2008-03-05: The Devil You Think You Know

Starring:

Cam_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Martin and Jennifer Gibbs

Summary: Cam makes a panicked call to Niki when things take a severely wrong turn at his foster home.

Date It Happened: March 5th, 2008

The Devil You Think You Know


New York City

Thursday at the house of Martin and Jennifer Gibbs started out pretty good. For once Cam, their first foster child, was in a better mood and went off to school without a problem. Martin went off to work, leaving Jennifer home. A rather traditional family, all in all. Jennifer, hoping to understand Cam better, went on the net looking for information. When she saw that his father was on the wanted list, assumed the worst and that Cam had been abused.

That evening, just after dinner at about 6:30, she decided to try to talk to Cam about it. His reaction? "My dad never hurt me, and he didn't kill anybody!" He slammed his hand down on the table as he said it, and the table was suddenly covered in ice.

This all leads to, about twenty minutes later, Niki's cellphone ringing.

Thus, cut to: a black phone vibrates along a plain white countertop that juts out from the wall of a spacious loft overlooking Manhattan. With bare brick walls of pale grey, it's chilly and it's mostly empty, devoid of many personal touches save for a pair of dark purple curtains against the large window, and a few trinkets dangling around the handle of a closed door. Pieces of modern furniture sit here and there; a Japanese divider, a few pieces of fabric thrown about; nothing is arranged with much thought. It is not at all homey.

As the call reaches the loft, the phone continues to buzz-buzz-buzz against the hard surface as its owner, the blonde a few feet away, tries to figure out the mechanism behind a small, heavy safe at the far end of the counter. Niki, still wrapped in a black trenchcoat-style jacket to fend off the chill of the loft, abandons the effort and reaches for the phone. The caller ID gives her a furrowed brow of confusion, and she tosses a few waves of blonde back in order to bring the phone to her ear. "…Hello?"

Cam's voice comes over the phone, in a panic, "Niki! You gotta help me! My power went off and I didn't mean to but it happened and they *flipped* and think… I dunno, something to do with the devil, and they locked me in my room, and I dunno what they're gonna do. Please!"

"Wh— Cam?" Niki quickly whirls around away from the counter, slammed into automatic protector mode. The thought of anyone doing that to a child, with powers or not, makes her anger flare — it's evident, along with obvious concern, when she answers. "I'm going to come get you. Just tell me where you are, okay?"

Cam takes just a moment to catch his breath, or maybe listening if his foster parents are coming, and then gives an address. It's a middle-class neighbourhood, but not too far from Brubaker. "Hurry, please…"

Niki scrambles to write down the address - having no paper at hand, she scrawls it hurriedly on the palm of her hand with a blue pen from her pocket. "I'm not far away," she says, instinctively glancing out the expansive window at the city, skyscrapers sparkling as the sun starts to move lower. "Cam, your foster parents — are they … dangerous? Do you think they'd hurt you?"

Cam hesitates a moment, "I.. I don't think so. Not *me*… but they don't think I'm me, they think I'm the devil or something. They're really into church and stuff, dunno what they'd do to the devil."

"… Christ," Niki mumbles under her breath slightly away from the phone — bad timing for such a curse, or … maybe not. She's already on her way to the door, her free hand — complete with her destination in handwriting — jingling keys in her pocket. "Hang on tight, and try to stay calm, okay, hon? Don't use your power again if you can help it, it'll just freak them out even more."

Cam says after a moment, "I'll try. Thanks." Then another voice, a man's voice, "Hey! Think you can fool someone into helping you, Deceiver?" And a moment later the line goes dead.

The door Niki steps out of leads directly onto a fire escape. As the line goes dead, she stands for a brief moment in the sudden cold, holding the phone away from her ear and staring at it. That? That didn't sound great. Her boots clatter on the metal stairs, each step following shortly after the other. She's going to throw traffic caution to the wind on her way uptown.

It's almost fifteen minutes later by the time Niki gets to the right spot. She's running, on foot, which means she must've ditched the car somewhere along the way when traffic was too much. Looking at the faintly smeared, slightly messy feminine handwriting on her palm, she scans the indicated street for the right number. Her step hitches as she spots it, but she marches up to it without hesitation, rapping hard on the front door.

There's lights inside, but no answer to the door. Faint chanting can be heard, perhaps coming from one of the windows, but it's hard to figure out what's going on from outside. There's no obvious yells of pain, at the very least.

Niki stops pounding on the door to listen. Chanting? Chanting? "You've gotta be kidding me." She gives three more solid bangs before flattening her hands to the door and leaning in close to listen even more. "Open up!" she shouts. "Hey!" She grabs the doorknob, checking to see if it's locked. Doesn't matter if it is — she twists it hard, enough to snap the lock.

The door rather easily is torn open… and it's probably close to coming right off its' hinges, in fact. The chanting can be heard coming from upstairs. In a room that's obviously Cam's, the two parents are over the boy, who's been stripped to his briefs. Martin, wearing thick work gloves obviously intended to protect him from the cold, holds Cam down while Jennifer chants in Latin and sprays Cam with what's probably supposed to be holy water. Cam seems completely unhurt so far, but scared. Scared enough the holy water is freezing as it hits his body, scaring his foster parents even more than he is. Things would probably be escalating soon, if not for Niki's arrival.

Niki urges the door open, the handle — and the whole frame — going loose in her hand. Entering the house slowly, at first, the way one might enter any dangerous territory, she looks around cautiously. Pretty normal, in all regards, but her house looks pretty normal too and she's one to know that appearances can be deceiving. That's all the time she wastes once she zones in on where the voices are coming from. The useless door is left ajar behind her as she bolts up the stairs. The bedroom door is thrown open so fast it bangs against the wall with a loud crack, though it doesn't break. "Cam!" she shouts on seeing the sorry state of the boy. In a much more threatening voice, she addresses the adults of the room. "You step away from him right now."

Both foster parents look up at the bang, and reacting to the tone of the voice are quick to obey. Martin, though, says as Cam scrambles up and runs over to Niki, "Please, we're just trying to help him. We're trying to save him." And they mean it too. They think they're doing the right thing.

Martin and Jennifer earn a harsh, disgusted stare from the woman who has barged in. "He doesn't need saving," she snaps. "You call yourself parents?!" she challenges the pair. Niki stretches an arm out to Cam, trying to gather him near as he scrambles toward her. "Come on, Cam. You're too special for these freaks."

Cam grabs Niki in a quick hug, and says softly, "Thank you." He nods a little to her words. He's shivering a little, though obviously not because he's cold. He follows along with Niki, eager enough to get out of there he isn't thinking much beyond that at the moment. Martin and Jennifer just watch, their expressions almost pitiable if not for what they were doing.

Holding onto Cam's hand tightly, Niki backpedals for the door. "If you think this little guy is … evil?" she begins to say to the foster parents, glowering darkly as she tries to tug Cam behind her — away from them. "You haven't seen anything." With that, there's a flurry of movement as she starts to stalk away from the bedroom for the stairs and the relative safety of the city outside.

Cam follows along after Niki, holding onto her hand. Only after they're out of view of the parents and down the stairs, does Cam calm down enough to think, "What about my clothes?"

Niki is already untying the belt around her coat by the time they're headed for the front door. "Don't worry about it. Here," she says, shrugging out of her coat to drape it over Cam; the trench, which hits her mid-thigh, is considerably longer on him. But it's— it's fashionable? She doesn't stop long, shoving the broken front door aside to let them out onto the street. The foster parents didn't seem particularly dangerous other than by misguided intent, but they could be calling the cops right this second — and telling them who knows what.

Cam doesn't seem to care about fashion, just covering up. Not so much for warmth, but just so he isn't seen running around in his underwear. (If it was a swimsuit, of course, it'd be fine.) So he pulls the coat tight as he follows after Niki, hurrying after her.

"I have a car — it's just a couple of blocks," Niki says, taking off at a light jog. The faster they get away from that house for now, the better! After a few moments, though, once they're around the corner, she stops, dropping into a crouch, taking Cam's hands and looking up at him — really examining him for the first time, brows lifting in concern. "Are you okay? They didn't end up hurting you, did they?"

Cam shakes his head a little and says, "I'm fine. Well, by shoulder hurts a bit from when he was holding me down, but they didn't hit me or anything. Just scared me, is all."

But who knows how far they would've gone? What if the "holy water" didn't work? Niki's distressed frown over hearing about Cam even being put through that much is evident before it turns upside down, for a brief flash. She touches his nose. "What'm I gonna do with you," she says lightly, standing up to resume walking - at a much more normal pace.

Cam smiles a bit in response, and then nods and follows along again. After a moment, though, he asks, "What *will* happen to me now? I mean, I don't wanna ever go back there."

"No one's gonna make you go back there if you don't want to." Niki will make sure of that — or she'll damned well try. She sounds confident about it. As for what's going to happen now… the woman's span of silence as she walks down the street is answer enough. She doesn't know. Her pace quickens, perhaps unintentionally. "We'll go home, and— from there…" She shrugs and shakes her head as she walks. "At least you'll be safe."

Cam nods, smiling again at her reassurance, "Good." He holds onto her hand a little tighter as they walk, but now seems a lot calmer than he was.

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