2008-04-16: Time To Go


Niki_icon.gif FuturePeter_icon.gif

Summary: After the incident with Logan, things become a little more complicated for an already complicated relationship. Maybe too complicated for them to handle.

Date It Happened: April 16th, 2008

Time To Go

Peter Petrelli's Apartment

Peter's apartment.

It doesn't seem right, being here. The man who lives here is locked away without a clue, one can only assume. For Niki, being here with the man he would become four years in the future is a little reality-jarring. But then, she's covered in blood after an hour of violence and illusion and shape shifting or— she's not even sure what was real. Reality hasn't been exactly normal today. It's been jarring for a long time.

The door to the bathroom is open, but the same can't be said for the woman at the sink washing her hands. A rigid expression has set into her face, which is splattered and smeared in blood that has dried in place. Niki has since shed the black jacket and boots and stands in a dark tank top, laced up the back, and black jeans as she runs scalding hot water and soap over her hands and up her forearms.

One advantage to choosing this location as a jump spot for emergencies… It happens to have clothes that he can fit into, even after four difficult years. While Peter added on some muscle, his best clothes had been loose when he didn't have the additional muscle-weight. From the bedroom, he pulls a clean shirt over his head and picks out a second one, a button up. Neither of the chosen shirts are worn often, and he doubts his younger self will even notice they're missing. Or will assume Gabriel or Elle took it— or get told about his trip to the past and learn about it that way…

Either way he shows up in the open door of the bathroom and says in his thick and raspy voice, "You can change into this if you need to." If. She's taking pretty good care of herself. "I don't have this apartment anymore in the future," he adds on, as if trying to make some semblance of small talk. With the closed-off tension between them, it seems forced.

Nathan's blood, Peter's blood — she's not even sure what it is she's washing off. Niki pauses her hand-rinsing to glance at the door and at Peter. "Thanks," she says somewhat flatly, just… A compulsory thank you. She presses her hands against the counter's edge for a second, watching the water go down the drain before she swiftly grab stage two. Stage three might be an actual shower. But, instead, she leans against the sink again, cloth in hand. "What're we going to do now," she says in a low, forced sort of voice. She's trying to keep on track rather than talk about what just happened. It may not work for long. "I mean, we could only plan so far…"

"I had hoped Nathan would come out on his own rather than let Logan kill me," Peter murmurs softly, revealing his part of the plan. That hadn't worked out quite how he expected it to. "I'd even been prepared for him to attack you rather than let you finish the job, but that didn't happen." Even if he'd been willing to take the chance of being killed, or getting hurt, he'd made sure that certain things wouldn't be an eventuality, but… "Maybe now that he knows he has a second chance to protect those he cares about— he'll fight harder the next time." He shrugs a bit, still holding onto the shirt while she finishes cleaning off the dried blood, of various kinds. These may not be the answers she wanted, as it referenced what happened, in part, but…

"Yeah," Niki says quietly under her breath, forced through a good deal of tension. "I hope so." She runs the cloth under the water, tries to clean off her face. When she lowers the cloth a few moments later, her skin is tinged with pink; it's hard to determine whether it's from blood smearing or from the heat and vigorous scrubbing. "But— " The dirtied cloth is dropped in the sink, the tap turned off, and she dries her hands on present Peter's hand towel before finally reaching out to take the shirt. "He mighta had a better chance at fighting harder if one of the people he cares about hadn't shot him in the knee."

"He shot me," Peter emphasizes, shooting her a look that he knows is harsher than it needs to be, but for some reason this is making him rather stubborn. "And he's killed me more times than… I'm not a punching bag, Niki." The tone is definitely not one for a civil conversation between two people who might care about each other, though he's the only one whose said anything of the sort. He steps out of the doorframe of the restroom and retreats into the bedroom to put distance between them, but that doesn't stop him from adding, "I healed most of it. Maybe pain will give him something to focus on for a while." Definitely harsh, but pain always gave him something to focus on. It just tended to go away too quickly. Most of the time.

Niki doesn't interrupt, but the more the scar-faced man talks, the more it certainly looks like she's about to. It's only after he retreats to the bedroom that she lets out the words that have been building up. "I understand," she says, even her sincerity is crunched into harsh tones. She's edgy, after the day she's had. She steps into the bathroom doorway, looking out on Peter. All of the blood hasn't been quite cleaned off, in her distraction — a bit flecks her jaw, her neck. "I get it. I seriously do. Really," she goes on, more heated — not to mention louder, word by word, "But this wasn't supposed to be about revenge! I'm just saying, you could've put it aside for one second to help your brother. You think you're SO entitled— "

Revenge. Is that what it's all about? Entitlement too. Peter glares at her, tense and angry as she confronts him, but that word, entitled. It seems to catch him by surprise to the point he raises his hands up and grabs onto her shoulders, putting emphasis on his words with physical contact, squeezing hands. "No, you don't understand." Was it about revenge? In part. He's angry at his brother in more ways than he can rightfully expression. Was it because he feels entitled to that revenge? Maybe that too. But there's other aspects at work that she doesn't quite understand. He had kept emphasizing how many times he died, or how often he's been shot and killed, how often by his brother, but the most important thing… "I wanted to kill him." That part is almost yelled at her. "You don't understand what happens to me— how I— I had to get rid of it somehow." The voice lowers in volume and his hands release her, adding on, "Better his knee than his head."

Niki clenches one hand tightly over the spare shirt Peter gave her, as if doing that might stop her from— she doesn't even know. She stands tense and unyielding as Peter grabs her, talks — no, yells, practically in her face. There's still something still decidedly confrontational in her expression, her teeth clamped shut but on the verge of snapping a response … But as she's forced to listen, an emotional gleam in her eye threatens to break her stubborn streak. It's not really about Nathan getting shot at this point, he'll be fine. "I could've … stopped you. If you had waited, for a second, I would've held you back!" Niki eyes Peter with lingering anger, a question forming that she doesn't ask yet but which nevertheless lurks in her gaze.

"You were already practically holding back Heidi," Peter takes a full step away, shaking his head. It's not that he was angry at either of them for the debacle their attempt to bring out his brother turned into. He's starting to believe he should have just used persuasion as soon as the man entered and left it at that. No testing of his brother's mental strength, no letting Heidi get her own revenge. No testing of a serum he's pretty sure won't work at all. "And what if I hurt you? What if I took it out on you instead?" He's still yelling, a harshness in his voice, but at the same time a new emotion starts to creep in. Guilt. Maybe it was there the whole time, and only now is it moving toward the surface where it can break through the tension.

Niki stands her ground just for a moment or two, Peter's words — and questions — weighing heavily on her, before she winds up stalking after him that one step. Once she's within inches of him, however, it becomes painfully clear that her voice isn't quite as ready as her feet were — she struggles to answer. Just when she seems to be poised to come back with a convincing argument, she falters shouts brokenly: "I don't— I don't know." Niki looks away sharply, blinking against tangled emotions. "I said that I would be there for you, when you needed me, and I'm— I'm trying…"

That certainly takes the argument in a different direction. It actually takes him by surprise, straightening himself up a bit as the argument changes gears and emotions, without quite changing the exact tone. Something about it remains sharp and mixed in emotion, but the mixture is favoring another set of emotions all of a sudden. The change in argument pushes something out of him. "Maybe I need to learn to take care of myself," he says, something new rising to the surface, a stubborness that she's seen a few times, but for some reason seems even stronger. In the last month she's lost a lot, some which she may not have needed to lost if he hadn't been selfish. "You already did your part."

"Maybe you do," Niki replies too fast as she looks back at Peter. If she'd stopped and thought about it, she might not have said it so sharply. Then again… "What is that supposed to mean, I already done my part?" she asks with blonde brows pinched together in an angry V, blue eyes so insistent in their hunting for answers in every subtle expression of Peter's that they're fierce.

That fierce look doesn't make his stony expression melt. Peter tenses up, but doesn't step back. The main difference would be he doesn't return the anger either. There's something almost calm about his voice at this point. "It means that you did what I needed you to do. You brought Logan to us. You don't need to do anything more. You can go back to your family. I can deal with the rest of it on my own." It's stern and harsh in the coldness, but the mask is broken, making it pretty obvious to someone who has spent a lot of time with him the last month… this isn't at all what he wants. At least it would be obvious if she's not too angry to notice.

Off of Peter's words, a wild-eyed look hits Niki's eyes, unsure, incredulous, defensive, even hurt — take your pick of the bunch, they're all in there, flashing at Peter. "Just because you're from the future and you can do all these amazing things— " she starts to shout, invading his space all the more, "It doesn't mean you're the boss of everyone." The blonde gives him a look that's a touch more calculating and, slowly, she shakes her head disbelievingly. Her voice tones down, but it's just as persistent. "I want to just be with my family, at least with Micah, and Cam, but, until this thing with Pinehearst is over … I'm in it, Peter. I'm stuck in it. And I'm not gonna let you deal with it alone. 'Cause you're not alone."

"I am alone, Niki," Peter suddenly snaps back, that wall breaking further with her words, mostly because they batter through the toughest parts of them in a way he can't really fight against. These are the same words he tried to tell everyone else, exactly what he wants her to say to him, but at the same time… "Do you have any idea how… tired I am? How much I just wish all of this would end?" The longer they argue, the further away from what they started arguing about it gets. But maybe it's not. "I can't keep doing this. I just wish it would stop." There's a moment. "And I'm not going to drag you down with me, Niki. Go home to your son." Luckily the words aren't actually an order she has to follow… But they could be.

Niki wants to say a lot all at once. Like how everything Peter is saying is all the more reason for him not to be alone, or how it goes against what they told each other in the beginning— well, her beginning. She can even think of things to say that don't involve shouting — things that might actually help.

But she shoves them all down and, either on the verge of exploding in anger or tears or both, turns and stalks straight for the door of the apartment. The clean shirt is tossed on a chair as she goes. The door rattles in its frame as she grabs the handle to open it, but she turns around before she does. The march was short, but it provided time and space enough to simmer down. "I doesn't have to— " she cuts herself off, glances away with difficulty, looks back to Future Peter and takes a different turn. "Am I going to see you again?"

When she turns around, she won't catch the flash of pain that crosses his scarred face. She can't possibly know that this happened to him before. That he sent someone he loved walking right out that door because he said the exact opposite of what he actually wanted. Peter knows, deep down, that he shouldn't stop it, should allow it to happen again even if it breaks him. She deserves someone who should exist, and he shouldn't. But the the boiling emotions under the surface tell him to do something else entirely.

He should let her go. Everything he's said in the last few minutes practically opened the door for her and shoved her out. But when she stops to ask if she's going to see him again, he's moving toward her, pushing the door closed with one hand, and the other hand goes for her hair, pulling her closer. It lacks the tenderness, and has something much more harsh in it, as if he's still angry with her, or maybe angry with himself. But there's a give away in the form of moisture in his eyes. Moisture he's trying his best to hide.

He should let her go. And odds are he will. In a moment.

Okay, so that— that's not an answer. At least not a cut-and-dry one. Niki's hand is caught on the doorknob, having been ready to leave — now it twists, arm trailing behind her as she's drawn close to Peter. The other grabs onto his shoulder. It's not exactly an affectionate gesture; it could shove him back any second, by the look and feel of it. "You do what you have to," she says, her voice just a low undercurrent of its normal sound, looking straight into his eyes, unwavering save for a matching moisture. "But so will I."

They'll both do what is necessary. What they have to do. And Peter knows that, if he allows her to, she'll probably follow him right into the fire that he almost wishes would finally consume him. "I do need you," Peter says in a harsh whisper, words not matching the tone of voice in the slightest. It should be so much softer, but it's back to a level of hardness that he accents by a second kiss, eyes closing shut, moisture threatening to fall completely, and beginning to spread. He needs her. It's something so simple. But he starts to let go of her all the same. "Good bye, Niki." While he's letting go, it doesn't mean she'll comply, with her own grabs.

Pressing her lips hard together afterward, there's a moment where, by the subtle shake of her head, the increasingly distraught look in her eye, Niki might just refute that last simple statement. Goodbye. A surge of anger at this whole scenario, all of it, that it's happening at all, inspires something else: another kiss, sudden and stronger on the blonde's part than before. Emotions are funny like that. Her hold on Peter's shoulder only clamps down harder and brings him closer. Forceful, heated, with a certain amount of resentment in-between— and a little desperate, too. Over and over, and over— until Niki draws away, lets go, and the door opens a crack just behind her, urged on by a twist of her hand at the small off her back. She reaches up and touches Peter's scarred face along his cheek, a contrarily tender gesture. Time to go.

Time to let her go, though the kiss after his words might have made that a little bit more difficult than he'd hoped. There's a short moment when she touches his cheek that his eyes close, and Peter looks as if he's feeling the exact opposite to what he should with that moment. Pain. A grimace as if she'd decided to punch him instead and touch his face. With her having released him, he takes a step back and fades quickly out of sight. The transition gives clues that he didn't teleport. No closing of eyes. No sudden frame-cut where he's just not there. A transition from feet to head, where he faded out of sight. Will she see him again? He'll probably see her quite a few times before she ever does.

Niki knows even current day Peter to know what that fading out of sight means. She stays standing with the door half-open, perfectly still in what looks like a completely empty apartment — just her and the many books and knickknacks. Then, she steps into the boots she left at the door, turns her back to the apartment, pauses and turns her head, opening her mouth to say something — but it goes totally unsaid, whatever it was, because she stops before looking over her shoulder all the way and stays quiet as a mouse. And then she's gone with the shutting of the door, just footsteps running down the hall.

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