they gave me a scholarship for school.." she explains while extending her hand out towards Niki, with yet another warm smile. "But still..even if she has her reasons, she still shouldnt say something like that. It's..well..rude.."

"Yeah, I'm not going to argue that," Niki answers with a laugh and a wry smirk to go with it as she thinks of Rose. She gives up on hailing a cab momentarily as none bite, but stays close to the street as she looks over at the student. "You said they were called Primatech? In Midtown?" It should be more meaningful, but as it is, it's just annoyingly familiar. The woman's brow furrows; clearly, she's trying to figure something out, and that something is worrying.

"Yup. I'm a pencil pusher, but hey, they pay well, and it gives me some spending money to have fun with…" Claudine says until she notices Niki's look and she raises her brows a little. "Um..is everything all right?" she asks while canting her head to the side.

"Yeah, it's just—" Niki shakes her head, pale blonde hair swaying over the black synthetic fabric of her winter coat. "It's familiar. It's nothing. Oh hey, I think that cab is stopping for us." In fact, there is a cab stopping, pulling up to the curb. The woman tips her head meaningfully toward the yellow, checkered vehicle, and looks at Claudine, her eyes glimmering with the casual question of 'are you coming?'.

Claudine rushes on over as she nods, taking it all in before pulling her peacoat to make sure she's all covered. Even the silghtest breeze will make her freeze at this temperature. She'll wait until Niki heads on in before following, "So um..are you headed towards the direction of Morningside Heights too?" she asks rather curiously.

Niki opens the door and slides over to the far seat to make room for Claudine. "Uhm—" she gives the girl what can only be described as a wince /and/ a smile all at the same time. "…Where's Morningside Heights?" She's clearly not a native. She gives the cabbie Monica's address and it turns out that it's not /too/ much of a detour.

"Oh..well I guess it's on the way to that address.." Claudine chirps brightly, feeling a bit better as she doesn’t want Niki to have to pay more because of taking some really weird and awkward route. "So..what kinds of jobs are you looking for? anything in particular? You could probably use one of the career centers on one of the university campuses around here..just pretend you're a student. I dont think they really check..well, except at Columbia, but they're snooty like that."

"I'm not really qualified for a lot, but I'm a hard worker," Niki says - she can't help but laugh immediately afterward, however, and roll her eyes at herself. "I sound like I'm at an interview already. I just need something to help support my family. We moved kind of unexpectedly, and by kind of I mean 'completely'." Of course, she doesn't know how well D.L. is supplementing their otherwise non-existent income with CRIME. The thought of posing as a student also has her chuckling under her breath and raising an eyebrow somewhat skeptically at Claudine, although it's good-natured. "You think?"

"They don’t really check from what I've seen. I know I grabbed a few brochures at NYU's campus and CUNY campuses around here.." Claudine says matter of factly. "Or if you want, I can grab a bunch and you can meet me at Primatech or someplace else and I can give them to you?" always willing to help someone in need.

"Thanks," Niki responds, all smiles for the helpful stranger. She tucks her hair behind her ear, and she's poised on the verge of agreeing to Claudine when it strikes her. It's because of the subway incident earlier that it becomes rushing back. Angie's voice when she was talking on the cell phone, tonight; Angie on the cell phone, with a building in flames.

"I'm calling to report a fire. Primatech Research. We need several ambulances… we have injured."

As more tiny, vague references flood her memory and hit home, Niki freezes up all of a sudden; her hand lowers in slow motion to her lap, where she clutches at her jeans. Her eyes are fixed on Claudine and the friendliness is being sapped from her gaze until only suspicion is left. "…who… are you? If this is a trick, you can just drop the act, okay?"

HUH? Claudine just looks rather confused as she looks over to Niki once more. "I'm Claudine..I told you that earlier.." she says, just thinking that the woman isnt really good with names or something like that. It has to be a simple explanation right? "Are you all right, cause maybe that whole subway incident affected you more than you know. Are you okay?" she asks once more, canting her head to the side.

Maybe Claudine is completely clueless and innocent, but for Niki, it's like being stuck on the subway again - only worse, because she's in close quarters with /someone/ from the Company, so she thinks. She levels the girl with an even, calculating stare, but it's not even for long. There's a flash of fear, and also a glimpse of something more dangerous as she eyes the student. "No. You know what? I'm not okay. Look, if you're with the company—" One of Niki's hands becomes very concerned with the car door. How far is this drive?

Waittaminute. What now? This woman knows about the Company? Could she possibly have been one of the patients too? With that, she just blinks blankly for a few moments and motions for the cabbie to at least stop somewhere for a few moments in case the woman wants to jump out. As soon as the car stops, she sighs and takes a deep breath, ""No..I told you, I'm an intern for Primatech.." definitely lying through her teeth, but she doesnt know why this woman would be scared anyway. "Look, if you're not okay cause I work for them, then I can just get out here and walk to the dorm.."

The slowing down of the car, and its eventual stopping, should put Niki more at ease. It means she can get out. But logic does not flow so smoothly, and the woman only seems more anxious by the second (while the cabbie is more and more confused, but eh, it's New York, nutcases are everywhere). "/Wait/," she hisses through her teeth, twisting in her seat to lean toward Claudine; she reaches out to try to grab the smaller girl's arm. /Tightly/, if she can. "Just tell me you know what Primatech does or not. About the hospital. The /truth/." Desperation? Check. She's not asking. This is a woman who -needs to know-.

Claudine doesnt offer any resistance and winces a little as her arm is grabbed. She's petite, and well the woman has superhuman strength it hurts. She chews on her bottom lip and wrinkles her nose before she whispers softly, "I know what they do. I was a patient.." before reaching back and showing her the mark on the back of her neck once more.

Niki relinquishes the vice-like grip she has on Claudine's arm, seeming to realize with a pang of guilt how tight she was holding on; she doesn't let go entirely, however. Her hold is just firm, now, which means a hell of a lot gentler than it was a second ago. "Now you work for them?" There's no accusation in her tone at all. No, she's just getting her facts straight. The blonde's gaze turns imploring, but that desperation still shines through most of all. "Don't tell them you saw me today," she pleads. "Please. You heard me just give that address out and— I-I can't go back," she says. "I have to but I can't. Not yet."

"I..I don’t know who you are or why they'd want you.." Claudine says, though after that grip, she can make a guess as to how. "Look..they..they helped me gain control over what I can do. If I wasnt with them, I probably would've crushed us all by accident in the tunnels.." she whispers, hoping that the cabbie doesn’t hear a damn thing. Of course, looking at Niki's body language, and hearing her tone of desperation,it doesn’t take a mind reader to know that the older woman is scared. "I work for them now because I want to help people, but at the same time, I don’t want them to hurt or scare the people they're suppose to take care of. I'm trying to be somewhat of damage control in that regard, but as long as you keep my secret, I'll keep yours. If you dont want to go back, I'll pretend I never heard of you or anything like that. And when you are ready to go back, I'll make sure you're treated well.." She sounds rather sincere about it. Maybe there is a softer side to the Company afterall.

"I know," Niki says right off the bat. She keeps her voice hushed, but her tones are harsh nonetheless, under the circumstances. Still, sympathy dances in her eyes, borne of understanding. "They're the only ones who can help me. They /did/ help me. I owe them for that much." She presses her lips together and pauses. "It's good, what you're doing." As an afterthought, she lets go of Claudine, withdrawing her hand quickly back to herself and shoots the girl an painfully apologetic look. Oops. "I… I really appreciate it. And I won't tell anyone either," she says of Claudine's secret, managing a small smile. "I promise."

Claudine looks down at her arm, and underneath her longsleeve shirt and coat, she's pretty sure it's bruised. It still hurts like hell afterall. "I know that they do some things..which are sort of shady, but they have the best intentions. I want to make sure that they keep those intentions pure though..that's the only reason I'm working for them now. But really, if you need their help, just come to me and I'll make sure no one does anything that you're not comfortable with.." she says firmly and resolutely. While she's new, that is part of the reason why she's hired, so yeah. "But yeah..until you want to come back, I wont know who you are and you wont know who I am.." she says, smiling warmly in the end.

"They did what the needed to, for me." Because she needs to be locked up sometimes? A related thought distracts her for a moment and she glances off to the side, but doesn't voice it. "I wasn't… supposed… to leave. That's why I don't want them to know where I am," she shares candidly, then shifts an uncomfortable glance to the cabbie. Thankfully, he's pretty distracted by messing with his iPod, the tinny sound of muffled rap music coming from his tangled earbuds. "Thanks," she tells Claudine, returning the smile, heartfelt. That's not to say she's not uneasy! "I'm going to walk the rest of the way."

"You know..I think I am too.." Claudine says in the end before taking out some cash to give to the cabbie with a little bit of tip, so that he doesn’t go narcing the either of them out. With that, she heads out and heads towards Morningside Heights definitely wanting some ice for her arm.

Niki rummages for some cash to give the cabbie too, feeling the need to do her part, and then bails. She cuts across the street, saying nothing by way of goodbye to the Primatech PR Girl - she just walks with long, brisk strides away from her, looking over her shoulder once and frowning regretfully.

It's going to be *so good* to get to Monica's.

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