2008-08-14: Strange Things Going On These Days

Starring:

Niki_icon.gif Kitty_icon.gif John_icon.gif

Summary: Kitty and Niki find themselves sharing a cab with a driver who happens to listen closely.

Date It Happened: August 14th, 2008

Strange Things Going On These Days


Upper West Side

New York City

Even some of the bars and clubs are closed at this hour of the night in New York City, but never, ever is it quiet. In an obvious hurry, Niki Sanders jogs out of one of the tall, lovely and old residential buildings in this part of the Upper West Side, a large, worn-out knit messenger bag slung heavily under one shoulder and a purse over that. Less than put-together this late (and in general for the nice building she tromped out of), she heads down the street a ways where a taxi might have room to stop.

There's another woman on the street as well. Dressed in a long flowing dark red skirt and a black tank top, her boots clunk on the pavement and she reshoulders her own messenger bag. Kitty's hair is done up in a ponytail and her brown eyes scan the area as she too is looking for a cab. Her feet tap lightly as she waits.

Did somebody say something about a cab? Rounding the corner and onto the street is a bright, yellow cab with faded lettering on the side. Cab number 762. It begins to slow down until it pulls up to the curb next to the two women. Inside, the driver looks out the window. He looks refreshed, as if he just began his shift. A leather jacket sits on the passenger seat as he drums idly on the steering wheel.

Distracted as she is, mind on her destination (and the makeshift home she just left to get there), Niki doesn't even see Kitty closeby, let alone recognize her as a woman she met during one chaotic night many, many months ago. No, she's trying to fish her cell phone out of a purse full of junk as she steps closer to the curb toward the newly arrived cab 762. But as luck would have it — or, well, her usual lack of luck — Niki, tired and rushed and very much elsewhere, drops the cell phone on the sidewalk, where it goes skittering toward Kitty's boots. She gives the cab driver a vague 'one minute!' gesture with her hand and crouches to get it.

"Oh!" Kitty says and she bends down to pick the phone up as well. "Here ya g-." she says to the woman before her eyes widen slightly and she stop talking. "Oh.. hey there." She says with a slight smile. She hasn't seen this woman in ages! The cab is given a glimpse.

The driver rolls his eyes, and slides his gear to put the cab in park while the women do whatever it is women do. His hand rummages through the coat on the seat next to him and pulls out a phone, perhaps checking his messages or something. Eventually, he slips it back in a pocket and lets out a bored sigh.

Wh— ? Niki's reaching hand halts halfway to her phone. She looks up at Kitty with a surprised, vaguely suspicious expression on her face — not suspicious because she recognizes Kitty somehow, but because she can't remember why right away. That's usually not a good thing in Niki's case. … Or anyone's case. "…Hey," she says slowly, starting to smile as she takes the phone from Kitty. "Thanks," she gives the phone a little shake, poking fun at her sudden clumsiness, and stands back up. "I'm … sorry, how do I know you again? I— " A glance to the cab and its impatient driver. She opens up the back door, at least, and says to Kitty, "I'm headed toward Brooklyn. Do you … maybe want to share?"

Kitty however remembers pretty clearly, "The woman.. the acid woman in the store." She says softly and then nods gesturing towards the cab. "I don't mind sharing, you can go first." Kitty looks at John and a smile crosses her lips, HOT DADDY! WOO WOO! Ok Kitty back to self now. The woman takes the door and opens it, "It's been a while."

Finally. Just get in the freakin' cab! Once the two ladies get in, the driver reaches up and adjusts the rear view so he can see both occupants and keep an eye on the road behind him, then shifts back to drive and slowly pulls back out onto the road. He gives them a moment to settle before looking in the mirror at them. "Where to?"

Niki slides into the confines of the back seat on the curbside with her bags, which she just shoves on the floor. "Right … the drugstore," she says once she's in, "God, that seems like a long time ago." The blonde loses her reflective tone of voice once she leans toward the cab's divider to answer the driver. "Brooklyn for me. The Den of Iniquity."

"Yeah I think about it still sometimes.." Kitty says and she nods at the cab driver. "Take me to Time Square please." She says with a grin at John, ok no more flirting. Ok maybe a little more, a wink follows afterward. What has gotten into this girl? "I'm Kitty.. by the way. Can't remember if we exchanged names or not."

It's always the best when more than one person gets in his cab. He doesn't have to make any sort of boring small talk. Usually. "Right. Can you give me an address?" Kitty's wink is rewarded with an expressionless stare. Try again, girly. He does catch the name, and keeps that information for later. Always know who is in your cab. Lots of crazies in this town.

"Oh, uuuhm. An address. You know, I— I never really paid attention," Niki admits with a half-wince, half-smile. "But I can point you in the right direction! I know it's pretty close to Seville Medical." Leaning back against the leather seats, she answers Kitty more quietly. "Yeah … I guess we were pretty lucky that night." She glances down, remembering, but the chaos isn't exactly something she wants to dwell on. A friendly smile starts to appear in its place. "I'm Niki."

"Yeah.. my friend. Peter, he said that the woman was put away so we wouldn't have to worry." Kitty thinks back to her scarred face and how Peter healed her. "Den of Iniquity? Never heard of it." Kitty comments and brushes aside a stray strand of hair. Her eyes go back to Niki though. "Have you encountered other stuff like that.. lately?"

Niki. Got it. Now he knows both girls names. Not pleased with Niki's answer regarding the location, he reaches back for his phone to boot up his GPS and search for her destination. People usually give addresses! His eyes are on the road but his ears are on the conversation behind him. The meter ticks upward, settled just below his license and name tag.

Niki is unconcerned with the cab driver until Kitty starts to talk more. Palms pressed to the seat, Niki tenses and looks a little uncomfortable with the subject, vague as it is — more than that, though, she's thrown for a loop. Not totally an unexpected one, granted. "You… you could say that." It takes her a second or three to stop gaping unsurely at the younger woman. "You know Peter," she says slowly, a questioning tone to her words. "I mean, it— it has to be the same one, right, no one else would know that."

"Yeah, Peter's a friend of mine, you know him too?" She asks with a tilt of her head. The younger woman does notice Niki's tensing up and so she stops talking about the 'weird stuff' subject. "Haven't seen him in a bit."

"Lots of people named Peter." The statement is innocuous, but does let Niki know - and he did see the tensing - that he was listening. Kitty's answer clears up the situation though, and he goes back to his usual silence. He takes a turn, fingers strumming on the wheel. His phone beeps at him from his cup holder to let him know that the directions have been found. He takes one quick look and then.. puts the phone back in his coat?

"He's— yeah. He's a friend." Niki watches the cab driver for a moment, now ultra aware that he's listening — and that, apparently, he's good with directions. Whatever. Guy's a cab driver. Her head tips down and she toys with her phone, twirling it upside-down. For an instant, her voice lowers so much that it's practically a murmur. "A good friend." She slants a glance to Kitty. "He's, uhm. He's been away. How do you know Peter?"

"He's helped with me a lot." She says in a quieter tone as well. "He's asked me to use my talents once for him." Kitty says and looks at John before looking back to Niki. "Is he ok?" her voice is full of worry at the thought of Peter being hurt or something.

If Niki is familiar with the trip from where they started to the Den, the driver just made a really surprising turn. It looks like he's going the wrong way! Some driver he is. The conversation behind him growing quieter, though it's clear they're still speaking, he decides to tune it out and focus on the road completely. They're just two boring fares, really. Attractive, certainly.. but normal.

"He's— yeah, he's okay." Funny, she doesn't sound like she believes it. False optimism. There's also a hesitancy to the blonde's voice. Like she's not sure how much she should say. "In fact, I'm going to track him down right now." As the buildings blurring past catch her eye, Niki squints out the window. Unsure, she knocks lightly on the divider behind the driver and, trying to poise her question politely, asks, "Are you sure this is the right way?"

"Do you need help? What I can do, could help out." She points out and then waits for the woman and man to finish talking. Kitty bites her lip.

Looking in the rear view at the time, the driver sees the knock coming and isn't surprised by it. Which is good, because being surprised and jerking the wheel violently wouldn't be beneficial for anyone involved. He turns his head at the question, gives Niki a look. Not a nice one, either. The 'let me do my job and shut up' look. He shakes his head and turns back to focus on the road.

Mouthing a silent 'ooookaaaay' but more or less satisfied — for now — Niki sinks back into the seat. She keeps a closer eye on the streets, though. She's not exactly the most trustworthy girl ever — which also seeps into her conversation with Kitty. "I dunno…" she says with a small smile, rolling one shoulder in a shrug. "Like I said, I bet he's fine." Again with the lack of conviction. Niki doesn't have her heart in lying tonight.

The young woman nods her head a little but she doesn't seem convinced of Niki. "Right.." Kitty says and looks out the window. "Let him know that I'm looking for him and I miss him?" She says, since Niki doesn't seem to want help. "He'll know who I am if you say Kitty says hey Boy McWonder." She grins slightly.

It could be worse. His occupants could be high-pitched, squealing, like-oh-my-god valley girls. All the same, a pretty uninteresting first fare of the night. At least it'll be a pretty good haul money wise.. but it's a good thing he doesn't really need the tips. He makes another turn, and.. looks like he took a shortcut!

Now that brings a smile to Niki's face. She can't help but look a little amused at Kitty. "… Boy McWonder. Will do." How are they almost at there already? Out of sorts after all the different routes and shortcuts, Niki leans to one side to try to see through the windshield. She goes back to toying with her phone, although this time she actually seems to be texting somebody.

"Thanks.." Kitty sighs in relief and then grins at Niki. Seeing that her stop is coming up.. "You take care, alright?" she says with a bright smile and she grips her cell phone now too. "If you ever do wind up needing my help.." she offers her number to the blonde.

Pulling into a designated cab drop off next to a curb in Times Square, the driver keeps his foot down on the brake. Hopefully he won't need to put the thing in park, unless the two women decide to chit chat a bit. That's fine, the meter is running now. He looks out the window to his left, casually watching the people on the streets.

"Sure. Thanks." Niki sounds sincere about that, at least, and stops what she's doing with her phone to enter the other woman's number under 'Kitty'. "It was nice meeting you under less…" What's the word for it? Oh yeah. "…crazy circumstances."

Kit chuckles softly and nods, "Yeah, see ya around Niki." John is given a stare. "How much?" she tilts her head and goes for her wallet.

The driver takes a look at the meter, then turns back to Kitty. "Four fifty."

Digging through her wallet, the woman gets the fare and hands over a twenty. "Keep the change." She says as she pops the door open and puts one leg out. "Have a nice evening." She says to both and then goes off walking, humming softly to herself.

"Bye," Niki offers up to Kitty before settling in for the longer part of the trip. She puts her phone away, leans against the door and looks out into Times Square with its bright, colourful lights. The Square's garish reflections playing through the glass onto her face are all that's bright and colourful about Niki tonight. Unsurprisingly, given the hour, she just looks tired. Maybe John will be lucky and she won't be talkative all by herself.

Taking the bill and expecting a five, the driver actually looks a little surprised. He shrugs though, depositing it safely before taking a last look at Kitty to make sure she's good on the curb and not caught with a skirt or something in his cab door before pulling off. After a couple minutes of silence on the road, clear of Times Square, he looks up to the rear view. "You should be careful what you talk about in front of others, Niki."

By the time the cab driver speaks up, Niki has crossed her arms and is wrapped up in staring out at the city, almost comfortable against the door of the car, even though there's an unsettled air about her. The voice comes a surprise; she jars alert, suddenly wary again, paranoia easily springing to the fore. Her response, though, aims for casual. "I'm not sure I get what you mean."

Making a turn by palming the wheel, John checks something on his phone with his free hand. His voice is calm, distant. His posture relaxed and aloof. "Strange things going on these days. Murmuring about talents and skills.. one might think you're a terrorist." He pauses. "Or worse." His eyes keep flicking from the rear view mirror to the road.

A terrorist. Right. "Yeah, well. I'm not anything." Hugging herself a little tighter, Niki looks out the window again, trying to dismiss the vague accusations. She gives a half-hearted shrug. "What's worse than a terrorist, anyway?"

"A lot of things." Not exactly a specific answer. He doesn't clarify on it either, instead refocusing on the road. After all, she said she wasn't anything, so what's to talk about? It is amazing how little space the tall drink of water in the back of his cab is taking up.

Niki can't help but give John a mildly incredulous look in the direction of the rearview mirror, but she can't bring herself what to question his answer. Maybe she doesn't really want to know. Instead, after a moment or silence, she ventures, "You always scold your passengers?"

John doesn't catch the look, having stopped checking the rear view momentarily to look at his phone again. At the question though, he looks up at it and back to the road. For the first time his lips actually move into a smirk. "Pretty much. You're paying for a car service, not lip service. You can buy a car if you don't like it."

Niki, on the other hand, doesn't smirk. Maybe she should've taken the subway. "Fair enough," she murmurs, running a hand over her head, through wisps of blonde hair that's long since escaped from its ponytail, and tries not to yawn. "I'll try to remember that. The next time I'm driving someone around. The Den's not far. Two lefts and a right after the market."

The rest of the trip is silent except for the sounds of the city outside the cab. Eventually, the Den is just down the street. John slows the cab down, pulling expertly against the curb. "Fourteen twenty five," his voice is a bit annoyed.

Thank God. Relieved to be at her destination … which appears to be a dark, empty, closed dive bar, Niki just takes a moment to haul her bags onto the back seat. After rifling through her purse, fifteen dollars is handed through to John — no sumptuous tip like Kitty. "Thank you," she says lightly, a naturally polite little bit of gratitude despite the driver's gruffness. She doesn't waste much time whisking away her bags and climbing out the door.

"You're welcome, Miss Sanders." And before Niki even has a chance for a response, he's back on the road.

"…"

Wide-eyed and open-mouthed, Niki stands on the curb in front of the Den, staring at the taxi as it drives away into Brooklyn. One of the bags on her shoulder starts to slip down, and she only manages to catch it by the time it's at her elbow, staring in disbelief until she can't even see the car's lights anymore. Screw public transportation, seriously.

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