2008-03-11: Please Leave a Message

Starring:

Niki_icon.gif Gabriel_icon.gif Elle_icon.gif

Summary: In trying to track down Peter, Niki finds two people who — to her — are unlikely guests.

Date It Happened: March 11th, 2008

Please Leave a Message


Manhattan

Peter Petrelli's apartment building. Many others make this building their home as well, but only one, as of this exact moment in the early evening, is of any concern to Niki Sanders. The woman makes her way up toward apartment 1407. It's a risk, being here. Under Logan's watch, she shouldn't be seen anywhere near Peter. She hasn't done much to be incognito, save for the large, dark sunglasses still on her face from braving the setting sun outside.

And so it is that the blonde, hair pulled back into a tight ponytail, wrapped in, a short black trenchcoat sashed tightly at the waist, just about as long as the skirt she has on underneath — which is to say, not very — hesitates at the door to the apartment. Listening, maybe, for any sounds of life. She knocks sharply, one two three, and glances up and down the hall while she waits for an answer that she doesn't expect to get.

There won't be much for signs of life in the apartment. The ex-killer known as Gabriel Gray is currently sitting in one of the chairs of the living room, his eyes closed. He appears to have dozed off while putting a watch together; half of the timepiece is in one hand, and a small tool in the other.

The sharp knock on the door wakes him, jarring him out of his nap with a start as he leans forward, spilling pieces of the watch all over the floor. "Damnit," he mutters under his breath, reaching down and quickly picking them all up to discard into a small pile on the coffee table in front of him. Standing from the chair, he moves around it towards the door, glancing through the peephole. He remembers this one. Last time they met she slammed a pole into his chest. It was fun times. Cracking the door open just a notch, he peers through it, eyeing the woman on the other side. "Yes?"

Second to no one answering, Niki would have expected Peter, since it's… his apartment, even if he has been MIA. That sliver of a face that she's suddenly looking at — so very not Peter. It's very obvious that she's struck speechless, gaping in the few seconds it takes her to make sure she's seeing right. To make sure, she slides her sunglasses up onto her head and narrows her eyes, brows knitting together. "…You're not Peter," Niki accuses darkly, stating the obvious while she's at it.

"No, I'm not," Gabriel says, his face disappearing for a moment as he turns to look back into the apartment. A moment later, he's peering through the door again, a slight frown on his face. "Peter's not here. He's… out at the moment." The truth is that he has no idea where Peter is, but the killer doesn't say anything else, the one eye Niki is able to see watching her expectantly.

Zero of the man's few words serve to console the visitor any, and they don't make her go away, either. A suspicious glint catches in her eyes— she stares hard at Gabriel, only glancing away once to try to peek past him inside the apartment. Unsuccessfully. She hasn't been able to reach Peter. Sylar is in his apartment… Niki slams a hand on the door, her palm spreading against the wood, threatening to push it open any second. Her stare quickly grows dark. "And what are you doing here," she questions, her voice harsh, that suspicion running high.

When Niki slams her hand against the door, Gabriel's head snaps back a few inches, disappearing from view again. It's right back, though, his own stare growing dark just like Niki's, and he puts more force on the door to counteract her. "Cleaning," he says, but it's quite clear by the tone of his voice that that is not what he's doing. Frowning, brow tensing as he watches her, Gabriel's next questions is short and to the point. "Did you need something?"

If Niki was hoping for a simple exit strategy, she won't find it back the way she came. The elevator doors slide apart, allowing Elle to step out onto the fourteenth floor and travel down the hallway towards Peter's apartment. Though there is no cast or walking apparatus on her leg, she limps faintly, still. Only vaguely aware of the space in front of her, she is fishing in her bag for something— a set of keys, it turns out, as she pulls them from the bag with a metallic jingle.

"… I don't believe you." Niki doesn't budge an inch, locked in a stare-down with the (ex?)-killer and keeping up her own pressure on that door. That is, until she hears the elevator doors, the slightly off-kilter limp, and the jingle of keys. On hyper alert, she swings her gaze down the hallway sharply to find … wait a second, is that— ? This visit is getting more and more unsettling. Niki steps away from the door suddenly, holding her hands up — but rather than a gesture of surrender, it's more of a 'hold up!' with a side of 'don't come anywhere near me you freaks!'. "What's going on,” she demands. "Where's Peter?" Looks like somebody didn't tell all his acquaintances about his boarders.

Much like Niki, when the elevator doors slide apart, Gabriel's attention shifts focus. He immediately recognizes the blonde woman exiting the elevator, and as Niki steps back, he opens the door further, leaning out into the hallway slightly. "Elle," he says, his right shoulder pushing against the frame of the door, his body in the doorway. It's both to block Niki from gaining access to the apartment should she try, and something else as well: to keep his arm hidden from view, and by extension, the small crackle of electricity that's beginning to form a ball in the palm of his hand. "I told you, he's not here," the ex-killer says, his gaze snapping to Niki. "I don't know where he is."

Stopping dead in her tracks at the woman's question, Elle greets the blonde with a wide-eyed stare, the keys in her hand making the only movement as they drop against her palm. "Gabriel," she says slowly, acknowledging that she heard him without taking her eyes off of Niki, though her gaze isn't quite suspicious yet. Not overtly, anyway. Resuming her awkward pace, she approaches the door, allowing what she deems to be a safe distance between them before she pauses once more. Her tone is much gentler than Gabriel's as she says, "He hasn't been staying here for a while. He was letting us stay in his apartment. I'm just here to pick up a couple things I forgot when I left. Is there a… message you want to leave for him?"

Elle proves to be more helpful than Gabriel, but Niki still looks between the two of them as if she's not quite sure if she ought to believe them. All things considered, she's pretty warranted in her suspicion. "I'm trying to find him," she retorts to the man in the doorway, though her words are steadied and even. That tone of threat never leaves. She knows she's more than a little outmatched between these two should the tension snap, but she stands her ground. "No," she tells the shorter blonde. "I'm just— " she looks back and forth from Elle to Gabriel again, confusion evident on her face, along with some frustration; brows raising, she asks, "Do you know where he is staying?"

"I haven't seen him myself," Gabriel replies, shaking his head. "Not for about a week now." He glances back and forth between the two blondes, the electricity in his hand slowly dying. It seems like he might not need it. "But that's not unusual, because he doesn't drop by on a regular basis."

"If I did know," Elle replies, tipping her chin down as she fixes Niki with a level stare, "I probably wouldn't tell the first stranger to show up at his door looking for him." There is nothing overtly threatening about her tone, but her gaze is attentive, her muscles tense. "That's why I asked if there's a message you want to leave, instead. Name, phone number, some way for him to get in contact with you." It isn't immediately clear whether Elle recognizes the woman at all, though she certainly has reason to, given their respective backgrounds with the Company. "So I'll ask again. Got a message for him?"

"He knows how to contact me," Niki answers, slightly defensive. "That's the problem— he hasn't." Though her own tense posture doesn't relax, she does lower her hands and make an effort to look peaceable. It doesn't work very well; an impatient smile flashes across her lips. "Look, I know I don't have any way of proving I'm not— some stranger. I don't want to leave a message, I just need to find him, so if you know where he's staying— " These circles can only go around for so long.

"Like she said, if you give us your name, one of us will let him know the next time we see him." He opens the door a little bit wider, pushing himself off of the door frame, standing just inside the apartment. It's not an invitation for Niki, but for Elle, and he makes this known by fixing Niki with another stare that very clearly says 'do not come closer.' "Unless that isn't good enough, in which we might have a problem."

"I'm not going to tell you." Displaying remarkable patience, for her, Elle shifts her weight as she stares the other woman down. Part of her wishes Gabriel hadn't added that last final remark, but outwardly, she doesn't react. "Look," she says, taking Gabriel's invitation as cause to start to move towards the door, "Peter's a busy guy. He has a lot going on. Sometimes he doesn't check in for a while. The best I can do is let him know you're looking for him and tell him you're worried." Adopting a more succinct tone, she reiterates, "But I'm not going to tell you where he's staying. Sorry. I'll try to track him down for you, but that's it."

It's not good enough, as it turns out. Niki certainly doesn't trust either of these people in the slightest, and, well, combine that with the fact that no one is supposed to know she's even here— "Never mind," she says, throwing her hands up and giving Elle and Gabriel an insincere smile. The tall blonde's contrary expression softens for a moment, revealing a hint of her real worry over trying to find Peter, but then it's gone. She backs away a few paces, toward the elevator, reluctant to turn her back on the people she only knows as a serial killer and an electro-agent of the Company.

There's nothing more for Gabriel to say to Niki, since Elle seems to be handling the situation better than he could (ex-killers aren't very good at this sort of thing), so he simply watches as she walks away. Once she's close to the elevator, he turns his gaze back towards Elle, moving out of the doorway so she can enter the apartment.

Conscientious of how strange this encounter has been, the former agent isn't reluctant to turn her back on Niki - she's unwilling. As the other woman backs away en route to the elevator, Elle turns with her, tracking every movement with her eyes. "I'm still going to let him know," she says, either as a last-ditch effort to coax a message out of Niki… or to warn her. She, too, moves backwards away from the other woman, the barely-contained tension heavy in the air. Only once she's reached the door does she turn her back to Niki to step inside the apartment.

After turning away just for the last few paces, it's some bit of luck that the elevator doors open right away when Niki presses the button. A distrustful gaze is sent down the hall after she steps inside; as the doors close on her, she pulls a black cell phone from her pocket and brings it to her ear, and then she's gone.

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