2008-04-11: Here And Now


Niki_icon.gif FuturePeter_icon.gif

Summary: Future Peter pays Niki a visit at her own home this time.

Date It Happened: April 11th, 2008

Here and Now

Queens, New York

The house is, as it ought to be this late at night, dark. There's one light on in the entire residence, emanating from a lamp on an end table beside the couch, where Niki sits, curled up in the corner. In a light grey hoodie, worn jeans and a ponytail that could have used fixing several hours ago, she looks like she's had a long day.

The only sounds come from the street noises outside, a light rain and the occasional scratching of a ballpoint pen on a newspaper; folded on top one of Monica's textbooks, Niki makes idle marks on the black-and-white classified section. Aside from the current dimness everywhere save for this one corner of the living room, the home bears little resemblance to the colder apartment she sometimes stays in. Comfort, clutter, a lived-in feel and numerous family photos at every turn may as well mark it as another dimension entirely.

Another dimension entirely, and it's about to get a visitor. Though she won't hear the door open and close, or anyone walk into the room, someone does. The entrance into the house, the standing in the living room watching her… all done outside of time. Frozen as she is, mid-mark on the classified section, Peter looks on, studying her face, the way she looks after a long day, and the fact that she's making marks in the classified section at all. The family photos also earn a quiet glance, the bedrooms. There are people in the house. A house he shouldn't even be in…

It's like a frame change in a movie when he appears in the background of the room a small distance away from the couch, suddenly there when he'd not been a moment before, long black coat still worn, hair slicked back, scar standing out on his face. "Niki."

In the second before she realizes that there's someone in the house that wasn't there before, Niki's head manages to drop to one side of its own volition, she snaps back to … slightly more attention, looks at the newspaper, and realizes her productivity disintegrated some time ago into doodling nonsensical symbols and fleur-de-lis on the side of the page. She almost jumps out of her skin on hearing the voice. "Peter," she says with a note of unsure — and uneasy — surprise. "You scared me. I was— starting to wonder what happened to you."

"Sorry. I had to take care of a few things," Peter explains in a hushed voice, whispered, but still raspier than his younger self. Moving a few steps closer, he keeps his hands down and away from her as he glances at the doodles. They productivity may have faltered, but there's still something about what she's looking at… There's a quiet hesitation, before he glances deeper into the house, "Sorry for stopping in without…" Sorry as he may be, he still stopped in without contacting her first. But she'd not been at their usual place. Not that he can blame her since he vanished for a time. When he looks back, he changes topics, "Looking for something?"

Niki moves the newspaper, along with the book and pen, out of the way, onto the table beside the only light. She stretches her legs back down until her feet hit the floor, and spends a moment or five with her hands flattened on her knees and not looking at Peter. She's even more tense than usual, more tired, more strained. "Thinking about getting out of Monica's hair," she answers, dull voice punctuated by a quick, out-of-place smile. "Is— " she starts to say when she does look at him, "Is everything— ?" Okay? Of course everything isn't okay or he wouldn't be in this year.

"Getting a place of your own? That sounds like a good idea," Peter says softly, even as he glances into the house again. There's a long moment when he thinks about a few things, but it's really only a long moment to him. "I got my mother back. She's no longer being held by Pinehearst. There's a possibility they saw me on the cameras, though, so I've had to be extra careful, to avoid a confrontation with my father or Logan." That's not the full story, but it's as much as he's willing to give for the moment. "I checked in on you every so often, to make sure nothing bad happened to you." Whether she saw him or not. "You already have an apartment…" That isn't suitable for husband and son… He doesn't complete it, but it's in his eyes for a moment.

The news serves as a good enough explanation for Niki, who nods, although she does seem vaguely discomfited when she learns she was being watched from time to time; her shoulders shift up, her lips press together. It's comforting and unnerving at the same time. "That's… it's temporary." As far as she's concerned, anyway. "It's not the best place for kids." She glances about the living room, namely in the direction of the hall and bedrooms, then her eyes go downcast toward her hands, which toy with one another. Her voice is kept extra low in the quiet house, this time. "I really… I needed you."

Place for kids. It really isn't. And that answers the question he wanted to ask more or less. There's a lot more he could ask on the same note, things he could say, inform her of, but instead he just moves in a little closer and sits down near her. It allows for easier whispering in the quiet house, and even the possibility they could touch each other, if either of them reaches out. "If anything had happened, I would have been there," he says quietly, not looking directly at her as he does. There's a moment of silence before he asks, "What did you need me for?"

The moments of silence go back and forth; it's Niki's turn to hold the quiet. She watches the scar-faced Peter as he sits down, lines of tension forming on her face as things go unsaid on her part, too. She looks rather rapidly back down. "I just…" She trails off, barely shaking her head. They're so close, but not touching; Niki stays still, despite the draw like magnets. "…needed you." Another shake of her head, and she still doesn't look up. "That's selfish, I know you were doing … important things. I haven't done anything but…" she trails off on a self-deprecating note.

"You're not being anymore selfish than I was when I came to you…" Peter says quietly, still not looking at her. They have to keep their voices down, but he can't help but glance down towards her hands, her legs, the lower area of her body, avoiding looking at her face. There's the temptation to reach over, but he doesn't. Not yet. "You've done a lot— you'll continue to do a lot, Niki. Whether you see it as doing a lot or not… it's still… important. It still means a lot to me." And to more than him, really, he's sure. He won't be here long. They knew that already. And what happens when he leaves? Will she keep… needing him? It's not a question he really wants to ask. "You know you don't have to… if you wanted, I could make it like none of this ever…" he trails off. It's the first time he's mentioned the elephant in the room.

It's Niki who reaches over — to clamp onto Peter's closest hand. "No," she's quick to answer, definitive, searching out his eyes for really the first time sine he appeared tonight. "No, that's… that's not what I want." A grip that was, at first, desperate, becomes a little stronger over his hand. The question Peter doesn't want to ask is one Niki doesn't particularly want to ask herself, either, but that's not to say she hasn't been.

Because of the quickness of her words, Peter looks up, meeting her eyes and staying there. The strong grip could actually do some damage if she was trying to, but it seem as if he's hurting physically at this moment. There's another kind of pain under the surface, but that's not quite as easy to measure as a broken hand might have been. "It's not what I want, either, but you're the one that…" Has to live with it. He has no idea what will happen to him when all of this is done, and if he is capable of just going back, he'd be going back to her. The hand she's not holding reaches up, to touch at the long pulled up hair, her cheek, until he hesitates and starts to pull that hand away. This isn't their "temporary" apartment… this is her… home.

Home. At least for a little while longer. That classified section did get a few circles before her focus disappeared. Niki turns where she sits — her back to where the bedrooms lie — touching a knee to the time traveler's. Not quite so obvious, should someone hear a voice and wander out. "I'm a big girl. I'll deal with it," Niki says with a determined edge to her voice.

"I know you will," Peter says quietly, keeping his eyes on hers. The hand doesn't reach back up to touch her face, but actually lowers down to her leg as he lets his eyes close. It's hard to tell what happens since there's no speeding trains, or cars, or people walking down the street. Nothing's even falling off of a bookshelf. The only real sign of anything having happened is the sudden sound of silence, or a kind of white noise like a sound stuck in place. The clocks stop ticking. The movement from the bedroom won't hover as a threat of interruption. It's just the one way he can interact with her here that isn't… Eyes slowly open again, and he looks up. "If you needed me… I'm here now."

A stranger to frozen time, Niki looks around in surprise, not sure, right away, what she's looking at; just that something is different. And… That it's quiet. The question of 'what did you do?' hovers on her lips. It takes the sight of the droplets of water no longer streaming down the window behind the couch to clue her in for good. "…You stopped time." Now that she's stated the obvious, she manages to smile. Without quite standing up, Niki steps over to sit on this Peter of the future — but then all she does is hold on, a tight and sudden hug.

Rivulets of water are paused midstream, no longer falling down the windows. Everything is quiet as she states the obvious, and then moves. Peter's a little surprised when she does move, but he continues to touch her so she stays outside time with him and… he's getting hugged. There's an awkward second or two before his arms wrap around her and keeps his eyes open as he looks past her and toward her family photos. A soft breath before he pulls back enough to kiss her temple. "I'm sorry I wasn't here when you needed me." Unlike previous apologies, this one sounds far more genuine.

Niki keeps hanging on, arms around his neck, even after he pulls back a little. She leans her head against his, and when she opens eyes that fell closed, it becomes noticeable that she's close to tears — for reasons that are all manner of complex. Yeah, she can deal with things, with everything, but she's obviously far from unaffected. "Like you said," she smiles in an attempt to be reassuring and winds up looking sad more than anything; but sincere, all the same. "You're here now." And 'now' is all they really have.

Close to tears… Peter can't help but notice that, without knowing all the complex reasons behind them. He can imagine. The whole vanishing for almost a week probably didn't help her when she needed him to be there. For all he knows she thought he'd gone back, or… "Maybe I shouldn't be here…" That's kind of a bad thing to say, but the reason behind it becomes clear as he presses his lips against hers. It doesn't last too long, and he's looking at her eyes again. Right here was what he meant. In this place. "Are you okay? Do you… need to stay here tonight?" he trails off. Outside of time as they may be, she has a son. One who, while very adult and responsible, may not be able to be left here. And for all he knows one of those rooms contains not just her cousin… but also her… husband?

"I shouldn't leave," Niki admits. "Not… without warning." And it's too late to give that. Leaving a note in the middle of the night, not the most responsible move ever. She sits back, knees on either side of Peter, digging into the couch cushions. Her arms unwind from his neck and she glances off to the side, a more rigid and dark expression sneaking up. "I have to be there for them — Micah, and Cam, too… more now, because…" The blonde's jaw tightens. "D.L. isn't."

"He's not?" There's few moments when Peter is legitimately surprised by things. It would appear this is one of them. Time doesn't slam back into it's normal flow, but he does glance toward the bedrooms again, curious just how empty the house actually is. He'd not checked the bedrooms, not looked to see if the man would be here. Of course he knows how things turned out for them… if they're together in the future he must have some idea how things would turn out, but… "Then you should stay here tonight. For your son and Cam both."

"He left," Niki says quietly. "It's not like I blame him." Her words are sullen. It should be an awkward topic, given that she's talking about her husband while sitting on another man, but things are not so black and white, and she's becoming accustomed to this Peter knowing more about her life than she does in some regards. "I'll stay, but…" She draws her gaze up to his again. "Don't leave yet."

He left.

A moment follows where Peter has the good nature to look quiet and guilty. After all he didn't do much to keep it from happening with just his own actions. Though he knows more than just him had been behind this particular incident. But at least he can answer her wish. It's one real advantage to existing outside of time… he shifts his hands so he can touch her hair, he face, and pull her in closer for a longer kiss than before. He'll just have to be careful not to let time start moving again, because otherwise… "I don't have to leave at all." Time is about the only thing he has on his side right at this exact instance, and instance he's holding locked. Time and her. "It can be as if you never left at all," he adds on.

Peter travelled back from the future. He stops time. Niki pretty much trusts in his ability to mess with the space-time-whatever. She blinks more than once, banishing away that threat of tears with more ease, heartened. "Good." She smiles, this one wider, brighter, lighter — there's even a hint of affectionate mischief, for perceptive eyes. "I guess time's sort of on our side after all," she points out. It's a good sign when you can make fun of your own tragic love life, right?… okay, so she's trying too hard, Niki stops talking anyhow. While the clocks fail to tick around them, she sits closer against her visitor, moving down for another kiss.

Is it possible that this has happened before in the future? Very possibly, because Peter doesn't seem to worry too much about the possibility of things starting to move again on him. At least not too much. Hesitation has faded from his kiss, which deepens and relaxes the longer they last. A tragic love life indeed… but for a change time really is on their side. For this moment. There is a moment when he breaks the kiss, to push her back enough to look into her eyes, run thumbs over the tears if the moisture has fallen any. "Here or your apartment?" he asks. Legitimate question. Though he can still make it as if she never left.

To that … straight-to-the-point question, Niki doesn't waste much time answering. It only takes one glance around at the many photographs in frames, looming, smiling reminders of something broken, to decide. Slightly breathless and urgent in the moment, she says, "Apartment."

Probably a good answer. Peter shifts until he forces her to her feet. Teleporting sitting down is too awkward, but as soon as they're both on their feet, more or less, the surrounding area changes. Everything is just as quiet and stuck in time where they end appear. Everything except them.

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