2007-06-09: The Lucky Unlucky Ones


Niki_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Peter runs into Niki again for the first time since Jessica tore him a new one. No one dies today.

Date It Happened: June 9th, 2007

The Lucky Unlucky Ones

Queens, New York

It's a nice day for a walk - the sun is shining, the sky is blue. In a tightly-packed, residential area of Queens - one of many - people are out going here and there, filling the streets with activity. Kids play on their doorsteps, tinkering with stereos that fill this particular street with music that changes every so often with the radio dial.

Not everyone is enjoying their time outside, however - one woman by the name of Niki Sanders (today) is having a hard time of it. Whatever mission she's on, it's slow-going. While she's not quite limping, her steps are a little strenuous as she heads down the sidewalk. High heels have been swapped out for the cowboy style heels of the into charcoal grey foldover, crinkled boots in faux suede she wears, but all the same- with a soft sound of frustrated pain, Niki takes a seat on the steps to a convenience store owned by a Puerto Rican family and touches her hand to her calf, her pretty features contorted into a scowl.

There's a few reasons to stop into Queens, though Peter's hesitating a bit on one of them. The Gomez apartment lies only a few blocks away, and a young man walking in that direction is also taking it slow. A cellphone sits in his hand, and he dials a number, before hanging up without sending. This pattern repeats three times, until he spots something else that can act as a delay. Here he'd been concerned about a certain young man who'd recently caused him to die, and his eyes fall on a woman who'd been involved in the death from before. Tucking the cellphone into his pants pocket, he hesitates a moment before approaching. Still, he stops just out of arm — and foot — reach before he asks cautiously, "Niki?"

Niki extends one of her bent knees with a muffled wince and props her heel on the sidewalk. The blonde doesn't look to be in the shiniest of moods by any stretch of the imagination. Furthermore, the bright, sunny day means that it's hot and cramped in the city. She's in the process of pushing her pale hair back, raking her fingers through it in an attempt to get it out of her face, when she hears her name. Her head turns sharply, her eyes widen like the classical deer-in-the-headlights. "… Peter." She hurriedly looks down at her hands where they now dangle between her knees, wringing. "I— I don't know what to say." Guilt? Check. "Look, I'm…"

Relief crosses the young man's face. As Niki looks at him, wringing her hands, Peter raises his own to gesture at her, open palms pointed towards her, showing empty hands. "You don't have to say anything about that, really." With that, he takes a few steps closer, until he's next to the stairs and in more casual speaking distance. And within arms reach, too. Kneeling down so that he's not hovering too high above her, he stays out of the flow of street traffic, but not quite as out of the way as the stairs. A hand reaches up to run over his short hair, before he adds, "Wasn't your fault. I know that." There's even a brief tug on the corner of his mouth, a hint of a lopsided smile.

Niki looks up only to find Peter's eyes and stare at them unsurely. Can someone be so easily forgiving for something so horrible? Her own, lighter eyes are painfully apologetic, more than words can say - another sure sign that Peter came across Niki, not the alter ego that ravaged his insides - but she can't look at him. Brow knit, she turns away watching her hands again. "No, but it was," she insists. "She never woulda been at the store if I'd justraw text—" Another emotion-wrought look to Peter. "It is my fault. How can you be so casual?"

"Guess I'm used to it these days," Peter says, the hint of a smile settling into a tense line as he reaches a hand out to touch her arm. It'd be a little out of place to count up just how many times he's died in the last six months, and how he's forgiven all but one of the people who killed him. Technically… he's forgiven all but two. "You're not the one who— hurt me. If you're going to blame yourself for her just being there… then why not blame me for breaking into the store to investigate? Doesn't matter— I don't blame you." No need to even really forgive her, considering the circumstances.

The look lingers this time; it borders on confused, searching, as if she's trying to figure Peter out. When he touches her, Niki drapes her arm over the knee that's still bent, her foot up on the step. A casual pose, but there's nothing particularly casual about her. That arm - bare, as she has a plain white tanktop on - has what looks like a healing gash over her bicep. It's little more than a jagged swathe of pink now. "Used to almost dying?" And what, being eviscerated? The notion is so weird that it's almost laughable, and Niki does laugh — but it's a barely there, muffled sound, and a bit wry. "I dunno how you came through something like that. I guess… the same way you survived exploding in the clouds." There's a pause and she adds quietly, "You're lucky." Not everyone in her life is so invincible.

"Depends on your definition of lucky," he admits softly, the line of his lips increasing as his eyebrows lower. The lack of casual is starting to sink in, and it's odd that he'd wanted to comfort the owner of hands that killed him, even if he doesn't believe it's her fault. But it's the healing gash, and other clues that draw his eyes. Peter glances down towards her legs, looking at the way she's sitting more than examining her as a male might normally. Not that he fails to notice she's attractive, but he's far more concerned with her health than he is with anything else. "You're hurt, aren't you?" he asks.

"Nothing serious," Niki answers - not dismissively, just honestly. She can't help but think that her injuries are pretty minor in comparison to some of the stuff Peter's been through. "It's healing." She forces a smile - Peter deserves it. It's short-lived, but it lingers in a vaguely cynical ghost of itself as she glances down.

With the touch lingering, Peter tries to concentrate as she smiles at him, but— nothing happens. Not that she'd even know something had been intended to happen until he lets out a sigh and shifts until his hand comes away and he moves to settle in beside her. True her injuries are nothing in comparison to what her hands had done to him, much less what'd been done to him in the past, but… "What happened?" There's nothing going to keep him from trying again, unless she stands and leaves.

Niki doesn't look like she's going to stand and leave any time soon, even if she should. She was, after all, on a mission - a mission involving a store to get, you know, important things like food. But no one's starving. It can wait. She shifts her left foot up onto the step beside the right, mostly - but not quite - hiding the wince that follows suit. "Do you want the real answer, or the one where I accidentally shot myself in the leg?" Humour! That wasn't as cynical as it could have been. After a weak laugh, she just shakes her head.

Glancing over at her, Peter can't help but smile weakly in return to her own humor. "Considering I know it's not the real answer, it wouldn't be half as believable." Though he likely would have believed it if she structured it the right way. He'd helped her sneak back into the scene of a murder and didn't even question it until much later. When he'd read there'd been a murder. "Don't have to tell me if you don't want to, though."

"It— happened while I was back in Nevada. I'd… kind of be in trouble if it got out," Niki admits, a certain darkness washing over her expression. When a bell jingles behind them, she looks back to watch a neighbourhood man come out of the convenience store with his two daughters. Neither look to be over five years old. She frowns and keeps her voice a bit quieter. "That's why I couldn't go to the hospital. What happens in Vegas…" You know the rest.

"That's what everyone always says, but it never seems to work that way." Vegas has a tendency to come back and bite people, he's noticed. "Was it your doing or— hers?" Peter has to ask, as he reaches once more to touch her arm when he too glances behind them. "Can understand not wanting to talk about it, though. Are options other than a hospital, though…" he adds in a softened tone, once again attempting to concentrate on things. This time he's sure the ability managed to do something, but he knows there's little chance it fixed everything. Might just make her time healing a shorter.

Niki fixes Peter with an unsure look, not confident that she follows what he means. Slowly, her gaze travels down to his hand on her arm. It's significant, she feels, and then she's not sure what she's feeling. The healing gash on her arm becomes less obviously inflamed, shrinks, tightens. She touches it with her fingertips; her brows knit together. Her mouth parted more than usual in astonishment, she looks at the young man next to her with something akin to wonder. "…you're full of surprises." The soft smile she gives Peter is short-lived. "I was in Vegas because of Jessica," she confirms. …Sort of. Niki adds, "She just wasn't the reason I got hit. Everything just--" Her eyes shut tightly and she shakes her head. "I'm sorry. It's complicated. And— a mess."

Glancing away, Peter's eyes shift towards the pavement as if embarrassed, even if this ability happens to be one of the ones he likes more than many of the others. Far more useful, allowing him to help others. There's one more thing he could do, but taking her pain would be a temporary fix. "It's fine," he says, glancing back when she apologizes and shows signs of not continuing. The hand ends up on her shoulder again, and stays there this time, a concerned look on his face. "You're okay, though. Whatever happened." Course he doesn't know not everyone is okay.

"Yeah," Niki answers without looking. Her lightly scoffing laugh tells a different story. She stretches both legs out - it' a bit easier, this time - and lays her hands on her thighs, staring down reflectively for a moment. When her head tilts back up to face Peter, it's obvious that she's pushing back emotion from the fringes with a smile, hurrying to change the subject. "What are you doing in Queens?"

Physically okay, but not okay, Peter surmises from her laugh, and the lines on her face as she looks at him. Her change of topic keeps him from prying, for the moment, though— it could happen eventually. "Visiting a friend. Well— thinking about it. Got all the way here and— realized I forgot to call again. Last time I dropped in unexpected to give her a thank you present her brother missunderstood things."

"Misunderstood things?" Niki prompts with a smile that tries to stay light. It's obviously an effort, but she puts it out there. It seems like a casual enough topic. Little does she know. "Hey," she interjects, patting a hand down her left calf over the folds of her boot. "My leg feels a lot better." For that, her smile is more genuine.

"Yeah— he…" Peter reaches up and scratches at the side of his face, against the light stubble. He skipped out on shaving this morning, but he had for the rally the day before. "Thought we were more than friends, I guess. Very protective younger brother." Who can kill someone just by being really mad. "Glad it helped. Especially if you didn't go to the hospital for it." Of course at the mention of the hospital he suddenly blinks and… "Did you know Cass is in the hospital?"

Niki is derailed in anything she may have said on the subject of protective younger brothers or hospitals by Peter's news, though she seemed on the verge of replying. Instantly, now, her face alights with concern — obviously, she didn't know until now. "Why? What happened?"

"She was shot," Peter explains, looking over at her quietly. "Don't know most the details, didn't arrive until she was already in surgery. But— she got mugged. Don't think it had anything to do with… us— or what we seem to get involved in. Just— living in New York." At least he's really going to hope it had nothing to do with everything that 'they' seem to get involved in. "She's okay now. At Beth Israel recovering, but I think they should be ready to release her home soon."

Shot. Niki shakes her head slowly, worriedly. "That happens too much." Strictly speaking, she hasn't seen Cass since before the incident at Enlightenment Books; she turns a wary look on Peter. "Maybe I'll visit her," she says thoughtfully, but entirely unsure about that prospect. "Bring her flowers and an 'I'm sorry I knocked you out and then you were shot' card? God. Sometimes, I think that woman has worse luck than me."

"She seems to end up in the middle of everything," Peter admits with a hint of an ironic smile. The two of them have pretty bad luck (and some really good luck when it comes to him) but the other woman… she almost seems to attract trouble. "Sure she wouldn't mind you stopping by, as long as you're— you." Jessica… yeah. "I started working at the store after— what happened. Just helping out part time."

"…Good," Niki says with a fleetingly encouraging smile. It's slightly awkward, given the circumstances of how Peter came to get the job at store, but she suddenly angles to face Peter more. "You and Cass are… you're both really good people. You know? You're too nice. Most people wouldn't want anything to do with me after what happened," the blonde says matter-of-factly, looking him straight in the eye unwaveringly. "And I wouldn't blame them. So thank you." She starts to get up, stopping and turning toward him with one boot up on the step. "I should… get going. Mouths to feed and all. For what it's worth - I'm sorry, Peter. You should blame me, 'cause Jessica, she's a part of me, somewhere, even when she's gone."

As soon as she stands, Peter boosts himself up as well, moving to stand up. Even then, with her heels, he's actually just the same height as her, if not a partial inch shorter. No one could ever claim the younger Petrelli brother is tall. "I can't blame you. I— know what it's like to have something inside you that you can't control. If my brother hadn't shown up to help me the first time we met--" She wouldn't be here for him to blame or not blame. And neither would a good portion of Manhattan. "Can I give you my phone number? In case… you need help with anything?"

Well, Niki can't argue with that logic. The parallel may not be a happy one by any means, but the fact that Peter's drawn it makes her smile. Maybe he does understand. "Yeah," she says, maybe more pleasantly than she has during this whole encounter. She steps all the way onto the sidewalk. "Sure you can."

Since he's not carrying a bag or his jacket, the chances he'll actually have something to write with and on are rather slim. However… Peter has one way he can get something to write with, and write on— but— after a few seconds there's a frustrated sound from him. Why would he be frustrated. Instead of waiting to try again, he glances at their surrounding, the store they're in front of, and raises a hand, "Just a minute. Don't go anywhere yet." And he ducks inside the store, pulling out a wallet and buying a pen and a small thing of notebook paper. On which he'll write his phone number (283-1407) and his name, so she doesn't get confused about who's number is on a piece of imported notebook paper with a fancy border.

That was a lot of effort just to write down a phone number. While Peter goes on the small mission to procure a pen and paper, Niki stands outside the convenience store looking faintly bewildered and amused - which she's still doing, when he emerges. "… Thanks," she says on taking the paper and glancing over the border. "Hopefully I won't need to use it." Since it's for help. Before she tucks it away, though, she folds it over on her thigh, holds it in her palm and reaches for the pen to write her own number down, which she'll then rip off and hand over - 'Niki S. — 283-3194' "Incase you need help, too."

With numbers exchanged, Peter tucks hers into his pocket, where he'll program it into his cellphone later. "Can always use some extra help," he admits, glancing down towards her shoes, and hoping that at least walking will be easier on her. "It was good to see you again." Even with the 'your alter-ego killed me'. "Hope— things look up for you." If Cass' bad luck is only 'almost as bad' as hers… then she could use all the looking up she can get.

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