2008-08-09: Mutually Beneficial


Jack_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: A lesson, an offer, and an answer.

Date It Happened: August 9th, 2008

Mutually Beneficial

Stranger's Gate Greenmarket - NYC

"Plump cheeks are good. They should be firm, but still give slightly to the touch. There should be a creamy tone to the skin and the crack should be well-defined. Don't be afraid to stick your face in there and smell it, either. It should be sweet and fresh. If it smells bitter, trust me, you don't want it."

Jack glances up at Niki and smiles encouragingly. "Go ahead and give it a try. Pick out the one that you wanna eat."

Welcome to the spread of peaches at the Stranger's Gate fresh market.

Niki has been staring at Jack with a vaguely incredulous expression all this time. Somewhere in there is amusement, too — and as he finishes his schooling of her on fruit, it breaks through into a light laugh and smile. Not to mention a shake of her head as she reaches for the market fresh peaches. She doesn't follow all the rules, but picks out one that looks nice and tosses it to Jack; maybe for inspection. "I should bring some stuff to Bat…" The name of Cass's lab is never going to get normal. "…Country." Pause. "You really know your fruit."

"Sweetheart, I'm a fruit expert."

Jack blinks and coughs delicately into his fist, a gesture that's obviously affected. "Er. Righto. Anyway, this one looks good." He adds the peach to a paper bag filled with similar specimens and sticks the bag in the basket of his store-borrowed electric wheelchair. "I haven't been out to Cassie's lab in a while," he comments pensively.

With a HUMMMM from the wheelchair's propulsion system, he glides up to a stack of onions and fingers the papery surface of one. "You know, I think we worked pretty well together today. You lookin' for a job? I could use somebody to drive me around and help me get stuff done."

Niki is just about to make a comment on the topic of Cass and her lab, but she's thrown completely by Jack's question and offer. It's not that it isn't true, it is, but she stops by the onions, gaping off-guard and slanting a disbelieving look at Jack. "…I… am looking for a job but— " She starts to smile, not-quite-serious suspicion in her eyes. "…Have you been looking at my resume?"

A sly, roguish grin creeps across Jack's face. "I might have had you checked out," he says mysteriously. With a playful chuckle, he tosses an onion in a low arc toward Niki. "Don't take it personally. You've got nothin' to worry about. I really could use a valet, though. I'm puttin' my lady through an awful lot these days."

Checked out. That could mean a variety of things. The narrow-eyed look Niki is giving Jack doesn't let up, but she starts to smile after catching the onion easily. "…I was… something kinda like a body guard for awhile. Not that my actual resume deserved it. It involved some driving around. But— yeah, okay. As long as it's not as dangerous as my last job." The smile broadens and one eyebrow starts to inch up. "'Cause Jack Derex isn't at all dangerous, right?"

Jack flutters his eyelashes and pulls a grossly exaggerated pose of innocence. "Me? Never!"

The false indignance doesn't hold up under scrutiny. He cracks a smile and stifles a laugh. It fades a moment later, though. "You and me, we've seen each other in some pretty tough spots. It doesn't bruise my ego to have you drive me or wheel me around. Plus, you can handle yourself. In case of emergency, y'know."

Niki gives Jack a considering look, tip of her tongue between her teeth through her smile. Eventually, she concedes for good, nodding good-naturally. "Yeah, alright. I have your back. Beats working at the club, right." She gives the onion in her hands a glance over and steps into lay it in one of the bags in Jack's cart. "Jack— thanks. Ever since Pinehearst…I've kind of been in limbo." And she may have neglected to mention that she worked for them.

Thoroughly pleased, Jack plucks up a couple of onions and settles them into another paper bag. "No sweat," he says lightly. "But I wouldn't thank me yet. I can be a righteous bastard sometimes." His smile widens as he moves down to sort through some carrots. "Er. Right. I'ma have to pay you. Here, call this an advance on your first pay check. We can work out the details later." He digs a wad of bills from his shirt pocket, peels off several c-notes, and holds them out to Niki.

"…Jack…" Following after him, Niki is hesitant to take the money; she does so slowly at first, then quickly folds the bills in her hand and holds a fist to her stomach. Those kind of bills exchanging hands in the middle of a market, kind of obvious. She smiles tenuously. "This is too much. You're too good to me, you know that? Trust me, I've worked for worse people." Various L names come to mind. "Not including Cass."

"Then workin' for me should be a piece of cake, yeah?" Carrots, figs, sweet corn, and raspberries find their way into Jack's basket in quick succession. He quickly inspects his haul and then nods with satisfaction. "I think we're good. Why don't you start earnin' your keep and wheel me up to the checkout?" There's a lilting, playful mock-severity to his tone.

You know the chair is electric, righ— oh well. With a matching grin, though hers is naturally softer, Niki pockets her early pay into her dark jeans and steps behind Jack to guide him toward the checkout. Her tone takes a mildly joking, good-natured turn. "Yes sir, boss."

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