In Equal Parts


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Scene Title In Equal Parts
Synopsis Old wounds reopened by Rebel's gathering in Central Park leave Niki Sanders bleeding both figuratively and literally, and Peter Petrelli has to tap into his decaying bedside manner.
Date September 27, 2010

Hamilton Heights Apartments - Sanders' Home

Late is the hour in which Peter Petrelli drinks.

Seated on the sofa in the dark, eyes unfocused and reflecting the glow of the television, it may be considered rude that Peter invited himself in to Niki Sanders' apartment before he's officially a tenant, even more so that he's helped himself to her beer, further compounded by the fact that she's not even home. The ticking clock on the wall indicates an hour and a half past curfew, and Peter's slouched posture says it might as well be five in the morning for how he feels.

With a beer can cradled between both hands and empty, Peter presses his thumb to the side of the can in alternating motions, clicking the aluminum in and out as he finds himself lost in thought. Coming here after curfew seemed like the best way to meet up with Niki and discuss moving in, get his head away from the vile and unfortunate business he's going to be orchestrating in the near future.

Three beers into the night and not feeling a whit of it thanks to Claire Bennet's regenerative gift, Peter lingers here for reasons he can't quite answer himself. The only places he has to return to at the moment is the awkward confines of Abigail's apartment or the isolation of his own unfurnished apartment that has too many ghosts of the past lingering in it.

He's hoping this apartment won't stay empty all night, and that if it does have ghosts that they're someone else's for once.

Employing a method she picked up from Monica Dawson, Niki's prying open the living room window behind Peter and climbing into the apartment from the fire escape. She doesn't seem startled to find him sitting inside. Perhaps the glow of the television alerted her before she even got in. "Hey," she murmurs quietly as she's pushing down on the frame to shut the window behind her. "You getting settled in all right?" She also doesn't seem ruffled that he's already making himself at home. There's just certain things the woman expects from a Petrelli.

She makes her way into the kitchen, which is really only separate from the living area in the way that carpet gives way to tile flooring stretching out from the countertops and appliances that line the wall. The corner of the space has a small square table nestled there, an extra chair added to it to accommodate her new roommate - as if they'll ever actually manage to take a meal together or actually bother to eat at the table instead of seated on the couch with take-out - and a full length mirror on the wall. In one pane, Niki's reflection makes a motion with her hand toward her mouth. The universal symbol for somebody's been drinking our beer - and there he is! Gina is not amused. In the spread opposite, Jessica is shaking her head with a reproachful look. "I told you bringing him here is a bad idea," she says for Niki's benefit. Her voice doesn't reach Peter's ears.

"We're not negotiating this," Niki mutters back. "I made my decision. You can live with it for once." A glass is retrieved from one cupboard, and a bottle of Captain Morgan from another. "You want another beer?" she asks Peter, glancing over her shoulder as she reaches into the freezer to procure a tray of ice. "Something harder?"

Peter's expression is admittedly a little surprised and a little awkward, Niki's arrival from the fire escape may have put him a little on edge, evidenced by the smoke rising up from one hand that looks foggy and insubstantial. As Peter solidifies, exhaling a sigh in the process, he slouches back down against the cushions of the sofa and holds up the empty can he's been impulsively denting with his thumb. "I had a few before I got here, I don't… think I can get drunk, or if I can I haven't found the limits yet. Sorry for, ah, helping myself. I'll call it repayment for the Guinness I gave you the other day."

There is of course the matter of Peter's unlawful entry, to which he offers a grimace and sets down the can on the sofa between his legs. "Ah, sorry for…" he waves his hand around, smiling crookedly. "I didn't know where else to go, and I figured you might already be home." There's an unspoken question of where were you, but it remains just that— unspoken.

"You alright?" It's something of a pointed question to ask Niki Sanders, "I mean, all things considered. Most people don't crawl in from their fire-escape at eleven-something at night."

If Niki's at all bothered by Peter's unannounced presence, she doesn't say anything. "It's fine. What's mine is yours for as long as you want to stay here," she assures him. There's the loud crackling sound of ice separating from plastic as the blonde perhaps twists the tray a little bit harder than she intended to. All the same, she's plunking cubes into her glass and replacing the tray in the freezer before she fills the lowball with spiced rum.

"All things considered? No, probably not." Niki brings both her glass and the bottle out to the living room, setting the latter on the coffee table before taking a seat on the couch next to Peter. "I saw Rebel tonight. I… didn't know there was a Rebel to see."

Peter goes quiet, his expression turns distant, and all the while that Niki is getting herself situated there's just a thousand-yard stare. Rebel, but more importantly Micah, is something of a sore spot, something of a chink in the emotional armor Peter has been building up all these years since the bomb. Closing his eyes and dipping his head into a slow nod, Peter rubs the heel of his palm against his forehead.

"Yeah," Peter breathily states, looking up to Niki as his hand falls away from his face, "yeah it— it's someone else's body. I don't… really know how it works, but it's one of the three people that he is now. He was a technopath working for the Chinese government, I don't know much more than that. I guess that… I don't know, he's a proxy or something now."

Looking down to the coffee table, Peter's brows furrow. "Rebel doesn't really… understand how jarring it is. He's— he's changed, I mean… from who he was. More than just the obvious ways."

"Working for the Chinese government," Niki repeats flatly. "That makes a lot of sense." In a fucked up sort of way. She lets silence carry between them, save for the quiet drone of the television and the way the ice clinks in her glass when she tips it against her lips to swallow a mouthful of liquor.

She reaches out for the remote for a moment, but stops, letting the TV carry on and cut the edge off the gaps. Instead, Niki fixes a serious look on Peter. "But he's still in there, isn't he? A part of him is still in there, just…" Brows knit at the way she seems unable to find the words. "People grow and change. It's… He can't go through when he's gone through and not change, right? But he's still there."


Niki desperately needs to believe her son is still alive in some fashion, that much is obvious. She needs to believe that there's some way that he can extricate himself from Rebel and be Micah again.

"I dunno…" is proof that Peter's bedside manner has decayed over the last few years. "I just… I dunno," there's a slow shake of Peter's head as his eyes fall shut. "I didn't know… I didn't know Micah that well, and I knew him even less as Rajas. But now, it's… I'm not really sure where one of them ends and another begins, or if you can even say it like that." When Peter's brown eyes lift up from the floor to Niki, Peter slouches forward, empty beer can in hand, and rests his forearms over his knees.

"I'm sorry," Peter's whispered words carry more weight than they should for just his inability to figure out the technopathic trinity's particulars, it carries the weight of guilt for being the one that turned her son into a thing more so than a person. If he hadn't exploded, if Micah hadn't died from his injuries, if things had been different, maybe the world would have been a better place. Maybe Niki would still have her son.

"Um," Peter's voice cracks as he closes his eyes and sets down his beer can shakily on the coffee table. "I'm— sorry this isn't— I shouldn't have brought up the topic." He didn't, but he's backpedaling for any excuse he can now.

For all that she's dying inside, Niki feels the need to reach out and reassure Peter, and comfort him rather than the other way around. "Hey. No. It's not your fault." She rests a hand on the man's shoulder and squeezes gently. "Don't beat yourself up. This is just… something I have to come to terms with on my own. I shouldn't have dragged you into it." She sets her glass aside and stands up from the couch so she can pace. "I've had a rough night. Seeing Micah again—"

Niki's head snaps up to stare at the mirror. From Peter's perspective, Niki's reflection just stares back at her. But from the way her limbs begin to tremble, muscles coiling tightly like her fists, there's something else going on behind that surface. Her shoulders come back and she turns away from Peter to… Well, address herself.

"Don't you dare," she warns. In the mirror, Peter can see the way Niki's eyes track along like she's watching something moving there that he can't see. "No. You're wrong!" she counters, stalking toward the kitchen again. "Stop it!"

Tears well up in her grey-blue eyes, wild and desperate for whatever Jessica must be staying to her to stop. The moments that pass are tense, charged tangibly in a way that makes the air thick and electric. "I was too-" Long fingers curl around the edge of the table as Niki leans forward to stare herself in the face. It's flung aside after only a moment.

"You left him to die!" she shrieks as the table goes crashing across the tile. Her fists go flying and Niki actually attacks her reflection, shattering the looking glass. It comes cascading down in a glittering sheet, reflecting light and image, making the space seem suddenly smaller in its absence.

Horror is writ across Peter Petrelli's face as much as awkward tension stills him. Frozen in place on the sofa at the sight of Niki Sanders' complete and utter breakdown, there's an immediate reaction to run that bubbles to the surface, run and leave her to her own devices and don't look back.

Guilt is a far more powerful motivator than fear to Peter Petrelli, however, more so than any other emotion there is. That he rises with a hushed murmur of her name, "Niki," is only because at the moment he feels himself largely invulnerable thanks to the combination of Ling Chao's smoke form and Claire Bennet's regeneration, borrowed to protect him.

Unfortunately, as Peter slowly rises from the couch and calls out that name, there is less and less certainty that he is even speaking to Niki Sanders any longer.

"Niki's not here right now," the woman growls in a low voice without turning to look at Peter. She stares down at her hands, blood running rivulets between her knuckles. Callously, she pulls a shard from between the third and fourth fingers and tosses it aside carelessly.

Then something seems to catch her attention from the corner of her eye. Jessica whirls to face the second mirror with wide eyes and staggers backward until she slides on a piece of broken mirror and tumbles to the floor.

The woman just lays there for a long moment. She's still obviously conscious, palms and denim clad knees braced against the floor in preparation to push herself upward, but she doesn't. Not right away. When she starts crying, it becomes obvious again that Niki's back in control. "I let her take control," she whimpers. "She left them there and saved herself." She's talking about Midtown, but she doesn't offer the context. A realisation comes in a whisper.

"I left them there to die."

"It's…" Peter's voice catches in his throat as he creeps off of the sofa and moves to stand beside where Niki crouches, bending down to kneel by her side, a hand coming to rest on her shoulder. "It's not your fault," Peter says in a hushed tone of voice, looking away to the broken pieces of the mirror, shattered fragments of his own visage visible within. In a time not long enough ago, he too was fractured; pieces of a man that was once whole, divided into schism. There's sympathy, in being the Jessica of his division. Guilt in being the one who lived.

They're really not all that different, in that regard.

"It's Sylar's fault," except that Niki is being truthful, where as Peter is hiding his shame. "it's the Company's fault. It's… it's not yours. The bomb is to blame, Niki." Hesitantly, in the way one might comfort a wounded animal, Peter slides his arm around Niki's shoulders. "It's not your fault."

Slowly, Niki pulls herself up to sit on her knees and curls in toward Peter. One hand slides around his back to curl fingers against his shirt, other coming to do the same at his waist. Her lips are parted, jaw tight enough that she can't quite close her mouth. Heavy, wet gasps of air are sucked in as tears stream down her cheeks.

The side of Niki's face presses against Peter's chest. Her hair has started to fall from its high ponytail, leaving cornsilk strands messy. Words are too difficult for now, but proximity and contact only help. Silence and shared agony, even if the guilt they share is for different reasons.

A quiet hiccup plays as a prelude to the regathering of Niki's composure. "I'm sorry you had to see that," she murmurs, the shaking of her limbs eventually beginning to lessen. Even so, she isn't quite ready to relinquish her hold on Peter. And she can't bring her eyes to open where she may see a her that isn't her in the broken mirror. "I'm sorry."

"Hey, hey," Peter offers in a whisper as his arm folds around Niki's shoulders, pulling her close as he settles to sit down on the floor, lifting up a hand to rest at the side of her head, fingers raking through her hair to lightly scrape his nails across her scalp. "Hey, shh… I promise not to tell too many people," is a smirking attempt at trying to get Niki to laugh, to draw her out of the guilt that he understands so well, the guilt of failing people you care for.

If he hadn't exploded, his brother wouldn't have had to become a monster. If he hadn't exploded, the Evolved wouldn't be hunted. If he hadn't exploded, everything would be better.

It's a nice thought, anyway.

"Easy… easy," Peter whispers, running his hand over Niki's hair, keeping his other arm around her shoulders, holding her close, reassuringly. Maybe his bedside manner has disintegrated over the last few years, maybe the wrong Peter survived their schism. Maybe there's always another chance for someone to find who they used to be.

Maybe there's always hope.

Niki does manage a chuckle when Peter promises not to tell too many people that she's just as crazy as they all suspect she is. Her head lifts finally and studies Peter's face for signs of his sincerity. That things are okay, and she didn't just… give him a great excuse to walk on out. The tears have stopped, but her face is wet from where they cut streams down her cheeks. His shirt is a little damp from where she was pressed to him, too.

There's something to be said of kindred spirits. Sometimes, Niki wishes she could split herself in two, the way Peter had done. Let Jessica live her own life and stop fucking up Niki's. It would be easier to war with herself that way, at the very least. Maybe the whole conflict would come to a head the way it did for Peter. So maybe he truly does understand what she's going through.

Grey-blue eyes fall shut again as Niki leans forward to press her parted lips to Peter's. The kiss is brief, but almost insistent in nature. It seems to linger longer than it actually lasts. A single second stretched to feel closer to a dozen of them.

When it's over, her forehead rests against his, and her lips tremble, breath washing over him with its ragged draw and exhalation. "I'm sorry," she murmurs almost numbly. "I don't know what came over me. Must be… stress." But she doesn't pull back. Doesn't let go. Doesn't open her eyes.

Stress won't explain why Peter is like a limp fish against the show of affection, helpless and lifeless all at the same time. His smile is an awkward one, apologetic and anxious all in one. "Come on," Peter offers quietly, putting a hand to Niki's cheek and gently turning her head aside with a stroke of one thumb beneath her eye, wiping tears there away. "You're going to go lie down, get yourself some sleep and…" Peter's brows furrow as he looks back to the broken shards of glass everywhere.

"I'm— going to make sure no one cuts their feet up in the morning." There's a faint smile afforded by Peter at that as he brushes back an errant lock of blonde hair from Niki's face. "Lemme help you up into bed…" Peter's hesitance is a carefully crafted one, after so many disastrous relationships because of his own broken nature, playing it safe with Niki Sanders is likely the right idea. With emotions running high right now as well, the last thing he needs is a regretful moment between the two of them, when he is trying to console her, and she is looking for acceptance.

He's the wrong person to give it right now.

Her head is nodded quickly, and though she doesn't need it, she accepts the help Peter offers in pulling her to her feet. "I'm sorry," she says again, finally letting her eyes open so she can actually watch where she's going. She can't meet his eyes right now. There's just too much embarrassment. "I am… totally willing to pretend that didn't happen if you are."

Niki offers a quick, shaky smile, stepping back and wiping at her tears with her thumb. Only after she's dropping her hand to her side again does she realise she's just left blood smeared across her face. And she's left it staining his shirt, too. "Oh shit. God, I'm sorry." She winces and steps over to the sink, nudging the handle with her elbow to turn on the water. "You should run some cold water in the tub and soak your shirt, so the blood doesn't set." Though she suspects he knows that by now. "I'll throw it in with my laundry in the morning."

A wince and a hiss accompanies the sting from running her hands under the water and washing the cuts and nicks with antibacterial soap. "I am so sorry." She can't say it enough. "You take the bed," she insists. "I'll get this cleaned up and sleep on the couch. It's my mess. I'll handle it." Niki looks back over her shoulder with an expression that's almost exceptionally motherly. Like the kind of look Micah may have received as attempts to negotiate his bedtime were shot down. "I'll sleep better out here with the television on anyway."

"I don't sleep," is Peter's evident rebuttal, "so really… don't worry about it." He lets their romantic faux-pas pass, a hand on her shoulder and one at the small of her back. Both brows rise as a crooked smile comes across his lips. "Look, it's your apartment, and you need the rest. Trust me, this isn't a big deal. It isn't the first broken glass I've cleaned up…" he admits with a snorted laugh, lifting up a hand to brush knuckles over Niki's cheek.

"…and this certainly isn't the first blood I've had on my clothes." Though meant jokingly, Peter delivers those words with a serious tone of voice. Nudging Niki towards the door, Peter smirks crookedly again. "Go on, get yourself cleaned up…" he says in reference to the bleeding cut, "and I'll take a look at it in the morning. Wouldn't be much of a nurse if I couldn't take care of a few bumps and scratches, yeah?"

"You don't?" That draws an arch of one of Niki's brows before she turns back to the sink. She turns off the faucet and wipes her hands on a dish towel hanging off a cupboard handle and turns around to face her roommate again. "There's no arguing with you, is there?"

Something in Niki's expression softens as she takes in Peter's crooked smile. Her mouth moves to begin to form words, maybe you from the way her lips push forward in something like a pout, but instead they form a smile as she shakes her head. Her chin tips forward, a strand of blonde coming down to fall across her face as she does. "Thank you," she says sheepishly, but genuine. "Don't hesitate to come give me a nudge if you need anything, okay? And feel free to move your things in whenever you like."

Niki reaches into a drawer of silverware, lifting the tray up just enough to slide something out and palm it. After nudging the drawer shut again with her hip, she reaches for Peter's hand. It's a key.

"Welcome home, Peter."

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