2008-01-23: Identity Explosion

Starring:

Niki_icon.gif Charlotte_icon.gif

Summary: Niki reads the more in-depth files that Gene hunted down for her; Charlotte shares insight — which gives her friend more of an identity crisis than she already had, but she's there to help as always.

Date It Happened: January 23rd, 2008

Identity Explosion


Pinehearst Research

Fort Lee, NJ

The lobby of Pinehearst Research is not the most private place in the world on first glance, but no one really pays attention to you if you're sitting alone, look busy, and have an ID tag. One such ID tag bearing the name 'N. SANDERS' is clipped to the soft emerald green shirt, which bears delicate ruffles down the center, of the blonde who has chosen one of the bright yellow plastic chairs in the middle of the lobby. Niki sits with her knees, untouched by the hem of a brown skirt, leaning to one side. There's a file folder in her possession, open, and she's flipping through the pages inside with a tense expression of bottled up distress.

Charlotte is a PR. Distress is one sign that she's not doing her job. Her own blouse is white with khaki pants - she really likes to blend in. Her own ID badge is squarely clipped on, and she's taking care of it much more now so as not to have to end up under a Senator's desk after hours again. "Niki?" The roommate asks, a stack of files in her arms as she was bustling past. But Niki makes her stop. Niki will always make her stop. Friends are important.

"…Hey, Charlotte." Niki looks up from her perusal of the file, smiling at the friendly PR agent. The smile is just a flash — it's sincere, but whatever is on her mind snuffs it out only a second later. "Got someone from a tech department to run some names," she explains, tilting the open, red folder toward her, "My name, family… I wanted— to find out more than what was in my file, you know." And she glances down, jaw tense. Looks like she got more than she bargained for.

Charlotte cocks her head to the side, moving to sit in a chair near Niki. "Oh. Why didn't you just ask, hunny?" She doesn't try to look at Niki's files, but she's seen it all anyway. Instead, she clings to the files of her own, hugging them comfortably against her chest. "Do you want…to be alone? Do you have any questions?" Tell Charlotte what she can do, don't let her be useless!

"I wanted to see for myself," Niki answers — inasmuch as reading reports and articles on paper can be seeing for herself. She shakes her head ever-so-slightly, tucking a strand of ultra-straightened blonde hair behind her ear after the fact. "Did you know about all this?" A few sheets are gently pried from the file; she leans ahead to offer them to Charlotte. They're felony charges: robbery, grand theft auto, triple homicide — all with her name on them. A copy of a newspaper article from Vegas, all with her name involved and a copy of a mugshot just to make it particularly authentic.

Charlotte takes the paper, and scans it. Nothing she hasn't seen before, but she does it just to make sure this is exactally what she's asking about. "Yes." She answers, handing the paper back. "Look, Niki, there are some things that aren't in there. Some things I just recently found out for myself. Mostly about your memory loss."

"It … it wasn't in my file," Niki says quietly, taking the blaming papers back and hiding them away in the folder. There's more in there, sheets upon sheets of information thanks to Gene. She's about to say something more, darkened blue eyes staring down at the file underneath knit brows, but she clues in to Charlotte's words and looks up, confused. "What do you mean, what things?"

Charlotte needs to tell Niki. "Your amnesia is not due to medical induced trauma. I went to see the doctor you were with when you were kidnapped, and he'd begun a treatment for you, with amnesia as a side effect. Do you know who Jessica is, was she in those papers?"

The road which this conversation is following isn't an easy one to follow — or rather, Niki's having a hard time seeing where it's going to lead. Charlotte's words spark some kind of memory — not of her firsthand past, but of looking through the files. She sits straighter on the edge of the round chair and sifts through the folder. "I had a … a sister," she says quietly, pulling a corner of a page out of the many. "There's an obituary. From back in '87."

Charlotte nods. "That's true, you did. But…I really don't know how to explain it. I don't quite understand it myself." She sets her own stack o' files on a small table beside her, running a hand through her hair and pulling it up in a short little ponytail quickly. "She's also the one who committed all those crimes, from what I was told. You had a split personality, and Jessica was apparently very violent and unreliable. That's why you were with the doctor, to get treatment for her." And…now Niki's head explodes.

Pretty much. But it's a slow explosion, a blast in slow motion. "I don't— " Understand? Not so much, but the reality seems to resonate with her on some level. Maybe she just trusts Charlotte to be telling the truth. Niki eyes seem to cloud over, turning a shoulder away uncomfortably, looking out across the lobby, with its wide open space, its sleek modern furnishings, soft lights against the far wall. She flinches, closing her eyes. "You're saying that I was— more than one person." And here she thought she only had one life to catch up on.

Charlotte nods, wrinkling her nose a little bit. "Yeah. Sorry." Really, what else can you say to that? "That's what I was told anyway, but this doctor gave you some medicine or whatever to fix that. And…it resulted in the memory loss. I've seen him, he wants to see you again to try and help you. I also have another name of someone who can help with it." See, Charlotte doesn't bring just bad news! "Just…don't go see this doctor without me, alright?" She doesn't want to scare the older woman about The Company and all, but there's no reason Niki should get Taken or something. Charlotte will protect her!

"The doctor," Niki repeats — somewhat distractedly, and who can blame her, she's in the midst of an identity crisis even bigger than she knew — and narrows her eyes in thought, just left of Charlotte's form. "Doctor … Suresh?" she repeats, pulling up the name out of the small bank of unfamiliar names she's heard these past few weeks. "Nathan said…"

Charlotte cocks her head to the side. "Senator Petrelli? What did he say about Doctor Suresh?" She seems interested, mostly because she is. Perhaps Nathan didn't know about the treatment?

On the contrary: "When the doctor— the other doctor, the one who took us— when he had us, Nathan said … I was taking medication," Niki says slowly, the Senator's voice coming back to her in foggy pieces. "He said something about side effects — memory loss." She pauses before realization kicks in full force. "He knew," she concludes with some surprise, looking back down at the folder, which she's unconsciously closed.

Charlotte frowns, as she listens. "He knew? But why wouldn't he say anything?" That certainly doesn't make any sense. "When I went to Dr. Suresh, he was surprised that I didn't know about the medication." She looks off to the side, biting softly on her lower lip in thought. Why wouldn't he say anything? He must want Niki to get better, so why stay quiet?

Niki herself, meanwhile, thinks along different lines. Different lines entirely. "I didn't ask," she says simply, shrugging one shoulder, an out-of-place smile brightening her face for an instant. "What's done is done, whatever I took, I can't take it back."

Now it's Charlotte's turn to get confused. "Whatever you took? Oh, the medicine? But Niki, we might be able to get Dr. Suresh to fix it, if you wanted." She adds that last if you wanted perfectly easy. It's part of the equation. If she doesn't want, if she wants to start all new, well that's perfectly fine too.

"I just mean…" Niki, looking down once more, now looks up to smile apologetically at her friend. "I'll go with you," she says. "To Dr. Suresh, I'll go. I'll see what he has to say."

Charlotte nods, but that look of concern doesn't leave her face. "Thank you. You don't…have to, you know." As much as it would make her job ten thousand times easier. "Niki I don't want you to do anything that YOU don't want to do."

"No one's making me do anything," Niki reassures the younger woman. Pushing easily up out of the chair, she tucks her folder between her elbow and the curve of her side. "I'm just trying to do the right thing. As soon as I figure out what that is." She hesitates. "I think it's giving the people who used to be important to me a chance."

Charlotte nods as she listens, remaining sitting for now as she looks up at the older woman. "Well I know you want to do the right thing, and your family, I'm sure would love that. But just remember that you have to take care of yourself as well." She says, twirling a finger in her little ponytail.

Niki adopts a faintly worried look as she looks down at Charlotte; it's not for herself, this time, but for the other woman. "Do you think I should do something different?" she's not hanging on Charlotte's answer, but she wants the opinion of her friend.

Charlotte shakes her head. "I want you to do what you think is right, but I just want to make sure that you don't get caught up with everyone else and forget about yourself." She smiles up at Niki, hoping to get her to relax. "With as much stress as you're under, it'd be easy to forget about yourself in it all, and I just want to make sure you're taken care of." Charlotte doesn't have many friends, but the ones that she does, she aims to take care of.

"I haven't exactly been selfless," Niki admits, tucking her head down with a self-deprecating little smirk. "I'm taken care of," she says after a moment, lips softening into something gentler than touches her eyes with sincerity, turned on Charlotte. "I should let you get back to work. See you later?"

Charlotte nods. "Sure, I'll see you at home. And I'll give that doctor a call, so we cna go whenever you're ready." She touches her friend's arm for a moment before picking up her files. One last smile is given, and she heads out on her way.

Niki's goodbye is another smile before she heads in the opposite direction of Charlotte into the world of Pinehearst so far away from the life she's seen in the pages she carries.

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