2008-05-03: Greener Pastures


Niki_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif

Summary: Niki takes Nathan for a walk. (Seriously.) It's a good break from being kept behind walls for everyone's safety.

Date It Happened: May 3rd, 2008

Greener Pastures

Lower Manhattan

New York City

"Watch your step," says Niki as she leads the way down the few steep and narrow steps that lead down from the tall building with its loftspaces (and elevators, unlike the outside world) which they leave behind. It's a beautiful day, and West Broadway is busy with pedestrians. The apartment Nathan has been holed up in is in Tribeca, as it turns out: Tribeca Park is visible from here, along with other little details of the lower Manhattan neighbourhood.

The city's influenced Niki today in fashion, which helps to blend in — grey satiny corset jumpsuit with shorts even though it's a knockoff of something fancier, big sunglasses that hide her face. She holds tightly onto Nathan, her good (right) arm twisted securely around his, for no other reason than she knows that he could turn into another person and try to push her into oncoming traffic and run (limp) away at any moment.

NYC is none the wiser.

Run, limp, hobble. Certainly not fly. Nathan never knew he could be so nervous about a simple thing like stepping outside, but it's— it's been a while. And there are circumstances, reasons that have to do with Niki's tight clutch on his arm. Which doesn't have to do with his age, thank you, no matter what the crutch attached to his right arm might suggest, an unflattering hoop of grey plastic secure just beneath his elbow, hand braced against the handle and using it like some overgrown extension of his arm in shining metal.

At least people will give them automatic leeway. Then again, this is New York City.

"Watchin' it," Nathan confirms, cautiously navigating his way to the sidewalk. He's had some practice, but not a hell of a lot. Niki's sturdy support is appreciated, although as soon as they're on flat ground, he's taking his weight off her, rather pointedly.

He, too, is dressed for the occasion, insofar as he's not dressed as casually as a forced vacation has allowed him to be. A button down shirt is tucked into slacks, all muted, conservative colours, and a more casual sport coat on over that. Any glances with Niki will lead to mutual reflection of sunglasses, his perched on his face in an effort to not look like the absent Senator of New York. Grown out hair and somewhat unshaven face might be of some help. Through the blank black of sunglasses, he observes the sky in a glance up. Nice weather. "I feel like you're taking me out for a walk," he comments. "Nice of you, all things considered."

"I am taking you out for a walk," Niki's answer arrives rather deadpanned as she stops for a moment to follow Nathan's glance up to the sky behind similarly black sunglasses. A small smile softens her lips a moment later, directed at the forced shut-in. "All things considered," she repeats more gently, "You deserve it." Her grip is no less firm on the man's arm as she starts to walk away from the building, pace slow, casual, no less close at his side for the 'just incase' scenario they both know is possible. …And to help him, if he happens to trip and fall. Shh, old man. "You're not a prisoner, Nathan. He's the one that needs to be locked up."

That word, 'deserve'. It has been splashed around pretty liberally lately. It's nothing Nathan chooses to make a deal out of, just shares a tight smile with her. There is really only so much self-pity one can exude at a time. Besides, he agrees with her. "Pretty sure if I stayed in that room any longer I'd have gone stir crazy enough you couldn't tell us apart," he comments, lightly, despite the topic, as they make their slow, meandering way down the sidewalk. "There's only so much exercise you can get out of walking ten paces from the bed to the bathroom, you know?"

Niki glances down at the overused sidewalk and allows a hint of an agreeing laugh under her breath. "At least you're not in a straightjacket," she comments, half a mumble. Someone might be speaking from experience. Not that being handcuffed to a bed is comfy either. The blonde's gaze isn't pointed down for long: there's a touch of paranoia in the way Niki takes stock of exactly where they are 24/7. She's not just taking a man with a propensity to change into a more vicious personality who stabbed her in the arm for a walk, she's also out with the Senator of New York, dressed down or not, and some people are more perceptive than others.

"There's that," Nathan allows, and if he clicks on to whether or not Niki was speaking from personal experience— well, they have a park to get to. Let's not slow down the trek. The crutch swings lazily, expertly even, allowing for enough weight to settle on each round so that the limp in his step is almost nonexistent. It's more in place as a matter of security, making sure he doesn't face the pathetic situation of being too sore to get back to the apartment. "So what's going on at Pinehearst?"

That was only a matter of time. A masked glance of black glass is sent Niki's way, the question casual, as if maybe if he sounded too earnest, interested, pointed, she wouldn't let him in on it. "You know. Just lately. I'd ask about my career but that's a little too depressing to fathom."

As much as she's aware of the street and the people on it, Niki watches Nathan, too — her just how keen her observations (cautious, worried, careful), are is lost to the naked eye, however, mostly hidden behind the slick and reflective surface of her sunglasses. "I … honestly wouldn't know. It's kind of a danger zone, you know? I try not to go in lately." But maybe he's not speaking just about lately. Niki stops at a crosswalk — otherwise known as a slew of New Yorkers barrelling across the street whenever the chance they'll get hit by a taxi is only about 2 in 5 — long enough to step onto the pave. "…do you… do you have any idea…?"

That's not so promising. Much expression can be found in the eyes, and it goes undetected now, for both of them. Stepping up onto pavement, arm still offered to Niki's everpresent grip, Nathan gives a shrugging motion. "It was his project. Never mine," he says, somewhat bitterly. "The most I remember was after— " His words trip over themselves for a moment, unwilling to really put words to what had happened to them both, so he tries to articulate it in a slight head tilt. Just, after. "The clinics. Linderman, somehow. My father. But no, it— it's not my office, up there, not my work. I was hoping to hear that maybe you and Peter had burned it to the ground already on principle."

Nathan's particular choice in words draws another laugh out of the woman at his side, although this one isn't as light. It's a little on the dark side. "'Last resort'," she replies, her voice taking on the distinct twist of someone who is just repeating words said to them. "If you ask me, we're already there." They approach the park and Niki walks past the short wrought iron fence that surrounds it.

Stone footpaths work their way through the little park, greenery and flowers and tall trees doing their best to bring some nature in. It's still very obvious they're in the middle of a big city, all the same, but it's a quaint getaway. Niki lets her close grip on Nathan retreat just enough for her to take his arm at the wrist, instead, to lead him to a bench. With her free hand, only a bit stiffly, she pushes her sunglasses up onto her head, revealing the sensitive blue eyes, a bright contrast to the starker image the shades tended to provide. "You should… know… what's going on. What he's been working on— what they're doing there. You should know."

He allows himself to be led. Gosh, he really is being taken for a walk. Nathan accepts his fate far easier than he might have done mere months ago, steering on over towards the bench and gladly sitting down. Discomfort aside, it's just— a nice place to be. He untangles his arm from the solitary crutch, balances it against the bench at his side and sits back. Unlike her, he doesn't take off his glasses, if only to continue being as incognito as such an accessory allows.

"I know— some things," Nathan says, carefully. "I know he got his hands on— blood. Claire's blood. I don't understand what they were tryna do, what his specifics goals were. Knowing him, he saw a potential for power and latched on, damn the consequences. Specifically? It's over my head. He kept things from me deliberately."

Niki sinks down onto the wooden slats of the bench, sitting at a bit of an angle at Nathan's immediate side, arm looped around his — close, not just for security, but for the bizarre and sensitive topic they're broaching. There's nothing particularly comfortable about the pose, despite appearances. "He kept it from me, too. Well … from 'Jessica'. Most of it, anyway." But that didn't stop her from finding out. "There's… this 'formula' that Pinehearst has. If they make it work, it'll…" Niki trails off, unnerved and squinting slightly in the sun that sneaks through the trees. "…it'll make people like us."

Aaaand… it clicks into place. Pinehearst, the connections, the secrecy. Nathan's eyes hood a little behind black glass, a twist of a smile that can only be interpreted as sardonic, bitter, visible in contrast. "Of course," Nathan says, head tilting back a little, eyes up to the sky for a moment, once more. "Who wouldn't want to be like us?" Yeah, really. Quieter, he adds, "Son of a bitch." Careful, Nate, that's your mother you're talking about. He doesn't seem to care, however, arm tense in Niki's hold. "What does he want to do, make it public? Or is he branding and selling it off to the highest bidder yet?"

Niki hesitates before replying. She tentatively lays her other hand on Nathan's arm too — some measure of comfort. Some of it… might just pre-emptive. "He was bringing it to the government. I mean, that had to be it, the project he was working on— he had … names. Of…" Another bout of hesitation; worried eyes fixed on Nathan, she goes on, "… soldiers. He was trying to get people to sign off on it."

Because what couldn't be more perfect? Logan's little army of superpowered tin soldiers. His free hand has wandered back towards the angled crutch, closing a hand around the handle and absently levering it against the ground in a restless gesture. As if maybe he'd rather be pacing. There's a long period of silence wherein Nathan pointedly does not articulate exactly what he feels about this. He has lots to say, but more important things to bring up. "So maybe we cut their political ties," Nathan says, quietly. "If I'm not already a non-entity, if Peter hasn't already— maybe he could… do that thing he does. The illusions. Maybe he could resign for me."

"Yeah, maybe," Niki says quietly in return, offering a shaky smile that isn't all that reassuring, under the significant challenges. Or maybe it is that easy. "And I think I know a way to slow down their work in the labs. All of them. Everywhere," she ventures. "To just… shut them down. We'll beat this, Nathan."

"Losing a senator on their side would only cripple them for so long. Politicians are typically easy," Nathan agrees, voice mildly scathing if a little good-humoured, at least. "And god knows there's enough of 'em. Maybe when this whole thing is over, I'll— be helpful. Not to say I don't appreciate how green these pastures are."

Niki just stays quiet on that note, letting her gaze slip past Nathan and into the street behind them. "…people are gonna start wondering where you are soon." Logan, rather. "I… coordinated your schedule— " There's a brief flicker of a smile, there. "But that's not gonna stick forever." A tentatively inquiring look settles on the Senator. "Have you seen Peter lately?"

A minute shrug, veering away from the responsibility of such things, like his whereabouts. "No, it's not," Nathan unhelpfully agrees, glancing away and around them. May as well take in his surroundings while he still has them, even going so far as to take off his glasses briefly. Colours of a park in the spring time are nicer untainted. A pause, a glance. Bad time to lose the barrier, but oh well. He clears his throat. "Peter? Now and then."

Niki catches that glance, but save for a faint narrowing of her eyes at Nathan, her face stays neutral. Even too neutral. "…Maybe you can talk to him," she suggests with one shoulder shrugging toward her ear, "About the…" What did he call it? "Illusions. Whatever it is he does." She looks quickly out of the park once more, tagging on quickly, "Is there anywhere you wanna go— ?"

"I will." His voice is relenting, almost apologetic. No need for weird clippiness in his voice just because— just because. Of idle suspicions made confirmed. He already has a cane-thing now, anyway, what use does Nathan have to feel even older than he does without his younger brother having sex with an ex-fling?

And etcetera. His wife is pretty and he loves her. Speaking of which— "Well I did here there was a Hooters down this way," Nathan says, wryly. "But I'm guessing both that and home is out of the equation." If Jack were taking him for a walk, he'd be having to argue his way out of beer, wings and women in tight t-shirts. Now there's a name he hadn't let himself think about for a while.

Niki can't help but lift an eyebrow. "…I'm gonna be out've a job once I finish sabotaging this one, maybe I should bring my resume," she says with a wry laugh — and a softer smile that says she's joking. Mostly. …More seriously, she adds, "It's not really my place to say if you can go home or not. I don't even know if there's anyone there."

"There probably won't be," Nathan says, with a shake of his head. "It would just be nice…" The mansion does strange things. Sometimes it can feel like a gilded cage, and starkly unfamiliar. His father's home, still, after all this time. Other times it's soaked with childhood memory that it acts as a suitable comfort. Then again, no doubt everyone's been fired. The gardens overgrown and the dust settled. "Another time. Let's go back. May as well not push our luck first go, right?"

"You're probably right. I'm not exactly Lady Luck." Just Las Vegas Niki — who gets to her feet, flat-sandaled for once. She allows Nathan a brief moment of freedom untouched on the bench while extends her hand down to be taken. She's got her eye on him, and after all, he'd have to hop a fence to get anywhere fast.

He misses the small things, too busy securing his arm back into place in the crutch and by the time she's offering out her hand, he's taking it, getting to his feet and allowing her slender arm to insinuate around his. "Maybe not," Nathan says, as they start to move back down the path. "But on the bright side, being just Niki must be kind of cool."

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