2008-05-31: The Meaning of Quiet


Niki_icon.gif FuturePeter_icon.gif Kory_icon.gif

Summary: Peter, having passed out after mind-wiping Nathan, is taken out of the woods by Niki; Kory calls in some favours and swoops in to help the sleeping man who never sleeps.

Date It Happened: May 31st, 2008

The Meaning of Quiet

Previously on Heroes MUSH...

Future Peter: "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."

Hands reach up to take the man's head, palms touching either ear. "Good bye, Logan."

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.

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.

Niki was still holding on. "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.

Future Peter: "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.


Vernon, Upstate New York

Birds chirp in the trees, cheerful and oblivious to the dramas of the crazy humans invading their territory. In the distance, a squirrel, not so oblivious, chatters angrily — even so, it's a natural woodsy sound. The forested area is almost serene. Until you take a closer look.

In front of an unconscious Peter at the base of the tree the treehouse is built in, Niki shakes him lightly and makes sure he's still breathing. "Wake up. Hey. Hey. C'mon, what's wrong with you! This isn't supposed to be able to happen! Peter!"

Okay then. No need to panic. They're just stuck in the middle of— where are they again? Vernon?

Niki all of a sudden notices that Peter is holding something in his nigh-lifeless hands and remembers his muffled voice while she was still up above. Her own nimble fingers pry the cell phone from his hands and she looks at the screen, still displaying the last ended call. She recognizes it. Kory's.

When Peter hasn't reacted to her worried attempts to jar him from his unexpected unconsciousness, Niki takes a timeout. She turns to shuffle against the base of the tree, leaning back against the trunk beside Peter. She has to breathe, to think, to make sure she's capable — and unhurt — enough to do this. She's hoping, too, that a little rest will be enough time for Peter to stir. Holding onto the phone, she looks up at the sky. All that flies by is a hawk. Or maybe it's just crow; check. Its distant caw sounds from on high. Niki glances over in the direction of the house and, without further hesitation, tries to lift Peter into her arms.

Heart still beats, chest still rises and falls with breath. It could be much worse, but after all the nights they spent together, this would be the first time she's ever seen him unconscious. Sitting against a wall with his eyes closed didn't really count, cause the most he'd been doing was meditating, most likely. Peter'd always opened his eyes as soon as she said something, if he hadn't as soon as she started moving. When asked why he never slept, he said that he didn't want to dream. Not a healthy way to live, but resting the mind one way, and keeping his body going another, seemed to be working for him up until this point.

There's not even a stir as she lifts him, the fact he's really not a large man would be helping anyone without super strength. On the bright side… at least it's not freezing or raining outside today? Okay, maybe not so bright, but he's not stirring just yet.

And that fact is unnerving, how completely not there he is. Worrying. Niki tucks the phone halfway into her back pocket and hauls the hauls the dead weight the rest of the way to his feet; then it's just one arm around his back, one arm under his knees… she scoops him up into her more than capable hold. Twigs, leaves and pine needles left over from the winter and autumn crunch underfoot as both their weights bear down. Niki makes her way to the unfamiliar house, skirting around to find a back door. Since, once she gets there, she doesn't have the free hands nor inclination to look for a key under a mat.

Which leaves Niki with one option: kicking it down. She's on a roll with destroying Petrelli property today. Slam.

There's something decidedly backwards about the imagery, witnessed by no one but the Vernon wildlife, as the blonde woman carefully carries the man over the threshold. Now— to find somewhere to put Sleeping Beauty here.

There's couches, one covered in plastic to protected it, another not. Other fancy furniture lays about, but there's a thin layer of dust on most things. Looks like no one's been here to clean the house in a week or two at least. It's after the threshold that Peter manages to regain some semblance of consciousness, a shift while he's still being carried where he tries to say something at first, and then stops. Is he being carried? It certainly feels like it…

Doesn't feel like he's about to be dropped either, which is good. "Nathan…" he finally manages, that tired desperation more present in his voice than normal.

Niki's steps hitch when she notices Peter stirring, but only for a second — long enough to feel some kind of relief. At least it's proof that he's not brain dead or something, which is good enough for starters! She's on a mission, a mission that takes her roving through the country vacation home. Rooms, rooms, fancy furniture — who actually needs fancy furniture in the middle of nowhere? "Not Nathan." She sets Peter down on the uncovered couch as gingerly as she can, putting a pillow under his head; it's dusty as the couch is, but nothing is quite so dirty as Niki is after her treetop adventure. "Can you hear me?" she asks fretfully, crouched beside the furniture.

"Where— where is Nathan?" Peter manages to ask, showing he can at least comprehend what she's saying, even if he can tell things are so very wrong. There's many reasons why things are wrong… "Quiet." It's not really that quiet out here. Animals are making noise every so often, and she's speaking. But to someone who could hear so much more than normal sounds… it's suddenly very quiet. Small scrapes are visible on the hand that he lifts up to try and touch his face. Small as the scrapes are in comparison to what happened to her, they're still there.

"I couldn't… I tried to bring him back…" Niki starts to explain — already, her tone of voice gives away the ending. It's not a good one. "I had to let go. Nathan's gone, Peter." She reaches out to take his hand, the one by his face; as much as it's a gesture of calming, comforting, it's for an ulterior motive, too. A thumb runs over the cuts and scrapes gently. "We'll find him. But right now— there's something wrong with you."

"We'll find him," Peter agrees tiredly, perhaps comforted by the hand touching him, even if he can't quite squeeze it back. One of those moments when he sounded younger than he really is, closer to the age he should be in this time, even if the scar shows he's still a different man. Not completely different, but still different. "We'll fix it— I just— everything's quiet." There's confusion suddenly, as if he doesn't quite understand what he's saying. "Everything's… quiet…" This hasn't happened in so long that it feels like it's been… "Niki… I called— called Kory," he adds, trying to keep his eyes open. Staying awake is such a habit. Falling asleep is the oddity."

"I know," Niki reassures him. On what point? Maybe all of the above. She clamps her other hand down over Peter's as well, squeezing. The woman's expression is less than reassuring, though — her look of worry has intensified, made more severe and grim. She moves up to sit on the very edge of the couch beside him. "It's not… quiet, Peter." Except her voice, when she says so. Niki can hear the birds outside and the light breeze swinging the open back door ever-so-slightly back and forth. Eventually, it hits the wall with a thud. She turns his hand over in hers, eyeing those scrapes. "…did something happen… to your abilities when you wiped Nathan's mind…?"

There's a grimace. Peter can't really explain why everything is quiet, cause no one understands how loud everything had been for him. Everything seemed to have a voice. Hyper aware of his own body, of everything in the air, of the weather, of the animals and bugs, of the plants, of the clock. Of people's minds and emotions. Sometimes they whispered, sometimes they screamed. Most the time he could ignore them just because they got lost in everything else. The ticking always remained, though, and his own body. And all of that has vanished. "Think… think I overdid it," he finally admits with what could be a laugh. There's a moment where he might be trying to say more, but eyes slide shut again and he's falling asleep. A state where he'll be for a hours—

Enough time for someone to get to upstate New York.

A lazy, peaceful afternoon for Kory abruptly turned into a stressed and distressed evening when her cellphone rang from a number she rarely actually gets phone calls from. An easy, gentle greeting lasted for a picosecond; Peter's voice, already ragged and whispery, sounded worse than she's heard him sound in recent memory — such that it is. He sounded weak. He sounded hurt. He sounded almost desperate.

"I'm on my way!" Kory promised. She paused long enough to leave a note for Randall, then pelted down the hall to the elevator, texting as fast as her fingers and the phone's little qwerty keyboard would permit. "C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, please…" she mutters to herself as the elevator takes its damn sweet time coming up from below. Brown eyes dart with worried impatience between the screen of her phone and the lights indicating the elevator's approach. "Come on, come on, come — YES!" The phone rings as she steps into the elevator. "Hey, it's Iah." Kory lets out a breath slowly, relieved. "I need a favor. A big one…"

* * *

One of the great advantages that come with being a DJ who never sleeps is that one makes a lot of friends and contacts. Another great advantage is that the DJ known as Iah is almost always the only one awake to do favors at odd hours that might get the querent hung up on otherwise. It isn't often she calls in a marker, but it's an emergency.

So it is that a Shadow Traffic helicopter lands in Mt. Vernon, and trades for a limosine with the same tall, thin man driving who piloted her up here quick, fast, and in a hurry…well, a little over an hour after leaving the helipad in Manhattan. It's another ninety minutes between waiting on the limo and getting lost a tim or two before Kory and driver come up the drive to the empty Petrelli mansion.

It's hours later, and Niki has resorted to pacing. She's done all she can. The scar-faced Peter, so unusually vulnerable, has been cleaned of dried blood. A bottle of juice sits on a coffee table, along with Peter's phone, suggesting it's gotten some use in the interim. She managed to keep the back door — which is hanging on its hinges with a lock that's no longer … Workable — propped up shut with an end table. There's even a blanket at the end of the couch Peter lays on.

There's nothing else left to do but wait. Except for take care of herself, but that doesn't seem to have crossed Niki's mind just yet. She's covered in cuts and scrapes, her jeans are dirty and torn (though they may have been to begin with) and so is the sky blue tank top she wears. So she paces. However, she's just restlessly settling herself on the edge of a plastic-coverered chair when she hears the crunch of wheels in the driveway; she bolts upright, striding quickly to the front door to unlock and throw it open, her roughed up form appearing in the doorway. What she's not expecting is a limo. Set on edge, she backpedals.

In one of the more unusual things, there's a familiar person currently dreaming within the house. Only it's not quite the familiar person that Kory might have suspected. For the main point that never in all her attempts to dreamwalk to him, has she ever found the future version of Peter actually asleep. Something about the area also comes off as familiar. The trees strike a cord of memory, and there's a structure— albeit highly damaged now— that also stands out. A tree house. Up in a tree. That looks as if something fell onto and through the roof. It'd already been in disrepair, but now it practically needs to be rebuilt.

Kory isn't aware that Niki's there, or she would have called ahead. However, Peter's phone gets a text message: I'm here - Muse. She's gotten a lot careful about where she leaves her real name these days, and who knows what's going on in the house? She murmurs something to the uniformed and begoggled driver. He gives her a nod and a brief, affectionate smile, before his expression returns to silent neutrality, indicating his attention will be nonexistent when it comes to anything that happens beyond the partition he raises behind the driver's seat and the back of the limo.

Kory draws up short halfway up the walkway to the house as she feels the familiar tingle of a dreaming mind. She glances around warily, though, rather than reaching for that mind. Her breath catches in her throat as she spots a treehouse familiar to her from the dreams of a younger, more innocent, less scarred Peter. Its state of destruction is like a shot of adrenaline to her, and she has to fight the urge to sprint for the house. She gets to the door and pauses; perhaps ringing the bell is not the wisest approach, but what is?

The door, shut again by Niki out of paranoia, remains that way for another moment. The text message goes unnoticed, the phone on the coffee table nearest Peter. But she sees out the window, brushing aside slightly dusty curtains to recognize Kory. The door is thrown open again and the visitor gets a relieved look, followed by a questioning one to the limo, but— more important things. "He's inside," she says, hurriedly stepping aside, holding the door open for Kory. "We were … stranded. He was helping Nathan and…"

"…and he's asleep," is Kory's response, as she steps by Niki. "I'm glad you're okay, but Peter is asleep." There's a certain intensity in her tone of voice — don't you know he never sleeps? — as she settles down beside him and now that they're safely inside, reaches for his dreamscape, taking on the Muse aspect that he of all the dreamers she's ever met, knows best.

Oh, she knows. "It's not just that," Niki says as she shuts the door and quickly follows. There's no "just" anything, she's not making light of the fact that the man who never sleeps is sleeping. Her voice is chock full of the same intensity. "He's not healing." She half-sits on the arm of the couch by Peter's head, on edge. "I'm not… sure that he can do anything."

"Okay," is Kory's response, though it's almost an afterthought. "First aid kit in limo. Driver trustworthy." And the lack of grammar as she focuses her concentration on the man from the future is indicative that the Waking has just dropped in priority to her. Her eyes are blank and staring at nothing. She reaches a hand for Peter's, the better to reinforce the connection she's trying to forge to his dreaming mind. Niki, awake, will not be able to join her in his dreamscape.

There's scrapes on his arms, which punctuate what is being said about the not healing thing. Minor really, but they should have been long gone, either way. Whatever dreams Peter's having, they might not be pleasant, and the brief glimpse that Kory gets of them, they really aren't. It's almost as if he's trapped in a vat of water, a test tube of some kind, unable to breathe, but maybe not needing to, because it's a dream. He pounds against it a few times. The glass isn't giving way to him, no matter how any times he hits it, though. The feeling of the dream is one of being trapped and isolated. And something else… too. The way it's lit, the emotions in it. Failure. Maybe this is why he stopped dreaming. Maybe this became all he could see.

Out in the waking world, Niki may not understand the subtle ins and outs of dream walking, but she understands the focused look on Kory's face. Without saying another word — maybe not wanting to interrupt whatever is about to go down — she hops off the arm of the couch and jogs out the door, down the drive to the limo. BRB.

"Oh, no, no, honey," Kory murmurs, eyes welling with tears in the waking. But she will not let his dream be a nightmare. The water sublimes away from him, turning into little transparent bubbles that waft up and away from him on an unseen breeze. The test tube may not break as he hits it, but with the Muse leaning on it from behind him, their combined effort is enough to tip it over, tilt it, so he spills out. She rushes to catch him, unmindful that he's soaking wet, and reaches to wrap her arms around him. "It's me. I'm here. You're not alone." She reaches to stroke his wet hair back from his face. "You're okay. You're safe." She glances around the dreamscape, into the darkness, alert and determined to get between Peter and anything his dreams might conjure to hurt him.

Also unclothed, but— we'll ignore that part for now. Dreams are fuzzy sometimes anyway, especially this one. Legs collapse as he falls out, a sudden inhale of breath as if breathing for the first time. There's nothing coming out of the darkness, but he just lays there a minute. "You're not— should be here," he says quietly, not quite denying the fact that she's there, so much as acknowledging that she shouldn't be here. Maybe no one should be here.

If he were more aware, he'd recognize this for what it is, but he's not. His mind is exhausted and seeking an escape, and the longer she holds onto him, the more he starts to accept that, even if she shouldn't be here, she is. Much like she would hold his younger self up in a treehouse, now she holds his older self, scarred and wet, inside a warehouse surrounded by darkness.

Nothing comes out of the shadows to get him, but from the feel of the dream, he might be able to wake up.

Niki heads back inside with the first aid kit, which… she could use herself, but no one's cuts or scrapes are her concern right now. There are more serious, pressing things on her mind. Setting the kit down on the corner of the coffee table quietly, she crouches by the couch, looking between the dream walker and the apparent dreamer — whose shoulder she touches, clutching on out of concern. And affection. Questioningly, she looks up at Kory, not unlike someone waiting a doctor's news from the operating room.

"Of course I should," Kory tells him, unruffled, and smiling gently at him as he finally summons the strength to speak to her. "You called me," she reminds him. On two levels, even, if she were to elaborate. In the waking, through the perfectly mundane mechanism of a phone, and in the dreaming, simply by having a nightmare within range of her. She couldn't abandon him. "You're safe. I won't let anything touch you." Slowly, the warehouse of darkness gives way, light seeping in through tiny little fissures in between concrete and wood, until the comfy dream treehouse of Peter's youth surrounds them instead.

Kory is aware of Niki's return, and she cocks her head slightly at the blonde as she settles near Peter to touch him. "Nightmare," she says. "Easing it." She does not let go of Peter's hand, and only blinks in the way of it being a reflex to keep her eyes from drying out. "Tell driver. Only a little wait. Okay?"

The treehouse gives familiar surroundings. Considering whose voice it is, and the location, there's more than a sense of deja vu. Only it's actual memory. Even if Peter can't quite grasp it. "I called you?" he whispers, a little confused, before he nods. "Right— right, I did… Trying to help Nathan. And then I couldn't… I lost it. Never erased a whole life before. Never… Guess it was too much for me." The more his brain starts to work, the less he can lie. He figured that much out. "And now almost everything's gone. Can't hear it anymore." Looking at the treehouse, everything in it, he suddenly starts to get up. "We have to get Nathan back. Someone else can fix him, doesn't have to be me, but— we have to find him."

Niki, shifting a little on the heels she crouches on, gets a determined look about her as she's poised to reply to Kory's trimmed down words. "…No," she says firmly after a pause. "No, the driver's fine." Watching Peter's vague stirrings in the only reality she can see, Niki is resolute. "I'm staying until he wakes up."

Kory nods, both in the dream and in the Waking. But her words are only in the dream. "He has to sleep sometime. We'll find him. But first, you need to rest. You are hurt." She puts subtle emphasis on her words. And then his words impact on her. "Hear what, Peter? What's gone?" She gets up with him, and gestures. In the dream, he's suddenly clothed in Peter clothes, except in white, to match her Muse garb. "Talk to me. Your body is going to need time. You haven't slept since …as far as I can tell, since you came to this time. Your body's maxed out. You need the rest," she insists, but gently. She knows how stubborn he is. How driven. But she won't hold him here against his will.

"I don't sleep— I never sleep. I haven't slept in… over a year," Peter says quietly as he glances around, trying to figure out exactly what is going on. There's been a time when he'd not slept in THIS time, but that hadn't lasted long, he still needed a few hours a night to function properly. But this… "Nothing. I don't hear anything. Not the clock, not the trees… the animals… you. I can barely hear you." Oh, he hears her with his ears just fine, but everything else is quiet.

The realization settles in. "I'm asleep?" There's a look in his eyes. It must be true. But… "I don't sleep," he protests one more time, pushing through sleep with willpower, beginning to wake up. Stubborn he happens to be. And willful. And no matter what he can't hear, no matter how little control he might have over certain things, he pushes himself up out of the dream, eyes opening. The sleep he's had is a lot more than he's had in a long time, though no where near enough. Doesn't stop him from immediately trying to sit up, though. Eyes and ears process people, though nothing else does yet. "Niki— Kory."

Kory gasps as he breaks the dreamscape through sheer force of will. That is not a pleasant sensation when it's a mundane dreamer. Even weakened, Peter is very, very strong willed. She slips from the edge of the sofa beside him onto the floor. "Nnngh." It takes her a moment to reorient herself. "Yeah. Hi. You rang?" she jokes weakly.

Niki instinctively does the opposite of Kory — gets up off the floor and onto the couch on beside Peter when he comes 'to. Her hand never leaves his shoulder, and she's there for support, sitting close, incase he feels like falling back down. 'Cause it looks like that's a possibility. "Welcome back," she adds a weak joke of her own with a hint of a soft smile.

Willpower, even his, can't keep his body upright forever. But it's certainly going to try. The memory of the phone call flitters by, though in no where near the detail it should. That's another thing that he can't quite access the way he usually does. His memory. Faces, names, little details. They're fading away into a fuzzy area made up of… everything that he should know, but only knows in part. Peter shakes his head once, reaching up to touch the scar, as if making sure that that is at least still his. Still there. "I passed out?" he confirms with their expressions before continuing. "I haven't overloaded in… years. I didn't think I could anymore… Must be what happened." But there's something quiet in his voice, something rather evasive. "We should get back to the city. Niki— Niki needs to get back to her son. And Cam."

While Kory did lose her balance, she didn't lose her grasp of Peter's hand. So he is receiving tactile support from Kory even as she looks up at him. "Yes, of course. Limo will take us back to Mt. Vernon — sorry, I got it a bit confused in all the rushing — and the helicopter will take us back to the city." She springs to her feet, nimble and flexible. "You either of you need food, a doctor?" She looks between the two, already positioning herself to be under Peter's shoulder when he's ready to stand.

"I called the boys while you were out," Niki says, and on that note, leans ahead to grab the phone off the table. "They know I'll be awhile." Which doesn't lessen the fact that she needs to get home to them. On her side of she takes his arm to wrap around her shoulders. "…a helicopter. How did you get a helicopter?" As she stands up, easily bringing Peter up as well, though she goes slowly, giving him time — "Are you good?" she murmurs — she gives her head a shake at Kory. "I'm … fine." Ignore the scrapes and bruises. "I just want to get back to the city."

"I'm— I'll be fine," Peter says, though the evasion in his voice and in his look is difficult to miss. He's too tired to lie well, it would seem. There's a quiet moment where he stays settled, before he pushes himself up, using Kory's hand as assistance. "Kory… can I stay with you tonight? I think I— I think I will need to sleep." Not something that he wants, but at least he's accepting that he may have to. And if he needs to sleep, he needs somewhere to do it. And someone might notice that he's pointedly avoiding looking at her when he asks this. She did make her decision.

"I called in a favor," Kory shrugs, dismissively. "It seemed like time was, y'know, of the essence." Which is why she got here in 2 and a half hours rather than almost five. It would've been shorter if she hadn't gotten the names of the towns mixed up. Kory gets his other arm. "There's water and protein bars in the limo." She moves gently, glancing worriedly at Peter. "…you are not fine," she begins to protest when he makes his request. Which leads her right into, "Of course you can stay at my place." Nowhere is a dreamer safer in the city than close to her. "I've got a rollaway in the guest room." As coincidence would have it, she laid in beds the night her hair turned blue. Yes, it's still blue even now, but not as cartoonishly garishly blue as it has been, thankfully. And it's in a ponytail at the moment rather than all over the place. "I wasn't gonna take no for an answer. You can doze in the limo, too. There's room. Let's get out of here."

Niki slants a suspicious look — out of concern and knowing — Peter's way. He's lying. She knows it, Kory knows it. Her expression darkens and stays that way, distant despite being so close. As the trio make their way out the front door, she glances backward — particularly toward the back door that's in disarray. "Yeah," is all she says, quietly, turning off the singular light she found before leaving.

"I'll be fine," Peter says firmly, even with the weakness in the rest of him. It's determination, or maybe… it's just the way he is. Though sometimes they've got him to admit he's not fine, and not going to be fine. It doesn't seem this time is one of them. With his hand on Kory, he gets up to his feet, wobbly, but able to stand, able to walk. Sleep in the limo he probably will have to, but… "Your hair is blue," he suddenly says helpfully, maybe even noticing it for the first time.

That will be the extent of his coherent conversation on the way to the limo. And likely as soon as he gets into the seat, he'll fall asleep. And may need nudging to get out of a nightmare and into something more pleasant.

Kory is vigilant of Peter's sleep. She gently moves as close to him as possible. There's enough space in the back of the limo for Niki to stretch out if she wants as well. Kory simply sits as close to Peter as she can, a hand on his forehead, eyes staring blankly ahead as she gently manipulates Peter's dreamscape to keep the demons away as she promised. The limo ride gives way to a helicopter ride, and before the night gives way to new day, the battered duo and the Muse have returned to the city that never sleeps — even if its hero now must.

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