2007-12-24: Had To Get Out

Starring:

Niki_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Sometimes, people just need to get out. Though most wouldn't expect Peter to be going out where he does, in the condition that he's in.

Date It Happened: December 24th, 2007

Had To Get Out


Therapy — Stripper Bar

Christmas Eve. A stripjoint isn't exactly what springs to mind for most people when they think of the day before the family-oriented December holiday, but … everyone spreads Christmas joy in their own way, right? More realistically, if there's business to be had at all, there's money to be made. Therapy is not exactly hopping — it's early yet, and slow, the first shift of dancers just having started. The atmosphere is languid and laidback; some of the dancers have holiday-themed costumes, but the slow, but racy music, Portishead's "Glory Box", doesn't match.

A certain blonde stripper isn't on the pole yet, but rather, sitting on a couch charming a potentially rich customer — but she's dressed for the stage in white lingerie. Niki getting a few hours in before spending time with the kids for Christmas Eve.

Certainly would not be the location that someone would suspect Peter Petrelli to be spending a holiday. Family oriented and faithful to his girlfriend of three months… But there he is, walking in the door. The long coat he wears covers him fully, with a scarf firmly wrapped around his neck and covering the lower part of his mouth. Only once he's in out of the winter cold does he start to unwind the scarf, and remove gloves and unbutton coat. Chilled hands rub over his face before he looks up at the stage for a moment, giving each of the strippers a full glancing over.

It's slow enough inside the club that, when someone new enters, Niki spares a covert glance away — careful not to tip off the potential customer that she's paying attention to anything but him. It's not unusual; you gotta scope out who might have money and who might not. But the presence of a familiar face causes Niki to double-take over the back of the lounge couch. Is that— ? No. Yes. Peter? It's a popular club, but jeez. After the run-in with familiar faces of another kind the other day, she's starting to wonder just how coincidental this is. After she comes out of her blue-eyed daze in order to turn on the smiles for the man she's sitting with, along with his friends, it's with some hesitancy that she gets to her feet — on five inch tall clear heels, that is.

The strippers on stage seem to have more of Peter's eyes than anything else, so he doesn't notice Niki right away. Only as he starts to make his way over to the bar does he catch a glance of the woman in white, with tall heels. That causes him to tilt his head to one side, bangs that have had time to grow out shifting toward the middle of his forehead. Could be a coincidence. But he is Peter Petrelli. Maybe he painted this strip club! Or… something. A smile tugs on the corner of his mouth, and he continues to the bar, where he orders a glass of scotch and turns to look over the dancers— and the ones walking around on five inch tall heels as well. In fact, his gaze lingers a little longer on the woman in white, a hint of curiosity playing across his features. From the look of things, he forgot to shave this morning, and he has a darkened scuff on the side of his face… and anyone who gets close would realize this is probably not the first bar he's visited today.

Niki stands in limbo, for awhile, watching Peter with faintly narrowed eyes. As far as she knows, Peter has never seen her in … an atmosphere like this, although a certain comic book page comes to mind somewhere in the back of her memory. When she's more than sure that he's recognized her, she heads in his direction, the journey made into a hip-swaying saunter, half in part due to her high stripper shoes. "Peter?" As if there was any doubt. "What are you doing here?" Niki asks, voice low, almost accusing as she looks him up and down curiously— with a touch of concern, no less. "Something has to be wrong for you to be in a place like this on a day like today." Those with a particular eye for detail might note that, in addition to the lingerie - white bra, small shorts, garters - there's the glint and sparkle of some sort of rhinestone body jewellery, made like a one-string chemise in faux diamonds. Therapy tries to be a little classy, anyway.

"Niki," Peter responds, that smile tugging on the corner of his mouth again as he hands money over to the bartender — cash — and takes his drink. While she's looking him up and down, she'll notice his choice of clothes is a bit more rugged than usual, especially with his coat hanging open now. Only the coat and the scarf look like they'd been chosen to match. The clothes under that look like he changed clothes with his eyes closed. The scuff on the side of his face stands out, too. "Do you have any idea how god damn boring it is to sit around a warehouse watching a guy read a book and sleep? I had to get out." And apparently get drunk. "I always liked your legs," he adds, almost in a random fashion.

The more Niki takes in the state Peter is in, never mind when he talks, the more shocked she looks. Blue eyes, lined in more dramatic and sparkling make-up than usual, just stare under mascara'd lashes. She opens her mouth further to say something. Maybe she is dressed for a holiday theme, after all — her lips are painted in a frosty shimmer. She shuts her mouth. She opens it again. "Okaay," she says through a confused, breathy sort of laugh. "First: what? And second: are you drunk?"

"I like your legs. Very nice legs." Peter says, glancing down and even tilting a little to the side to get a better look at said legs. "And yeah, a bit," he adds for the second of the two questions, taking another drink from his scotch before he sets it down on the bar. She's actually taller than him thanks to the heels she's wearing— he'd never been a tall guy, and adding on five extra inches gives her quite the advantage, height wise. "Ever wonder how we ended up getting together?" They'd only known they had for a short time, but it seems to be on his mind at the moment, perhaps due to the setting. "Know that's different now. Other future I went to, I ended up marrying another woman my brother's slept with. Least I know I got Elena first." That scuff on the side of his face looks mysteriously like he got punched. And maybe now she can tell why.

Niki makes no comment her very on display legs. Peter's done that enough already and it's a little weird to say thank you right this second. "…I didn't know you knew about that," she mumbles under her breath somewhat cynically in reply to mention of Peter's brother. She slides in next to him at the bar — a not-quite-mirror image of Mendez's comic panel. She's on the opposite side. "Maybe you never met Elena," she theorizes with a bare-shouldered shrug, "Or … maybe in that future, she's out of the picture." No mention of her significant other, though.

"In that future, I probably killed her," Peter says quietly, glancing down into his drink for a long moment. In that future, he blew up half of New York. If she'd been working at the Starbucks that he found her in, if she'd been living on campus, if she'd been staying with a girlfriend… It doesn't really matter. He shakes his head a bit, as if he doesn't really want to think about all those dark things. With another generous sip threatening to make him even more drunk, he glances up at the stage for an instant and then back at the lady in white. "It's not totally out of left field, though. Thought about asking you out a few times, after I broke up with Elle. Specially after Elena stormed out and went to Spain. The whole— you being the woman from Vegas that a reporter tried to frame my brother about in front of his wife— and you know— what was going on with you. Hesitated. Then I found out your husband was alive after seeing you in less than you're in now." He talks a lot for being drunk.

Maybe if Niki was drunk, she'd understand half of what Peter was saying. Might help. She eyes his drink, wondering, maybe, how much he's had before he got here, or maybe wishing it was hers instead. Quietly hesitating before answering any one thing, the scantily clad blonde faces the bar all the more and looks sidelong, past the line of her shoulder, at the scruffier-than-usual man. There are numerous points she could speak on, after everything he just said, but— "…I'm. I'm going to say 'screw logic' and start at the end. You what? That— has to do with another future, right?"

Drunk could help. Spotting the glance at his drink, Peter doesn't even think as he hands over some more money to the bartender and orders two more of the same. Notably, he didn't reach for his money at all. It was almost like it just appeared in his hand… He looks back at the woman and nods, "Yeah, two years from now. When I found out your husband was still alive, isn't it?" He takes a longer drink to finish off his scotch. He's probably had quite a few, and if he guessed wrong, he might have two more to drink before he leaves. Not a very big guy, all this alcohol is going to be taking a toll. "You were in a place like this."

Niki's eyes narrow when Peter takes cash out of seemingly nowhere. She knows that trick, but she doesn't say anything. "Two years," shei repeats, a more thoughtful gaze landing on the bar. "Sounds like my destiny consists of taking my clothes off forever," she adds, pessimistic, but there's a hint of a laugh under there despite herself. "Sometimes I wish I still thought he was dead." She shakes her head, tipping her head further down. "That's an awful thing to say."

"At least you look good doing it," Peter says, unable to resist giving her a quiet once over again. The rhinestones and faux diamonds also get a glance finally, and the icy coloring sets off her skin tone and eyes quite well. There's a moment before the drinks are brought over, and he pushes his empty glass over. The bartender doesn't stay close. Isn't listening to them over the music. He's willing to let the stripper work for her money, most likely. Only reason she'd be talking to a guy at the bar, isn't it. "Heard he was in jail. Kept meaning to call— ask if I could do anything." There's almost an ironic snort as he says that, pushing one of the two drinks in her direction as he slides just a bit closer, settling into the seat finally so he can lean in her direction. Really does look similar to the panel, though his hair isn't slicked back. "Thought telling you would help." For a while he thought it had.

This time, Niki smiles at the compliment, although it's short-lived. "It did," she answers readily enough. "It was— amazing. A miracle. But now…" She shrugs one shoulder, rolling it back. Frowning, she twists in her seat, turning just enough to face Peter, one ultra-heeled shoe bracing on the floor while the other tucks over the rung of the stool. Her hair isn't pulled back, either, though it's getting to be very long; but it's loose, in soft curls and waves. "No, thanks though," she interjects politely, gently pushing the drink back in his direction. "It's just— the whole thing is a mess," she confesses. "He's … out of my life now. Out of Micah's. At least when I thought he was dead, we had some kind of closure, you know."

"Know how that is. Sometimes I wish this whole thing with Sylar had just been… over. I think I really could have finished it." Peter says, glancing down at the drink that's pushed back his way. Downing two more glasses of scotch may be too much for him, but he takes the one pushed back his way and drinks from it to start off. It makes him lean just a bit closer, again. Once it's back down on the bar top, he reaches over, as if to touch the hair that isn't pulled back, but his hand hesitates. "There's rules about touching the strippers, aren't there?" he suddenly asks. It seems out of place considering the serious conversations. But— he's drunk, right?

Niki glances over her shoulder, past Peter, to the stages where some of her fellow dancers are shaking their ass for money. She should be up there, trying to get some extra cash, but, by the look of things, she isn't any hurry. Anyway, it's slow. "I'm … on my break," she answers, having decided an instant earlier — but she gives her drinking friend an unusual look all the same. Wary, almost; wondering, definitely.

"On break…" Peter says in a deepened voice, raspier than normal. Likely due to the drinking and the sudden dip in mood. The hand that hesitated continues, touching blonde hair and pushing it back behind her ear… and lingers there, sliding over the edge of her ear, then to her neck. Such a touch shouldn't linger long, but it does. And it's not alone, because he's leaning forward. Those panels in the comic book look like they might happen after all— at least he's doing nothing to stop them from happening in part.

Behind the long waves of blonde are large, silver hoop earrings, which sway at the nearby touch. For Niki, it's one of those moments that she's so unprepared for that she stands idly by and lets it happen. But for a few seconds, it's more than that; because for a few seconds, she lets her shimmering eyelids shut and does her part in making the prophetic art come to life. A few seconds, and she leans in-and then takes hold of Peter's shoulders, trying to push him away with a swift and violent grab-and-shove. It has to be violent, to knock some sense into him. And her, too. "Peter." Niki's look is stern, if cloudy with confusion. "You've had too much to drink."

For a moment, Peter's not even thinking about anything else. Then again, he's got a lot of alcohol in him, and apparently a sudden appreciation for the female body. The hand remains on her neck through most of the kiss, until he's suddenly shoved back onto his barstool seat. That's not how it went in the comic— That's when his hand leaves, forced back when he is, going to his shoulder to where he was grabbed and shoved. "Yeah… really did." He rubs fingers along his mouth for a moment, before he actually grins lopsidedly. "Can't say you didn't wonder, though." No scar. He didn't blow up and destroy half the city. But— in a way it still happened. Maybe would have even if they hadn't seen it. "I love Elena," he says with a shake of his head, picking up one of the two drinks again. For a moment, he sounds more like himself, quiet, guilty and sad tones, "And no matter what you say about him being out of your life… you still love your husband."

Niki just turns around to face the bar, leaning her forearms into its glossy, dark wood. There's a cuff on one wrist — covered in diamonds that probably aren't real, but it's good for tucking bills into. Fashionable and utilitarian when you're a stripper. Sullen, quiet, and tense, she runs a hand through her hair, luring it over her opposite shoulder. All she says at first is, "It's Christmas Eve." She looks over at Peter, a spark of undefined emotion in her eyes. "Don't you have somewhere to be?"

"Lot of places to be," Peter says quietly, glancing down at his drink. "Though the possibility of your getting up on that stage tempts me to stay. Especially now that I have two more drinks to go through." That he's already paid for. But he slides one toward her, the one he hasn't drank from yet, "Maybe you can find someone to pawn this off on." When the drink's done being slid over, he suddenly has something else in his hand, that he holds out to her. "Christmas present. Day early. Had planned to drop it by sometime. No time like the present— to give a present." He laughs a little, amused at his joke thanks to… being drunk, probably. It's even wrapped, showing he had intended to give it to her. A small box, whatever it is.

In the midst of raising an eyebrow at the first comments, Niki can't help but laugh a little at drunk Peter's accidental joke, although it's more … at him than at his humour. She takes the box gingerly, turning it over in her hands. "Thank you." She almost says 'I didn't get you anything', but that's not entirely true, is it. Merry Christmas, Peter, have a stripper. Instead she says, "That's— I wasn't expecting anything."

"Nothing big. I picked it up while last minute shopping yesterday." On his birthday. With Sylar. Downing the last of his drink— the one he isn't trying to pawn off, Peter forces himself to his feet and straightens his coat a bit. "Don't want you to stay on break just for me. Merry Christmas, Niki. Say the same to Micah and Monica and Cam for me too." Unless he, somehow, manages to make it over there tonight. From the look of things he may be lucky to make it all the way back to his apartment to pass out.

"I will. Merry Christmas," Niki says, sliding off her stool to skilfully balance on those heels. Speaking of balance, she lays a hand on Peter's shoulder — less death grip, more cautious bracing. He's … had a lot of scotch. Furrows of concern line her brow. "Promise you'll take care, okay?" 'Taking care' doesn't look to be high on the list of Peter's priorities today.

The lack of a death grip is welcome. Peter shrugs his shoulders and starts to pull gloves out of his coat to slip on his hands. It's cold, and if he's going to take care, he'll have to bundle up. Luckily the alcohol makes him pretty warm already. "I'll be careful. What's the worse that could happen." Dying isn't the worst, he's done that before. Then again, kissing on a woman he considers his friend probably was pretty bad. Not a good idea to stop by and visit Heidi and the boys, most likely. "Good luck with the…" he waves his hand. "Getting naked in front of a bunch of lonely guys."

"… Right. Thanks." Niki gives a somewhat sideways smirk, amused at his phrasing— the smirk lingers as she's halfway tempted to ask if that makes Peter a lonely guy, too. But with that, she turns away, sauntering toward the back of the club where she'll open her present before going out on stage.

Technically— he's not sticking around to watch her get naked. So there's that much at least. Peter makes sure his coat is buttoned up before he makes his way to the door, not tipping any of the women, unfortunately. Next stop… somewhere else.

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