2008-03-25: Dysfunction Is Overrated


Gene_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: Gene and Niki talk outside of Pinehearst.

Date It Happened: March 25th, 2008

Dysfunction Is Overrated

New York City

"Captain's log: March 25th, 29. Time? 6:39… Wait, 7:40 pm. Prayed for two hours, puked for one and a half. Weight has dropped another .21 ounces since last recorded weigh-in." Speaking to a recording device somewhere on his body, Gene pulls out his cell phone, using it to enter in some passwords as he walks down the grimy hallway to his apartment. Only in New York can you live in a hellhole and pay as much as you would for a single family home in the suburbs. Location location location. As soon as the last of the 'Security deactivated' appears, Gene pulls out his key and opens the door to his home.

"Still no word from Evie. Concerned that she is not a child, but rather an adult, attempting to mislead me. Lack of communication despite fear of danger or death suggest either a support network, in which case I would not be needed for emergency contact, or that she no longer needs to contact me since I am in the position where I need to be. I used to hope that she was secretly a hot girl that just didn't want to make me think more about her curves than saving her life, but it's really hard to wishfully think these days. Still, without hard facts, this prediction is hard to prove. Open confrontation might be needed to find more, hopefully she won't cry too much if she's really who she said she is." Stepping inside after speaking, he checks to see if the wires hooked to his door are still connected properly. That done, he moves to various other parts of the house, pushing away fast food wrappers, empty tv dinner trays, and water bottles where necessary. He used to keep this place clean. His door didn't used to be ready to shock people picking his lock. It's been a rough start of the year.

Taking off his belt and then his neck tie, Gene continues to give his monologue… Or audio diary, depending if there really is a recording device on him. "I am attempting to put together a team in order to bring Pinehearst down, but I am not sure if it is wise. If I fail alone, I die alone. If I organize a team and it fails…" Gene pauses to give a sigh. "…there is no telling how many will suffer because of my miscalculations and mistakes. I'll talk to them, see if it is possible to do this to protect us all. I haven't lost a friend yet since coming to New York, I don't plan to now. Log off." Gene's pants pocket gives a whirl and a click before Gene takes off his shirt. He notices that he is still holding his phone, so with one sleeve off and the shirt dangling, he swiftly gives the offered number a call.

When the call reaches its destination — after a few rings — the first thing to reach Gene's ear is noise. It's not an unpleasant sort. Voices, both real and from perhaps a TV, the clink of dinnerware, and the female voice — Niki's —near yelling into the distance, not unkindly, " —cah turn that down I'm on the phone!"

The background noise rapidly fades and a voice more suited to mysterious phone calls and serious dealings answers, not without a hint of inquiry; there are a few people who could be calling her at this number, and all of them have reason to hide their ID. "Hello?"

"I presume this is Niki?" comes the voice from the other side of the phone.

"Depends who's asking." But she thinks she recognizes the caller, and so she quickly follows with, "Yeah." A brief pause. "Gene?" A door shuts softly, and the noise is but a muffled hint in the background.

"Yeah, it's me. You gave me the number and said you wanted to talk," Gene replies as he switches hands and finally gets rid of the shirt that was previously trailing on the ground, tossing into a corner of the room where roughly three other business shirts reside. Thankfully for those afraid of the sicky white chest, he still has a white t-shirt on.

"I do," Niki's voice answers. Even in the sparse words, there's a sense of weight. Urgency. "If I give you an address, will you meet me there?

There is a second's pause before Gene sighs. "…Give me the address and I'll see if it works for me." The sounds of a keyboard clicking can be heard in the backgroud.

If it "works" for him? Niki gives the address. "259 West Broadway. 18th floor. There won't be anyone there but me." Which is either a good thing, or … ominous. Her tone doesn't exactly distinguish.

Another pause fills for a couple of seconds. Sadly, instant information isn't instant enough sometimes. "Sounds good. I'll be there soon." With that, he hangs up. Putting on his peacoat, he moves to a small safe that is screwed into the floor. Opening up the safe, he swiftly takes out a small .22 Berretta, checking to make sure that the round in the chamber is removed and the safety is on before taking it out along with the holster. Slipping it into the small of his back, he moves to take a taser that seems to be held together by duct tape. That's likely not a good sign. Tucking that into his coat pocket, he looks over toward R2-D2 with a sad sigh. "Wish I could take you or Arnie, boy… But I've got some mods for Arnie and well… You suck with stairs." A couple beeps are given back to Gene before he makes his way out the door, a few electrical systems warming up after he shuts the door.

* * *

The Tribeca apartment building is tall and old, but probably houses spaces that somehow manage to look modern. There's no buzzer system or lobby — just halls that lead to apartments and lofts and a lot of locks.

The place in which Niki waits for Gene is not a all like the place she left, with sounds of family, of life. It's quiet and it's empty, save for her, just as she said. It's not a home, although the loft — brick walls, exposed metal beams — shows signs of being lived-in. Sparse, modern chairs that have been sat in, a black coat slung over one of them; an empty glass on a coffee table made of the same substance; an unmade bed with richer colours than the whole of the apartment, through the slightly ajar door past the empty kitchen counters.

It's chilly, even though the evening isn't freezing. The walls trap the cold that built up since the early, early morning — the last time anyone was here. Niki is in the process of plucking her coat up and putting it back on, swinging her ponytail over its collar with a brush of her hands.

Both hands dug deep into his coat side pockets, Gene makes his way toward the door. He withdraws one to knock a couple of times, returning the hand back to his pocket a short time later. As he waits, he glances about the hallway, as if searching for important details which could mean the difference between LIFE and DEATH.

Given how unnervingly quiet it inside — the exceptions being the distant noise of the city below and the occasional bump or scrape from the floor below — and the fact that Niki is literally doing nothing but standing there waiting, she hears the shuffle of movement before the knock. That said, she's at the door in hardly any time at all, preceded by the footfalls of heeled boots as usual. The metal slide and click of a lock being undone meets Gene before Niki does, standing in the doorway.

Hi, you look better, thanks for coming, glad you found it okay, come in… all these normal things to say aren't so normal for these two, so Niki finds herself saying nothing at all, just stepping aside to give him a view of the loft and a clear path in.

Glancing about, Gene makes his way in, moving to the center of the loft as he checks the place out. While he is looking for cameras and other people, he tries to throw her off with a simple, "Sparse… But nice. See the bed is the most important part of the place." Observation… Insult? Considering Gene's tone is monotone and his demeanor odd, it's hard exactly what to make of it. Turning back toawrd Niki, he restates the obvious with his hands still in his pocket. "You wanted to talk."

Niki shuts the door behind Gene and locks it, watching him trek to the middle. There are no cameras, or if there are, they're spectacularly well-hidden. She glances to the bedroom after the comment is made and frowns, restraint obvious, but she decides not to reply. Not to that. As for talking… "We need to cut the crap." She stalks closer to Gene, then past him, positioning herself purposefully so that there's a chair between them. "So, I'm gonna ask what you think I'm doing at Pinehearst."

"To be honest, I have no idea." Gene turns around to face Niki, taking a couple of steps back as she moves toward the chair. Super strength means that a chair can be just as dangerous as a bullet. Considering Cass is supposed to be a 'friend', he has no idea what Niki is willing to do to him. "I don't like making conclusions until I have enough data. It's clear you have your own agenda which seems against Nathan's or Pinehearst's, though the purpose and reason behind it are far from clear. This 'crap' as you call it is what protects you. Unless telepaths don't exist in which case we can share whatever the heck we want to."

Niki stands up straight, poker-faced as she takes in Gene's perspective — or the withholding of it, anyway. She curls her hands around the back of the chair, over white upholstery. "You already know too much. And I know about you, so— one way or another, if someone reads our minds, we're both screwed."

"Well, if some reads my mind, they'll just get simply that you wanted in the lab, but it was because if you didn't, I'd hurt your family." There you go, the reason for the threat so long ago. He looks to the hands and takes a couple more steps away. "And as long as I make myself believe that I can and will do it, I figure it's all we need to do what I need to do. I already know I'm in over my head. Unlike you, I'm dead anyway. I've got some of the smartest and most powerful people looking for a cure of the thing that's killing me and it's getting me-" Sudden realization cuts the rant off, Gene narrowing his eyes. "What do you 'know' about me?" If paranoia is 'crap', it's going to be hard to crack for someone that does it naturally.

Niki's hard expression starts to waver, her eyes narrowing in … concern?… sympathy?… at Gene. She's poised to reply, but she hesitates first. "I know you don't like what Pinehearst is doing. I know you were the first one to think they might be more than they say they are." She glances away, but only for a second. "Your plan might've worked, and maybe me talking to you now is a crazy idea, but … t come on, the files you found? They find that in your head and you won't have time to worry about what happens to me."

The Geek God frowns. "Everyone in Pinehearst is doing their own thing from what I can gather. They are playing everyone off one another and those with the most information has the most playing cards. The fact that I can get it and deal it has made it so I don't have a single enemy there and a lot of people there actually like me." There is a pause and a cough, the tension breaking away due to awkwardness. "Well, save you since I touched your boob and offered to help your super genius son."

… Yeah, let's not relive that. "Well, some of 'em wouldn't look too kindly on you if they knew what you've been up to. For me, but I bet there's more. Right?" Niki moves around the chair, only to sit down on the edge of the only other chair in the space, identical to the other. She crosses her legs with a flash of silvery boots, leaning over her thighs to look up at Gene.

"If you claim that being around me and talking like this is going to possibly kill the pair of us, might as well not dance around this," Gene replies, remaining standing right where he was. The hands are pulled out from his pockets though. Of course, it is clear that Gene is expecting Niki to flip out any second, his body perhaps visably tense to those with a keen eye.

And that's precisely why Niki's sat herself down. She sits up a bit more, elbows off her knees and hugs herself, hands clutching her own arms over the black sleeves of her coat. "You know Peter." She watches him for acknowledgment, however it comes.

There is an arched brow. Niki likely knows Peter. Peter worked at the Bookstore, Niki was there a lot. He figured she would know that he knew him as well. Peter is pretty 'free' with information unless it's a life-changing secret. "So do you. Your point?"

"My point is, he's in this, too," Niki says, but Gene's gotta know that. "And since you know so much already— " Frowning suddenly, the blonde woman gives the young man a look that's almost imploring … Not exactly something he would have seen much of in the past from her, given— well, their past. She looks at him carefully, pointedly: his posture, the tension. "Look, it's just— we're all in this. The fewer people I have to lie to, the better, okay. I'm not the person I've shown you. Not…" Her brows come together and she gives her head a small, distracted shake. "Not completely."

The slow retreat stops, Gene sighing as he rubs his head. This tension is not making him a happy camper. The 'I'm not who I portrayed myself to be' is somewhat obvious to Gene. He doesn't say anything for a bit, clearly a little confused. "So, why come clean when we still have telepaths, mistrustful people all around, and a deadline? I take it you want something else from me." It would seem that Gene is still a mistrustful of 'Nice' Niki.

'Nice' Niki might be regretting bringing Gene here, if her frustration is any indication. "Actually, I don't. Not … files or security doors or any of that," she dismisses with a tired tone. "I just thought, maybe you'd wanna cooperate instead of whatever it is we're doing." She reaches in the pocket of her coat to rifle around, standing up suddenly as she does.

"We are cooperating. We are just doing it the only way we really know how. Dysfunctionally," Gene states calmly, just watching Niki as she tries to pull something out of her coat. "I'm up for working together, but well, you've done a lot to make me want to NOT trust you, so pardon if I enter into this with a bit of wariness. If you want to dismiss me, fine, I'm too tired to give a whowee any how."

"I know I don't seem trustworthy." Gene read Niki's file, that's even more reason for her to seem untrustworthy. There's more she could say and more she could share, but she just shakes her head, closing off. Her voice, on the other hand, is more gentle. "I'm trying … to help. 'Dysfunction' is getting kind of overrated." The woman's hand emerges from her pocket — between two fingers is a plain card with a phone number on it. She extends a slender arm to Gene to offer the mystery card to him. "Do what you want."

"I want to help. I know that I don't have a lot of gifts like you, Peter, or most the people I'll be up again. But I've learned that my own gifts keep a lot of people from getting hurt. I wanted to do this as much as I could on my own. I don't want you getting hurt in this. You have a husband and life you can get to after this if you want." The young geek inspects the card as he takes it after a hesitant reach forward, turning it over to see if it has something on the back. "I'm just trying to do the most good with what little time I have."

Niki's hand, after dropping away from the card and Gene, tugs on the hem of her coat as she listens. She starts to smile, something sad and well-meaning. "There's a whole… bunch of people trying to do the same thing. All… doing what they can. Good, like you."

"A lot of them are careless too. They think that burning this place to the ground would stop the formula. There are likely to be back-up servers, the people in charge are likely willing to start over," Gene states with a sigh as he looks toward Niki, sounding a bit tired too. After all, the job is much harder than he makes it sound like. "To take them down, all three projects they are running need to be taken out and we need to take out the people at the top. The building itself is useless without the figureheads and the information they got."

When he thinks about himself, Gene just shakes his head. "I'm not a good person. I'm just like all selfish people. I want to be seen as good, so I do good things. Heroes do good because they see the need. But if you want to view me as good" A soft chuckle breaks the sentence. "Go right ahead."

Niki's mouth clamps shut somewhere around the words 'burning this place to the ground', her smile drops, and she shifts an uneasy gaze around the dim apartment. The expression lingers, clinging in light of Gene's various thoughts. "We're working on it." She turns and walks to the wide window, sitting down on a cushioned bench that's been shoved underneath it. She faces mostly away from Gene, but looks back to pointedly glance at the card she gave him. "I don't know what else to say. I only have … so many plans."

The card is put away, Gene still having no idea who the number belongs to as it is tucked into his pocket. My longer at odds with Niki, the young genius doesn't offer his first thoughts when she talks about plans. He just nods for the time being. Giving an awkward glance around as he speaks, the geek replies, "Well, I suppose I should be going soon… I have a lot to work on other than the stuff at Pinehearst. Is there anything else that we need to talk about before I head out?"

"The person whose number's on that card might have more to talk about." Niki draws her boot-clad feet up onto the bench and drapes her arms over her knees, prepared to stay here for a little while after Gene leaves. She gives another smile, although it's half-hearted. "See you in Jersey."

The response causes Gene to blink, unsure of exactly whose number this is. She isn't willing to give a name, which causes him to be a little wary, even after the heart to heart. He DID say this was gunna take a little time. Giving a faint smile in return, the young inventor nods. "Right. Stay safe in the meantime," he advices before turning away. While he wouldn't mind staying a bit longer, sadly his stomach does not agree with his sentiments. Time for another Pepto-Bismal shake at home, yum!

Since Niki's idea of a drink is vastly different from what Gene's stomach requires, and if he stayed they would do little but stare and exchange uneasy words, in all likelihood, it's a good thing he turns to leave. "You, too." She sounds like she means it. Niki draws her knees up a little closer and looks out the window on Manhattan.

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