2007-10-05: It's All About The Benjamins

Starring:

Benjamin_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: Benjamin helps Niki deal with what's meant to be the last of her stolen cash.

Date It Happened: October 5th, 2007

It's All About the Benjamins


Winters Apartment

Greenwich Village, New York City

There are things that need doing.. Domestically and work related. Are they being accomplished? No. Why? Benjamin is dozing on the couch, with the TV turned to Discovery Channel. The apartment is in its usual state since Rose moved in. Namely, things are out of place, there's a slight mess as if someone who's constantly coming and going is in residence.

Knock-knock-knock. Benjamin has a visitor. Business or pleas— no, let's not even finish that. Niki stands outside of his apartment door, smiling to one of Benjamin's neighbours who heads down the hall behind her, after letting her in the building a moment ago. Now, she waits quietly for the door to open. She's dressed neatly, not unlike she did when she used to work for Cass's bookstore in a powder blue shirt with long, loose sleeves, scrunched at the V with a faux knot, and a pair of slim-fitting grey dress pants. There's a thin grey cardigan over it all. In front of her, she carries a oversized and shiny faux leather purse.

Benjamin starts a little at the knocking on the door. He blinks groggily as he gets up, moving slowly. "Coming," he calls out as he heads to the door. Checking through the peephole first, he's surprised to find Niki on the other side. (If that is Niki. One can't be too sure!) He opens the door with a smile, "Hey Niki. Come on in." He moves aside to let the woman through the door. "What brings you by?"

"Hi!" One can't be too sure if it's Niki or— well, someone else entirely. Understatement. However, the pretty blonde that makes her way into Benjamin's apartment (his neighbours must really gossip, what with visitors like Angie, Elena and Niki) is the woman he knows. Then again, there's something different about her. Something… lighter. Happier. "I'm sorry I didn't call ahead," she apologizes with a brilliant smile. "I just— needed some advice from my favourite accountant. It's not a bad time, is it?"

If there's gossip, Benjamin is oblivious or turns a deaf ear to it. Somethings you just can't fight. The door is shut behind Niki and he gestures for her to have a seat. "It's okay. No no. It's not a bad time at all. Just enjoying having a day off. What can I help you with, and oh, do you want something to drink?"

Seeming relieved that she's not intruding, Niki follows on inside and sits down on the edge of one of the couch's seats. "Sure. Just water or something is fine." She leans ahead a little, over the purse on her lap; her fingers curl around it. "First…" The woman glances down and back up again toward Benjamin, a modest smile skirting her lips. "I just wanted to thank you for all your help before. With working around the money stuff."

Benjamin goes into the kitchen and fills glass with ice and water for Niki. The glass is handed to the woman before he seats himself gingerly in a chair across from her. "Not a problem. I just wanted to help you. I know it's not easy for you, raising Micah. You look like you're doing better though."

Niki takes the glass with a gracious smile and quiet 'thank you' - a pause follows before she speaks up again, wherein she narrows her eyes ever-so-slightly on Benjamin. He's moving kinda slowly. However, she keeps on track for now. "Yeah, I… I am," she agrees with a nod — then another, and another, reassuring herself more than Benjamin. She sips the water before placing it on the coffee table and delivering her news. It's understandably strange to come out and say, even though it's good news; above her purse, her hands slide together, fidgeting. "My husband is— well, he's— he's actually alive. He's home now," she explains, And— we wanna give back the money."

"He.. what? He's alive? What happened?" Benjamin looks surprised at this. Dead is dead, and you don't come back from that! (That he's aware of.) "I'm so happy for you and Micah! That's just fantastic news!" He grins from ear to ear as he looks over at Niki, genuinely glad for her good fortune. "So you want to give the money back? Won't that get you into more trouble and raise questions about it?"

Benjamin's enthusiastic reaction has Niki beaming, but even as she smiles brightly, she casts her face down. "I can't really go into detail, I hope you understand. D.L. is— special. It's pretty fantastic. Good things like this, they just don't happen, you know?" Especially to her. She looks up at the former accountant for a moment, her smile wavering. "He's going to take care of that," she says more assuredly than she feels. "It's just— it's the right thing. But before we get rid of it all…" Niki grabs onto her purse. "I might need your help again, Benjamin."

"That's okay. I understand. Yeah, it's a good thing, don't really question it, right?" Benjamin settles back into his seat, trying to get comfortable, stay comfortable and not sound like he's out of breath. "I can respect that… and okay. What would you like my help with? I'll be happy to work with you Niki." After all, they /bonded/ in the hospital! Practically BFF 4-Ever.

"We just wanna put this all behind us." Not that Niki explained in any detail what 'this' is. "It's just… without this money… we practically have nothing. We gotta live on something if we're gonna start new, and I promised Monica I'd help her family back in New Orleans…" The blonde trails off with a quiet sigh; suddenly, she takes her purse from her lap and sets it side, leaning ahead on her knees to look up at Benjamin. It's financial advice she's looking for, but it's not exactly what she's asking for now. "The money's stolen, all of it. Does it make me a bad person wanting to keep some? I mean, it's hardly anything, but…"

Benjamin looks down and away from Niki. Stolen money.. "No. It doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you human." Pushing up from his seat, he crosses the living room to the small dining area table where his laptop is. Opening it up, the machine boots. "How much are you looking at needing to help with a jumpstart?"

Human. Benjamin's answer quiets the woman, who just watches him blank-faced for a few moments. "…ten grand?" Niki suggests meekly. "But that's a lot to push through the site all at once. It'd look suspicious."

"Give it all back," Benjamin quietly says as he logs into his banking website. He's quiet for a few moments as he checks a few things. What? You think he's got one account as of late? Ha! "I'll be happy to loan you the money. That way the money is returned."

It's difficult to say whether or not Niki understands the full extent of Benjamin's generosity even after he offers it. The realization is a gradual process, painted all over her face, blue eyes slowly honing in on the man and his computer, her mouth falling open a touch more. "Benjamin." That certainly sounds like the beginning of a protest. She stands up from the couch, striding to his side, a hand going to his shoulder. "No. It's way too much! I don't want to owe you anything more than I already do."

Benjamin shakes his head at Niki's protest. "Look.. It's better this way. If you're worried about having stolen money, and being branded a criminal. Give it back. You can pay me back however. I wouldn't offer to loan this to you if I didn't want to help you." The fact is, he's making a lot of money now. More money than he knows what to do with. "Niki.. I've done a lot of investing. This money.. it's just sitting here. Rose's tuition for the year is paid up, same with her books. It's not a problem."

Niki is just as determined. "No, I can't," she insists, distraught over her friend's huge offer. "It's enough that you're helping me at all. Seriously. Benjamin. I can't. We're gonna give it all back. We're gonna pay everything back that we used."

Benjamin looks up at Niki with a frown, "Okay.. so you don't want me to loan the money to you. So we're still working with these stolen funds." He deliberately used that word there, sting! "You're only keeping what you need, and you plan to put that back in the future. Right?"

… Sting. "Every last penny," Niki answers with conviction. She holds onto the back of Benjamin's chair, her other hand on her hip as she looks over his shoulder at the computer. "Even if they don't deserve it. It's the right thing. The … good thing. We'll pay it back ourselves. It's our problem to fix."

"Okay.. look.. I really don't mind the loan. No interest even. Just know, if you change your mind or it becomes necessary. That option is there." Closing out the bank information on his screen, Benjamin turns his attention back up to Niki. No worries, no seekrit information was blaring on the screen to see. "So now we're left with this money to help keep the family afloat for a few months and to funnel back to family in New Orleans. That's easy."

"Thank you." Niki smiles, soft around the edges. She means it, appreciates it a lot, even if she's not taking Benjamin up on his offer. "'Easy,'" she repeats with a hint of a laugh, turning to sit down at one of the dining room chairs. "You sound like my son. How is that easy?"

Benjamin chuckles as he watches Niki take a seat. "Creative accounting. Nothing that's illegal.. just a little unethical. What sort of dollar amount are you looking to funnel back to New Orleans? Say… 5k? There are options like using cash.. but with the postal service, I wouldn't recommend it. There's offshore accounts too."

"Maybe we should take a trip— doesn't sound like a bad idea to … get away," Niki says, distant, voice low, almost as if she were talking more to herself than Benjamin. Get away. "Next step is figuring out how to explain where we even got it, but that's not your problem," she says with a smile, only a touch wry. "What do I have to do?"

Benjamin grins across at Niki, "That's a good solution then if you want to go that route." He pulls over a pad of paper and pencil and starts writing. He's careful to not lean over too much or too far. "Now.. due to the IRS and the tax laws.. you have to be careful about the amounts of money you accept. Sometimes you can be triple taxed. This could easily be described as gambling winnings, but .. nevermind let's not get into that.. we'll keep this simple.." Then he's going into detail on the simplest scenario for Niki.

"… I'm not a total stranger to gambling winnings," Niki admits before leaning an elbow on the table and listening to Benjamin's wise words.

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