2007-02-14: When You're Being Treated Like A Criminal...


Benjamin_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif Orion_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Company Guards

Summary: Niki and Benjamin break the rules just a little, and Orion takes care of the aftermath (and of Benjamin, aww).

Date It Happened: February 14th, 2007

When You're Being Treated Like A Criminal…

A small, private hospital outside of New York City

Following the devastation of the Primatech facility in Hartsdale, the patients were relocated to a private hospital nearby. Unable to speak for anyone else, Benjamin is not comforted at all with the change in surroundings. Sure the rooms are better, with furniture and televisions, but it's unsettling. He had a brief spark of hope at the room upgrades, but that sputtered and died when he discovered there wasn't a phone in his room. There are Company employees everywhere, not that he could tell you who was who, beyond the sentinel way everyone's being watched. It's not even a small comfort to find his door unlocked, and that there is some freedom to move around the wing. It's strangely cut off from the rest of the hospital population. Segregation, what a great feeling.

Despite the methods used to get her to the other facility, Niki was feeling hopeful. She was going to get help. She was going to get better, so that she could get back to her family - but now, sitting here in this private hospital after the Hartsdale facility was destroyed she's not feeling so confident, especially because the drugs the Company was giving her to dampen her strength while she was getting treatment are no longer in her system. And there won't be any more, she was told, until they're shipped in. Presently, she walks down the hall of the segregated wing with not one, but two Company goons on either side of her. There's always that chance…

Benjamin feels better about not having those pills forced at him, but he's still worried about accidentally using his ability. Yet on the positive side, he's sort of a patient held against his will and isn't in any danger of really causing a major incident. He turns off the TV in the room and slowly opens the door to peer out into the hall. Maybe there's someone to talk to, or jeez, at this point, even a board game would be welcome.

Niki looks uncomfortably over her shoulder at the rather large men following her; it's totally warranted, she gets that, but being followed around is nonetheless slightly disconcerting. She would have stayed in her room if it felt any safer. The Company seemed woefully unprepared. Someone, it seemed, made an extreme misjudgment along the way to let that woman escape, she reflects, as she walks down the hall. When one of the doors opens, she finds herself looking Benjamin's way. "…Hey," she greets softly, coming to a stop with the guards close behind.

Seeing the guards behind Niki only cements the knowledge that they are more of a prisoner than a patient, and it's not something Benjamin likes. He looks at Niki, then the guards behind her, a questioning expression on his face. "Hey, did you try to make a break for it?" It's a weak stab of humor, and he knows it, so the look he receives from one of the guards makes him flinch.

The question - in jest or not - prompts a small smile from the woman, even as she shakes her head to Benjamin. Her blonde hair, left unstyled and drab, for the most part, sways a bit around her shoulders. "No," she answers, the faintest hint of a chuckle behind the word. "If I wanted to run, I would have done it on the way here." That also prompts a /look/ from one of the guards, but she eyes him back defensively. Back to the other patient, her questioning is gentle. "How are you holding up?"

Benjamin raises his left hand to rub up and down his right arm. "Confused. I thought.. I don't know what I thought. I feel like a prisoner and I don't like it." He looks at Niki as he says that, pointedly not looking at the guards. "I.. see after last night that security is necessary, yet.. I mean, what the heck was that? She could just.. make fire appear. How does someone's power make them lose control of themselves? I can understand not knowing about your ability, and using it accidentally, but to.." He shakes his head to clear his mind. "I guess that's right up there with terrorists who blow themselves up to kill innocent people. Then that guy who just healed himself, that was amazing."

Sympathetic eyes settle on Benjamin as he tries to make sense of things. Niki is poised to respond, but stops herself; she looks at the guards, her gaze taking on an imploring quality. "Can we just have a minute to talk? We'll leave the door open. You can watch us the whole time. … *Please*?" Maybe it's those beseeching blue eyes, or the hopeful pursing of her lips, or maybe the guards are just stupid. Maybe they're new. Maybe they haven't been fully debriefed on Niki Sanders. Whatever the case, they at least consider Niki's plea. They're not entirely daft, however: one of them takes a pair of handcuffs a pocket and goes about latching them over the slight woman's wrists at the small of her back. She lets them without a fuss, as if she's been through this routine a hundred times before, although she does cast her eyes down and away from Benjamin throughout the process.

"Five minutes," the other guard says blandly.

Benjamin stares as Niki is handcuffed and blurts, "Is that really necessary?" Oh, he's so clearly new to this ability business, even after last night's escapade, the danger level just isn't quite comprehended. Not wanting to waste time, as he's sure the guards will time this to the millisecond, he retreats into his room. He waits for Niki to come in, and he makes sure to stay in sight of the door. There's no need to make the guards twitchier or more invasive.

"Yes," Niki says quietly as she slips into the hospital room. "It is." She sits lightly on the edge of the bed, well in sight of the door, where the guards wait side by side, keeping a careful eye on the two patients. "I've seen some really weird things, the /least/ of which is some pyro woman and a guy who could heal his face." She keeps her voice soft and more hushed as she talks to Benjamin now, looking up at him. "And there are also… horrible people in this world," she begins. This is a woman speaking from experience some kind; that much is immediately obvious by her slightly pained tone and the sting of memory in her eyes. "And they can use their power to do even more horrible things, more awful than a normal person could even … imagine. I guess that's why they had that woman locked up. For everyone's safety. Maybe she snapped, you know?"

Benjamin remains standing as he listens to Niki, throwing the odd look towards the guards. Just a little paranoid he is, yes. ".. Angie told me about Sylar, so did Dr. Eames. Is that who you mean?" A noisy breath is exhaled as he raises his left hand to drag it through his hair. "If she just snapped, I think I can understand that, especially if she had been locked up. I'm not much for getting out, but I already want to go loopier just after the past few days of isolation."

"I don't know about Sylar," Niki answers softly with a stiff, one-shouldered shrug. She had her own problems to deal with while he was on the rampage. She just hit him with a parking meter. The woman shifts a bit on the edge of the bed, a faint metal clanking sounding from behind her where the handcuffs jostle. "This isn't isolation," she tells Benjamin - again, speaking from a place of experience. "I know it's no vacation, but it could be a lot worse. You could have /no/ human contact." She chances a glance to the guards momentarily. "I wouldn't mind the isolation if I could just talk to my husband and my boy."

Benjamin ohs softly. "Sorry, this is, all so new and foreign to me. I've never even had so much as a parking ticket, so I don't know about jail, or anything remotely resembling it." Yes, he's led a rather boring existence until recently. He looks sympathetic for Niki when she expresses the longing to speak to her husband and son. "..Can't you make a phonecall to them at least? I understand if they want us to be careful with what we say, but a phonecall or two can't hurt. Does your family know all about your abilities?" There's a pause, and he bluntly asks, "What is your ability? I'm sorry if that's a rude question, but, you seem really nice and you're being treated like a criminal."

"I got to talk to D.L. once when I was in the other facility… but ever since the fire - I don't know," Niki looks at the guards again, who are getting impatient; they stay where they are for the time being, though. "I just want to hear their voices. There aren't any phones, except for the cell phones I saw those guards using, and—" The woman shakes her head with mild indignance as she looks out into the hall, giving her head a small shake, "They said it would be a security breech or something." She tips her head down, pale hair swinging forward. She's quiet for a spell, despite the time limit forced upon them. "Until I'm better -" Another shake of her head and she gives a solid frown. "I deserve to be treated like a criminal. I'm… just… I'm really strong." She manages a weak smile. "These abilities… yeah, they run in the family."

Benjamin's expression becomes a little more downcast at the bad news about the cellphones. "I just.. I want to call Rose.. Not like she'll believe anything I have to say about what's happened. I don't think she took me seriously the other night." Then in a flat tone he adds, "I'm off to a great start at being a father." He looks to Niki and protests, "Just because you're strong doesn't mean that. You don't seem like a criminal.. but.. if you don't want to get into what's happened, I won't press." The latter bit really has his attention, "Is that normal? For abilities to run in the family? Will they go after my daughter?" That thought has him panicking a bit.

Niki does not, in fact, want to get into what happened. She's perfectly content with moving on - Benjamin's newest line of thought has her full attention. "I guess," she answers, but really, she has no idea. "I'm no expert. I'd just… rather we were all normal." The man's fears have creases of concern and, remarkably, confusion winding their way into her brow. "Come… after her?" Another jostle of metal sounds as her hands toy with one another in their bindings.

"I mean, they found me, they went after you. This Company.. I know I need to learn about my ability and should be with people who can help me," Benjamin throws a glance towards the door, and thusly, the guards. There's a pause, and in a deadly serious voice he says, "Of course, I think I'm going to have pity on anyone sent after her. They'll probably regret.." He takes a step closer to Niki and lowers his voice so it doesn't carry, "My daughter, she can change her appearance. She did it in front of me. She's known about her ability and can control it. Would someone be sent after her.. do you think?"

"I came here because I wanted to," Niki clarifies. "Mr. Bishop approached me first, sure, but… I came on my own, so they could cure me," she reaffirms. But Benjamin's concern are sparking her own concerns; although she shakes her head, she's obviously thinking more deeply now. Something has her on edge the more she thinks. "They might already know about her."

The guards decide time is up and start to enter the hospital room, gesturing for Niki to stand.
Benjamin clearly does not like that suggestion. ".. I hope not .. It's not like my name is on her birth certificate. That is, I don't /think/ it is. Her mother never told me about her. I hope they don't, I have to warn her somehow." As the guards enter the room, he turns to look their way. Five minutes goes fast. Too fast. He turns to try and meet Niki's gaze, his expression clearly asking, 'Should I?'

Niki meets the gaze, but gives the other patient a rather clueless look - she's helpless to answer him. She has no idea what he can do or what he's planning. All she can do is give Benjamin a subtle shrug as she stands up from the bed to comply with the guards.

Looking nervous as heck, Benjamin glances at the guards and says nothing. Recalling what little he was able to read of that meditation book, he applies the focus exercise to now. Both guards are regarded levelly as he concentrates on them. Just a quick nap, that's all you two want right now, that's it.

As one of the guards puts a hand on Niki's back to guide her out of the room (since she's watching Benjamin more than she is moving), his eyelids… flutter. They get heavy and, slowly, he stumbles to the side - into the other guard. They start to clamber up, but their limbs give way as sleep takes over. Both of them snore.

"Are they… sleeping?" God, what she wouldn't give for that ability instead. Niki blinks at the fallen men, but wastes no more time - seizing the opportunity Benjamin gave them, she runs in a few bounds to the door. She pulls apart her wrists hard, the strong metal of the handcuffs snapping as easily as if they were a magician's false pair, and tosses them onto the hospital bed. Peeking out the window, she shuts the door firmly. "No one's looking, but it won't be long before someone suspects something with the door closed," she says. "Hurry up, get their phones."

Benjamin stares down at the guards, a jubilant smile breaking out on his face, "I.. I did it! Voluntarily!" He punches a fist in the air then stops, "Oh right, phones." He manages to not stare as Niki snaps the metal. Gosh, that's strong! "I think they're gonna notice you broke those," he says as he looks for the phones, "Aha! Remember to delete your call history." He hands one phone over to Niki as he takes the other one to call his home number.

"They should have stronger handcuffs," Niki says absently as she takes the phone from Benjamin, even though she glances to the broken cuffs on the bed with a tiny glint of surprise at herself. That's never going to feel normal. As she dials a number - it takes longer than Benjamin; there's more numbers involved - she looks down at the dozing guards. "I wish I could do that instead. Every time someone's annoying you, just make them go to sleep? That would be pretty convenient." Sitting on the edge of the bed again, chancing frequent looks toward the door, she presses the phone to her ear, listening impatiently to the rings.

"I've never seen that before, except in the movies," Benji comments as he dials his home number. "C'mon, Rose, pick up," he mutters. "It wasn't very fun to find out about my ability.." A noise of frustration escapes as he gets the voice mail and hears his own message played back at him. "Rose, it's.. your father, pick up if you can hear this.. Okay, obviously you can't. I know you're going to laugh at me anyway, but those people that visited me? They kidnapped me, the hospital they took me to, another patient escaped last night and torched the place. I'm okay and that Niki lady? She's here too. If anyone comes asking about me, tell them nothing. Alright? They might be coming after you because of your ability. Also, go into my briefcase, there's a business card for a Ramon Gomez. Please call him for me, and tell him that I'm okay. I was kidnapped in front of him. He's probably worried. I'll try and call again when I can get away with it…" He looks down at the sleeping guards and adds, "I think you might like how I managed this. I put some guards to sleep for their phones." He then hangs up and deletes the call from the outbound history and puts the phone back in the guard's pocket.

*knock* *knock* *knock*

"Mr. Winters? Are you awake in there?"
Niki and Benjamin both might recognize the voice, if only in that inscrutable 'I know that voice, but I don't know how' sort of way. The door clicks, handle twisting as someone starts to open the door from the other side. At least he knocked first.

Niki is suffering similar frustration as she listens to the phone ring and ring and ring back in Las Vegas. This guard's going to have a long distance bill! She leans over her knees, rolling her eyes up toward the ceiling until… luck! She seems to have more of it than Benjamin, or at least greater odds. "Micah?" The woman automatically sits up. "Hey, how are you, baby? Yeah, I'm okay." She laughs with more heartfelt mirth than Benjamin's ever heard in their few encounters, and before Orion knocks, it'll probably be obvious that Mr. Winters is not alone in his room. "I miss you too. I'm just glad to hear your voice. I can't talk long though— is your dad there? Okay, can you go get him for me?" Knock, knock, knock… Niki shoots a nervous look from Benjamin to the sleeping guards to the door, but she's not willing to give up the phone just yet. Not until she talks to D.L. "Damnit." She gets up from the bed, clutching the phone to her chest and taking a few steps back.

Benjamin has just finished putting the phone back where he found it when that knock comes at the door. He shoots Niki a glance that reads plain as day, 'oh bugger'. He mouths at her, 'hang up!'. He's aware they're both in deep doodie now, whether or not the repurcussions are worth it.. that remains to be seen.
The door pauses, only a quarter open when Orion hears Niki's voice. There is a rather brief moment or two where Granger can be heard chuckling before he closes the door. "Awake and busy, I hear. My apologies, I'll be back in five minutes with a proper number of meals." The door promptly closes again.

"D.L.—" Niki manages to say into the phone before Orion starts to open the door, then closes it. She just stares for a moment, mouth half-open, before she breaks into an amused smirk and glances sidelong at Benjamin. Their lucky day, it would seem. She turns away from the other patient, though, to hurriedly finish her prohibited phone call in hushed tones. "…I'm fine…I'm at a different hospital now, there was … an accident." A long pause ensues and Niki's shoulders tense. "…No, I didn't have anything to do with it. Look, I have to go, I don't have much time. I'll call you again as soon as I can. I love you. Give Micah a hug for me." /Now/ she rushes into action, wasting no more time in punching a few buttons on the phone and sliding it back into the guard's pocket. "How long are they going to be out?"

Benjamin darn near messes himself at that near miss with Orion outside the door. He gestures wildly for Niki to hurry up with the phone. A look is thrown at the bed and he mutters, "fudge!" The broken handcuffs? He stuffs them under the mattress. When Niki finishes her call and puts the phone back, he breathes a sigh of relief then admits, "I don't know. I've never done this at will before. It's always been on accident in the past. I can /try/ and wake them up." He throws another fervent look to the door, "That was too close." Then, "What do we tell them about your handcuffs?"

Benjamin and Niki still have some time. About two and a half minutes, actually. Gosh that was a short phonecall home, Niki.

"We don't tell them anything," Niki says simply. "I'm going to go back to my room and ask one of the more awake guards to put some restraints on me because I'm not feeling well. If you want… this can be my fault. They'll understand. I sort of have a 'get out of jail free' card." She flashes Benjamin a humourless smile and makes for the door, aiming to slip out without having to open it far - it would be best not to let anyone else catch a glimpse of those downed guards, after all.

Benjamin shakes his head at Niki. This was really his idea and he's not going to let her take all the blame. "It's not all your fault, and I'm not.. it was my idea." He looks down at the guards and backs away. He waits for Niki to slip out of the room before focusing his attention on waking the two sleepyheads on the floor of his room. To say that he's nervous about this is an understatement. He's never been a troublemaker, and here goes nothing.

While Benjamin is still working on waking up the guards, Orion returns. He knockknockknocks on the door again before carefully starting to open it. Just down or across the hall, Niki is likely cursing Orion for leaving a tray of food on the floor in front of her door, just inside of it. "So, Mr. Winters. Are you feeling better?"

The guards just lay there at first. Gradually… one starts to stir. As he wakes up, he elbows his co-worker in the gob - the other guard in question wakes up, on that note, and promptly hits his head on the metal rung of the bed. "Ungh…!" They both manage to clamber up, droopy-eyed and not-so-stable on their feet. The first guard looks at Benjamin, back at the door where Orion is starting to enter, then back at the patient. "You have something to do with this? … Granger. I think he's feeling better. Where's Sanders?"

Niki is, in fact, at her room by this point - the food goes ignored as she waits just inside of her room, peeking into the hall.

You know that kid caught with the hand in the cookie jar look? Times that by ten and that's the expression Benjamin's wearing as he looks from the guards up to Orion as he returns to his room. A wince forms as he hears the guard's head connect with the metal frame of the bed. ".. She went back to her room.. and yes.. I'm sorry.. I wanted to see if I could control.. You were only out for a few minutes, I swear.. and I promise Niki's in her room. She wasn't feeling well." Trying to keep his breathing under control so he doesn't hyperventilate, he sort of stands his ground, heart hammering hard in his chest.

The door opens rather quickly at the guard's assertion. Orion, all six feet, four inches of him, stands in the door way with a trio of food trays balanced on his outstretched left arm. Benjamin is likely to see Orion's expression turning from amused and cheerful to distinctly annoyed.
"Does Mr. Winters have something to do with what? And, more to the point, why was Ms. Sanders here rather than her room?" Granger pauses at Ben's outburst. He studies the man very, very quietly, like a predator sizing up its next meal. Finally, he growls lowly and his expression turns markedly less sour. "You two go find Ms. Sanders, make sure she is well and fed."

"He … we fell asleep." One of the guard must admit. Both of them nod, however, the one who smacked his head looking a bit more sheepish than the other, and head down the hallway to check on Niki. They'll find her in her bed, with the tray of supper nearby, politely asking to be restrained.

Benjamin shrinks away from Orion's gaze. Although the man's words have his brow furrowing. 'Well and fed?' This isn't some zoo, and he's taking an objection to the way people are referred to around here. An objection that he keeps to himself that is. The man could wet himself with relief as the guards admit to just.. falling asleep. "We were talking, we've met twice before, outside the hospital.. She's a familiar face, and, it's nice to have that here.. you know?" he sort of stammers out at Orion, trying to twist things around just so, but not outright lie.

Orion smiles semi-genially at Benjamin once the guards leave. He moves toward the bed and sets down the trays of food, then moves toward a chair. He sits down and eyes his food tray for a few moments before looking up at Benjamin once more. "I do apologize, Mr. Winters. There are certain protocols, methodologies, and practices in place in here meant to protect patients like yourself and Ms. Sanders from themselves and from situations like what transpired last evening."
He pauses a moment, producing a fork from the side of the tray and idly moves his food around. "I hope you don't mind if I join you for dinner. I've been rather busy seeing to the needs of the patients and staff that transferred here after last evening's unfortunate… Circumstances. I was actually hoping to get to know yourself and Ms. Sanders a bit better, so that I could assist with your unique training experiences."

Benjamin frowns some as Orion speaks, finding his words a little patronizing. (Even if he knows that what he says is true and necessary.) It sort of makes him feel like he's five again and his mother's telling him how to act. (Wait, she still does that. Darnit.) He shakes his head, "I don't mind." Even if he said he did, he probably doesn't have much choice. No move is made just yet for the dinner tray, a look is thrown towards the door, and he listens, trying to hear if Niki's alright. "There's not much to know. I'm an accountant, I'm divorced, that's about it."

One of the guards who went to check on Niki eventually comes walking back down the hall; he pauses at Benjamin's door to address Orion. "Sanders is down. Restrained," one tells him. "Must have broken out of her cuffs though. Unbelievable." With that, he turns to return to his post.

Granger smiles to Benjamin and nods, "Also, I would like to apologize for my manners. I'm afraid I'm rather too blunt for my own good sometimes. If I say anything that offends you, please don't take it personally." The man takes a forkful of something that looks like Boston Market meatloaf and munches upon it for a few moments, studying Benjamin quietly. When the report comes from the guard, he nods and smiles, "Thank you. I will look in on her a bit later."

A saddened expression takes hold as Benjamin settles down to sit on the bed next to the tray. It still just seems /wrong/ to him that someone needs to be restrained. So far, he's just seen a very sick woman in Niki, a woman who loves (and misses) her son and husband. Then again, that woman last night? Pretty, but dangerous. Blinking, he gives Orion a distracted look before shaking his head. "It's alright. There's just a lot I'm getting used to." Finding himself not all that hungry at the moment, dinner goes ignored. "How long does it usually take to train someone to use their powers?"

Orion continues to eat his own dinner. He watches Benjamin still, possibly trying to read the accountant's mind (Quick, Benji, put on your tinfoil hat!) while he eats. The tall man smiles thinly and nods, finishing chewing his meatloaf before he replies. "It typically depends on the power and the person, but it usually doesn't take much more than a few days of dedicated work. I would like to offer the sincerest apologies of our group on the whole for not being able to train you nearly as quickly as you, or we, had hoped."

"I've been thinking for the past year I was crazy.. is that what you mean? That long? Or just since I got /kidnapped/ the other night?" Benjamin speaks with a sour tone to his words. "If it's the latter, there wasn't much help for it. That thug hitting me, and that woman escaping last night." He tries to get comfortable, sitting on the edge of the bed, and finds it difficult. Something else gnaws at him, and he asks, "What's going to happen to that woman? I presume your company is going to look for her. Say they find her, then what?"

"I'm afraid I don't know what you mean in regards to the last year. I do mean the past few days…" Pause. "A thug hit you?" Orion looks a touch bothered by that little revelation. Perhaps no one got that word to him or perhaps no one bothered to inform him that Mr. Winters was taken in from the street, rather than turning himself in. Benjamin may never know.
Granger takes a final mouthful of meatloaf and chews it thoroughly before he replies to Benjamin. "We are looking for her. When we find her, we will attempt to return her to one of our facilities through preferably peaceful means that will not pose a significant risk to civilians in the area. Failing that, we will have to use less peaceful and less predictable means. She is, rather unfortunately, proving to be a significant danger to herself and others, I hope you understand."

"Yeah, guy named Anders. I was going to come to the hospital, but he.. nevermind, it's all a moot point now." Benjamin says, still irritable over the issue. Getting concussed can make a person cranky. "I see.. and I understand." He can probably guess the outcome of any confrontations if yesterday is any indication of what Pyro lady can do. "So.. training.. when do we start?"
"I will look into the matter, Mr. Winters. I find excessive force a disdainful waste of effort when it is essentially unwarranted."

Granger smiles to Benjamin and steeples his fingers. For a fraction of a second, Benjamin might almost swear he saw something like mercury roll down over the tip of one finger to disappear into the shadows on the palm of one of Orion's hands. The tall man regards Benjamin for a moment or two more before he answers, "I believe we should be able to begin your training in earnest tomorrow morning, bright an early. Just try to avoid anesthetizing any more of the guards. They're only trying to do their jobs."

Benjamin blinks, and well, attributes that to over-active imagination and stress. He kind of missed Orion's little trick the previous night. "Alright.." Then he has the good sense to look abashed. "At least they weren't driving anything," he says as some small consolation. "I sort of used a focus exercise in a meditation book I picked up. Looks like it works and there's something to it."

Orion smiles thinly at Benjamin, the expression is somehow communicative. It seems almost to express a sense of 'Well gee. I wonder why we sought you out and abducted you.' along with mild amusement at the response. He stands up and extends a hand for Benjamin, "Have a good evening, Mr. Winters… And please, don't forget to eat. The hospital food tastes worse when it's allowed to cool."

Benjamin rises from the bed and shakes Orion's hand. The tray is given a mild grimace. "And here I didn't think it was possible for it to taste worse." Retracting his hand, he sets himself back down to pick at his meal. Which just makes him kind of long for his mother to break down the door and force chicken soup on him. (Yes, she's one of those pushy sorts.)

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