2007-07-07: Sway


Niki_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Guest Starring:


Summary: "We were meant to help each other."

Date It Happened: July 7th, 2007


I don’t wanna hurt you
I don’t wanna make you sway
Like I know I’ve done before
I will not do it anymore
I’ve always been a dreamer
I've had my head among
the clouds
Now that I’m coming down
Won’t you be my solid ground?

I look at you and see a friend
I hope that’s what you wanna be
Are we back now where
it all began?
Have you finally forgiven me?

You gathered my dreams in
When they all blew away
And then tricked them
back into me
You saved me I was
almost dead

The Perishers, "Sway"

A park in Queens, New York

The chains on the swingset creak ever-so-slightly as they move; back and forth, back and forth. They probably haven't been replaced since the last decade, if not more. This little park right in Queens isn't anything to gape in wonder at, but it does the trick: a grassy area with a few trees off to the right, a fenced in area that works as a less-than-ideal dog park, and a small playground to the left, covered in crushed rock, visible through the chain link fence that separates it from the street. Getting on to evening, it's not very crowded at all.

Creeeeak. Niki, dressed in a trim red halter top and typical tight jeans that do nothing to beat the heat in the city, holds loosely onto the chains of the swing, pushing at the sand under her boots every now and then to propel her just a bit further at a slow, idle swing, not the enthusiastic playtime swinging of a child. It's just a seat for a mom who's watching her kid - Micah, playing a game of soccer (or something like it) over on the grass some distance away with a neighbourhood kid. Given that it could go terribly wrong any minute, she's watching them pretty closely, but there's nevertheless a distant look in her eyes. Back and forth. Back and forth.

After a few hours at his job, Peter took a cab over to Queens and then… completely chickened out on going in to see the person he had intended to. With his phone in hand, he thumbs through the phone book as he walks and pauses, looking at the name, before closing it shut and putting it away into his dark jean pockets. He's not entirely dressed for the heat either, though he's wearing a lighter blue button up shirt, with all but the top most buttons done up. The cuffs are rolled up to reveal his lower arms, and he's also carrying a carrier bag over his shoulder. With a 'Petrelli for Senate' pin visible on the strap. He hadn't put it there, but he didn't bother to take it off, either.

With the sound of playing and creaking in the nearby park, he decides to sit under the shade for a few minutes before calling the Petrelli driver back to Queens to pick him up. As he walks towards a bench under a shade tree, his eyes catch the profile of blonde woman who he recognizes, and he ends up moving in the direction of the swing set instead. "Niki?" he asks once he's close enough.

Niki turns her head against the taut chain of the swing - she was resting against it - when she hears a familiar voice saying her name. The swing stops swinging, stopped by one outstretched foot. "… Peter." The blonde mom has a smile for the man, not expecting to have seen him here. She gives him a lingering, vaguely questioning look, glancing around the park and the street beyond afterward. "What're you doing out here?"

"I have a friend who lives in Queens," Peter admits, giving her a small smile before he pulls the carrier bag off of his shoulder and sets it down against the poles of the swingset. Leaving it there, he settles into the swing beside her. It's been many years since he sat on one. Last time he was on a play ground, it was to jump off the monkey bars in failed attempts to fly. "Was getting a little warm and thought I'd come in here and sit while I waited for the driver to get here. Then I saw you. Haven't heard from you, so I guess nothing too bad's happened?" They exchanged numbers, but neither had used them since then… "How's the leg? Did that all heal up?" he asks, glancing towards her jeans as he sits there, hands holding onto the chains and feet keeping him from swinging too much.

Niki gives a quiet laugh under her breath and looks past Peter to the bag he set down on the ground; maybe at the Petrelli for Senate pin. "The driver," she repeats with a subtle measure of incredulousness before she answers. "I'm okay. Nothing too crazy." Her smile is as tired as it usually is; it doesn't try to be reassuring, because Peter doesn't need that. He knows. She pushes one cowboy-esque boot into the playground sand, the bullet-shot leg acting just fine. "Yeah, it's good now. It was a big help." 'It' clearly being Peter's healing mojo. "How 'bout you? You been alright too?"

"Using Nathan's drivers is cheaper than calling a cab… and I'm staying with him again right now," Peter says, though he does reach up to touch at his hair as if embarassed. Not as much hair as he used to have, but it's growing out and starting to stick up in the front. No one's taken a pair of scissors to do more than trim in a while. "Glad things aren't too crazy." With the luck she's had recently… that is reassuring in a way. And he doesn't even know the worst of it. "I'm glad it helped." That sounds genuine. He doesn't even care that he's getting his nice tennis shoes in sand, he actually starts to dig into it a little. "There's… a lot going on, still. Living with my brother because of family things— Cass is better and back at work now, if you haven't seen her— mmm. The campaign revving up is making things pretty crazy, especially with this Crane guy…" Does he even want to mention getting hit by his brother's car two days ago and killed? …Nawh.

"I saw Cass. Her boyfriend… gave me a dog." Those statements are, together, a little disjointed. Niki smiles, a touch of bewilderment hitting her features. She gives her head a little shake, which prompts her to tuck some of the loose blonde hair, straightened, behind her ear before holding onto the chain again. "Everyone's been so … nice. It's just weird, you know? I should be blamed for all these horrible things and you hear everywhere that everyone in New York is a bitch. I'm lucky to be here." Time for another disjointed comment with, "Do you think your brother's going to win the election?"

"He's a good person to get a dog from," Peter has to admit, though there's a hint of hesitation on his face. Something about Lachlan might be causing issues? Like a fist hitting his brother's face, maybe? Nawh… He continues to turn the swing just enough so he can see her without twisting his head all the way around, but has to laugh. "There's still some assholes running around, but I'm sure you had just as many in Vegas, proportionally." And even more fake Vegas tourists who thought they owned the place. "And most the people we seem to meet— they understand what it's like to be a little different." He almost became the biggest mass murderer in the entire city. Almost. Whether he wanted to or not. "I don't know if he'll win, honestly. I support him, either way. Very few people go through what he did to protect everyone."

Niki laughs a bit at Peter's surmising of assholes in New York, but smiles more genuinely, thoughtfully, after the fact. Understanding? You can say that again. She slides her hands down the chains, coming to rest them on her lap as she looks out to the small, grassy field where the children play. "I guess that's the kind of person you want in charge," she says slowly, and with some reluctance. She's poised to add more, but hesitates, watching Micah running around. "…you know, the last time… Linderman… the election was rigged." Niki looks over at her swingmate cautiously. "Did you know?"

"Too bad no one'll ever really know what he did to save them," Peter has to add, running a hand over his hair for a moment as he gives a reason why his brother may not be able to win just on what he nearly gave up for the entire city. The entire world, too. As for Linderman… he doesn't look surprised when he glances over. "Didn't know for sure, but… it doesn't surprise me. Know Nathan was turning on him, working with the FBI, but I also know Linderman and… a few people… were working together so that I'd blow up in the city, and had planned for Nathan to step up and take control when it happens. They seemed to have their eye on a lot of things, using me and Nathan to get it." Though he doesn't know much about it other than… "Nathan messed up their plans, though. Not sure what happened to Linderman."

"He used a lot of people," Niki replies, undeniably bitter over that fact. She looks to Peter and then very much away, far off to the side. "Linderman's dead." There's a faint scoff to the woman's words, but that doesn't take away from the weight, the absolute certainty, of her statement. "At least he's not going to be playing people like … pieces in some game. Not anymore." The pictures and information Jessica and D.L. found… Niki just shakes her head, an unsettled expression on her face when she looks back to Peter. "They… wanted you to blow up the city? I don't… I don't understand it. I just don't get it. I mean, lately, I've been thinking, maybe the Company really is the only place that can help me. They had drugs - meds. I know I can't trust them, but sometimes, lately…"

Dead. All he can really do is nod. Peter isn't surprised by this, though he doesn't ask the hows or the whys— or even how she knows. It doesn't surprise him. Everything the man did, it's a wonder no one killed him earlier. "I'm not sure why," he says, meeting her eyes for quite some time. "Know it doesn't make any sense, and I don't think… Mr. Bishop was in on this plan, probably not some of the other people in the Company. It might have just been Linderman's plan…" And his mother's. But he can't quite bring himself to say that. "Just— I had a dream, or a vision— the night I blew up. Passed out and… it was like I travelled back in time and I saw people talking about it. Six months before it all happened. About the plan and how it was Linderman's…" And his mother's.

"I can't… tell you the Company is all bad— after what happened… after I got Nathan to the hospital— they found me. Knocked me out. Gave me a bunch of drugs and kept me in a cell. At the time I wanted it— anything to keep from hurting people again. But now… I've seen what they do to some people. Their methods of persuasion— Was really close to working with them… but— things happened. Now that I've broken off their last tie to me— I'm waiting for them to send someone to lock me up again." He's surprised it hasn't happened sooner.

The swing starts to sway once more after a little encouragement from Niki's boot heel, hardly enough to be called swinging. Idle movement, as thoughtful as her expression. Blue eyes focus on Peter; the gaze stays put, even as the swing moves. "… you— " This serious moment is interrupted by a shout of, "Micah, stay where I can see you!" She must have some crazy peripheral Mom Vision. Back to focus. "You might as well be me. I … seriously, it's like I've lived exactly the same thing." Maybe not exactly, but the way Peter explains it? It's pretty damn close. "The drugs they gave me— before I came to New York to get treatment…" They must have been in the same facility at the same time and never knew it. "…it's not that they didn't work. They kept… everything back. Kept everyone safe." Now Niki looks past Peter at the eleven year old boy out on the field. "But they had side effects. I couldn't live like that. When they gave me real treatment? I thought that had worked too, but I guess it was some kind of…" Frustrated, confused, she just shakes her head and shrugs. Swing, swing. "… I dunno. They wanted to use me, too."

At the mention of Micah, Peter glances off towards the young boy and can't help but smile. He'd seen the boy at the Plaza, briefly. Heard him call to her that her husband was in trouble. Sending her back to her family had somehow been important to him— too bad it turned out he couldn't really handle it. He's older than Nathan's kids, but not too much older. Makes him wonder if the boy wants to become a super hero too, if he even knows what his mom can do. When he looks back, he can't help but smile sheepishly, and look down again. "Not exactly, but— yeah, similar. Both have something inside us we can't control." And that's something not many people can really understand. "I remember," he adds with a nod. "Made you lethargic— uncaring— without much energy? Go to the point I didn't care if I ever left— right up until someone snuck fake pills in for a few days. But when your entire home is a single room and your company is pretty limited… not caring made it easier. It'd've been different if I had been around my family— if I'd been trying to live a normal life." Instead he let the girl who brought him his pills electricute him every day almost… "I'm sure they wanted to use me too. Sounds like they want to use most people, in one form or another. Once I realized some of what they would ask me to do… I couldn't go along with it."

"Those're the ones. I just couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't be a mom, or a wife, I couldn't even smile. One day, I just poured 'em all down the drain." The memory of the pills, how dismal everything seemed, prompts Niki to pay extra attention to Micah out there. She's quiet for several moments, watching him, before she ducks her head down, blonde hair falling ahead in curtains. "I was supposed to never look back. Now, I'm lookin' back all the time. If I'd just waited it out, stayed on the pills until they leveled out, maybe…" Niki trails off, flashing a weak, apologetic smile over at Peter. "I can't help but think it's just a matter of time, you know? It's either get more meds from the people who helped us and screwed us both over … or what. Be locked up. At some secret facility or jail, it doesn't matter. If it weren't for Micah…"

"When I found out they were fake, I started spitting the new ones into the toilet," Peter says, remembering the last few days in the hospital. By then he'd been moved to Kirby Plaza, but that didn't seem like too much of a difference to him. His neighbor through the wall was gone, and he had a new nurse bringing him pills for a while, but it really wasn't that different. And now he learns he had another neighbor he never knew of. His eyes remain on her instead of her son, watching through the veil of hair. "If… is one of those things that's really hard to deal with. There's a lot of ifs— and no real for sure answers on how things would have turned out…" He frowns for a moment, now looking away towards her son. "For a while I didn't know if there was an alternative, but… then people told me they believed in me. I'm learning control, and figuring things out— If they send someone to take me in, they're going to have a tough time keeping me there." Many people who want to free him, and him wanting to free himself now. "There's always an alternative,. Ways to learn control over yourself without… locking up or meds." He's a walking nuclear bomb and he hasn't gone off yet, thanks a lot to a few select people believing in him. Wait… if it weren't for Micah… He glances off towards the boy. "What about your husband?"

"He's one of the ifs." Niki gives Peter a tenuous, sad smile that's quick to melt away. She moistens her parted lips, pausing before the explanation comes. "Vegas," is that explanation. "He got hurt trying to save… Jessica. To save me. Being a hero in a den of thieves. Now it's… just me and Micah. And his cousin, thank God for Monica." She steps back in the sand a few paces, almost standing against the seat of the swing. She leans her head against the chain. "You sound like him, talking about … being in control and … 'there's gotta be another way'. Well, I'm trying. I was trying. I was trying when I was covered in your blood."

There's a confused lower of eyebrows when Peter hears mention of her husband as an if. Further explanations make his eyebrows raise as he realizes what happened. "Oh. I'm— sorry to hear that, Niki," he says, letting his hand drop down from the chain as he has to turn more so that he can watch her as she stands against the swing. At this point, he actually ends up standing, holding onto his swing with one hand, while he watches her. There's definitely a more serious expression descending on his face, as if she's touched a topic he can still relate to, even if… the person who died because of him didn't even die trying to save him. She just died being in the wrong place at the wrong time. "Guess you have to decide what you're willing to risk. I'd just be… it sounds like they were trying to use Jessica rather than help you with her. From what little I was told, at least."

At first, Niki just nods. She's been through this before. The question, the answer, the consolations. Still, when she replies, her gratitude obviously sincere. Maybe especially so today. "Thank you, Peter. And…" Her face darkens, or rather, her expression does; not only because of the oncoming evening that has that made the park dusky. "I know they were. She was working for them… with them. I dunno if it was always planned that way, or… maybe it wasn't. I don't know what to believe anymore. I'd be willing to risk everything if it meant getting better to keep Micah safe. I just… don't wanna risk Micah in the process."

With the light lessening, Peter continues to keep his eyes on her. The shadows bring out a different look on her face, but it really fits the mood well, so he can't help but continue to stare at her. Since he hadn't realized her loss before, knowing it now makes him look at her differently. Standing before someone who can be nearly torn in half and still walk the next day after seeing your husband shot couldn't have been easy at all. Just like… … "Your son's a top priority— I couldn't stand it if anything happened to my family. Hurting my brother was…" He takes a slow breath, looking away towards the woman's son instead. "You know, I saw you before I met you. And your husband and son too. In a dream. It was when I— when I realized that I was going to be the bomb that blew up New York. I saw all three of you. And most the others that were in the Plaza. But the three of you were the only ones I'd never met before seeing you in that dream." There's a long pause. They'd been running away from him, just like most everyone else, but he specifically remembers her turning back to look at him. "We were meant to help each other… I still mean that, Niki. If there's anything at all that I can do to help you— don't want anyone to be stuck with only two options. Just like… my brother made sure I had a third option too."

The woman was listening intently as Peter spoke to her, and watching, too; there's some surprise when he mentions his dream, of seeing her and her family. She's silent for a few moments. The whole park would be silent if it weren't for the occasional shout of the boys, a couple at the other end of the park with their toddler, and the sounds of the city around them reminding them that this is just a tiny sanctuary. Niki steps away from the swing, finally; it swings after her in her absence. "I want to believe that. But how? How can you help?" For an instant, hope glistens in the woman's blue eyes. It's so fleeting, hope — but where would any of them be without it? "If I knew a way…" A glance down, then over to Micah. They should leave soon, but— "What was your third option?"

As they're both standing now, Peter stays moderately close by, but not so close as to look awkward to anyone who glances their way. "Not sure yet— but… there has to be a way." The only way he'd know for sure… "I'll try to think of something." He's not a genius, though, so it may take a while. The dreams could be a guide, paintings also… but… "Got all this power. Be nice if I could help people with it more often." Power… What abilities would be useful in this. He looks back at her, a serious expression in his eyes and the line on his mouth, even as he answers softly, "You saw the third option. Was down to blowing up in the middle of the city, having someone kill me before I blew up— or blowing up somewhere else. None of the options were good, but it gave me time to control it on my own…" Or at least control it /so far/? City's still here… for now. Still, he has some ideas about how he could help, and they're slowly forming. "Has… Jessica appeared lately?"

There's a noticeable wince when Peter mentions the middle of his prior options: getting killed before he went nuclear. Guy's got it rough. "… you're right, none of those are good options. But you made it out okay, so that… everyone could. So that's what matters." As for Peter's question, Niki breaks her serious, shadowy face by forcing a slight grin, lifting her brows. "Almost explode lately?" she counters. But as for her answer… she shifts from foot to foot with slight unease and shakes her head, quick, brisk. "No. Nothing. Since Nevada."

Worst part of those options is he'd been more than willing to die to prevent it. If his brother hadn't have survived, would he still consider the third option better? Probably not. Peter nods slowly, "Yeah, still here— so's my brother and the city." That is what's important. And the last two more than the first, honestly. Nothing since Nevada, and… he glances down at the first part, actually smiling again, even if it's brief and lopsided. "Not yet. Haven't exactly tried to test it either, but— not yet." It's definitely up there on the many worries, along with a few other abilities he's picked up recently. Golding things and possibly people? Telling people what to do? All of it could have potential badness. But… he looks back up. "I have a… thought. It's… well, one of the abilities I have is mind reading, but I can also talk to people with it. If I'd known what was going on with you and Jessica when she attacked me, I might have been able to contact you. Help you push her away, somehow. But I'm not sure how to test that."

Peter's idea, even in the beginning stages, seems to spark a reaction in Niki. She looks at him more sharply all of a sudden; blue eyes rove, as if thinking, gears turning. She's trying to remember… "Hey… yeah. Mind reading, I— it's happened before. I think. He could hear me even though Jessica…" However, she frowns, knitting her brows worriedly at Peter. "I dunno how it would work. If it would help. And you can bet, if she's there? If she tries to come out, and I can't— if we can't stop her?…" Well. It's obvious. It won't be pretty. Or safe. Or, necessarily, smart. "Cass wants to help, too. I guess she has some clinic? A clinic's gotta have sedatives, right?"

"Yeah, Cass has a clinic, yeah. I work there with her— part of my job at the book store," Peter explains, but she's well aware of his nursing creds that might make his work at the clinic far more appropriate than working in retail. Even if having a guy hired on in the bookstore helps with some of their geekier and more shy clients. Some of the guys had been too intimidated by all the pretty girls who work there to ask if there were naked pictures of fairies or demon girls in any of the books. It was okay to ask another guy, though. Guys understand. "Would be safest to do it there. If she came out— I'd survive… but…" He looks around. Children playing. Her son. "It shouldn't happen where there's too many people…" Especially not a place like this. "Cass' clinic might be the best place. We could get sedatives, and— restraints too."

Nice. That sounds like a good time. Only, you know… not. Niki rolls her eyes lightly, long since defeated and having made peace with the fact that she needs to be sedated and restrained. It's even usually her idea. "It's getting late, I should take Micah home." On that note, she calls out to the boy, who has, by now, given up soccer in favour of a handheld video game and a tree. "Micah, it's time to go home!" A softer smile than what's been seen tonight escapes as she moves to step past Peter. "But drugs and restraints, it's a date." Not that kind of date. She pauses. "See you then?"

Glancing in the direction of the blonde's son, Peter nods slowly before he looks back, "Yeah— I should call the driver and get home soon too." The boys are probably waiting for their super hero uncle to get home and tell them a story… maybe this time he'll talk about the nice blonde woman with super strength who saved him from the scary eyebrow guy. Or something vague and Disney style kid-safe. Leaving out anything that wouldn't pass G-rating. "Yeah, I'll talk to Cass about when we can set it up and call you about it. Hopefully the world won't end before we get there," he says with a smile, actually reaching out to touch the woman's arm briefly. "You can still call— if you want to just… talk or anything." It's not so much about saving the world, but someone to talk to never hurts. If the world doesn't blow up in his face, he might surprise her with a phone call himself.

"Yeah," Niki actually laughs and smiles more brightly… even if there's some possible truth to the world ending. Or at least New York. Again. "If the world doesn't end, yeah, I think I will. Take care, Peter." She touches his arm more firmly than he did hers, a solid squeeze to his bicep before she heads on past to meet up with Micah. "Hey, kiddo, ready to go?…"

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