2007-02-03: Shelter


Benjamin_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif Rose_icon.gif

Summary: Niki finds sanctuary at the Winters house temporarily and meets Benjamin's daughter Rose, who naturally comes to some wrong conclusions (and some right ones).

Date It Happened: February 3rd, 2007


Winters Residence, Greenwich, New York

This modest apartment is small by the national average, but being in New York City, it's positively palatial. The front door opens into the living area, which contains a couch and corner television stand. On the stand is a TV, of course, with a DVD player and a VCR on the shelves. There is a video rack next to this with a collection of classic films and a newer title here and there. Sitting atop the TV is a picture of Benjamin and an older woman, he's in robes and holding a diploma proudly. A narrow breakfast bar separates this room from the cramped kitchen. Everything is painfully neat and tucked into place. The area of the kitchen that could be laughably called a dining room has a very small dropleaf table pushed against the wall with two chairs. A short hallway leads off to the bathroom and two bedrooms. Both rooms are sparsely furnished with a bed, nightstand and small dresser. Neither have much in the way of decoration, as if the owner just hasn't had time or the inclination to dress things up.

Cab. Check. Driver throwing knowing looks. Check. Uncomfortable silences. Check. That's a good summary of the drive from the club DNA to Benjamin's apartment in Greenwich. The poor accountant could not look more nervous. There have been second thoughts about helping this strange woman again. However, Niki is clearly in need of some help. His knowledge of recreational drug use is limited, so as far as he knows, the personality swings are all part and parcel of whatever was taken. After the pair were let out at the apartment, Benjamin led the way up to his door. Again, this just screams bad idea, but he's foolishly helpful and nice. "It's a little small," he practically whispers as he unlocks and opens his door. Ben even steps aside and gestures 'ladies first'. "I'll get you some blankets and a pillow," he continues to whisper, as if expecting people to pop out of the woodwork to gawk.

If they're popping out of the woodwork to gawk, it might not be at Benjamin and his unlikely visitor. It might - just maybe - be caused by the sounds coming out of Benjamin's apartment when the door opens. It's an odd mix: loud, hard rock music punctuated by… a string instrument? Benjamin's other charity case, namely Rose, is seated on an armchair in the living room area, dressed in knee-high socks with stripes in half a dozen colours, a black pleated skirt, and a tank top. Her hair is tied back in a ponytail, but it's messy: almost half of it has fallen down again around her face. And the source of the string music? The cello, the body black and decorated with gold vines and blood red flowers, that she's playing quite fervently. Has she even noticed the door opening? It doesn't look like it. Her eyes are closed.

And, the entire way, the strange woman has been completely apologetic. There were times in the cab ride to Greenwich that she looked almost as uncomfortable and nervous as Benjamin, if such a feat is possible; of course, the rest of the time, she was passed out against the door. Thankfully for her sponsor for the night, she came 'to before they arrived. Into the house ahead of Benjamin walks Niki, a little less-than-stable on her feet, the gold synthetic of her dress - which is bordering on scandalously short and way more expensive than she can afford - shimmering with every long-legged step. "Thanks," she tells Benjamin in a similar whisper, but quickly realizes the environment she's stepping into is one of… noise. She has to close her eyes a moment and steady herself when accosted by the music tonight. It's just so unexpectedly loud. "Your daughter?" she says quietly afterward, pressing her very glossed lips together and raising her pale brows as she looks between Benjamin and the teenager.

Benjamin's jaw drops more than slightly at the sight of Rose, and the music. It's… loud.. way too loud for a .. okay.. not too loud for a New York City apartment in this area. Still. Once Niki's inside, he hurried shuts the door and locks it. "Yes," he responds to Niki as he shrugs out of his coat. "Rose?" he questions even as he heads for the stereo to turn it down. "Uhm, we have a guest for the night. This is Niki," he introduces. This is going so well, isn't it? Then hopefully before he can get any questions or commentary from the teen, he bolts for the hall closet to locate extra blankets and a pillow.

It takes a few more bars of music before Rose slides the bow over the strings at all quieter, drawing out one note as she flickers a glance between Benjamin and Niki. It lingers on the latter, appraising the woman Benjamin brought home, looking her up and down slowly. "Hey," she says dismissively, her eyes fluttering closed again as she continues playing. Without the rock music, then the cello is actually quite pretty. Raising her voice, she calls, "Shoulda' told me you had a hot date tonight. I would've made myself scarce." A wicked smirk gets cast in Niki's direction, and she tosses her head to try and get her hair out of her face.

All Niki really wants to do at this moment is to lay down and hope for the best. She smiles politely at Rose, a sweet smile that's made less likeable by the fact that she starts to stumble to the side. She clutches her little matching purse tighter and moves to slowly sit on the edge of the couch. Easy does it. "I, um…" she starts softly. The blonde slowly sobering up from being under the influence of alcohol, but the dilated state of her blue eyes and the way she now perches restlessly indicate something more serious going on. "…your dad is just helping me out."

"Sugar pops," is uttered and quite muffled as Ben tugs too hard at the corner of a blanket, sending the stack tumbling off the shelf. Quite on cue with Rose's barb. He wrangles with the blankets for a few moments before moving to dump them on the couch. Red faced with embarrassment, he flounders with the truth, "It's.. no.. That's not it! I had that business meeting near this club and Niki.." He trails and looks over at the woman briefly, "She needed help and a place to stay for the night.. Here.. go ahead and have a seat." Somehow he's not sure he can offer anything that would assist more than simply resting. Nevertheless, he retreats to the kitchen to fetch a glass of water. He looks at Rose, and the instrument as he comes back out. "I didn't know you played. It's really pretty," he says, hopefully sounding encouraging enough, all things considered.

Finally, drawing out the final note for a few seconds, Rose brings her little practice session to a close and leans forward to set the bow down on the coffee table. "Yeah, well. It's what gets me through college," she remarks, rising from the chair and setting the cello back inside its case. She closes the top gently, then slides the case over to the far wall. "So. Niki." Leaning her back against a wall, crossing her striped calves, Rose regards the blonde woman with an expression that's almost bored. …it takes a while for her to say anything, opting instead to stare across the room at the stranger, mute. After watching Niki silently, she finally asks, "Are you high?"

"Thank you," Niki answers Benjamin; but there's a delay, and she sounds a touch disoriented as the millionth thank-you of the evening tumbles out. She sets her purse on the couch cushion and places her fingertips on her forehead for a few seconds before starting to adjust a pillow on the couch. She doesn't seem to notice the teenager staring at her from the wall; it's only when she takes a break from rearranging blankets does Rose's gaze catch hers. She stares back for several moments, her mouth half-open. Her jaw finally clenches shut and she shakes her head. "I'm… not well," she chooses instead. It's not a lie by any stretch.

"Do you need help with paying fo.. Rose!" Benjamin just stares at his daughter, aghast. It's not a rude question, but it is rather forward. "I'm sorry, she's pretty forward. I should have warned.." He offers the glass of water to Niki and says, "You'll probably feel better in the morning after sleeping. I'll put you in touch with Lt. Jenkins to help you find your car."

"What?! She's totally high!" Gesturing wildly at the woman with the blankets, Rose roll her eyes oh-so-meaningfully. "We should probably check on her through the night to make sure she hasn't choked on her own tongue." Crouching down, she snaps the clasps closed on her cello case and grabs the handle, hefting it up from the floor. She isn't going anywhere, but apparently she just wanted the instrument in-hand. "What do you do, Niki?" The way she asks the question, it's almost like she's already made up her mind.

The unexpected guest takes the glass of water with both hands, flashing Benjamin yet another one of her tired, gracious smiles. "If I say thank you one more time…" she trails off, rolling her eyes to the side, at once amiable to Ben but wry to herself. "I just don't know how I'm going to explain to the police how I /lost/ my car." It takes Niki a second or five longer than it ought to clue in to Rose's question. "What?" she queries airily, blinking heavily a few times with thickly mascara'd lashes. "Oh, I'm actually… I'm between jobs."

"I realize that, still," Benjamin says, throwing a scandalized look at Rose. "I was going to do that anyway.." He scratches at the back of his head, looking uncomfortable. Rose's line of questioning only adds to his discomfort. "I'm sure it happens all the time in the city. Losing a car that is.. and Rose.. she's a guest and just needs a little rest." His tone turns placating towards the teen he's still coming to grips with thinking of as his daughter.

"Yeah, yeah." Carrying her cello with her, Rose crosses the room towards the hallway leading to her room, flashing Benjamin a knowing look. "Chill, pseudo-father. I'll leave you two alone." As she passes by Benjamin, she reaches up to tap his arm in a sign of something like approval. "You're really racking up the cool points, tonight." Glancing back over her shoulder, she chirps, "Nighty-night, Niki!" And with that, she traipses down the hallway, cello in tow.

Niki unconsciously clutches and fidgets with the corner of a blanket as she half-listens to the exchange between the daughter and (pseudo?)-father; she's not really putting forth the effort to understand them at this point. The uncharacteristically (though she's surrounded by near strangers; who's to say what's characteristic?) manic movements cease when she focuses on taking a good, long drink of water after Rose leaves. "I'll be out of your way by morning," she tells Benjamin and starts to lay down.

".. What?" Benjamin asks, staring after Rose stupidly. "Alright.. Don't worry about it. Just.. get some sleep." He looks about to add more, maybe explaining Rose's comment, but he just deflates and decides to not go there after all. Unsure of what else to say, he turns from the living room to head to his own room.

As Benjamin turns away, Niki's head drifts onto the pillow. She hardly has time to slip out of her shoes and pull up the blanket before she falls asleep. It's uncanny, really; but then, she was in dire need of rest, after all.

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