2008-03-29: Circle Of Reliance


Niki_icon.gif FuturePeter_icon.gif

Summary: After Hiro and Ando see themselves out, Peter has to answer some questions. Ones he'd like to avoid.

Date It Happened: March 29th, 2008

Circle of Reliance

"Jessica's" Apartment

The space is left to the two of them again after Hiro and Ando disappear. The dark apartment, the few lamps, the late hour. It would be as though there were never any guests at all, save for the somewhat shifted atmosphere in light of the visit. "…What was that about?" Niki gives Peter of the future a look of careful concern, picking up on his disposition but, missing the details, not sure what it means.

From where he stalked into the bedroom, Peter pulls the black shirt over his head and through his arms, tugging it down as he turns to face her. It covers up much of his muscle tone, but the tension is still readily displayed at his jaw, in the set of his shoulders. There's a moment where it seems he might dismiss her question, possibly even snap at it. Silence ends up following. Silence and eyebrows lowering. Then finally he rasps out a whispered. "Remember how I told you I killed someone and that's why the Company went after me— that that's why Bennet locked me up?" There's a small pause, so she can show she does remember. He's not expecting her to shake her head on this. "The man I killed was Hiro's father." There's a coldness in his voice even as he says it, that frustration not gone.

Niki comes to stand in the door, and through the frame of it brushes her hip, her own demeanour is too tense to lean. Unlike Peter, hers isn't anger, but rather, an on-edge worry. She doesn't show any surprise, nodding faintly when prompted; at least, she doesn't show any surprise until Peter says 'Hiro's father'. "His— father…" Ouch. She frowns, glances down. "If I'd known— I wouldn't've brought him here. You could have left."

"Destroying the blood is important," Peter says, turning away from her as he gathers up his coat. Maybe he's going out again, or likely he just needs to be doing something. There's a tenuous strand of control that he's clinging to. "It's my own fault. I could have turned invisible when they entered," he adds, normal rasp more angry, but still somehow cold. "I just wish they'd listen to me. They've never fought a telepath before. Stopping time won't always save him, won't get him through everything." There's a growl in his voice as he says this.

Niki rests a hand on the frame of the door as if she's going to push herself into the room, but lingers, instead, where she is. "It'll help," she says. "But you're right, I dunno if they know how wrong it could go. I mean, when I found Hiro outside've Pinehearst," a a humourless laugh slips into her voice to get her point across, "he just marched right up like nothing could hurt him."

"I could kill him," Peter says, dismissing the idea that he could march into somewhere and come out the side door unharmed. "My father could kill him. But maybe he needs to learn on his own that he's not invincible." There's a growl in his voice again, as he pulls the coat on. "I won't be able to bail him out of this, since he doesn't even want my help, doesn't trust anyone enough to…" And then he stops, the mental tirade he has slamming into a wall of some kind. A breath is taken in, before he looks at her. "I wouldn't erase any of your memories, unless you wanted me to."

A series of series of furrows in Niki's brow that have been building up over the last minute or so now seem like they might be permanent. "I've head my head messed with enough for one lifetime." Or two. Three? "But there are … some things that— if your father found out— " She shakes her head, hint of raw fear sneaking into her blue eyes in a flash. Not for herself; no, true to herself, she has a more important worry. "Micah has been… helping. I can't— if Pinehearst were to find out that he's been in their system— "

"He'll need proximity for a full scan, where he'd find out anything sensetive," Peter explains quietly, mood beginning to change dramatically as they talk. Her son is involved. He's involved. There's so much more than she knows of that would be dangerous for them to get ahold of that no one wants Arthur to know. There's a long pause, he pulls back for a moment and looks over to the wall. "Maybe you should stay out of Pinehearst. Try to work outside of it for a while… Nathan's busy with a lot of things. You could find excuses to stay away…"

"I have been," Niki says, but it fails to sound reassuring to herself, let alone to anyone else's ears. "And, especially now with Micah's help…" Even referencing the fact that her genius, but still young son is helping with any of this makes her notably ill-at-ease; she tips her head down, watching her fingers loosely intertwine.

"I can push that memory further into the back of your mind before you leave in the morning," Peter says, voice whispered, though sounding concerned. It wouldn't protect her, because so many of her memories would be needed to do what she needs to do. But… "And then I can put it back where it should be when you come home at night. Just that he's helping you— that he's hacked into their computer systems, feeding Pinehearst information." There's something about this topic putting him on edge. He pulls out a watch from his coat, flicking the pocket watch open to look at something.

Come home. Niki instinctively glances along her shoulder on that note, just barely taking in the sight of the dark apartment in her periphery. "Yeah. Yeah, okay," she says quietly. Pushing the memories back. Niki can deal with that just fine. She finally does push off the edge of the wall, taking a step closer, looking down at that ever-present watch … contraption. She curls a hand over his forearm as if to distract him from it, if only so she can catch his eyes with her dark-rimmed, worried blue ones. "You seem…" She trails off. "There's something you're not saying."

The watch snaps shut when she speaks, trailing off as he looks over to get caught in her eyes. There's a lot that Peter isn't saying, most likely. He's often said he couldn't talk about things, that certain things were dangerous topics. This could be one of them. The hand moves to drop his watch-contraption into his pocket before he reaches up to touch her face. "If anything happens… I'll come for you." Rough fingers touch her jaw, slide toward her neck, and then pull her in closer. Into a kiss. Still something he's not saying. This doesn't involve much in the way of talking.

Peter's statement is at once both heartening and completely unsettling, which makes for an altogether anxious look on Niki's face. Which is then kissed. She gives into it after a moment of inertia, but lines of stress still darken her brow even as she returns the gesture of affection (and distraction).

The hand that was holding onto Peter lets go, then, and before she realizes what she's doing, Niki is pushing at his chest to break them apart. "You know what's going to happen, don't you," she questions, accuses. "What could happen." Sure, there's a lot he can't talk about because of the whole time-future-past-whatever thing, but something rises up in Niki this time and compels her to confront that metaphorical wall.

The shove forcefully puts a distance between them. Peter's hand falls away, same as his lips are shoved away from her, and he watches her mouth as she questions and accuses him. The simple answer… of course he knows what could happen. What may happen. That's part of being from the future. There's a twinge along his brow-line, pushing his scar around a bit as he steps back. "I can't— " he starts. It doesn't finish. "By the time I got out of Level Five, you had been found out. But I was locked up in Level Five, I couldn't help you. I can now." It's very likely he'd been planning to get her out of there before it got too bad, but she kept insisting on helping with that…

Caught. It's … a vague word, "caught." Niki imagines Pinehearst to be a place where consequences are very real. "I…" She backs away until the back of her legs bump against the end of the bed. "I just wanted to keep trying," she insists, a lingering intensity in her voice. "To keep … helping." Unable to keep still, she moves away from the bed, edgy, half-circling back toward the time traveller. "I trust you, Peter, with my life, but I can't rely on you to save me. But I can't just stop, either."

Her life. The fact she didn't die in the future he comes from would be pretty clear, wouldn't it? Otherwise how could he have built the relationship he might not have wanted to change. Peter watches her as she insists, again, on staying the course, despite the dangers. Despite the person risk. "Whether you rely on me or not…" Peter starts, as he moves closer again. "I will come for you," he repeats the promise. Instead of reaching up to touch her again, pull her close, he's moving his hands together, snaking one under the cuff of his coat and pulling off one of the rubber bracelets. Reaching for one of her hands, he moves it from his wrist, to hers. "I promise I will."

So she didn't — doesn't? — die, but there are a whole lot of other things that could happen, to her, to the people around her, to everything she tries to protect. All of these things are racing through Niki's mind even as Peter speaks, but she comes to a jolting physical stop when he takes her hand. She looks down in confusion, not sure what he's doing until the strap of black is around her wrist. Too big for her slender arm, but it looks like it might just stay. "What— ?" she says with a barely-there voice, interrupting herself with just a solid nod, followed by another.

Being elastic makes it more likely to stay in place, but it might be best to switch it somewhere else in the future. For the moment, Peter's continuing to hold onto her hand, shifting until their palms are flat against each other, and his fingers and go between hers. "I have almost nothing to give you," he says quietly. "Almost nothing that's mine. I didn't bring much with me." The coat he's wearing, a couple of things in his pockets. The clothes he actually wears were bought here, in the past. Or else he'd only have one pair of clothes. They all look the same, but there's more than one. "But I can promise to come after you… And to do things to protect your son, so they don't find out he was helping you… and this can remind you of that promise."

Slowly but surely, Niki's expression hardens — not cold, not cut-off, but determined and resolute. "Thank you." Her fingers curl between Peter's, holding on tight. She looks at their hands, and a sudden flash of white — a smile — brightens her tense features. "I keep saying I don't wanna be saved," she says, looking up, "Contrary to … everything I've been saying, I want to rely on you. I do."

"Everyone needs to be saved sometimes," Peter says, continuing to hold her hand, before his other hand comes up to touch her cheek, fingers moving up to her hair. "Just remember— you saved me too." In a way, he's returning a favor that she never quite gave, and if he has anything to do with it that she'll never have to do again. But that doesn't mean the hunger will go away. And the him locked away in Level Five may need her one day just as much as he did.

"Think you've got a higher running tally on saving me," Niki jokes, her tone somewhat forced. She's not making light of any of it, not in earnest, but that lightness, the gentler smile she gives — it's all so rare between them in the time they've been together here. Sometimes it's needed. Niki looks Peter in the eye, acknowledging. She knows. "Weren't you going somewhere?" she reminds him suddenly, running a hand down the front of his black jacket.

"You'd be surprised," Peter says softly, leaning closer to touch the tip of his nose against hers. The smile seems to touch something in him. He doesn't exactly return it, but there's a hint of it tugging on the corner of his mouth. His hand stays in her hair, while the other continues to clasp hers. "I actually can't think of anywhere better to be right now… Besides… if I'm going to push your memories into the back of your mind… I'm going to need to be here with you before you go to work in the morning."

Niki clasps onto the collar of that characteristic jacket of this Peter's, touching her thumb to the line of his jaw. "Just— as long as you don't have anyone else to go save." It's a legitimate concern— Niki honestly does seem worried about the possibility of Peter eschewing some other time traveller duties for her. He has changes to make that demand his time, so it's possible, right?

"Not tonight," Peter assures, shifting his mouth to touch to hers. Unlike before, when he did it to distract her, there's something more genuine in it. Genuine and softer. It's true he got dressed and put on his coat in anger, but there were things going on there that made it so he might have had to leave… Until she showed exactly what he meant by her saving him more than she knows, whether she realizes it or not.

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