2007-03-23: A Long Day Getting Longer


Nathan_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: News flash: New York City is incredibly small, and coincidences do actually occur.

Date It Happened: March 23, 2007

A Long Day Getting Longer

The Petrelli Mansion

It is reasonably late when Nathan comes home from having made a trip to Mt. Sinai. His first detour is towards the sitting room, where he levels himself a small glass of whiskey, while dialing a number on his cellphone as he heads out and towards the kitchen. He's murmuring quietly, as if the oppressive silence of the mansion is encouraging whispers. "I told him it would be out of the question," he mutters, then pauses to see lights on. "And you can repeat it for me, what else do I pay you for?" Hanging up, he steps into the kitchen, probably expecting to find an Elle or a Peter or a Ma.

Settled in the Petrelli's kitchen is someone who no one likely expected to be here, least of all Niki. The blonde woman has seen better days, but there's no mistaking Ms. Sanders for who she is. Rosy-cheeked but otherwise looking chilled and pale, she's sitting near Peter, clad in nothing but a housecoat - one of Heidi's, incidentally - with a soft, warm blanket wrapped around her. Blonde hair falls around her face in slightly strangled tendrils, like it's been soaked and frozen and dried again, and there are a few small gashes (probably band-aided by Former Nurse Petrelli by now) around her throat and a lesser scratch on her forehead. "I really can't thank you enough, Peter, but I should…" she's telling Peter gently when the other Petrelli walks in. Deer. In. Headlights.

The thing he's most concerned about happen to be the woman's hands. The numbness she complained about could mean something very bad indeed, so part of what this calls for is warm water. There's a bowl of it placed nearby, so she could soak her hands after washing the blood off of them, while Peter cleaned and bandaged the deeper cuts. Of course she changed in a room by herself, because he wouldn't have demanded to see anything like that. Looking winded and tired, he's still fully dressed, with some hints of blood along his shirt, especially on the back where her hands had touched him. "It's okay. Just in the right…" his voice trails off when he realizes that she's staring at someone. He glances towards the door, and is actually relieved it's Nathan. He's not sure how Elle would respond to walking into this situation… "Nathan, hey." Nothing at all to feel guilty about in his book. Though if it'd been Elle he'd have been more quick to explain. Little does he know, right?

As a general rule, Nathan has a hard time with coincidence. Even after all the random events and happenstances of the last year, old habits do die hard. So he looks stern when Peter greets him, eyeing his brother and then back to Niki. He stays where he is in the doorway, looking slightly more rough around the edges since Niki would have seen him last, and a lot more tired. "Hey," he says in return, though guarded. "So what's the occasion?" Only then does he take in the injuries and all, raising an eyebrow.

Niki, much the same way, isn't much for coincidences. And she's had an overload of them in the past few months; they're not getting much easier to swallow, even still. "Nathan. Hi." She wraps the blanket more snugly around her, a defensive gesture meant to be comforting, but at the same time, she looks like she might throw it off and leave any second. She glances over at Peter and smiles. "Your brother here is patching me up. … I, uhm, I fell." Into the arctic tundra? Likely story. She pauses and adds: "…Out a window."

On the other hand, the younger Petrelli brother has become so used to coincidences, as long as they're not something completely terrible, like being the bomb, he'll just accept them with a shrug. They've been happening since he returned to the world, it would seem… "Twelfth story window," Peter adds on, before moving back to the counter, where the first aid kit is open and grabbing a few more bandaids. Not quite finished with that patching up, after all. If there's one thing he's confident doing, it would be this. "Was walking by, managed to catch her." The rest of the details, why she couldn't go to a hospital, he'll leave out. Those are her details to share, and he still doesn't understand half of what she did tell him, either. Determination to get her patched up and home safely is the important part, right?

"How heroic of you, Peter," Nathan says, now moving to stand within the room. His voice still has that edge of suspicion and wariness, as if waiting for the punchline that doesn't seem to be forthcoming. Polishing off his drink, he glances at Niki's bandages, and then finally her face before looking away. "Neat trick, isn't it, catching people falling from buildings. He learned that one from me." A double-edged comment - either a lame joke or an unnecessary dig, depending on who you are in the room. "In New York for business or pleasure, Niki?"

"Well. I'm glad. Guess I picked a lucky window to fall out of," Niki says, taking a stab at being light-hearted. Although her hands are happy to cuddle in the warmth of the blanket, she does reach out and immerse them - they're faintly reddened - in the warm water, moving them about slowly. It's something to focus on, anyway - at least for a few moments before she looks up, her gaze slanting away from Peter to meet Nathan's. "Neither," she says after a beat. "Actually, I… live here in the city now." How about that.

"I picked the right time and place to go to the store, too," Peter adds, though he's glancing over at his older brother and giving him an odd look. Is he drunk? From the way his voice looks subdued, and even mildly flinches— yeah, he's taking it as kind of a dig. Usually does from his brother, come to think of it. Questions might flit through his head, but he just finishes bandaging the last of the major cuts, and then moves back towards the first aid kit to clean things up. There's another set of glances. How exactly do they know each other? He knows where he recognized her— maybe they met after the incident?

Nathan now studies Peter for a few moments, and his defensive suspicion turns more into confusion. So this really /is/ a coincidence? He goes to put his empty glass down in the sink, casting Niki a puzzled look. "Oh. Hope you're settling in okay," he says. Another look to Peter, and Nathan casts his brother a half-smile. "We met briefly in Vegas," is his explanation. "Linderman was a mutual friend." That's said not without irony.

Niki half-watches as Peter finishes with the bandages, only reacting to brush her hair aside to make it easier for him at one point. She smiles graciously at him by the end, and the expression transfers to Nathan, but her smile for him is… less firm. That singular tremulous smile is the only answer she gives as to how she's 'settling in'. How she's settling in is by falling out of twelve story windows. That's how. "I wouldn't call him a friend," she adds stiffly, bitterness going unchecked at the mention Linderman.

They met briefly in Vegas. Peter's staring at his brother when he says this, and putting a few things together he glances towards the woman and… Okay. Now this is awkward. There's probably a million blonde women in Las Vegas that could have been the one he heard about— the one he lied to protect his brother about — to get a painting, no less. Then again, the world of coincidences… "We'd met briefly too, here, not in Las Vegas," he adds, doing his best to keep from sounding awkward in this situation, "Niki was at the Plaza. The night I blew up," he also adds, looking between the two. He'd said before how people had been helping them, people he'd never even really met. "Sylar was hitting me with a parking meter and she stopped him." Coincidences always seem to find this young man.

Nathan manages not to smirk bitterly when Peter stares at him, but only just. He's had a rough night, and perhaps he's warming to the concept of irony, finally. "Ah. Wasn't around for that part," he says, and then frowns, and looks at Niki. He's aware there's definitely more to her than a blonde chick paid off to help blackmail him - he still has that gun, after all - but this is different. "You stopped Gray? How?"

The coincidences are even bigger than any of the three people in this room realize. Isn't that always the way? Niki draws her hands out of the water slowly and, with tender fingers, clutches the sleeves of the borrowed housecoat - which, all things considered, she has no right to wear. That's a fact that hasn't gone over her head. "…Only for a minute," she clarifies modestly. "I just grabbed that meter without thinking."

As she removes her hands, Peter steps back over and reaches out to touch them, checking the softness of the skin, as well as the level of warmth. The water has lowered in temperature quite a bit since they started, but at least it feels like her digits aren't threatened anymore. "Just stopped him from hitting me for a while, but— you were a huge help, Niki. Even if you did it without thinking." To him, everyone who showed up that night had earned huge points. Except maybe him and Sylar. Odd, huh? "You okay, Nathan? You look— did something happen?" With how much keeps going on, for all he knows /another/ friend got shot.

"Long day," Nathan says, a little wryly. "The kind that just seem to keep going, you know?" He gives Niki a strained smile, and only then does he notice the coat she's wrapped up in. Where's that whiskey when he needs it. Oh yeah. Rubbing the back of his neck, he looks at Peter - he seems almost apologetic, if Nathan knows how to pull off such an expression. "We should talk, later."

Niki just gives an unpretentious half-smile to Peter's comments over Kirby Plaza that night. There's a subtle shift in her position, uncomfortable when Nathan looks at her at one point, and she doesn't return the strained smile - in fact, she looks away, to Peter. She hesitates, feeling like she's intruding on the brothers' conversation before she speaks up, plastering on a brighter smile despite it all. "What's the verdict? Am I healthy enough to go home?" Please say yes, please say yes — then again, grateful though she is, Niki is getting out of here as soon as humanly possible no matter what he says.

There's something decidedly wrong. Then again, if Peter'd suspected even for a moment that the woman he'd brought home would have been someone his brother knew /like that/… he would have found one of his mother's house coats instead. The distant look in his eyes as he watches his brother almost makes him miss the woman's question. "What?" he says when he's startled out of it. "Oh, right— yeah, you should be fine now. Just keep the cuts clean and look out for any swelling. Your clothes should be dry now. You can change back into them." They'll still have blood on them that she'll have to explain, but at least they're her clothes.

Nathan can't help but be a little relieved as well at Peter's answer - relief that doesn't have much to do with Niki's state of health, to be honest. He stays quiet, letting them talk over injuries and the looking after of and getting changed back into clothes, and on that last part, Nathan busies himself with putting together an instant coffee for himself. Naked Niki in his wife's coat. Resolutely, he doesn't ponder this.

Thank God. Niki slides out of the chair, taking the blanket with her, cozy and, more importantly, covering - not that she feels particularly cozy at the moment. "Thank you," she murmurs politely yet again before making her way out of the kitchen, slightly hasty on her bare feet. She heads upstairs through the extravagant Petrelli mansion where she knows her things are, on a mission. To get dressed.

As soon as he thinks Niki's far enough away, out of earshot, hopefully, Peter steps closer to his 'pondering' brother, with the instant coffee, and asks, "That's her, isn't it? The woman from Las Vegas? The one that reporter asked about?" This is a far smaller world than they could have ever imagined. Hopefully it'll take her a few minutes to change, so they can have some of 'the talk' right now.

In turn, Nathan steps away to turn on the electric kettle. "Yeah, that was her," he says, rolling his eyes ceilingwards. "You really know how to pick 'em, Peter. You'll understand when I say it'd be a good idea to make sure she doesn't drop by again in the future." Not that she seemed eager to stick around, but he's covering some bases.

"Are you telling me I should have left a woman falling to her death and not done anything?" Peter asks, giving him a rather raw look. From what little he'd seen in the hour or so that he's known the woman, there's a few suspect things. Such as the blood on her hand, running from the cops, the suitcase… but she helped him in Kirby Plaza, and he /just happened/ to be there when she was falling out of a building. "I only brought her here because she refused to go to a hospital and she needed treatment."

"Peter. Yes, you should have saved her," Nathan says, shooting him a vaguely irritated look, leaning against the counter and folding his arms. "You… I'm sure you did the right thing. In the future, we find an alternative." He lifts a hand to rub the bridge of his nose. "It's just complicated, okay?"

Niki gets dressed as quickly as possible, but it's still a little more slow-going than it might normally be. Frostbite and all. It's mild, but it gets in the way. In one of the washrooms, she takes a moment to look into the mirror, tightening her jaw, eyeing her reflection before heading back downstairs.

The blonde appears in the doorway looking a little… femme fatale who's been through the ringer. She can't be blamed for the slate grey business suit and the jacket's decided lack of propriety. One-buttoned. Black bra. Thanks for that, Jessica. Really. "If you could… not tell anyone I was here… it's complicated," she unknowingly mimics. Niki shifts the briefcase she reclaimed from upstairs at her side. It's a bit blood-smeared. Ignore that, boys. She gives the Petrellis a tense smile, though true sincerity does touch her eyes when she looks at Peter, but she avoids looking at Nathan again as she turns to leave for the foyer.

"I get it, it's complicated," Peter says even before the blonde woman reappears and gives him the same line. "Yeah, you weren't here," he repeats her request, agreeing with her on that. "You can make it back home on your own, right?" Complicated or not, he has to offer. He promised she'd get home to her family. If she keeps moving, though, he won't press it. He has a kitchen to clean up, after all… And a brother who might need to really talk about more than the complicated situation.

"Yeah," sliding a red cell phone out from a pocket that's hidden inside her jacket - tucked just off to the side of the deep V neck. "I'll can call someone." Like a taxi. Another one of those tense smiles, and Ms. Sanders is /gone/. The sound of the front door opening and closing can be heard a moment later.

Pouring steaming water into his mug, Nathan waits until the sound of the front door is closed, before glancing at Peter. Now what. Oh yeah. "Get me milk from the fridge, would you?" he says. "Or cream, if Mandy bought the wrong brand again. Really need to write her a note about that."

At another time, Peter might be frustrated at being asked to do these things, but right now he just goes to the fridge and takes out the milk, the right kind, lucky for Mandy, and brings it over to his brother. "So what'd you need to talk about? I have a feeling it wasn't really about bringing Niki here. You were drinking even before you came in." This isn't the first time he's stood in the kitchen with his brother after he's been drinking, though last time was early in the morning, and he'd been preoccupied with other things to approach him about coming home hungover. "What happened?"

"I—" Nathan shoots Peter a look. "I haven't been drinking." That much. "Look, it's nothing…" It's not nothing, and so he trails that sentence off. "It's probably not what you're thinking." He takes the milk and colours his coffee with it, jaw working before he finally states, "I'm getting a divorce," as he hands Peter back the carton of milk.

Okay, here Peter stood, expecting to hear some problem dealing with jobs, or politics, or something else. But what's /said/… he blinks. Just once. "What?" he asks in a rather surprised voice, which actually raises a bit when he speaks. "When— when did this happen? I know Heidi and the boys aren't in the house, but I thought…" They were staying somewhere else! There's plenty of options, and the Petrelli's do have more than one set of estates. It's not like this was their only house ever. But still.

"I have no idea when it's going to happen," Nathan says, rather blandly, as if talking about something minor and not world-shaking, which, to be truthful, it is the latter, at least for him. "You met Mara. You know what she can do. She saw the future just a few days ago." If nothing else, this explains some of Nathan recent weirdness.

Man… Peter's hand goes up to his face and actually makes a scrubbing gesture. This— how is he supposed to respond to visions of the future? He'd had them before, visions of the future that had limited accuracy. They'd still been accurate, though. Enough. "Nathan— just because she saw it. Did she describe what she saw, exactly? When— when I used her ability it was like I was standing outside, watching something happen. For all we know she saw you just saying you got divorced. She could have seen you telling me this, right now." He's grasping for excuses. "Have you tried calling her?"

"I didn't ask," Nathan says, with a mild sneer. "I didn't… it's not something I want to know about. But she saw Heidi, that I know. She saw our sons." He brings the cup of coffee to his mouth to sip from, hesitant to answer that last question. "I haven't called her since the vision, no."

Stepping closer, Peter reaches up and puts a hand on his brother's shoulder. "Nathan, you can fix this, okay? You fix everything for me…" Past, present and future inclusive in that verb. His brother's always fixed things for him, and always will, he seems to believe this. "You can fix this, too. I'm sure you can. Heidi's been through a lot, but— she's strong. She never gave up, and— and… You can fix this." It's not as world shattering as Sylar or the tornado, but that doesn't mean it isn't important.

Nathan lifts a hand to pat the back of Peter's. "Always good for a pep talk." The statement comes off mostly amused, perhaps sarcastic, but there is a streak of appreciation, there, perhaps suggested through a quick, small smile. Why else would he have brought it up, if not for a little glimmer of optimism? "I'm just… I don't think it'll be quite as eas— simple as a quick trip to the sky." Simple, but definitely not easy.

"Saving the world wasn't easy either," Peter says, moving his other hand up to his brother's shoulders to give him a hint of a hug. He'd pull him closer and do the real thing, but there's coffee involved, and that's always dangerous. "You should talk to her. Tell what's going on. She'll think somethings going on anyway, with the whole…" One hand lifts off his shoulders to gesture at his brother's face. "Know it's hard to accept, but— it's better than keeping it from her. And Claire might be able to help her too." What, no one told him that she's not in the wheelchair anymore? Well, this family isn't great with disclosure, is it?

Wow. Nathan blinks once and looks almost sheepish that this is just one more thing he hasn't told his brother about. "Heidi… she's been helped. Linderman was one of us, he could… kind of heal people. Call it a gift. This was back when he thought it was gonna let him destroy New York."

"Linderman," Peter repeats the name, thinking back on how the man had just been mentioned earlier in the evening, and how he had one of the few abilities he would have loved to have. And he hated the man. Even hated their father for protecting him. Or at least heavily disliked him. Hate might be a bit strong. "Okay…" Shaking his head, the nurse can't help but find the irony in the situation, "We need to work on communication." Politicans lie, sure, but this is his baby brother here! Lifting one of his hands up, he kneeds at his own forehead for a moment. "At least you got something out of him thinking you were going to help him."

"Come on, we've both been a little distracted," Nathan sends with a hint of defense in his voice. "I'll talk to her." It's almost a promise given to both himself and Peter, although he looks somewhat doubtful. A rare moment occurs, as he asks of Peter's opinion, "Do you think the truth will help, rather than… damage everything?"

"I know," Peter says, letting his hands slide away finally. Not because things had gotten awkward, but because he'd finished expressing his emotion through tactile contact. "I don't know. But she'll find out eventually. She might think we're crazy at first, but… after what we've seen, if she sees even a little bit of that, she can't deny it's real." All it would take is a flight in the sky above, or one of Peter's many abilities displayed, and she could no longer doubt the authenticity. "And Heidi's strong. Rehab can tear a person apart, but she made so much progress in just six months." More than most people have made, in fact. "This time the truth and hope are the same thing." Before, the argument against telling her the truth about the one-night stand in Vegas had been rejected because she needed hope. But now…

The point isn't missed on Nathan, and he kind of smiles distantly. Touche. "Well we'll see. She's due back soon, and I'll have to say something to her. My injuries - you didn't see them, not even after hospital - there was nothing helping them, not this quick." Perhaps he feels like he's saying too much, trailing off before rather abruptly nodding. "That's all. Thanks for listening."

When his brother gives a hint of 'you're dismissed', Peter backs away, moving to clean up the bowl of water, and various other things that he'd had set out to help Niki with her situation. Before the older brother can leave, though, he'll hear a soft and distant voice from his brother, not looking up, not turning back to face them. "…I did see them, Nathan." Something that also didn't get revealed. And he just harped on his brother for lack of communication. "I carried you into the hospital. Saw them wheel you away." And he'd been wondering how he got there, right? Now he knows. "I saw them."

Nathan pauses at the doorway when Peter speaks up, turning to face him. He looks less than pleased - but for once, it's not anger, or irritation - almost a haunted and regretful look. He tries to break it with a half-smile. "Thanks," he says, meeting Peter's eyes before he turns to walk away.

There's no real response to the Thanks given, because Peter stops cleaning out the bowl in favor of closing his eyes and leaning his head forward. How can he even really accept the thanks for something he's thankful for instead? It's been a long day.

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