2008-05-31: Now Or Never

Starring:

Logan_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif FuturePeter_icon.gif

Summary: Time to take back your life, whether you want it or not. And there are always consequences to decisions.

Date It Happened: May 31st, 2008

Now Or Never


Vernon - Petrelli Upstate Home

The handcuff has been switched out. Instead of being attached to a bed, Peter has handcuffed his brother to him. He could fly away, sure, but he wouldn't be able to get very far with a man who can also fly, as well as teleport, move things with his mind, persuade, use— the list can go on forever.

Teleporting two people isn't difficult— three a little more so, but the scarred man doesn't appear to be strained anymore than he usually is. There's tension around his eyes, and as soon as they deposit in the great outdoors, he lets go of Niki's arm and even shifts away a little. The question of who actually stands connected to him by a metal chain could be left up in the air (pun possibly intended), but considering why they are here… It may not matter.

The birds and bugs make noise in this heavily tree covered area. Green leaves, bushes, animals scurrying around. The house in the distance looks rather nice, even for these parts. Nice, but unoccupied. No cars in the drive way, no one parked nearby. The lights are all out even as evening sets in. One of the larger trees nearby has a manmade structure up in the limbs, visible from where they are standing.

"It's better to have familiar settings for memory restoring… and I always liked this place." It's one of the few places he goes to in his dreams… where he feels safe. And it's where Nathan took him in his dreams once, in an attempt to escape Logan. "So who are we talking to?"

It's a little piece of territory established in a dreamworld that Logan hadn't been able to touch. By rights he shouldn't be here, and maybe he isn't. The man on the other end of the chain has said very little since first approached, still and obedient when the handcuffs were switched out, and right now, he seems to have no intention to escape, standing with his weight more on one leg than the other, arms slack from the shoulders.

He looks over his shoulder towards the house, then towards the far more crude version up in the trees, a boxy thing that likely needs some fixing up. It's not cold, necessarily, but a shiver runs up his spine. It's been sometime since he's been out in the elements and the breeze that insists on tugging at his button down and jeans is enough to garner such a reaction.

"Your brother," is the answer, and likely the clipped, stony way the two words are simply delivered might be all the answer that's needed. Logan takes a limping step away, despite the handcuffs. "Figured I deserve the last few moments."

Seconds after appearing with the brothers, Niki folds her arms and gives them a few steps of space all the more. It was a nice day in the city, but the sudden Great Outdoors does bring that breeze, and she hugs arms left bare by a sky blue tank top. The surroundings, so familiar to the men, are entirely new to her, and she looks uncomfortable being here — granted, it's just tension on top of tension that was already present. There's barely a distinction.

She's along for the ride. She has a personal stake in this thing, a venture solely Jessica never would have went on; but Nathan is where Niki's been, and he might be about to go through even more of what she went through herself. If something goes wrong— she wants to be there to help. If something goes right— well, same deal. Niki gives the awkward handcuffs and eyeing and looks to Peter. "You want me to take over for the cuffs?" She's stronger than the steel.

Neither of the Petrellis standing here are the ones who should be standing here. They both grew up in this place, but they both should have left this place behind. Peter's tense eyes glance at the treehouse quietly for a moment, wondering if the interior looks anything like in his dream. "This is where I first told him about you," he adds, laughing a little. It had been a lot longer ago to him. Four whole more years.

"Just a minute," he says to the blonde woman, a hint of tension showing up in his eyes again when he looks at her, before something suddenly appears in his hand. It's a bottle of scotch, which he actually holds out toward the limping brother. "We're going to be destroying and fixing a bunch of brain cells anyway— a few more won't hurt." Limping… "For what it's worth, I am sorry about shooting you." Now he is. He wasn't at the time.

Considering the last time he'd had his hands on alcohol— Logan's glance towards Niki might allude to it, but considering the swiss army knife of powers he's attached to in conjunction with Wonder Woman over there. It won't be worth it. The bottle is taken with his unbound hand, fingernails scraping glass and the sound of the liquid within the container swishes in a way almost unimpressed.

"Yeah, well."

The cap is twisted off, Peter's arm forced to jerk a little along with the movement. Logan's unshaven jaw is tense, blinking rapidly down at the item in his hand before a decent mouthful of the booze is consumed, the amber liquid whirlpooling a little when it tips, rights once more. For Nathan. Logan doesn't drink, otherwise. His throat works around the harsh liquid. "I'm not," he says, voice rawer than when it was when it began.

Niki doesn't reply to anything Peter nor Logan have said. She stands stern-faced nearby not unlike a guard dog. On close inspection it might be obvious that her stern face is only plastered on with effort. A neutral paint job.

Arm jerked around ungracefully, Peter doesn't try to fight against it, at the very least. He lets it happen, raising his arm to make it a little less bothersome. "Not sorry that I shot you, or about all the times you shot me?" he can't help but ask, even giving the barest hint of a smile on the corner of his mouth. For him, it might as well be a full blown grin. The barest hint fades when he looks over at Niki, nodding to her finally as he takes away the bottle.

"You can hold onto him. We won't need the handcuffs anymore. Even if you do manage to fly away— I think you knows I can follow." He always could, technically. Find him wherever he goes.

A rather deep drink is taken from the bottle of scotch, whether he can enjoy the effects of the drink or not.

"Think you can manage working that one out in three tries?" Logan relinquishes the alcohol without complaint, wrist curling a little in the handcuff. Neither he nor Nathan are particularly used to handcuffs, even now, but he doesn't make a promise to be good or behave at the prospect of being released. There are cage walls up to here even in the great outdoors. And they know that and he doesn't feel the need to remind them.

Niki steps in toward Logan, reaching for his arm — it's just like taking out for a walk. This time, though, she slides in behind him, holding onto both his arms; protective, more than looming, although she is a presence over his shoulder now. "This is gonna be for the best," she speaks up — determination scoring a higher level than, say, optimism — to … reassure?… the Senator's alter ego. "For both of you."

"I need a third guess?" Peter has to ask, though he doesn't bother to continue more on that. Two guesses in, one of them had probably been right— or so he would assume, and he doesn't think it'd been about him shooting the man in the leg. The pain couldn't have been pleasant. Handing the bottle of scotch back, even risking possible violence, he slips the handcuff off in the easiest way he can manage, another display of ability. The handcuff, both sides, unlock without even a touch, falling to the underbrush below them with a ruffling of leaves. "It's better than the alternatives," is his helpful addition to Niki's reassurances.

He's insulting your intelligence, Pete. Don't think too hard or anything.

Logan has no protest for Niki's firm grip on his arms, head twitching a little towards where her voice comes from behind. He has nothing to say, which might mean her words work to a degree and he even relaxes some, but then Peter opens his mouth and gains a glare from the alter ego. "Don't talk to me about alternatives," is the quiet snarl, the bottle of scotch absently gripped in one hand, his arms going tense beneath Niki's hold in a manifestation of the desire to strike. "Unless you're giving me options, and you're not."

If it works. If it works it's better than the alternatives. Maybe even then. "You really want the options?" the voice behind Logan asks. Rhetorically, for the record. "You wanna spend your life behind walls?" Niki's grip tightens, enough to jostle the man she holds onto — just for an instant. "At least we're not locking you away." Pause. She glances to the bushes where Peter discarded the handcuffs and thinks about the apartment. "…anymore. We're practically setting you free. You just… you won't have control anymore. There's no such thing. There's no more— walls. It's hard to explain now…"

"There's are always alternatives, and when I spoke to Nathan I said this would have to be your choice too," Peter says, turning to face the man in a less awkward way now that the handcuff has been dropped. The unshaven face is regarded quietly, before he adds on, "You do have a choice— whether you think you do or not. But so does Nathan. And this was his choice…" There's a pause. If they have conflicting choices that may change things… "If you'd rather be locked up, there's a cell in Level 5 that I'm sure our mother would be happy to put you in. Hell, you could even keep me company for a while."

Logan's eyes squint shut at the light jostle from the woman behind him, hands flexing, before said eyes open almost lazily as Peter says his piece too. Bees continue to dance amongst flowers, birds twitter and multiply, the loudness of spring cheerful in comparison to the look as cold as death that Peter is being rewarded with.

No, he would not like to be locked up, says the silence. His shoulders are rigid, posture awkward, barely breathing. "Then let's get this over with."

Niki's grip tightens again, but it's not jarring this time, not painful. Just secure. Around Logan's shoulder, she silently attempts to catch Peter's gaze: ready when you are. Her gaze shifts to Logan, then, in their utilitarian close quarters, watching.

Get it over with. The look of cold death is shining through, but Peter doesn't wilt under it, even if a hint of regret flickers through tired eyes as he looks on. "It won't last long. I take apart your memories, we'll give them back to you soon enough. If it works as it should… you'll still exist inside him, as part of him, but not seperately. Not alone. And he'll know everything that you knew, and you'll know everything that he did— you'll be one person."

That's the goal. That's something that he's not sure will work— but if it doesn't, in theory, he'll be able to find out. Hopefully his brother will forgive him if he's over cautious.

Hands reach up to take the man's head, palms touching either ear. "Good bye, Logan." Eyes close as he begins. Memories will start to disappear, likely causing quite a headache… It will only take seconds to take away years of a life— of two lives.

Logan is still, at first, accepting, after Peter's words, gaze dull and distant. And then it starts to hurt and even then, that's okay. But memories are draining from him like running water and he abruptly can't remember how he got here, what he was supposed to be doing, why Peter has a scar on his face, by it's not cold— why it's not hot

Niki's strength is tested, although not completely pushed, panic seizing hold of whoever this man is when he can only half remember himself and twisting against the vice-like grip on his arms. The scotch bottle falls with a thud against soft grass, and the heels of his boots attempt to dig trenches in it. A grunt of pain is emitted when the source of it spikes up a busted knee.

Niki's hardened exterior is burned away by worry as she watches Logan's — Nathan's — face carefully, concern so evident that it would be easy to think the process Peter is forcing on him is hurting her. Blue eyes move back and forth between the brothers, anxious for those few seconds to be over. She's ready for the struggle — it was either that or falling. Her grip slips away one hand at a time so that she can wrap around the confused and fighting man instead, arms under his. "It's okay," she hurriedly soothes, jostled but holding strong, "You're okay."

"It'll— just hold on," Peter says, voice suddenly sounding strained. This is far more of a memory wipe than he's ever done in his entire life. And teleporting— moving objects— unlocking things without a key— not sleeping for far too long— drugging himself constantly with biochemical manipulation— it's all suddenly catching up with him. An extremely delicate process. As Nathan starts to move around, his hand clamps tighter to avoid him breaking contact. Eyes on either side of the scar squeeze shut.

More time disappears, more pain, more moments. Who the woman holding him even is. The discovery of his daughter, "death" of their father, birth of his sons, marriage to his wife… All the important moments, all the simple moments, each one torn away one piece at a time.

The man being wiped isn't the only one in pain, though. There's gritting of teeth as the strain begins to overcome him. The scar stands out even more as his cheeks grow pale. Only the scar retains it's color. Suddenly his hands pull back, with a grunt of pain. There's blood coming out of his nose.

Niki's hold, equal parts security and comfort, is a strong circle around him that's not as claustrophobic as the grip to his head, Nathan's— Logan's eyes shutting against the invasion, a hand going out to grip onto Niki.

This just in: his leg hurts. You may have heard about it a bunch before, but it's news to the man who owns it.

His breathing comes ragged, coming down off panic, and his eyes flutter open when Peter's hands draw away. No more pain save for the aforementioned injury, just utter, profound confusion. Under the scars of amnesia, he might have recalled Niki's bewildered blinking in the laboratory that one time, and that's a lot like now.

It's daylight. He's outside. A split second decision has him attempted to twist out of the stranger's hold on him, heart pounding.

For the time being, Niki's focus is on Nathan, holding him close in case he's about to drop. Her protective embrace is staid, but her expression bears a flash of panic. Are they doing the right thing? Her own memory loss was like going to sleep and waking up again a blank slate; it wasn't… like this. This is vicious. She had it easy. She recognizes his confusion, remembering her own sudden, overwhelming rush of what the hell? and panic back in that laboratory even more vividly now as she sees it played out on somebody else.

A single look up means even more reason to worry. Niki's face drops. "Peter…" The scar-faced man's paleness and, more rattling, bleeding, is serious enough distraction that Niki finds herself grasping just at fabric for a moment. "You're alright," she says slowly, fighting for purchase to hold on again, "Everything is going to be fine— "

God… what has he done? Peter can feel something completely wrong. He's not had a reaction like this in years, but there's something wrong. "It wasn't— Son of a bitch," he manages to rasp out as he steps back a few steps. There's a weakness in each of the steps, as if he's not quite capable of remaining upright, but somehow manages to. Each step wobbles, his knees are unsteady. A glance up at the two of them makes him look much younger, eyes full of sudden worry.

"It'll— it'll be all right— I just need— need a minute."

If only everything else in him agreed with that. The chemicals he usually pumps into himself to keep his body awake, other retreats to keep his mind sane while he doesn't enter a shut down period. All of that isn't happening. The few times he's felt anything like this… were around Knight. But he prepared himself before seeing Knight— this he didn't prepare for. The hand touches blood running down his nose, spreading to his fingers.

If he hears Niki, or comprehends her words, or even believes them— it doesn't show. There's not a lot he knows right now other than the supernatural strength of the person holding him, the taste of harsh alcohol in his mouth, the bruises in a circle around one wrist that stings a choir of muted pain, and of course his leg in pieces on itself. The sun is harsh, dazzling. He sees things in fragments - Niki's wide blue eyes, the sky, the red of Peter's bloodied face and the crimson seeping between fingers, none of it makes sense and adrenaline is kicking in, giving him limited options.

He chooses one.

Without a word, the one of the three who doesn't recall his own name suddenly is jerked up and up off the ground as if by strings, hands releasing Niki in the same instant, although that says nothing for her grip. Peter is left on the ground as the two suddenly hurtle upwards in an arc, spinning and tumbling through the air together. Their trajectory curves, and branches and leaves snag at the pair, halting one but—

But the other, not so much. Haphazard as a loose canon, the man who's been tethered and grounded for so long experiences freedom in the form of disappearing up and up and— the sonic boom pulls at clouds, implodes, a fishtail trailing after the man as he shoots across the sky— away. The scotch bottle lies neglected in the grass, amber liquid shining.

Somewhere along the line, for an instant during the adrenaline-fuelled struggle, Niki had a choice. Fight or flight. We know what one Nathan chose.

If Niki didn't go along with the ride — and choose flight, too — there's no saying what crazy supersonic flying and her vice grip would have done. So she hung on.

But the feeling of hanging on to anything is rapidly becoming a fuzzy memory. Now? All the woman can see is a rapidly blurring blur of blue and green and brown, sky and more branches that lash out and claw and scrape and snap. "NATHAN!!" she screams from somewhere in the treetops. Her fall isn't a straightforward one after the tumbling manuevers in the air, and she plummets twistingly, awkwardly.

Until her fall is unceremoniously broken… by the roof of the treehouse.

…or more accurately, the floor of the treehouse after her Niki's body does a good job of crashing through the roof.

The house that they spent their youth building together, broken. Peter tries to yell too, a worried sound in what manages to come out as he collapses to his knees. One brother stripped of memory flies away, while the other one stripped of something ends up falling down. Niki… Nathan…

He should have taken more precautions. There is so much that was supposed to go differently. For the moment it's as if his body, or perhaps Logan, is punishing him for something that he shouldn't have trifled in. Darkness tries to overtake him, sleep desperately wants to come, but what gets him back up to his feet could be considered sheer will.

There was a crash into the treehouse. He's faintly aware of that, as he reaches into his pocket— he can't hear the ticking of the clock anymore. The phone doesn't try to speak to him when he touches it…

Getting to his feet, he stumbles over to the tree, where the handmade ladder steps would lead up, but he doesn't pull him self up just yet. "Niki— Niki?" The blackness falls over his eyes again, he tries to shake it off as he starts to look for a number in the phone book— fuzzy and tunnelly vision isn't helping, but he does know one person he can call.

The whole structure is shuddering from her crash-landing. Or— maybe it just feels like it is. That's gotta be it. Niki can hardly tell up from down. Laying flat on her belly surrounded by a sprawl of her own limbs, broken slats of splintered wood, leaves, and rusty orange dead pine needles displaced from the treehouse roof. With a quiet grunt (from several kinds of pain— she's not even sure what's what, but as far as she's concerned, she'll find out later; now's the time to ignore it), a palm presses into the dusty floor by her shoulder experimentally. She slowly pushes herself up, gathering herself even more slowly to her hands and knees. "'Mmokay," she manages through a cough — nauseated — and crawls through the debris toward the door. Not close enough to look down the ladder. "Peter?…"

"I'm here," Peter says, raising his voice, sounding tired, pained, breathing unsteady as he gets the number dialed. There's a few mumbled words, whispered, almost too quiet. It sounds like a plead, a request. One he doesn't need to plead too much on. There's quick instructions, sounding like directions, and then he hangs up and slides down the tree to sit against it. "We'll be okay… we'll be fine, Niki. We'll be okay— and then we'll… we'll find Nathan…"

Don't mind the growing faintness to his voice as he leans against the tree, his eyes sliding shut. And for the first time since she met him, he might actually be unconscious.

Niki isn't clear-headed — her head is pounding and swimming and doing all sorts of things it shouldn't do — but she knows there's something wrong with Peter's voice. Even as she fights, momentarily, to pull a nasty splinter out of her forearm that could put several toothpicks to shame, she knows there's something wrong with Peter. Her viciously firing nerves are alerting her that the rest of her body doesn't want to be moving, but for a woman who just fell out of the sky, she looks to be in remarkably good shape. All things considered. Battered 'n' bruised, cut 'n' scraped, she moves to look down the… tree… to the ground.

"Peter," she forces through a muffled voice. No answer? "Peter!" Shoving aside a branch from the door opening, she starts to climb down the ladder, hurrying rung-by-rung as fast as she humanly — no, make that superhumanly — can. Jumping off to the side to avoid falling on Peter, her reeling head causes her to stagger, and then she skids to her knees. "Wake up. Hey. Hey. C'mon, what's wrong with you! This isn't supposed to be able to happen!" She shakes him lightly, a hand planted on his chest trying to make sure he's breathing and ticking. "Peter!"

TO BE CONTINUED…

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