2007-03-23: Swan Dive

Starring:

Niki_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Anders

Summary: As Anders meets his fate, Peter meets Niki unexpectedly. A dangerous adventure ensues.

Date It Happened: March 23, 2007

Swan Dive


Uptown, West Side, New York City

Darkness and streetlights make up the city at this hour, just a few past sunset. On the twelfth story of Parkview Estates in uptown New York City, a large picture window shatters.

The last time we saw our antiheroes, they were falling to their violent death in uptown New York.

And surprise, surprise, they still are.

Tumbling out of the luxury apartment high above the street with a loud *CRASH!* are two bodies, one atop the other - though soon, it doesn't matter, as everything becomes topsy-turvy. The blonde woman among them falls limply away as she plummets through the air, speeding down story by story. There is no screaming. Nik Sanders not even awake as she she falls to the inevitable.

Just as well that shes out cold, really, as waking up to being hugged by a large, crystalline man from Norway (who is leaving a fine trail of blue-ish ice crystals behind him as he plummets, its very pretty) would be scarring, one would suspect.

In a final attempt to avoid a messy death on a New York sidewalk, Anders breaks from the woman, frost and ice cracking where there bodies met and pushes himself off of her, leaving what may be the worlds worst case of frostbite behind. It should be noted that there is indeed no screaming, but this is probably because Anders mouth is frozen shut.

Might be quite a coincidence, but the apartment complex of uptown New York aren't very far from a particular private mansion that houses the Petrelli family. The youngest brother of the household, Peter, happens to be going for a store run, having never been the type to tell one of the house staff to go get something of such importance. What he's bought and stashed in the pocket of his coat need not be known, because he may indeed lose the items when he hears the sounds of breaking glass and looks up to see two people (?) plummeting down towards oblivion of the street below.

The streets aren't completely empty, but there's not even a moment to think about it. Gravity doesn't give much time to think.

With a whoosh of air, the youngest Petrelli flies forward, reaching out and grasping the one falling faster, the one who looks far more fragile and female, wrapping his arms around her and lifting her up into the sky. There'd been two falling, but like every classic hero movie, he could only save one…

The woman is covered in a thin sheen of ice here and there, which crackles as the cool night air rushes around her body. Bits of glass and ice - it's difficult to tell what, exactly, is what - are scattered across her skin, and shards that have long since been lost left small slices in the skin of her bare neck. Save for the wavy blonde hair and hoop earrings, she's dressed like a sharp business woman who conveniently forgot to put on a shirt underneath that suit jacket. /Thwump/. Caught by unseen arms, Niki stirs - and then she stirs /hard/ as her eyes fly open, roving this way and that, completely and utterly shocked and confused and oh my /god/ is she in the air?

Image waking up with no recollection of what happened in the last two hours. That's terrifying enough. Now imagine waking up /in mid air/ no recollection of what happened in the last two hours. Welcome to Niki's life in this exact moment. This would be sheer terror, ladies and gentlemen. "What…" She holds onto Peter tightly, gripping around his shoulders for dear life. "Wh-where am I…?!"

This could be a good death, what could be better than a swan dive into the asphalt with your job done. Painless and forgiving and nothing like the horror he was expecting. Turns out you get sort of contemplative when your fate is sealed and theres nothing left to do.

Wait, theres something Anders can do, maybe, the man, now roughly looking like Jack Frost, all icicles and hoarfrost, brings his arms inwards slowly, joints cracking as the ice sealing them crackles and reforms. At very least they won't find the body and cause the Company some awkward questions.

The man, little more than an ice sculpture now, seems to flash, catching the reflection of a streetlight and then impacting the ground, leaving no more in the way of remains than what amounts to a particularly large snowball and a somewhat baffled (and ice-water splattered) hotdog vendor.

Yeah, this is awkward. Catching someone midair usually is. Peter's only done it once, and he'd thrown the man off the building himself, and caught him over his shoulders. This woman— his hold isn't nearly as secure, requiring her own grip once she sturs to manage the hold. "It's okay— it's okay!" is all he can really manage at first, unable to even glance back and see what happened to the other "person" that fell out of the building. Part of him wasn't sure it had been a person. The glimpse had been so fleeting. The woman in his arms, though, is so unusually cold, and the shock, the terror, makes his grip more difficult to keep. A glance cast around— close to Central Park. He knows a roof there. No one should be there.

So it's to the Deveaux rooftop that he vears, a burst of speed followed by a rather awkward landing upon the thirty-odd story rooftop penthouse. There have been a lot better landings in the history of the world, even in his own personal history, but at least he absorbs the impact, weight knocked backwards, so that at first he sits down rather hard against the concrete. Someone else might have a bruised tailbone from this, but he'll be better soon. And thanks to her hold on his shoulders, a few seconds later, he's actually laying down on his back, catching his breath, and still holding on tightly to her.

Niki's heart beats so hard it feels - to her and probably her saviour, too - like it's going to burst out of her chest. Her adrenaline battles with the sedative in her bloodstream and wins. Despite the awkward, risky hold, Niki is lucky - in more ways than one, given the fact that she's not meeting Anders's fate down below. Her grip is strong. As Peter rushes to the Deveaux rooftop, her hands only tighten around him as he breaks her fall, so to speak. Too overwhelmed to recognize Peter straight away for the man who went nuclear in Kirby Plaza, Niki - for all her clinging tightly to him - turns a horrified look on the young man who she's face-to-face with. "What did you— " Is she blaming him for this? Somehow, some way? Everything is a blur. A horrifying blur. "How did you— " She tries to scramble backward, her movements heavy. She just needs a minute to think.

As the adrenaline starts to fade, Peter still has to catch his breath, and is left shaking in with his arms around the woman. Never before has he done anything quite like that, and he knows the chances are strong he'd either been spotted, or will need to find some way to explain this to someone obviously traumatized by whatever occurred. Considering he'd only seen her twice before, once in a "dream", the second time when he'd been too occupied to do much more than tell her to go back to her family, he doesn't recognize her at first either. Also, he's not quite looking at her, so much as staring up at the sky. The hands loosen as she scrambles, letting her get to her feet and off of him, but he remains there for a few seconds longer. "You— were falling out of a building," he manages in a rough voice, due to the strain. Once he's sitting up, though, he finally looks at her.

Kicking at the rooftop with heeled boots, Niki scrambles back further on her palms. The adrenaline hasn't faded for her, yet, and she's still breathing fast and heavy too. "You… you caught me," she manages to say in a cracked voice, the blame tentatively shifting to something resembling gratitude. Blue eyes narrow on Peter, trying to focus, to remember why he looks so familiar - especially in conjunction with sailing into the sky. "You were there," she says between strained gulps of air. "You filled up with light and flew into the sky with Nathan."

"I caught you," Peter repeats with a nod, emphasizing the 'you', Actually, he's even glancing away and looking guilty for a moment. Part of him will just have to hope whoever the other tumbling figure had been somehow managed to survive. He's sure the newspapers will mention something tomorrow. Looking back at her as she draws the conclusion, he blinks, guilt shifting towards surprise, and then recognition. It's very possible he wouldn't have drawn the connection if she hadn't first. "You're the one who… stopped Sylar. When he was hitting me. With the parking meter."

Niki follows Peter's glance sideways, but if there's guilt, she doesn't catch it; for all she knows, she was alone. She just doesn't know why. "Yeah. Right place at the right time," she says and thinking about what just happened here /tonight/, she can't help but manage a smile. It's strained, it's small, but it's there. "Thank you. I-I don't know… what happened to me, I don't even know…" She winces as ice on her skin stings; it's starting to blush red on her throat and cheeks. "I don't even know where I am." The woman brings a hand gingerly toward her face, only to stop and stare at it in distant horror when she sees that her fingers are coated in blood; it's even underneath her fingernails. Her hand trembles in place, though whether it's due to solely the chill is questionable. She clenches her fist and gets to her feet, a bit unsteady. "I have to go back. Wherever I came from," her voice is tremulous, but determined. "I have to go back there."

"Yeah, right place…" Peter repeats, pushing himself to his feet about the same time she is. The way she looks, though. May not matter much, but he starts to shrug off his heavy coat. The weather even in early spring requires a heavier coat, but she's the one who looks frost bitten. He'd felt it while he held onto her. Not all of what shimmered in the city lights had been glass. Not the first time he's shed his coat after meeting her, either, though this time he's holding it out to her bloodied hands as he approaches, noting the blood. "Think I know what building you fell out of. We can go back there." /He/ wants to make sure no one went splat on the sidewalk too… "Then we should get you to a hospital, or at least inside. Might be injured." Whatever damage he got from the 'world's not-best landing' has already healed. It could have been worse. They could have ran into the pigeon coups, or one of the statues.

Niki, willing herself not to shiver and failing, doesn't say no to the coat. She takes it with a fleeting smile of thanks and slips it over her shoulders - while it doesn't engulf her, it looks too big just because of how delicate she looks at the moment. "Someone might be hurt," she says gravely. 'Or dead' is the likely reality that she doesn't voice, and it's not the person who fell out of the window with her that /she's/ thinking of. She nods slowly. "I'll go to the hospital after. After you take me there."

There's a nod. Someone might be hurt. Peter's going to blame himself for not being able to catch both of them, just as it looks as if she's going to blame herself if someone's dead on the upper stories. "It will be faster if we fly back," he mentions, knowing that walking there would take far too long. Giving her some time to slip her arms through the sleeves so she can hold him back. The air makes him want to shiver, but at least he's wearing a thicker long sleeve shirt, and an under shirt as well. Won't help him much when they get back to the area of the freak snowstorm. Once he's sure she can hold him in return, he moves in close and wraps his arms around her again. Hopefully this flight won't freak her out quite so much… she might actually have a chance to enjoy it, even if it will be relatively short.

Niki is eager and anxious to follow, but when it comes to the travel method… she's a bit too shaken up to anticipate any appreciation for the amazing thing it actually is. "Fly," she repeats with a hint of wonder, shaking her head a little. Slipping her arms through the sleeves of the borrowed jacket, she steps to Peter, embracing the near-stranger snugly, her arms criss-crossing around his back and clutching at the fabric of his shirt - probably bloodying it, but she can't help that. She's sure to hang on securely this time. "I'm ready," she whispers.

"Oh— my name is Peter," the younger man adds. "I'm Nathan's younger brother." She'd known his brother's name, so he assumes she knows him somehow. Nice to exchange names before taking a woman flying. She's almost the same height as him, possibly even taller in heels. Not a tall man, this one, even if he actually looks closer to his age now that his hair's been cut off. Rocketing up into the sky, there's definitely something disorienting about take off, and direction change, but he keeps the speed as slow as he can— even if his brother's flight certainly isn't made for it. Within moments, they're landing in an alleyway, next to the building he's sure she came tumbling out of. This landing? Much nicer. Only slightly jarring instead of skidding and falling on backside.

This day is only doomed to get stranger, isn't it? Nathan's younger brother. "Peter Petrelli…?" Niki doesn't have time to process this oddity, but she does have time to say her own name in return before the rush of air around them is too overwhelming. "I'm Niki." This journey, while jarring due to the simple fact that it's /flying through the air/, is taken in with shocked wonder. Fortunately for Peter, she manages not to asphyxiate him with her firm hold. Taking in a sharp breath on landing, she parts from the young man and plants a hand on the alley wall to steady herself. "That was…" She doesn't finish her sentence, but her eyes glimmer for a second and she half-smiles. She looks up at the building. "I don't recognize this place," Niki says in a half-disappointed murmur, but starts to look for a door nonetheless.

Certainly not going to leave the woman alone in this, Peter casts a glance around the visible sidewalks, trying to see signs of police cording off the area, or even sirens. A body going splat on the pavement should come with sirens at the least, or people staring. Might be the wrong side of the building. "Niki," he repeats the name he heard right before he took off. "Pretty sure it's an apartment complex. Don't think you fell more than fifteen stories, though. Weren't falling very long." Having been tossed off a thirty story building onto a cab once, he knows it doesn't take too long to fall that distance. Not too long at all. Finding access doors shouldn't be too difficult. Finding the floor she fell out of— that might be more so. Surely someone would have called the police…

Timing is such that there are no sirens yet; perhaps that's because no bodies fell to the ground, but the sight of two people crashing through the window must have been enough to draw some attention. They probably don't have much time before the police arrive. Niki moves out of the alley just far enough to look up at the face of the building. Searching, searching. "There," she squints at what looks like an empty windowframe. She counts up. Twelve. "That has to be it." Running to the complex's side door, she pulls it open - despite the firm lock in place - and starts rushing in, hunting for an elevator which she then hurriedly punches the 'up' button of with her less bloody hand.

Following behind, Peter can't help but stare as she pulls the door open, destroying the lock as she does. But if he doesn't hurry up, she'll leave him behind at the elevator. Twelve stories. At least they don't need to take the stairs. Might have been faster if he tried to land inside the window, but he's not /that/ confident with his abilities just yet. Especially not after he nearly broke his legs on that first landing of the evening. "You're really strong," he says, as they wait for the elevator. The blood on her hands might worry him, but she didn't even seem to— "Why can't you remember being here? Were you kidnapped?" Very possible, that, with the Company.

While waiting for the elevator (this always puts a damper on the epic /rushing in, in a hurry/ scenes) Niki only glances sidelong at Peter when he tells her that she's strong and says, "Yeah. And you can fly." Stepping into the elevator, she runs a finger along the buttons until it lands on '12'. "No," she says - tremulous, but sure at the same time. Kidnapped? Not in the typical sense of the word. "I think I know what happened," she admits gravely, now that she's had time to piece things together. Head tilted up, she watches the numbers above the elevator door change as it rises floor by floor. "I might have done something terrible."

"Yeah," Peter nods in response to the flying part, stepping into the elevator with her, and letting her push the buttons while he starts to more thoroughly look over her. Checking for visible signs of injury now that they're both calming down. With no bodies on the sidewalks and no sirens or cording off, the guilt starts to disappear and allow him to fully focus on the person he knows he saved. When she mentions doing something terrible as the elevator rises up the building, he looks back up towards her face, "What do you mean? What happened?"

Niki looks at Peter over at Peter, hesitant; lines of worry etch her fair face, and it's clear that she feels guilt in advance for what she expects to find. "It wasn't supposed to be this way. Not anymore," she says quietly. "I blacked out and…"

The elevator comes to a smooth halt on the twelfth floor. The doors slide open. As it turns out, the whole floor is dedicated to one luxury apartment - it turns out they don't have a lot of searching to do after all. It's a small bit of luck, but their very being here is probably not wise.

The window that makes up nearly one wall - or did - lies directly across from the door. It's completely shattered, and the pieces of glass that hang on drip with melting ice. A briefcase lies unopened on the floor, as if tossed aside. To the far left, where a bedroom presumably lies beyond the open concept living area, blood has leaked into a thick, dark puddle, sinking into the carpet.

"I— I don't understand," Peter says, a lost expression on his face as he follows her into the luxury apartment. Whatever happened here— the blood, the still melting ice. There'd been ice clinging to her clothes, some of it had melted onto his coat. Not all of what tumbled down the sky around her when he swooped in had been glass. Something very similar, but not just glass. "There's a lot of blood… But I don't— I don't see anyone. Doesn't look like they went to the elevator either." There'd have been a trail of blood leading there, and at least inside while they road down, and there hadn't been either. Also no sign of who the blood came from. "We probably shouldn't be here. The police…"

Niki takes this all in as if seeing it for the first time, yet with a certain familiarity. A familiar horror. "The police… they're going to know I was here," she realizes with a sinking feeling, even as she rushes to that pool of blood. It has an origin, one that did not make it out the window, and which she sees as she quickly opens and closes the bedroom door. She turns around swiftly, paling. "She got sloppy…" she speaks under her breath, thinking out loud, shaking her head. "Something went wrong." Obviously. Niki drops to her knees and opens the briefcase. Inside: money, and lots of it. What else would it be in a scene like this? She shuts it as fast as she shut the bedroom door and takes it with her. "You should go," she tells Peter firmly. "Before the police come. This shouldn't be your problem. I- I have to get out of here. I'm sorry." The woman is already trying to rush past her saviour into the hall. "Thank you."

This whole situation still confuses him, a lot. Maybe he's not getting a good enough look at things, but he's trying to glance around and figure out what happened. She closed that door pretty fast. "She who?" he asks, still looking as lost as he had before. And then she's leaving. "Wait, what— you said you'd go to the hospital." He's following after her, but not trying to physically stop her. Considering what she did to the door, he's not going try to restrain her like that. "Niki, hold on a second. What's going on?" He's going to be trying to follow her, though she might try to lose him. She's somehow more athletic even in heels.

Hunting down the stairs instead of the elevator this time, Niki shows no signs of stopping, but she does look apologetically over her shoulder at Peter. "Jessica," she all but spits the name. Maybe she shouldn't be so candid - vague though she is - but she has to give some sort of explanation. "She— she's part of me; she comes out and I can't— I can't control her," she offers in a pained. She thought Jessica was handled up until now. D.L. was right all along. She's being used. "How'm I going to explain any of this to the hospital? I can't even explain it!" Niki swallows dryly as she throws the door to the stairwell open and starts to descend hurriedly, her heels click-click-clacking hard on the steps.

The stairs are far more discrete, and less likely to have cops running up them anytime soon. Peter follows after her, trying his best to keep up, and stay within close proximity too, just in case the police do come running up the stairwell. He doesn't understand half of what she's saying, and it looks like it. Luckily, there's only so much he needs to understand. Lack of control, that's something he can empathize with, more than he'd like to admit. She's not going to a hospital, though. "Fine, no hospital." They would have a lot of questions that neither of them could answer, "Is there somewhere you can go? I'm was a nurse, I can at least make sure you're okay." She doesn't look injured, but she might be running on adrenaline still.

Are those sirens? Those might be sirens. The distant sound only serves to hurry Niki's steps, but several flights down, she reaches out for the wall to prevent from reeling forward. She's fighting unusual frostbite and lingering sedatives here, and though her system can take a lot, it's all starting to culminate. "Only home," she answers, drawing the back of her wrist across her forehead. "I'll be fine."

As everything starts to catch up to her and she stops to lean against the wall, Peter moves up behind her and puts a hand on her shoulder, "Listen, you need to rest. You're not going to make it to your house by yourself." In fact, he's not sure she's going to make it out of the building at the rate she's going. "I can get us past the police… And I can take you somewhere safe, okay?" There's many reasons he feels obligated to make sure she gets somewhere safe, and not just because he caught her falling from this very building not too many minutes ago. "You— you helped me back in Kirby Plaza, you know. You didn't even know me— had no reason at all to know I was even the good guy." Just as he helped her without knowing who she'd been. All he saw was a woman falling, and someone else.

"No, if I just catch my breath for a second— " Niki tries to resist the offers at first. It's true - some ice and some drugs shouldn't be enough to take her down. Even with all of her running around and falling out of a building, it shouldn't be quite enough, but then she thinks about how she's going to explain any of this when she gets home, to Monica, to Micah, and then like Peter said— there's the issue of getting past the police. She slowly looks over her shoulder. "You looked like you could use help," she says. Like she needs help, now. She considers for a moment, obviously conflicted. "Okay. I— we have to hurry."

"I did. So do you," Peter says, confirming that he'd needed the help, just as he believes she does now. The smile is brief, because he thinks he can hear the sirens too. "If— if we see the cops, I'm going to grab onto you again. You— you need to be as quiet as possible if we see them, okay? We'll get out of the building, and get you back to your family, I promise." He'd heard the boy calling for her, and intends to make sure she gets back to him a second time. No matter what happened with this Jessica, or whatever it is she can't control. If she allows it, he's even trying to move to get an arm around her, to offer physical support. If they need to resort to invisibility to escape, it'd be better to be touching her already. At this point, from the sound of things, he's going to have a tough time carrying her completely if it comes to that.

Accepting the help willingly, Niki shivers once, violently, in Peter's coat, and keeps trembling as she picks up her pace. Maybe it's just the fact that she doesn't realize what happened to her that makes her think she's better off than she is. All of this in and out of cold wind earlier probably did not helping that mild case of frostbite after all. "Thank you," she says quietly under her breath. She holds onto him and heads down the stairs, trying to keep her footfalls quieter; it's a challenge in these heels. They're more than halfway. It's only five more flights. They can do it!

Outside, the sirens are not only near, they're /here/, and police officers start to investigate the buildings after the claims of violence and property damage on the twelfth floor. Hopefully they won't meet the pair on the stairs.

With it being on the twelfth floor, they'll have to hope they take the elevators at least most the way up. If not… Peter's going to need to hope she's quiet as he tried to tell her. With the sounds of the sirens so close, though, he grits his teeth and consentrates on the thoughts of an invisible man, and wills that power to slide around them. Luckily it's one of his better abilities, so he isn't as insecure about using it. "We're invisible," he murmurs after a few steps, once he's sure it's settled in. The feeling of avoiding the cops certainly would be one he'd associate with Claude, so it works out fairly well… Voice broken, whispery, he continues, explaining, "So if they come into the stairwell, we just need to avoid being ran into. Most people— ignore what they can't see." He can fly, he can blow up, and he can turn invisible…

"We're /invisible/?" Niki can't help but sound a little incredulous, but she believes it fully a second later, even if she can't see the evidence (no pun intended). She doesn't profess to understand how any of this 'abilities' crap works, so she just goes with it, hurrying down the stairs with Peter. She holds that oh-so-suspicious briefcase close to her thigh all the way down. Soon, they'll find night air again as she gestures toward the side door she … broke … earlier. Flashing red and blue lights are the telltale sign of police. "I hope you're right about this," she says quietly before holding just a little more tightly onto Peter's arm and into the alley.

"Hey— Nathan'll kill me if I get arrested, even if he's not running for Congress anymore," Peter says with a smirk as they make it downstairs, and to the broken side door. "Just don't let go of me, or drop anything." The suitcase especially. As long as they're touching, everything should work out— or at least he hopes. As he'd already said, most people ignore what they can't see, and once they're past the police, with her clothed covered by his coat, he's sure no one will look at them more than once. Maybe think they're drunk, and helping each other home. The blood on her hand might be the only thing to worry about, but most people won't stop to look as closely as cops. Leading the way onto the street, he watches anyone around, for a route through the people before they get any crime scene tape up.

Niki happens to shoot Peter a vaguely dark look when he talks about Nathan. All that blackmail for nothing, you know? It's fleeting, and she's soon quite focused on making a clandestine-as-possible getaway. When they're in the open again, walking along, she shrugs one shoulder of her coat down so that the sleeve hangs past her bloody hand. "…w-where are we, uptown?" she says as she looks critically at their surroundings; she really /didn't/ have any idea how she got there. "My … my hands are sort of numb. Something tells me it's not that cold out."

"Uptown, yeah— West Side," Peter explains, glancing back towards the building they'd just left. They should be a safe enough distance away. Clandestine getaway successful. Letting his arm around her drop, he reaches to lift up the hand not holding the suitcase and wraps his own hand around her fingers, trying to get a feel of just how cold they are. "You— you might have frostbite," he says softly, pulling her along. "It'd be best if we get you inside." Glancing around, he knows the area fairly well, he'd been on foot about to head back to the Mansion when he flew up and caught her. "Come on. This way." The people in the house may not be happy at all…

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