2007-07-20: Could Believe


Peter_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Guest Starring:


Summary: Peter tries very hard to make contact with Niki's fractured selves.

Date It Happened: July 20th, 2007

Could Believe

Rooftop - Deveaux Building - Manhattan, New York

Evening hours. The street below isn't terribly busy, and lights shine all around. The rooftop brings back so many memories, especially at night. The pigeons (is Claude still taking care of them?) make noises and are their only audience, something that the young man with too many abilities verifies by disappearing for a few moments while touching her shoulder. No need to alarm her by disappearing entirely— they both would see the bearded hermit if he were hanging around— or worse, Peter's arch-nemesis.

"Okay…" he says, letting his hand drop away. Their relative privacy is verified. "If anything goes wrong— I have ways to stop you." And if he stays near the entrance to the rooftop, there's few places she can run to should she choose to escape. He's honestly not sure how well this will work out— or if it will even do anything… But trying is important. "Think you're ready?" Talk to her mind, see if anyone else is in there— and then what? He'll do what he always does. Take a chance.

"I like the view up here." It's not a reply, though it comes after the question; she says it anyway. Niki Sanders is looking out over the city from the wide ledge marking rooftop's edge, leaning next to the ornate stone decoration. "It's like— you forget how loud and crazy it all is down there." The woman stands up to her full height and promptly — decisively — turns around. It's jeans and a grey tanktop today, a day like any other. "I'm ready. Just tell me what to do."

"I like it up here, too," Peter says, looking around with a fond smile. "Used to spend a lot of time up here when Charles was able to move around— he liked to take his tea out here. We'd sit and I'd read him the newspaper— he liked the stock pages." It's a fond moment, glancing towards the place the table used to be. "The green house used to be in there…" But then there's the pigeons. He never asked about them, was never asked to care for them. It hadn't been part of his job. Had Claude been here the whole time? Dressed almost the same as last time, prefering the black, the only addition would be the carrier bag he leaned against the rooftop when they arrived, likely containing things for an emergency. "Just— stand there, I guess. Answer when you hear me— doesn't have to be outloud. May take a minute, though…"

May, but it doesn't. ~Niki?~

Although she looks around the rooftop, viewing it in a slightly new light, Niki is silent - at least aloud - as she focuses on Peter. She steps away from the edge, slowly circling her rooftop partner while her name, in his voice, echoes in her head. ~I can hear you.~

~Good,~ Peter thinks back, mental voice a soft whisper, much like his real one. Used to be when he'd do this he'd almost have to scream— maybe all the training with Cass really is paying off. He did spend so long trying to yell at her while she slipped into a coma… He takes a slow breath, keeping close to her, but also between her and the easy exit. ~Is there anyone else who can hear me?~ He's sending his voice into one person. Such a question would normally sound silly— but to this woman, it's not.

It's not silly, but as Niki listens to the soft voice in her head, her calm, her focused expression starts to crack and falter, and she looks unsure. What now? Bringing her hands up to push through her hair, she murmurs, "…sounds like a séance," out loud. So far, the only voices in the woman's head are made of her own jumbled thoughts of uncertainty.

There's thoughts to be had, but as soon as she speaks outloud, Peter's concentration breaks a little and he loses contact. The single jumbled thought of uncertainty vanishes. There's a pause, and he rubs a hand over his face. The air could be cooler tonight— but at least there's a breeze. And the pigeons coo nearby. The sounds of various things going on down in the city, honking horns at a distance, traffic, dull in comparison to how it might sound lower— "I'm not exactly an expert at this…" he says, realizing he lost it. "Know it— sounds weird. Do you know when it first started happening?" Keep talking, until he gets contact again…

A sympathetic look is turned on Peter, overshadowed by her own nerves— not anxiety, exactly, just a certain …. caution. What if this doesn't work? What if it does? "Only started noticing… almost a year ago. It was in the fall." Niki frowns, glances away, opens her mouth, hesitates. She has her suspicions. What if it's always been happening?

What if it's always been happening? As Peter manages to re-establish the mental contact he'd just lost for a moment, he's able to catch that. What if it's always been happening? He's really wishing he would have asked the other telepaths for some advice now— he already knows Ramon's more skilled than him. ~A year ago is when things started happening to me, the first of them… Didn't get really intense until October.~ A month before they met, before they all came together. Unsure what he's doing, he tries to go… deeper. How far can this go? Surface thoughts he gets— sent thoughts he gets— but what about what might be under it? ~What was happening a year ago?~

As she sorts out her thoughts, Niki looks up at the night sky - inasmuch as she can even see it in a city of millions. In a second, she can't see it at all. She squeezes her eyes shut hard, so hard that furrows follow suit all along her brow. ~I was in trouble with…~ "I owed Linderman." Her inner voice and her spoken voice start to overlap. It's a strange feeling, having a voice in your head that you can't control - and while it's not an unfamiliar sensation for Niki, this isn't the same. It just makes it easier. She tries to keep it inside, for Peter's sake. ~D.L. was gone, I was trying to pay for Micah's tuition…~ Niki thinks. Niki. So far, just Niki, but she has a lot of thoughts as she remembers the past, some of them jumbled. ~Wait, it was… the spring. That's… when she framed D.L. Killed every one of his crew.~

There's a lot Peter's missing out on in the story. There's so much there. Owing Linderman, though, he understands, and he also understands what she means with her children. Tuition isn't easy to get when one doesn't come from a rich family. Private schools are expensive. He went to one. As the telepathy is mostly one way, he doesn't send any of these questions he doesn't want to. What he has to send… he sends on his own. ~Jessica?~ he asks, for some clarification, trying to look deeper again… but then his hand goes towards his head. This is starting to become a strain. But he doesn't want to stop just yet. "Talk outloud for a bit," he says, pressing a hand against his temple, and able to keep his eyes from closing.

"Is it hurting you?" Niki asks, speaking like normal. Why, then, are there whispers that follow when her lips aren't moving? Disjointed, distant and close, harsh and quiet, there and gone, if Peter catches them at all. Niki instinctively reaches out to Peter's hand at his temple, just a concerned touch, trying to catch sight of his eyes if they manage to stay open. "Are you getting anything?"

"I'm okay," Peter says, taking in a slow breath as he moves his hand to fully take hers. A concerned touch as it might have been, he's returning it. Maybe physical contact will help. With some abilities it does. The whispers— he catches the end of them as contact gets regained, and does the only thing he can think to do as they disappear— he tries to follow after them. No idea what he's doing, all he can do is try and latch on to what he heard, and seek it out again. There's no voice in her head from him this time, he's focused entirely on finding what he heard— or hearing it again. "I heard— something," he whispers outloud, squinting at her as he continues to hold her hand between them.

Something? Niki seems almost disturbed by Peter's quiet focus, inside and out; he's focusing on something that she can't hear inside her own head, and let's face it, that's more than slightly unsettling. Like she's not in control. The hints of a voice - voices? - are tangled, not unlike a conversation behind a door and a wall of static, besides. While Niki just looks on with concern glistening in her blue eyes, the voice coalesces into one forceful, purposeful shout from one headspace to the other - from Niki's to Peter's.

There are no words, but the message is loud and clear: GET OUT.

Niki flinches ever-so-slightly, closing her eyes.


There's a visible flinch from Peter, eyes closing in a near mirror of her own. The voices fade almost immediately as he loses all hold on her telepathically. The headache tries to return, but fades away. "There was… something." More people in there. "I don't— they just wanted me out." They. It seemed like more than one, but— they worked together at the end. Or maybe it was just… "Did you want me out, Niki?" Or was that all whatever is— inside of her. Maybe deep down she didn't like what he was doing. Well, something inside her didn't. He's still holding her hand when he opens his eyes again. The strain is still visible.

Niki opens her eyes a few delayed moments after Peter does; she had turned her face away, toward the cityscape and tall buildings surrounding the Deveaux Building, and now she looks slowly back to him. The woman's eyes could bore holes in him, yet in the same instant, they're entirely devoid of emotion. Blank. ~Did you want me out, Niki?~ A voice mimics. Mocks. That's right, Peter still has her hand. Her hand… starts…. to squeeze.

Squeeze. As he's already holding her hand, there's really nothing Peter can do other than… endure what she does to him. There's a crack of bones, a cry of pain, and really, the healing that tries to work won't do much good as long as she's still squeezing. "Niki!" He yells out, reaching up with his other hand to rest on her arm, grabbing the fabric of her clothes a little. "Niki, don't— stop this." His voice is rasped, pained, and he's gasping a little. This isn't even the same hand he lost against Sylar, and he knows he can get it back if worse comes to worse… but that doesn't make it hurt less at all.

The woman's hand slowly but surely curls into a bone-crushing fist around Peter's hand-and just like that, Niki snaps out of it, as one might snap out of a hypnotist's trance - though what's going on here is infinitely more complex. A glimmer of her usual self flashes in her eyes, alarmed. It does take her a second to realize what she's doing, but she hurriedly lets go and takes two quick steps away. She looks down at her hand, turning her palm open. "I'm… sorry… I dunno what happened."

The hand that held her shirt lets go and goes to rest over his crushed and broken hand. It's already healing, and healing fairly fast, but it still hurts, by all appearances. Peter's flinching, but he doesn't back away at all. Even with the blood all over his hands, he looks up at her, grimacing with the pain. "It's okay," he says in the same tone as before, though less desperate. "I'll be fine— knew it could happen. What— did you feel— hear anything? When it happened?" Ow. Ow. He doesn't seem to blame her at all. He could stop the pain entirely… but he grimaces just thinking about that. In fact, instead of blame, there's a shine of guilt in his eyes.

Niki offers up a weak shake of her head. She swings her arm down to her side, maybe so that she doesn't have to look at her bloody hand. Peter's is reminder enough, bloodied even as it heals. "I just… zoned out for a second and next thing I know— " she lifts a brow, nodding her head up in Peter's direction. "It's gonna heal, right? It'll be like it never happened?"

There's still a visible grimace, but by this point… Peter's able to hold the hand up and begin moving his fingers around. They've straightened, the bones have knitted back together, and the skin starts healing over entirely as they both watch. Only the blood on the surface will remain. "Yeah— good as new… Like it never happened." Now might not be the best time to tell her he regrew a hand after one incident, and most of his insides after one she may or may not really remember. "Okay— so you zoned out and— whatever was whispering underneath must have… taken over for a moment. But you came out of it. You didn't lose control entirely."

Niki watches the hand heal itself, but it's a rather blank stare. She's seen enough carnage to not be shocked, and right now she can't seem to drum up awe over seeing it in reverse. "I heard my name. Your voice." The woman's blue gaze travels up to Peter's. "I don't know how this is helping. I'm just hurting you."

Though she can easily get out of the way, Peter actually steps forward and moves as if to retake her hand. He will if she doesn't pull away. Didn't this cause him nothing but pain a few moments ago? Didn't his hand just finished healing. "I'm fine. It doesn't even hurt anymore." And that guilt is still there. Somehow. Guilt, and no blame? "It's helping because— we teaching you how to control it. I'm not a psychologist, I don't know more than the basic idea of what to do with this— with them." Nurses touch on everything in their training, because they should be able to move between fields, but he chose to specialize in hospice care, and this particular psychological problem isn't common. Dementia, sure. But MPD? Not really. "But it might— still help. Sometimes all that's needed— is someone to believe in you." That's another thing this rooftop taught him, even if part of him can't help but think Charles' belief in him was misplaced.

Now it's with awe that Niki looks at Peter, not at his regenerated hand, no, just at the man himself, slightly mystified. Her hand is seemingly delicate and harmless when he takes it, and bloody, if it's the same one. "How are you the one that looks guilty?" It's hard not to notice. Her tone turns bitter. "People who believe in me have a bad habit of dying."

Though he's looking guilty for a reason somewhat separate from this, Peter can't help but glance down, mouth tugging into the hint of a smile. He's definitely taking her still bloodied hand, seemingly unafraid of what might happen. "That's something else we have in common." The name of the building means a lot more than it sounds like it would… but he won't give that entire story. Instead… he glances towards what used to be the greenhouse. He'd seen it so vividly the night they met in the Plaza. He thought the vision, dream, whatever it was… would help him control himself. But instead. "Death is the one thing that connects us all," he says softly, almost absently. As she'd looked at him slightly mystified, it's almost as if he finally gets it. "In the end, this is what's really important." He holds up the hand he's holding, and looks back at her so he can speak far more sincerely, "Believing in someone— helping— making sure people don't have to face things alone— It's all about… sharing a piece of ourselves with someone else… Because that's what we leave behind. That… piece."

Niki listens intently; there's still a linger look of mystification about her as she does so, taking it all in, trying to understand what he means and where he's coming from. A glimmer of something is evident in her eyes, a flash of being moved in some way; her brow stays knit. She's silent for a long time, shutting her eyes— without that glimmer, Niki seems more troubled, more tense. The bloody hand Peter holds squeezes his, but this time, it's gentle, barely anything at all. "Try it again."

There's some times when using abilities comes difficult. Peter's expression changes and it's as if he's trying to concentrate and squint at something, but— he can't get a thing off of her right now. Not even a whisper. The expression on her face bothers him, with the tension. He'd meant to be soothing, so… "What's going on, Niki? Talk to me while I try to…" That should make it obvious to her that he's getting nothing yet.

"I dunno what's gonna happen. Or if— if your getting inside'll help. And I don't wanna hurt you again, Peter. But if you think there's a way— " Niki watches the sometimes-telepath carefully, studying his face as he concentrates. She teeters on the edge of almost smiling and rolls one shoulder up in a one-sided shrug. "I feel like maybe… I could believe in you, too."

Though he'd been trying to maintain partial contact, Peter can't help but blink, eyes widening a little at the last words— and then they lower. "Been hearing that a lot lately. Not sure I can live up to it…" But that doesn't mean he won't try. Concentrating, he looks back towards her face again— cause looking down actually puts his eyes somewhere they probably shouldn't be— and— at least he gets a connection. But he can't get deeper than that. Yet. But that doesn't mean he can't send a single though, both for the woman he's talking to, and whoever might be waiting in wing to crush him. ~Even if you hurt me— I'll still be here.~

"I'm not asking you to save the world." Niki smiles ever-so-slightly - a hint of cynicism, there, but it's faint. ~…looks like he has so much weight on his shoulders…~ is one of the thoughts that drifts to the surface; definitely Niki's. They're all hers, all of those superficial little thoughts, as if she was a sound, whole, unfractured person. Frustrating?

"No one asks that of me— except myself… and a guy from the future," Peter says, unable to keep from smiling a little lopsidedly. The longer this goes on, the less the guilt that glimmered is visible. Some strain, but he's not bleeding or passing out, at least. So much weight on his shoulders. Does he even think he can carry all of it? Not by himself. ~Thanks to you… I can carry a lot more.~ Not just her ability, but the belief. All of it is important to him. Closing his eyes, he takes a deep breath, trying to concentrate on this. Right now he knows he's fumbling around without any idea what he's doing, but she believes in him. And it might help. Even a little.
Niki can't help but smile a little bit, too - both at what Peter says to the open air and to what she hears in her headspace. As he keeps trying to listen in, she flattens her palm against his hand and holds them up together - as if they're about to start a ballroom dance of some variety here on the rooftop. Instead, she just interlocks their fingers together, trying, in some way, to help his focus - and hers. The woman takes a deep breath, all traces of a smile gone. She sets her jaw hard.

She's making it happen.

Niki glances away. She doesn't look back. Someone else does. "I'll be waiting for you." A subtly deeper and unsubtly more sultry voice speaks aloud…

…before the blonde starts to crumple and fall. It's just like going to sleep…

The gesture is followed, curiously, but it doesn't seem to bother Peter. He's actually pretty sure he's getting closer and closer to success now. But that doesn't mean he catches what she does completely. Or what follows. Still, he sees the change in expression, and he hears the differing voice— and then she starts to fall. With his hold on her, he ends up going down with her somewhat, reaching to get a hand behind her back in an attempt to pull her against him, keep her from falling. His knees bend a little in the attempt to catch her. Pigeons coo. Despite the danger, he closes his eyes and seeks in deeper again—


What he hears is deafening.

A strangled, forceful outcry that exists only in the woman's own mind - and now Peter's - it sounds like Niki, but who's to say, really? But the truth is, she is the one shouting out, for control, to wake up, something. Her expression turns distressed, but the harsh lines of stress slowly melt away, although they never quite disappear completely. Niki doesn't get an answer. Neither does Peter. All goes quiet. Her head lolling to the side, she's dead weight, unconscious or asleep.

At least she doesn't have to worry about falling completely. Peter may not look like much, physically, but he has enough body strength for this, even without her ability. Holding her against him, he releases her hand so he can reach up to push hair out of her face. "Niki? Niki, are you there?" Sleeping, unconscious… He's not sure what to do in this situation. He lowers his grip on her back just enough to keep her steady, but— "Niki!?" Come on— wake up. She sounded so distressed in the last sound. And he's not even sure what happened.

Without the inclination to stand on her own two feet, her legs buckle, high-heeled boots skidding along the surface of the rooftop as she leans more heavily against Peter's hold. She's not a lot of dead weight anyway. One thing's for certain: she's not waking up, at least not right this second. Less certain is whether or not she hears Peter - or whether or not she even knows what happened, herself.

What did he do to her? Peter keeps a firm hold on her, but as she starts to slide and slip on her high heels… he really has no choice other than to lower the hand at her hair and start moving her towards the rooftop. He'd like to have avoided this— it's not the cleanest, but— there's already going to be blood between them anyway. The blood on their hands may be drying, but that doesn't mean it won't get on her. Setting her down against the surface of the roof as gently as possible, he ends up down on his knees and leaning over her, reaching for her hand again. Come on… "Niki…" She's asleep, but if there's someone else near the surface… maybe it won't even be her who's hand he's holding if she opens her eyes. Getting deep isn't working too well, so he sends a question into her mind, ~Who is this?~


Right now, it's no one. Oh, not exactly. It's a consciousness — Niki's, sleeping a dreamless and dead silent sleep. If there's a voice there that could answer, she is very good at keeping very mum. Niki's cheek brushes the rooftop she lays on, but it's just gravity.

As she lays there, Peter reaches to take her face in hand, pushing it off of the concrete. Right now he's really wishing he would have worn a jacket, he could put it under her head. All he can do is keep his hand there, touch her cheek and jawline. It'll be okay. Whatever this is— he promised he'd do everything to make sure she's the one who went home to her son. And he'll do that. Since the thoughts aren't getting a response, he looks at her face and tries to go deeper again, scan further. There's got to be something.

~… wake up,~ a definite, breathy whisper that contains no breath at all - it's just a thought, but more than that, a command. It's not very telling, but it seems to tell Niki what to do, and voila, she does it. "Mmh--!" She awakes with a start, eyes flying open in alarm, trying to scramble back before she even registers where she is. Her momentary panic subsides and she slowly, carefully takes in what she sees. Rooftop. Deveaux building. Peter, most obviously, since he's right there. How much time passed? The question is in her eyes. Everything looks the same, just… from down here, instead. "Did I—?"

"Niki— Niki, it's okay," Peter says, keeping a hold of her hand with one hand, and her head with the other. He's not about to let her get too far away in her scrambles, but he seems ready to scoot after her. "You— were only gone for a minute. Passed out. I'm not— really sure what happened. I heard— a voice in your head tell you to wake up, and you did." Someone told her to wake up. Was it her, or something else? They're all her, technically— but so jumbled and… what if there's not much a difference between the fractures and her now? "I'm not hurt, though— Little bit of a headache, but— I'm not hurt. And you're… you." Right?

Sitting up now, with her legs half sprawled out in front of her midway to trying to push herself up, Niki presses one hand into her face. "I don't remember," she says tiredly. She drags her fingertips over her brow, blinking heavily. With that, she gets to her feet. She holds onto Peter's arm, but she makes it up mostly with her own strength. "… I dunno about you, but I'm thinkin' we call it a night."

"Won't argue with that. I'll call a cab. We can swing by Queens first and drop you off," Peter runs a free hand through his hair, which is too short to have much to do with it still, but it actually stands up a little. Getting longer. Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out his phone and starts flipping through the directory. He could call Nathan's drivers, but sometimes using a cab is a good idea. Less his brother is involved in this, the better. "Think I might need some help with this— but you're doing good." She's still Niki.

Niki gives Peter a look that seems to question his last statement. Because blacking out is awesome progress? She easily lets it go, given what they've talked about here tonight. Looking out at the tall buildings, she slips away from him, if she can, and steps closer to the edge. "What kind of help?" she asks, turning around after only a moment's reflection.

It's a pretty long fall. Peter lets her go, holding the phonebook on the number he wants to call. Not the help, the taxi. "A man I know— telepath. He's stronger than me, and since it's the only thing he does… he's got more experience with it than I do…" He's kinda fumbling around like a kid for a light switch. A moment later he adds, looking up at her again instead of the phone, "I won't include him if you're uncomfortable, though."

Niki starts to say something, pauses, and… "…it's not the guy who lives with Dr. Suresh, is it? 'Cause I dunno if he likes me very much."

"Officer Parkman?" Peter recalls the man in question, and shakes his head. "No— that's who I got the ability from, but it's not who I was thinking of. He's a good man— a little stern and scary, but… a good man." With an eyepatch now.

"Stern and scary, huh?" Niki repeats with a light laugh. She starts to head toward the exit from the roof, since their taxi, when it comes, can't fly. She halts and looks over her shoulder. "This good man who's stern and scary. Do you trust him?"

As she starts to move away from the roof, Peter sidetracks over to grab his carrier bag and joins her, still holding the phone, with the bag over his shoulder. "I trust him with my life." And he trusts him enough to go on a mission to hunt down a serial killer with him. It's pretty simple. Coming from someone who could jump off the roof and live to tell the tale, one would think he trusts a lot of people with his life— or doesn't have as much to worry about where his life is concerned. "I can always just ask him for advice, too. If you don't want anyone else poking around in your head." Does she mind him poking around in her head? He's not even sure. As if to avoid finding out she doesn't, he puts in the call, giving the address, before hanging up and moving down the exit with her.

"I've had more people than I'd like poking around in my head," Niki says. It's not much of an answer. She grins, again over her shoulder, though she stops and waits up for Peter. "Just… most of them not so literally." Literally would be more violent and messier than she actually means, but let's not dwell. "If you trust him with your life, that's a pretty good reference, but… I dunno, I don't really like to go telling everyone my crazy problems, you know?"

"Yeah, I get it," Peter says about not wanting to talk about crazy problems, putting a hand against her back after he puts his phone away in his pocket. They'll work it through, though. Ramon knows so much more about this thing than he does. Little does he know, until he glances at the newspaper in the morning, that the man has all kinds of brand new responsibilities. "For the record… I'm not used to poking around in people's heads either. Tend to avoid it." It's such an invasion of privacy.

"It's good. That you don't. I bet some people would do it all the time just because they can. Learn everyone's dirty laundry," Niki comments with a much-needed lighthearted smile as she opens the door they used to get up here.

"I learned pretty fast I didn't like what some people think," Peter admits, finally, giving his shoulders a shrug. For an empty penthouse, he's definitely not minding the possibility they might be trespassing. Spending time invisible on the roof and coming and going as he pleased here made things… made him a little too comfortable with this.

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