2007-06-30: You Shouldn't Be Alone

Starring:

Lachlan_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: Lachlan visits Niki — as it happens, when he apologizes, he really goes all out. Niki has some explanations and warnings to counter his gifts.

Date It Happened: June 30th, 2007

You Shouldn't Be Alone


Monica's House, Queens, New York

At first glance, logic states that there's no one home at this particular house in Queens - an apartment, truthfully, as it's sizeable enough to have been split into a few residences with room enough for each. The windows are dark, all is quiet. Second glance, however, might be another story: a narrow window (of the residence one Niki Sanders supposedly lives) flickers with a dim light behind a rustling curtain. Tada! /Someone/ is home.

Even still, Lachlan is fairly hesitant to approach. He's sort of waffled about just outside, trying to decide whether or not someone is home, and the little ball of black-and-tan-and-merle tucked into the crook of one arm has fallen asleep. After such a lengthy time of doing nothing, the Scotsman finally works up the gumption to knock, figuring that if no one's home, he'll just come back later. He's dressed as he usually is for a warm early-summer day and he's not only brought something fluffy, he's got a rose in a simple glass vase too.

It takes about half a minute, during which there are the telltale sounds of shuffling around and a door closing from inside, before someone greets the visitor. Luckily for Lachlan, it is Niki. Monica and Micah aren't due home for a little while yet, and she wasn't expecting visitors. As she stands there holding the door open, this is pretty damn obvious for two reasons: 1) the look of confused surprise - shock, even - on her face when she sees Lachlan with a rose and - what is that in his arms? And 2) She's wearing little more than a pink, silky robe which is barely longer than an oversized t-shirt. "Lachlan." Staring at Lachlan, Niki has the good grace and humility to be a little uncomfortable, for more reasons than one. "What… are you…?"

If Niki is uncomfortable, then there's not a word to describe how vastly uneasy Lachlan suddenly is when he's greeted by a nearly naked and attractive woman. He stares. Then rips his gaze away to something closer to the ground and off to the side, muttering a quiet curse. "Uh. Hey. Yeah, uh. Sorry. S'this a, uh, bad time?"

Niki blinks at Lachlan a few times, not really understanding what he's doing here. Nevertheless, she gives him a friendly smile, reassuring, even if it is uneasy around the edges. She shakes her head. "No, I just wasn't expecting visitors tonight." Obviously. Wrapping her arms more tightly around herself, she deftly ties the fabric belt as she steps to the side, out of the doorway. Blue eyes regard the rose and the ball of fur pointedly, questioning. "That's a cute dog. A client's?"

Still keeping his gaze fixed on almost everything except Niki, Lachlan steps into the house. Not that he would think about cheating on Cass, really, but it's still a bit uncomfortable for a guy who hasn't had any for over three weeks because his girlfriend's been injured. Glancing at the puppy, he adds, "Was. They couldna keep 'er b'cause their 'partment doesna allow dogs. Dunno why the bloody hell they got one in the first place." A moment of pondering before he holds the rose out toward Niki. "S'uh, in sugar water." And back to the puppy: "Anyway, uh, I'm already takin' care o' four puppies fer the police, an' the damn cat on top o' tha', an' I was just thinkin' mebbe ye'd like ta keep 'er. Y'know, fer company."

It's dark in the living room; Niki flicks a lightswitch near the door with a few fingertips to banish the shadows. Suddenly, the house is homey, cozy. Lots of family photos (none of which resemble Niki except the one's she's in), furniture that Monica probably brought from New Orleans. Breaking into an unexpected, bright smile, she takes the rose - but before she can say a word on the flower or the sugar water, she's looking at the puppy. "You— " Frozen with an expression that is, honestly, several expressions in one - surprise, bewilderment, amusement, and something more touched — she reaches out to touch the little dog under the chin. "You're giving me a dog…?" The woman laughs lightly. "She's precious, Lachlan. That's really sweet of you. This is a trick. I can't say no, look at her!"

Lachlan grins and eases the puppy out of the crook of his arm so that he can hold her out with both hands. She's still young, perhaps no more than a couple of months, and looks as though she'll grow up to be about mid-sized. Not a large dog, by any means. Her head is black with a tan muzzle and spots over her eyes, and the rest of her seems to be an odd mixture of Doberman and Australian cattle dog markings. She stirs when she's jostled and moved about, but her eyes close again, in the manner of deeply sleeping puppies. "She's a real nice pup. I'll even train 'er fer ye fer nothin' — canna do it righ' now, o' course, but in a week 'r so when I'm no' dealin' with the others. They named 'er Mocha, but she's young an'll answer ta wha'ever ye start callin' 'er."

Niki sets the rose down on the coffee table and takes the puppy from Lachlan. She holds her somewhat awkwardly out in front of herself, though she draws her in a moment later, holding the dozing dog to her chest not unlike a baby. "Mocha," she repeats in a considering, teeter-tottering voice as she looks down at the surprise dog, as if she's not sure if it's a good name or not yet. "You know, a few months ago I would have turned her away. Now - I guess we have time. Micah's never had a dog before," Niki reflects with a fond, sideways smile.

In Lachlan's opinion, everyone needs a dog. Dogs make everything better. "Tha's a bloody shame," he states with a broader grin. "Guess he'll learn, then." The expression fades almost as quickly as it came. "So 're ye holdin' up a'righ'? D'ye need anythin'?" Wow. When he feels bad about something, he kinda goes all-out in trying to make it better.

One of Niki's first impressions of Lachlan involved him with flowers for his girlfriend, but even so, even if he hadn't nearly accosted her in the subway, his thoughtfulness is… surprising. Apology is one thing. A rose and a puppy is another. For a second or three, she doesn't know what to say. "I'm holding up - that's a good way of putting it. I'm managing, you know?" She lowers herself onto the nearby couch with the puppy soon on her lap. "Thanks. These're gifts enough," Niki says with a laugh sneaking into her voice. "You and Cass are … really understanding. Too understanding, I mean, after everything."

"Yeah, well, s'no' like yer the one tha' did … all tha'." And Niki was really nice before. Lachlan's willing to buy the idea of multiple personalities, especially since it's something Cass and Peter believe. If either one of these two factors were missing, it's likely that he wouldn't be so understanding.

Niki idly pets "Mocha" around one ear. "Most people wouldn't buy it," she tells Lachlan; there's a smile on her face, but it's low on levity. "I can't believe how lucky I am to have a few people around me that understand," she says the word slowly; it's not like any of them can completely understand. "Enough to forgive me." But? There's a but, clearly, as the blonde glances off to the kitchen. "I might still be— " She presses rose-glossed lips together in a half formed frown and eyes Lachlan levelly. "Keep Cass safe. If she wants to help me, and I dunno how, but if she tries … and knowing Cass, she'll try," Niki smiles again; it's warmer, but short-lived. She's suddenly gravely seriou. "Someone has to be there… to take me down. I shouldn't be alone with her. You probably shouldn't even be alone with me."

As uncomfortable as such a subject is, Lachlan nods in comprehension, crossing his arms over his chest. "S'tha' bad, huh?" Must be hell, knowing that at any moment, one may suddenly lose one's self and become someone else. "They dunna have medication 'r anythin' fer it? Therapy?" Of course there probably isn't; otherwise Cass wouldn't be wanting to help.

"There was medication. I stopped taking it to get help at a special facility. Ironic, huh? I thought it was working until it wasn't." Niki folds her hands over top of the still deeply sleeping mutt on her lap (at least the puppy provides coverage, for Lach's sake!) and smiles tiredly. "I'm at a point where I don't know what to believe anymore."

"Then're ye back on the meds?" For his part, Lachlan has grown a little more comfortable in looking at Niki. As long as he keeps his eyes above collar-level, he's totally fine. That's why he's pointedly looking at either her face or something over her shoulder. "Cass 's real good at stuff like this. Mean, she's just startin' it an' all tha', but she's smart. 'M sure she can figure somethin' out fer ye."

"Been thinking about it," Niki admits - that's a no to the meds, then. Which means, theoretically, that Lachlan really might not be safe from whatever deviant personalities are lurking in the woman's head, waiting. Comforting, huh? The kind, appreciative smile she gives her guest definitely does not have a hint of anything ill-meaning, however. "Cass is smart. You know she drew out a whole genetics … square one day just because I asked a question?" She laughs quietly and ruffles the puppy's collar. She's still sleeping. Niki's going to be in for one surprise when the thing springs to life eventually.

Lachlan doesn't even know what a genetics square is, let alone the real name for it. It sounds like something smart and wonderful and Cass-y. He nods a little. "Ye should. 'F they helped, I mean. Ye'd no' have ta worry s'much." And speaking of worrying, the Scot knows he's still in some mild danger, being here alone with the woman that could suddenly bust out and eviscerate him. In typical Lachlan fashion, he doesn't care. He does, however, have other things to do today. "Yeah, speakin' o' Cass, I better get back." His hands drop to his hips and he thrusts a thumb over his shoulder toward the door. "But, uh, if ye need anythin', y'know— " suddenly he starts digging about in his pocket and produces a business card that looks as though it's been stuffed in there for a while "— just lemme know, a'righ'?"

Lachlan has good logic, but it's not that simple. Maybe it should be. Maybe Niki should make it be that simple. Safer for everyone. She reaches up to take the business card and looks at it with a faintly amused grin. "Thanks, I'll probably be calling you. …Did I mention that I didn't have a dog when I was a kid either?" Sheepish smile. "Thank you."

Lachlan is very good at sound and simple logic. He's had lots of practice in simplicity. He grins at that last question as he starts to step backwards toward the door. "S'a good time ta start, then. 'll come by later t'day with some stuff fer 'er — food an' some toys an' the like. Just enough ta get ye started." He's helpful in integrating puppies with families! See? Reaching for the doorknob, he offers a wave of his free hand. "'ll see ye 'round, then."

"Thanks again!" Niki is going to stay right here and not jostle the puppy into awake mode - she looks so peaceful, dozing. "Bye, Lachlan."

As soon as the door shuts? The puppy leaps to alertness, befuddled and jumping all over its new owner. "Wow, hey there, puppy— Oh God, you're excited, aren't you— o-okay—!"

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