2008-05-16: Expect the Unexpected


Niki_icon.gif Gene_icon.gif Jaden_icon.gif

Summary: After leaving Kory's, Niki tries to warn Gene and gets more than she expected, in more ways than one, and not only because the infamous Jaden Cain happens to be visiting.

Date It Happened: May 16th, 2008

Expect the Unexpected

New York City

In the driver's seat of her parked car uptown, which proves to be more of an annoyance than anything else on the streets of NYC, but is courtesy of Pinehearst Research, Niki Sanders sits and scrolls through a list of numbers on a cell phone. They're nameless. Just numbers. She hesitates over each before one remains highlighted longer than the rest.

It's going to be one of those days.

The kind that go on approximately forever. That may be an exaggeration, but given that it's barely past nine in the morning and Niki is already faced with a ton of challenges, it's one of those days.

Niki calls the number and, sighing already, brings the phone to her ear.

"These are the martial artists that I pulled up. Jeet Kung Do, Shaolin Karate, Shotokan… You know the necessary ones. You should know that if you want to continue with this, you'll have to travel outside the city for long periods of time. You SURE you want to do this? Even if the powers work like I think they should, it could take a few years to truly be at the point where you are a martial artist that can actually hold his own. Are there any other skills you need to learn? I COULD train you a bit in what I do. But it's kinda-"

The conversation in Gene's apartment is paused as he gets the call. He takes the phone from his desk, glancing to who is calling. "Hey, Jaden, looks like we are gunna have to pause for second. It looks like Niki is calling me and I have to take it. It's likely important. In the meantime, just hang around. I don't mind you hearing the conversation, just DON'T jump in." With that, he turns on his cell phone, but puts it on speaker, which is surprisingly good.

"Hey, Niki, this is Gene. Something up?"


Jaden is sitting down on the floor, indian style, looking up at Gene and listening in with rapt attention. Which is kind of funny, considering that he's got this look on his face that makes him look like he's waiting for Conjunction Junction to tell him his Function.

Jaden is also, at this very moment, digging through Gene's fridge for anything even remotely close to alcoholic. "Yo, G! You mean to tell me you don't have BEER?!"

Jaden is also, right now, sprawled out on the sofa, literally flipping through the latest copy of Maxim. He turns the magazine upside centerfold style and peers at the picture. "Goddamn. Please tell me you're for sale." He doesn't actually expect the picture to talk back, but he's lost in the heavenly cleavage.

Jaden's playing video games, too. Toying with a new design from EvoSoft that incorporates some serious portable gaming that makes the PSP look like a frisbee. Something about holographic technology. He's really, really, focused right now, so no witty commentary at the moment.

There is, however, a moment that all the Jadens manage to catch up with what Gene just said and they all look at each other. "Niki?" and then all eyes are on Gene. Because they have a very, very, important question to ask.

"Is she hot?"

"Hey, Gene," comes the woman's voice over the speakerphone that she's not aware she's on. Yet. Even the simple "hey", while polite enough, bears the typical weight something important!, just as the young genius expected. "Something's gonna go … down— " Niki stops, narrowing her eyes at no one in particular in the privacy of her car somewhere in the city. //One/ voice she might not have heard, but all of the identical voices at once…it just sounds louder. "—is there someone with you?"

Jaden, unison, "HI NIKI!"

"I told you no talking, Jaden. Dammit, now I am going to…" Gene pauses to realize he could have lied to hide Jaden's presence. "Dammit… Well, um, Niki, this is Jaden. He is my boss and um, the guy I'm training to be a super hero. Don't ask, it's complicated. Jaden, this is Niki. She is very attractive, but I have no idea who she's involved with and she has the strength of a rabid puma." Short awkward pause. "…Don't touch her chest area, even to ensure she is not a mental representation." Sadly for Jaden, that might have just saved his life. Considering the matter at hand, Gene shakes his head. "Either way, Niki, he's worked with me in projects in the past, I trust him fully. What's going on?"

"Yeah. He trusts me completely."
"Not you. He trusts me."
"Both of you are idiots and have mouths bigger than Jabberjaw. He trusts /me/!"
"Oh please."
"Oh no you didn't!"
"Yes, I did!"
"All of you shut up!"
"Make me!"
"I am you!"
"Oh for the love of…"

And that continues on for quite sometime, though it at least fades into the background as those four Jadens all get into an argument about whatever and whoever and things of that nature in regards to being trusted. Somewhere in the midst of that argument, a toilet flushes and stepping out of the bedroom, is Jaden Bond. Straightening his tie, he makes his way back to where everyone else is and proceeds to pull up a chair, spin it and straddle it as he gets closer to Gene and the speaker cell-phone of awesome.

"Well, then." Bond quips in his best Sean Connery-cent. "I suppose meeting this attractive woman is quite the order of the day. After all, I came to New York to see the sights."

Niki gives a start, holding the phone away from her ear for a moment and giving it a confused and rather unimpressed look before tentatively listening back in. She may actually regret it somewhat. There's a long pause. "…Um," she says with an unsure laugh under her breath despite the about-to-be-serious topic. She doesn't make it to explaining her point of calling, given the multitude of similar voices talking— arguing— over each other. "…wait. Boss? I thought you worked for Pinehearst." Squint. "How many friends do you have over there?"

"My life grows more complicated with each person that I met, Niki… It's a really long story. And I have just Jaden here… Um, one. He likes to goof around and stuf." Gene gives a nervous laugh as Niki is learning more in this conversation about him than she might in the last few weeks. "Anyway, Niki, what was it that you wanted to talk about?" he says, trying his best to just gracefully move past Jaden's attempts to get the woman to come over to his apartment. Of course, there is suddenly as pause as Gene realizes something.

Turning away from the phone, the young geek has one important question. "Jaden, what the heck were you doing in my bedroom?"

The Jadens are still arguing in the background and one of them is brandishing a pillow to fight with. It's going to get ugly back there. But the main one, Jaden Bond, is more focused on this phone conversation than he is anything else. It's really wild over here in this apartment, that's for sure. His Sean Connery-cent is still strong as he replies, "Debriefing." With that said, he then turns to looking at the phone. As if he could see Niki through it. "I'm willing to bet M's salary that the point of this conversation is highly sensitive. Perhaps the phone isn't the best venue." Cracking a smile that he knows the woman can't see, he leans in closer. "Perhaps a more… personal touch… is needed. Hands free just doesn't go the distance anymore." Oh brother.

"YOUR BRIEFS STAY ON WHEN YOU ARE IN MY BEDROOM!" Gene yells, shaking a fist in the air. Yes, Jaden and Gene are serious super heroes.

"I— " …am getting nowhere, Niki thinks as she hears Gene go away to ask his friend the question followed by the guy with the accent. Who is the same guy without the accent— man, it's noisy over where. Insert another long pause here, in time for Gene to yell about his underpants. See again: one of those days. "…Look," the woman says with an impatient edge. "you're right, who…ever you are, I don't really want to talk about this over the phone, but you guys are obviously… occupied, or— " Another laugh under her breath; this one is less amused. "… something, and I have other places to be today— "

Sighing, Gene shakes his head as he thinks about the matter for a few moments. It's clear that Niki is not in the mood for fun and games (as is USUALLY the case) but he needs to talk to her. Who knows, maybe the world depends on it as melodramatic as it seems. "Niki, you SAID it was important. If it is, you need to tell me now. If you really don't feel comfortable telling it over the phone, then meet me in person. You want to meet at your place or mine?"

"I'm already in the city," Niki answers quickly, starting the engine — a low rumble that can be heard over the phone — now that she might know where she's going soon. "Where are you?"

Jaden Bond merely continues to look and listen to everything that's going on between the Nerd and the Hottie. He doesn't have anything to add at this particular juncture. But that could have something to do with him blipping the other Dittos out of existence, before they completely turn this apartment into the UFC Championship ring.

"I'll text you the address and the directions," Gene states, already having a program on his phone to do such things. While he is not able to talk to machines, when Gene is prepared, it seems almost like he can. When the directions are sent, Gene gives a simple, "Talk to you soon", waits for her response, and then he hangs up.

Looking toward Jaden, Gene figures it's time to give the important facts about Niki, in order of what Jaden would consider important. "No, she won't have sex with you. Yes, she is a stripper. Yes, she has a kid. I have no idea if she is dating anyone. She is a coworker from work and is helping me investigate an evil organization. No, she doesn't want my body."

Jaden Bond smirks. "Good. I'll give her mine instead." And yes, it as it this point that Jaden Bond starts fixing his hair. Just to make sure he looks good for the arrival.

Niki hangs up and gives the phone a bewildered stare before she starts the car. Decidedly on a mission, she looks this way and that before pulling out into the street, now that she knows what direction she's going in.

* * *

And so it is that, a short while later — not long at all — there comes a knock-knock at Gene's door. Obviously, it's none other than Niki who waits for the door to open (or Las Vegas Niki, in certain internet circles). It's a warm spring morning outside, and the clothes she happened to throw together before making sure the kids got to school are suited to the nice weather: a white tank top with a bit of glitz, cowboy style boots and a pair of denim shorts. Yeah, the short-short variety. Moving on. "Gene…?"

In New York, there are a multitude of apartments both grandiose and gritty. This place manages to be neither. A two room apartment, this place is the size of an upper class dining room. In one corner is the kitchen area, which fits in a stove (which is never used), a fridge (often filled with soda, ice cream, premade foods and little else), and a pantry (filled with cans of things can be mircowaved). The kitchen area is separate from the rest of the room by a small counter, which is used as a dining area. It can fit two comfortably, four if they squish together. There are three barstools by it, but only one is pulled out. The other three quarters of the room is taken up by a small bed, cheap table with a decent desktop computer on it, and floor lamp that serves to give light to the room.

Usually, the place is temperature controlled, and the hardwood floors are mostly clean. While the place is in good shape, it seems almost like something in a museum. There are no posters on the wall, little proof that someone has lived in the area. Or at least there was at some point. Now it seems like the existance of a lonely man. Empty Easy Mac containers, empty TV dinners, and various heart-killing microwave ready foods litter the area, as well as various electronic equipment, most of it in some state if disrepair or another. A few bottles of various stomach relief medication and pain killers litter the area, as well as various home remedy books, most of them flagged with bits of junk mail. Not the organized place it used to be, but Gene is not exactly the organized young genius he used to be known as.

Either way, the geek soon comes up to the door, dressed in a simple black t-shirt and loose fitting jean shorts. He has no shoes on, only socks. His hair is disshoved and he has some patches of facial hair, not old or man enough to grow a full beard yet. "Come on in, Niki… I apologize about the mess. Been busy." With that, he makes his way inside, knowing that Jaden is here as well.

Jaden Bond is standing inside, making sure his tie is ready to be amazingly and perfectly straight. Which it is, considering that he's been spending the last few minutes making sure it's that way. At the arrival of Niki, his eyes bug out of his head for a brief moment, but he manages to subdue that with Connery Coolness and just plasters on a bit of a smirk. "Niki, I presume?" is said with the offering of his hand to be shaken (not stirred). "Let me guess. Short… for Nicolavitch Striponia?" Oh dear.

"Thanks for letting me come on short notice." Niki, holding tight to the strap of the heavy silvery purse over her shoulder, looks past Gene before following him in. She does, eventually, but only after she's spent some time eyeing Jaden does she stride purposefully into the apartment. "…Nnno." She glances narrow-eyed to Gene as if to say 'what did you tell him?', but finds herself eyeing the man in the suit more carefully (and incredulously). She extends her hand to shake Jaden's, but draws it back at the last second and points curiously at him. "I think I know you from somewhere."

Gene just shrugs at Niki, merely remaining silent for the time being. As soon as Niki enters in, he closes the door and just locks it. For Niki, it shouldn't be a big deal, considering she can rip the door to shreds if she really wants. After that, he moves silently back toward his own desk, taking a seat as Niki and Jaden meet one another first the first(?) time.

"I get around." Mr. Bond remarks, before suddenly looking at his laser watch. "Speaking of… my time's out." And with a wink towards Niki and the pun intended, he heads off towards Gene's bedroom once more. For who knows what.

Niki's curious and calculating expression doesnt change as she watches Jaden Bond disappear. Maybe it's the accent throwing her off. With a quick shake of her head to dismiss the weirdness that is Jaden, she hones in on Gene's desk. "We're gonna try shut down the labs," she gets down to business, "If you can help, great, if not, you're gonna wanna stay away from Pinehearst 'cause I have a feeling all hell is about to break loose."

"Considering Pinehearst is Pinehearst, stuff is likely going to come back to me ANYWAY, more so if any of you get caught," Gene states with a sigh as he takes a seat. "Who is we? I take it that it involves you and future Peter," the young man concludes as he folds his arms, seemingly unimpressed with the Peter from the future. Then again, there aren't too many people that Gene gets along with too well these days. The down side of being a paranoid young kid.

Niki seems thrown, for a second, at the mention of Peter — she recovers after gaping and, shoulders going rigid, she tosses her head. "No. Peter doesn't know about this." Or maybe he does. He could be standing in the middle of Gene's apartment right now. Who would know? "It'll be done through the computers. The lab stuff. They made the formula work, so if they're still producing it, now's the time to stop it. I figured I'd warn you, 'cause they're gonna be looking for someone to blame."

There is a long pause as Gene's razor sharp mind works. There is only one person that he knows that could do the work that Niki is aware of. "Don't tell me you got your SON involved with all of this."

It takes a moment for Niki to process what Gene is saying; not that he knows, but that he made the leap of logic. She closes her eyes and holds more tightly to the strap of her purse. Her voice is stiff. "I just thought you should know what's going on."

The Geek God just looks toward Niki, giving her a probing stare with those blue eyes of his before he responds. Placing an elbow on his desk, he takes in a deep breath as he considers. He doesn't mind that Niki is waiting for something, he just takes the time to mull. Finally after roughly fifteen seconds, he just starts to laugh. It's a stifled chuckle at first, then it becomes a full out laugh.

Niki, blue eyes of her own snapping open, instinctively backs away from the out-of-place laughter. She's definitely not feeling like laughing at the moment. She glances off to the side as if expecting Gene's guest to return. "What's wrong with you," she says, but ultimately eyes the 'Geek God' warily.

"I've just learned how much you hate me. It must be a pretty f-ing lot," Gene replies as he gives Niki a bittersweet smile.

"I don't— " Confusion, no less wary, clouds the woman's gaze. She shifts her purse on her shoulder. Niki smiles, but it's discomfited as she tries to figure out where the young man is coming from. "I don't… know what you're talking about, Gene."

"Well, when we first met, you thought I was a freak. You didn't want me near your son because you thought I was dangerous, anti-social, or some mix of the two. Time went on, and we met again at Pinehearst. You wanted me help, I gave it to you. You were kidnapped in Vegas, I did everything in my power to save you. Most people would be grateful, but not you. When it came to Pinehearst, I risked my butt to protect you and even any good graces with you to try and protect you. Not that you'd understand that." Pause. "Clearly. So, when it came time to get into the computers, instead of trusting the task to me, or even helping your son when he goes into the Lions' Den alone, you just tell me what is happening and ask me to flee."

The Geek God gets up, using a hand against the desk to brace himself, he almost falls over. He doesn't though, merely continuing his speech as if a spotlight were shining on the unique lad. "So that leaves me with three choices. First, this is a trap where you are trying to do something either to sell me out or to trick me into doing something. I doubt that one for reasons you don't want to hear. Second, this is something forced on you by the head guys at Pinehearst as a trap, in which case, might as well go along with it since they likely know about everyone ELSE because someone thought it was a great idea to draw everyone in. If I have a back-up plan, I won't tell you since you'd snitch on me ANYWAY. Thirdly, it could be that you just don't want me around unless you have NO other choice and you are just warning me because no matter how much you hate me, you at least feel that I've done enough to warrant a simple warning to get out of town, which will make you feel better AND ensure you likely will never see me again."

At the end of his speech, Gene has moved into his kitchen area to get himself a water from the Pur system he's got in the fridge. He's poured two glasses, one in each hand. He offers one to Niki if she want, seemingly not caring how she takes his words as if some tragic peace about it.

There are several points in which Niki looks defiant, even hurt, or worried, but she lets Gene speak his piece. By the time she's turning to accept the glass of water, her jaw is set and she's glaring at the young man … Probably not helping his opinion of her and her intentions. "Look. I barely even know you," she says with a humourless little laugh, though her smile, short-lived as it is, is almost hopeful. "You think you know me? You don't. I am grateful, Gene. Okay? I am. I told you that you could help if you wanted to," she points around the curve of the glass of water, which she clutches tightly. "But every time I try to let you in on what I know, you think I'm tricking you. I don't blame you for that." How many incarnations of Niki has Gene met? Last year's Niki, Niki without her memory, Niki playing Jessica… and now. She steps back to put the glass of water on Gene's desk. "I wanted to keep you safe."

As he listens, Gene sips his water, clearly paying attention to Niki's words, despite the fact that he seems unmoved. At least she has his interest. Once Niki is finished, Gene shrugs his shoulders. "You don't trust me, how am I supposed to trust you? Last time I checked, you were the one that slammed me out. As for protecting me? I'm dying anyway, I don't really care one way or another. Well, save the times I'm crying my eyes out because it looks like I'm gunna die before I can legally drink or before I have a girlfriend, but I doubt that's the part of me you really want to know. Hell, there's a whole LOT of me you don't want to know."

Gene pulls off his shirt, turning his back toward Niki. Thankfully, he isn't about to engage in non-G-rated show and tell, which is likely what Niki is fearing. Instead he shows something on his back; a mostly faded scar that looks like a brand. "See that? Got that when I was four or five from my old man a bit after my mom died. The school counselor claims that's why I have 'trust issues'. Considering I've learned that there actually ARE people out to get their hands on people with abilities, it seems like a little paranoia was a handy thing to have anyway." The shirt is put back on. "So, that's why I mostly don't care about danger these days and some of the reason why I'm me. There, you can't say I don't share."

And again, Niki stays quiet to hear him out. Surprised, naturally, when Gene takes his shirt off, she expects the unexpected anyway. This is Gene we're talking about. She listens quietly, not without sympathy. In fact, she looks so sympathetic that her face looks honestly pained. Frowning, she glances away, eyes distant for a few seconds… then a few more, and a few more, and just when it seems like the woman has spaced out entirely in her own storm, she snaps back. "Never thought I'd say this, but we're more alike than you'd think." Niki steps toward Gene, a hand outstretched in a calming gesture. "I'm sorry."

"Nah, you're a better pole dancer than me. Only by this much though," Gene states as he puts two fingers up with only a small gap between them. His attempt at humor, it would seem, perhaps his way of mostly accepting the apology/sympathy from Niki.

Niki chokes on a quiet laugh and can't help but smile at Gene. It's a far gentler smile than the kind he's used to from her, and it seems as though she does understand him a little better than she said she did. Maybe in light of his recent explanations. She turns to set her purse down on the desk, rifling through it until she finds a small pad of post-its shaped like a purple flower and a pen. "I'm just going to give you this." Something is scrawled on the paper, which she hands to Gene.

Micah.net. "And you can decide whatever." Slinging her purse over the opposite shoulder than the one that has a healing scar her shirt doesn't quite hide, Niki starts for the door.

Smiling back, the Geek God takes the post-it and looks at it… Before eating it. Yeah, looks like it's gunna be a habit of his. "I'll talk with Micah…" Gene states before drinking some water (post-it notes are harder to keep down). "But before you do, one question."

What is that crumpling sound? Niki twists on her way to the door. ..Did he really just— again? That's never going to seem normal. Her incredulous expression hasn't quite run its course before she lifts her brows and prompts good-naturedly enough, "What is it?"

"Nathan Petrelli, we know what he'll do when all this goes down?" Gene frowns as he considers the possibilities. "After all, Arthur might have the abilities, but if Nathan really wants to put in the screws…" Gene figures Niki might not be a genius, but he knows her to be smart enough to know what Nathan could do.

Niki just stares at first, but the moment of speechlessness passes quickly. "Don't worry about Nathan," she reassures. "He's not actually…" She shakes her head. "He won't be going back to Pinehearst. I can't… explain… right now…" But at least she shoots Gene an apologetic look this time. Progress?

The Geek God is not amused. Still, he doesn't seem as upset as times past, perhaps willing to give Niki the benefit of the doubt this time around. "Right. As long as we don't have to worry about him, then it's a simple matter of taking down the network, Pinehearst, and killing a guy with who knows how many abilities. Maybe I'll start figuring out ways to kill Arthur… Unless we have some other way to stop him without hacking off his head with an industrial laser or something."

"… I don't know," is all Niki has to say on the Methods of Killing Arthur Petrelli. Again, she faces the door, ready to leave letting Gene think about industrial lasers all by his lonesome. Or… Almost lonesome. "…Hang on a second," the blonde says out of nowhere. It's her turn for a question. One day, she'll actually leave Gene's apartment. She turns around slowly, shooting a sharp, studying look at the inventor. "Your friend," she glances the way Jaden disappeared to, "…you said… Jaden. That's Jaden … Cain."

Well, maybe they'll have some Q&A some wine and then the night will soon be morning, keeping each other warm in bed completely naked. Wait, that's Jaden's fantasy, not Gene's.

Speaking of the man, Gene rubs his head with a nervous laugh. "Yeah, he's my friend, my boss. Before I worked for Pinehearst, I was kinda making devices for a company that his company bought. I have a lab. It's where I made those mutli-million doller recon planes that got EXPLODED by your friends in the desert, my car, all sorts of stuff. Not really much in the way of weapons, but I'd have to work for the big defense contractors for that. You know, like Boeing or Lockheed Martin. They didn't offer me as protective a plan as Eric Lancaster's father, so I went with where I worked at the time." Gene shrugs, acting as if being one outta ten kids get their own privately funded lab. "So, me and Cain got to know one another. We hang out from time to time, but obviously me working with Pinehearst made me distance myself from a lot of my friends. Nothing like going from a joke of a social life to none at all."

"…Oh. That's…" Niki hunts for a word and winds up smiling in disbelief. "…really convenient." Without explanation, at first, she hurries to retrieve the pen and paper from her purse again and, using the wall as a desk, jots something else down. This time it's not a website, but a name and phone number. Not hers. Sorry, Jaden. "I knew I recognized him from somewhere! Could you give him this?" A second flower-shaped note is outstretched to Gene. "He's on— a list, it's complicated. It looks like your work and your social life might be getting a little closer." With a brief smile, she turns again — and this time actually opens the door.

"If you want him to risk his life, he'll likely ask to smack your rear a few times," Gene states in a matter of fact tone after he takes the note. "I suggest letting him do it… Or finding someone as attractive as yourself as a stand in. Just FYI." Actual important message or Gene being a good friend in that odd way only Gene can? Only time will tell.

Before she's on her way, Niki pauses in the threshold long enough to say: "…I think I'll chance it."

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