2008-01-16: One


Charlotte_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: Charlotte introduces Niki to her new living space; Niki learns a bit about her past. It's a very important bit.

Date It Happened: January 16th, 2008


Charlotte's Flat

Soho, New York City

This flat is very simple, with hardwood floors and an English creme-and-hunter striped wallpaper. There's a center light fixture, with a fan to keep the air circulating. A smattering of off-white furniture has been placed around the room, facing a television on the back wall. Whomever decorated this room appears to be indecisive, like they tried to pick a motive and couldn't stick with it. There are African masks, jade dragons, Hindu statuettes, framed parchments of Arabic calligraphy, elephant carvings, rain sticks and of course pictures and prints from the Renissance, from Italy to Spain to Denmark and everything in between.

Through the open doorway is the kitchen, which is long and rather narrow as kitchens go. The floors are white tile, and all the appliances are silver and black. She has all the nessesities: dishwasher, double-door fridge, oven and stove. The counters are blue stone of some sort, and she's got most of the countertops filled with random tings, like an oil-and-vinegar caddy, salt and pepper shakers, flour-sugar-and-coffee containers, a wine rack with a few bottles from all over the world and other things. Clearly the occupant doesn't use this place for hardcore cooking much. There is also a table with seating for three.

A sliding-glass door in the living room exits to the balcony, while there are two doors in the kitchen that lead to two separate bedrooms.

The girls have been SHOPPING! At least for the bare minimums, such as clothes, toothbrush, hairbrush, things like that a new room-mate might need, particularly if that room-mate has no past and therefore no real belongings. Of course, far be it for Charlotte to not buy a few things for herself, for while the bulk of her trip was mostly for Niki Sanders, new-room-mate-extraordinaire to get what she needed, girls will be girls. And, of course, it was cold outside, so instead of walking home, the girls just ducked into an alley and dissipated out, reappearing in the middle of the SoHo living room.

Charlotte has a few bags hanging from her wrists, and is holding Niki's hand just long enough for the two to appear. She then releases it, looking rosy cheeked and dimple-grinned as she sets the bags down on the coffee table. Rising, she begins to strip off her coat, hat, mittens and scarf. "And I just told him, 'Please, the Germans build 'em so much bigger!'." She says, finishing the tail end of a story that will certainly raise some eyebrows if taken out of context.

Niki certainly need clothes and all of the other necessities — like a place to live, and thanks to Charlotte and Pinehearst, she has all of that now. Rosy-cheeked like her new roommate, the blonde woman can't help but laugh at the tail-end of the story. "You're crazy," is all she can reply. She sets her bags down at her feet, but she's hesitant to take off her winter gear — gloved hands are slow to unbutton the modern, soft, cream-coloured peacoat she's bundled up in.

Charlotte walks over to the front door, which is almost always chain-locked as doors are so passé if you're Charlotte … and opens the closet beside it, hanging up her own coat, hat, mittens and scarf. There's little hooks to hang everything, and hangers for the coats. "You can just go ahead and hang your stuff up right up here…" She says, patting the closet doorframe. She doesn't seem to notice Niki's hesitation in the house. "And then we'll get you all acquainted with everything!" She's actually very proud of her nice uptown flat…she's used to living in little crapholes in stinktowns.

The flat is lightyears away from the appearance of any space Niki has ever lived in, not that she'd remember. As she eventually unbuttons her coat, she smiles, taking in the exotic trinkets and art everywhere. "Sure, thanks," she says, striding to the closet to hang up her coat and put away her scarf and gloves. "Your place is so worldly," she comments with one hand still reaching in the closet. "It's nice."

Charlotte shrugs, blushing a little under the praise. "Thanks. I keep telling myself that one day I'll pick a theme and go with it, but every time I visit someplace new, there's things about that place that I like." She moves easily through the flat towards the kitchen, in the next room. "Were you hungry?" She asks, jumping up and slapping her bottom square on what little counter space isn't cluttered with cooking knick-knacks. "I think I have every carryout place in the city in this book I bought…." The book is plopped on her lap as she begins to thumb through it. However, a look of apology and a little worry comes across her face as she lifts her head to look for Niki and explain: "I don't really know how to cook."

"Why cook when you have world cuisine at your fingertips?" Niki answers with a bright smile on her way back from the closet. Nearing the counter, she tucks her hands into the back pockets of the dark brown dress pants she wears, courtesy of Pinehearst, along with the silky white blouse. "I'm okay for awhile, but you go right ahead."

Charlotte makes the call. Even with world cuisine at her fingertips, she orders a hot and sour soup and crab rangoons from a ticky tack little Chinese restaurant down the road. Some things you just can't trade off. After she hangs up, the cordless phone giving a beep as the END button is pressed, she hangs it back on the charger and looks up at Niki, kicking her feet up lightly. "So…Niki. I had something I wanted to ask you, about your memory loss. Have you remembered anything at all?"

In the midst of turning around to collect her various shopping bags, Niki's movements slow on Charlotte's question. Still, she bends to gather the bags' handles into her hands. The bags rustle in lieu of an answer from the woman for a moment. "No," she says softly. "Not even after talking to Nathan."

Charlotte perks slightly at that. "Oh, you did speak to him? How is he, is he doing well?" She closes the book on her lap and sets it aside, sliding off the counter to follow Niki back to where the bags are. "Well, I know you've said you're not ready to delve into that. And we won't, don't worry." She tries to give Niki one of those Charlotte-esque dimpled smiles. "I'm just curious, though. Did the doctors at Pinehearst say what caused the amnesia?"

"All things considered, he was okay." As for her… "Just that there's some kind of damage," Niki answers, carrying the bags to— well, she's not entirely sure where to, given that she's not familiar with Charlotte's flat, and so she stops and just turns to face her new roommate. "'Medically induced trauma'? It kind of went over my head, to be honest. They did some tests. You know, x-rays. Took pictures of my brain."

Charlotte more or less figured as much. "Oh!" She blushes, smiling at Niki again as she bends to help the girl with the bags. "This way, in here." And through the kitchen she leads her to two doors, nudging open the one on the left with her hip and pushing through until she's inside the guest room, AKA Niki Sanders' new room. "I only ask because…would you mind if I took some of those pictures to a friend of mine? I'm sure it's just what the doctors said, but this guy might know better for people like us." Special people. "Just to be sure." In truth, Charlotte knows that Niki was at Mohinder's when she was attacked. A special person at a special person's doctor. Maybe he'll know more about it, and if he did anything to Niki, maybe that'll have to do with this. Things that Pinehearst doctor's may or may not know right now.

"I guess you'll have to ask the doctors," Niki says as she heads into the room, giving it a glance around. She holds the door open with her shoulder for a moment after Charlotte slips in, then steps in herself and sets the bags on the corner of the bed. One of the bags doesn't contain items bought today, but instead, her scant belongings she had on her during the kidnapping. Almost entirely clothes. "The room is nice. Thank you, Charlotte."

The medium-dark hardwood floors continue into this room. The walls have been painted a rich blue, with the piping along the floor, ceiling, and doorframe all having been done in white. A fluffy white area rug covers the small area underneath the bed and around it. The bed itself is a twin, with violet and white sheets and pillows. The comforters and pillows are all down and very warm and comfortable, as is the mattress. The bed itself is pinewood, with matching night-stand and chest of drawers. A full-length mirror hangs on the wall, and there is a lamp on the night-stand for light. As in the living room, there are several framed pictures here, only these are framed paintings of local artists.

There is one window looking out into the street, and the only way to go is back into the kitchen.

Charlotte shakes her head, her usually smiley face softening with concern. "I will, of course." Or, you know. There are other means. Not that she'd use them…much..just saying that there are, in fact, other means. "But I'd only do it with your permission. Medical…um…stuff is very private." She helps Niki unpack, smiling broadly again as the room is praised. "I tried to keep this one toned down a bit, so you can do with it what you will." For as long as she's here. Sooner or later her family will find her, or her memories will come back.

"What do I have to be private about? My life's an open book. The pages are blank." Niki is good-natured about Charlotte's attempts to help; she only smiles at the woman as she sinks down onto the edge of the bed beside the shopping bags. "Who knows, maybe your friend's a genius who'll figure it all out."

Charlotte smiles down at Niki, almost motherly in her look despite being ten years the blonde's junior. "He just might be." Goodness knows he's a lucky sonofabitch, from what she's told. And he seems smart enough, everyone speaks highly of his intelligence. That includes Pinehearst. "Well I'll try it and see, can't hurt, right? I just want to make sure, ya know. That you'll be okay."

The smile Niki flashes Charlotte next is less optimistic than it has been; it's subdued. She glances downward, busying herself with taking things out of the bags. "Right," she says quietly. "Can't hurt." When she lifts a pair of folded jeans from the bag of her old belongings and unfolds and re-folds them to lay on her lap, a tiny hint of gold flashes in the light — in the midst of falling, that is. A ring? Having slipped from the pocket, it goes skittering across the floor.

Charlotte really just wants to make sure that Niki's condition isn't going to become worse. But her stomach sinks as the ring goes skittering across the floor. Niki'll want to know about that, she's sure, and then she'll freak out, and then she'll move out before she's even moved in! Charlotte knows it's a horrible thing, but she likes having Niki here already; she's never had a real room-mate. As the ring comes to a stop on the hardwood floor, Charlotte silently bends to pick it up for Niki, ready to offer if she wants it or to hide if Niki wants to pretend she didn't see….

It's too late to pretend she didn't see; the tiny clatter the jewellery makes when it hits the floor catches Niki's attention, and although she glances away from Charlotte when she sees the woman pick it up, it's not because she doesn't want to know what it is. The glint of gold and diamond makes for an easy guess. "What is it," she asks quietly, her hesitance making her words flat. She looks at Charlotte again suddenly and says, softer, "Let me see it."

Charlotte already knows what it is. Niki had a file. She knows about D.L. She knows about Micah. She knows about everything, as soon as Niki is willing to ask. And when Niki asks, Charlotte won't hold anything back. She opens her hand and offers the ring to the girl. Still, she doesn't speak. What is there to say? But she's not surprised, that much is clear. She knew.

Perceptibly tensing, Niki looks from Charlotte to the ring. She reaches out for it with the caution one might express when trying not to burn their skin on something dangerous — but it's just a band of a few questionable carats. She takes it, turning it around in her fingers, examining its every angle, lips parted a little more than usual. It's a little bit of jewellery, it shouldn't mean anything — but it's hard to see it as anything but a wedding ring. It was made to look like one, it can't help its nature. "You know all about me, don't you?" It's barely a question. Just a soft statement.

Charlotte folds her arms across her chest, nodding as she looks down shyly. She hasn't done anything wrong, she's done nothing but respect Niki's wishes, but she still feels guilty. The arm-crossing is more of an emotional protection for herself than a scolding or angry gesture. "Enough. I've read your file. I know the facts, not much else. I never met you before the rescue." True story! She doesn't bother telling Niki that all she has to do is ask and it shall be revealed. Niki knows that. Charlotte doesn't say, either, how hard it would be, to step into a pre-determined role with no memory of it. Nor does she say that there's a son out there looking for his mother.

Niki watches as she lets the ring slide not quite halfway down her ring finger on her left hand. Her fingers curl into a fist and she lowers her hand. She doesn't ask the tough question. Not the most obvious one of 'who am I?'. No, she asks Charlotte tough question of another kind: "Is it worth going back to? My life before."

Charlotte cocks her head, releasing a little sigh. "Oh, hunny." She sits beside Niki, and although they haven't known each other long, puts a hand on Niki's hand, invading her personal space. She tries to be as kind as she can. "No one could ever answer that, not even you I think." She pauses, thinking. All is quiet for a few moments (as quiet as an apartment in New York will ever be). Charlotte wets her lips in thought. "It's hard." She says honestly. "Your life before…it was a hard life." How can she say this without giving information Niki may not want? "But you are appreciated, I'm sure." Again, she doesn't know personally, but she's guessing with what she's read in the file.

A hard life. Niki doesn't seem to mind the invasion of personal space, but as she splays her hand to look at the diamond again, she breaks contact with Charlotte in order to pull of the wedding ring. "It doesn't feel right," she explains in an uncomfortable murmur. "I'm married? Do I h-have…"

"One." Charlotte tells her, clasping her hands on her lap in a worried manner. Realizing now that Mohinder was worried about the families that were freaking out, she starts to consider paying Niki's a visit, just to make sure everyone's okay. In fact, that's exactly what she'll do once she's done here. She says nothing else, letting it sink in and letting Niki do with the information what she will.

The one-word confirmation hits Niki like a steel beam. She literally looks like all the wind was knocked out of her — and sounds like it, too, considering the thin, jagged breath she takes. The sigh outward is even more unsteady. "I-I'm." Words fail. Brows pinched together, she's … having a hard time sorting out what to do with this news. "I think I just…" The blonde folds tightened fists onto the stray pair of jeans folded on her lap. "I need a minute alone."

Charlotte nods, silently standing. She doesn't say anything, but she moves for the door. She pauses in the doorway, looking back at Niki once. "You don't…have to decide anything now. Do what you feel is right for you." Because god knows, the best way Niki could make these choices for herself is in ignorance. Now she's not so ignorant, but the choices still have to be made. "I’ll be in the living room." And she slips out, closing the door behind her.

When Charlotte leaves the room, Niki abandons all the shopping bags, shoving them away just enough for her to crawl further onto the bed that's meant to be hers, now. She sits against the pillows and headboard, drawing her legs toward her chest, holding onto her knees. Fighting against a show of emotion even though she's alone, she looks around at the blue walls, the unfamiliar art and, ultimately, stares into the full length mirror.

In the meantime, Charlotte really can't do much else but make some hot cocoa. She puts it on a low simmer so that it'll be able to cook down for awhile or quickly, depending on when Niki's ready to come out. And, while it's cooking, she checks on the file in her bedroom, for just a second. Sing Sing prison and the address of where Micah is, including the address of the neighbor/sitter/whatever that would probably have him now. She returns to watch the cocoa simmer.

Niki closes her eyes on her reflection. What was once a reminder of her fractured being, the other person who would sometimes look back at her, is now a reminder that she doesn't know the only person looking back. Herself.

It'll probably be a while before Niki ventures out. She closes her eyes.

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