Pieces of You



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Also Featuring:

aric_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif monica_icon.gif niklaus_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Pieces of You
Synopsis Niki ruminates on her latest outbursts and tries to answer some tough questions.
Date October 9, 2010

Hamilton Heights Apartments - Sanders' Home

She's an ugly girl, does that make you want to kill her?

"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—"

"Micah's gone, Niki." Jessica stands in the mirror, arms folded and watching Niki with a challenging gleam to her eye.

Niki's head snaps up to stare at the mirror. From Peter's perspective, Niki's reflection just stares back at her. But he can tell 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.

Jessica's posture shifts – to something more threatening. "You're letting your feelings get in the way." Sometimes, Jessica isn't just a protector, she's also a predator. And Niki's her prey. Wide-eyed and hapless. "Our son died the moment he became a part of Rebel."

"No. You're wrong!" Niki counters, stalking toward the kitchen again. "Stop it!"

Tears well up in her grey-blue eyes, wild and desperate for whatever Jessica must be saying to her to stop. The moments that pass are tense, charged tangibly in a way that makes the air thick and electric.

"You were too weak to save him. To save D.L. You were too weak to do what needed to be done to keep them safe from the start. If you had just let me take care of things in the first place, you wouldn't be in this situation. Dancing on strings for Richard Cardinal. Watching Daniel Linderman grow fat on the agony he's caused you." Jessica tosses her wavy blonde hair over her shoulder – not pulled back into the neat ponytail that Niki's is – with a quick jerk of her head. "You were too weak then, and you're too weak now to accept that our son is dead and move on."

"I was too-" Long fingers curl around the edge of the table as Niki leans forward to stare herself in the face. There's an edge of incredulity to her tone. The table's flung aside after only a moment.

She's an ugly girl, do you want to kick in her face?

"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.

For Niki, it's almost a topsy turvy lurching sensation, the way her world shifts and flips backward. It's awkward staring up from the floor, from so many fragments of glass, watching Jessica survey the damage Niki's outburst has done to her knuckles. "No!" she cries, slapping palms against the invisible barrier between herself and the real world.

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.

She's an ugly girl, she doesn't pose a threat.

"Over here," the largely forgotten of Niki's personalities urges. Gina with her tightly tied back hair and her wide-eyed shock is beckoning for Niki to trade places with her. Jessica doesn't notice the shift. The way that there's suddenly anger in that second, intact mirror, and a cocksure smirk from the shards on the floor.

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," Jessica 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.

She's an ugly girl, does she make you feel safe?

Then something seems to catch her attention from the corner of her eye. Niki lets out a scream that can only be described as one of primal rage, as she comes rushing toward her double, her sister, her protector, from the back of the mirrored kitchen. Jessica whirls to face the second mirror with wide eyes and staggers backward, bracing instinctively for the impact that really isn't logically possible 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.

Ugly girl, ugly girl, do you hate her 'cause she's pieces of you?

"I left them there to die."

She's a pretty girl, does she make you think nasty thoughts?

"History is putting it mildly. This is the guy that tied up my grandmother and my little brother and set fire to the building." She was there, too, of course, but that's part's not what's bothering her so much. "It ain't history, Rich. I'm not done with him yet. Or his thugs." And this time it's Monica who isn't going to budge on the plans.

Aric brings a hand to his head and lets out a gasp of pain. Aric says softly, "Monica…please. I don't know who D.L. is, but you're shouting it. If you lose focus it will get the better of you. Trust me I know." He looks in the woman's direction, "Cardinal will do right by you. I am sure of it."

Niki's head swivels sharply back to Monica, her eyes wide. "He did that to Nana? And Damon?" As if that revelation weren't bad enough, Aric is bringing up her dead husband's name. Her eyes flit to the telepath, then to her cousin, back to Aric, and this process is repeated several more times before she finally stands up and shoves her chair aside a little too roughly. Sometimes she just doesn't know her own strength.

Niki jostles Niklaus some as she whirls past him and goes stalking away from the table. The effect would be ruined by her attire if she didn't just have this way about her when she's seething. Her pace falters momentarily as she catches sight of her own reflection muted in the bulletproof glass that shields the firing range from the rest of the basement.

She's a pretty girl, do you want to tie her down?

Nobody else sees the way that Jessica crooks her finger to Niki with a smirk. Nobody can perceive the way the world shifts as the two personalities trade places and Niki is left on the other side of the glass, so to speak, with her palms pressed against it, watching Jessica's next move.

"D.L. is dead, Monica." Jessica's jaw is set tense, her eyes narrowed to dangerous slits as she wheels on the gathered group again. The sound of Niki pounding against the glass catches her attention, but she only glances that way out of the corner of her eye briefly.

"Leave her alone!" Niki calls out to Jessica, realising just too late the depth of her alter ego's anger over having information kept from her. Especially information this vital. It was all too temping, too comforting to take a back seat to her own life and let Jessica handle things. To just shut down and hide away. It was a mistake.

When her cousin's name is spoken out loud… oh the look Monica gives Aric. It's angry, it's betrayed and above all… it's oh so very guilty. But she doesn't say anything, she just closes her eyes tight for a moment, her hands gripping her chair until her knuckles turn white. It doesn't seem to be calming her.

So when Jessica addresses her, she turns her head to look at the other woman. She's not crying, so that's a plus, and she is looking her direct in the eye. "He's not dead. He's with d'Sarthe. I saw him in N'awlins. He saved my life. Nana and Damon's, too. I didn't get to ask him if he knew about you, we all had to split. I wanted to find out what was going on before coming to Niki about it." Yeah, she knows Niki's not the one giving her that look. She also leaves out the fact that Liz was in the know, but otherwise, Aric can tell she's telling the truth. or, at least, believes what she's saying.

Aric suddenly stops and looks at Niki. He cocks his head to the side as his eyes go wide and he is suddenly up on his feet. He takes a step back from the woman as he grabs his chair, looking between Cardinal and Jessica and Monica and back to Cardinal. He whispers softly, "Fuck… that… ummm you wanna tell me what the fuck just happened? That is not her."

Oh, hell. Cardinal's attention snaps away from Colette as Niki's chair clatters to one side and she stalks away, listening to the revelations made between the cousins… and he brings one hand up, fingers rubbing against his face as he closes his eyes for a moment to offer up a prayer to keep the basement and every in it intact.

She's a pretty girl, do you call her a bitch?

"She's disassociative, Aric," he murmurs in very low tones, "That's the protector personality, Jessica. And — just for the record — blurting out someone's thoughts? Real stupid move. Remind me to smack you for it later.

"Actually." Richard's hand lifts to scuff the telepath on the back of the head, "I'll just do it now."

Aric jumps and caught his thoughts too late as he is smacked in the back of the head by Richard. He brings a hand to his head and rubs it and growls, "A deaf person could have heard her thoughts. It was bloody painful…" Aric looks annoyed at Richard and gives a double meaning to his name perhaps as he emphasizes his name, "Dick." Aric storms off into the corner and sits down on a chair and says, "I will just sit here in silence from this point." He closes his eyes and begins to do his best to bring his blocks back up to filter out everyone's thoughts a bit better while keeping an ear on the meeting.

"Anschlag," is roughly stated over Jessica's shoulder, followed by the brazen touch of a hand on her shoulder as Niklaus squeezes firmly. She needn't know what the German is actually saying to understand the tone of his voice or the imploring look in his tired eyes behind those round-lensed glasses. "Pick your battles," is in more proper English, even if heavily accented as his fingers squeeze her shoulders again, brows creased and the wrinkles of age on his face making him look more weary than he truly is.

"You knew he lived!" Jessica hisses furiously. She begins to stalk toward Niki's cousin, positively livid with her. The supposed deaths of Micah and D.L. have been a point of contention between the two personalities, and this reveal is… ill-timed at best. The hand on her shoulder stops her, however.

She's a pretty girl, did she sleep with your whole town?

"Okay, stop!" Niki growls as Jessica's hackles raise when the German dares to touch her. Dares to tell Jessica to stop. It's enough to bring Niki back into control when Jessica turns with a fist raised as if to attack.

A fist that loosens and drops to her side when her gaze settles, and softens on Niklaus' face. Niki all but crumples against her half-brother, hooking her arms under his to curl her fingers around his shoulders. "I'm fine now," she says quietly, her cheek pressed into the magnetic manipulator's shoulder. Her breath comes in quick gasps, betraying the tight grip her emotions have on her throat.

In her mind, she can hear Jessica pounding on the glass. And the telepath can hear her hurling insults, calling her weak. Though they originate from Niki's own mind, rather than some indeterminate space behind her. But if she's so weak, then how come she's in control now?

Pretty girl, pretty girl, do you hate her 'cause she's pieces of you?

Niki opens her eyes. They're bloodshot, the skin around them red and puffy from crying. She'd fallen asleep soaking in the bathtub. Peter must be wondering by now if she died or something. If Peter's even home. He could have breezed out for all she knows. He has a habit of simply coming and going as he pleases like that. Not that he truly owes it to her to be candid about his whereabouts. He doesn't.

But it'd be nice to know when he's going to be around sometimes. Or when, or if she should expect him home. Given the current state of Messiah, and the government actively seeking him out, it'd be nice to know when she should worry about sending out the search party.

She reasons it'd likely be a search party of one with the way he makes friends. Or doesn't.

A tumbler is lifted in one hand, only half-full now of tequila, ice, orange juice and grenadine. Judging by the size of the cubes floating and clinking against the sides of the glass, she didn't sleep for long. She brings it to her lips for a sip and sinks down into the water with her hand held up above the surface, even as her head submerges and she stares through the distorted view of warm, clear water.

Could she stay down there until the instinct to breathe grew so that she would inhale a lungful of water, and maybe even another? Or would Jessica intervene?

She's already fucked up Niki's life at every opportunity thus far. She'd probably fuck up her attempts to escape it, too.

And so when the need to breathe becomes almost overwhelming and her lungs burn, she sits up again. A deep breath steadies her. She refuses to look back down into the water, afraid of what she'll see in her reflection.

Of course, it doesn't stop the girl in the medicine cabinet mirror that she can't see from speaking up anyway.

"I'm sure he thought we were dead, too," Gina reasons. Niki knows what she's talking about, naturally. Maybe it's because they share a mind, or maybe it's just that intuitive to know that her thoughts are on her husband.

"Maybe," is all Niki manages in reply at first. She nurses the glass in her fingers, taking two or three more sips as she tries to think.

Gina is more than happy to fill the silence. "It's the only explanation. He wouldn't have abandoned us. He loves you."

"You sure about that?" Niki asks sardonically, her lips quirking upward in a rueful twitch. "Loved is probably more accurate. I don't think he can love me after…"

"After Jessica pulled a Jessica and saved us?" Though it goes unseen, Niki knows Gina's shaking her head in the mirror. "He's done bad things to us in the name of survival, too. And you didn't stop loving him, did you?" She pauses a beat.

"And you still love him now, don't you?"

That is the $64,000 Question, isn't it?

Niki polishes off the sunrise. The combination of tequila and citric acid burns uncomfortably going down. It feels appropriate. "I'm not sure I do," she admits in a low voice. "I've gotten so used to the idea that he's gone that I don't think I could go back to living with him. I don't think I can be D.L.'s wife anymore."

The answer seems to surprise Gina, even if she should know these things by sharing space in the woman's mind. Then again, she's the least observant of the personalities. The most self-absorbed. A whole different kind of defence mechanism from what Jessica represents.

"What about Peter, then?" She would ask that, wouldn't she?

"What about Peter?" Niki's dodging is less than artful.

And Gina doesn't let her get away with it. "You kissed him, you know. And it wasn't like when I kiss someone. You weren't that drunk. You knew what you were-"

"People do stupid things when they're emotional like that, Gina." It's an excuse. "I don't know what that was," is more honest. "A mistake. Probably."

"He's cute. And he's not fragile," Gina feels the need to point out. "We maybe wouldn't wake up in strange beds if you convinced him to-"

The tumbler is placed on the edge of the ceramic tile with an audible thunk! before water is noisily displaced when Niki sinks beneath the surface again to attempt to drown out Gina's insinuations. The tactic doesn't work nearly as well as she would like, considering the sound of Gina's voice originates from within the recesses of her own mind, rather than the confines of the bathroom mirror.

She glares daggers up through the water, at a crack in the ceiling. When she comes back up for air again, it isn't Gina who addresses her.

It's the harder edge of Jessica's voice that gives her away. The low growl she can mould into a purr when the situation calls for it. "It's a bad idea, letting him stay here with us. It's only a matter of time before HomeSec finds him. Or the Institute."

"I know." Niki's sigh is full of resignation. She drags a hand across her face to clear water from her lashes. "But he needs someone right now. Someone outside of the insanity with Messiah." Long fingers fish out a cube of ice from the empty glass and she brings it to her lips, sucking the last lingering tastes of her cocktail from it. "Besides, he makes a powerful ally. Aren't you all about the connections?"

"That isn't really why you let him stay here," Jessica mutters. "You won't exploit him for his ability." She would. "And it's not like he reminds either of us of his brother, if you were stupid enough to-"

"Shut up," Niki demands. The woman in the unseen mirror falls silent, but Niki can still feel Jessica's dark amusement even without the benefit of the expression that goes with it. "You let me worry about Peter." That sentence has more than one connotation. It's likely meant to suggest them all. "We need to focus on Linderman. The sooner he's dealt with, the sooner we can move on to d'Sarthe."

The plan surprises Jessica. But it makes sense. She, and now Niki, are in the revenge business. And the panic that had begun to grip at Niki over what would she do once Linderman's no longer a problem has conveniently been answered with go after d'Sarthe. Jessica's even almost proud of her. "Deal. But if he," Peter, "is still an issue once we've finished with Linderman, I want him gone."

"When you're a real, whole person, instead of a splinter of my personality," Niki counters, "Then you'll get to make the rules and call the shots."

It's quiet for a long moment after that. Niki almost wonders if she should get out of the tub to check to see if Jessica is pouting on the other side of the mirror.

"I haven't seen her that mad in a long time," Gina supplies helpfully, but without cheer. "Do you really want to integrate, though, Niki? Jessica and I are pieces of you, sure, but… We've been separate pieces of you almost your whole life. Would you really know what to do without us?"

With a sour expression, Niki leans forward to pull the plug that allows tub to drain. She rises out of the water with her blonde hair clinging to her face and shoulders, yanking a crimson towel off the bar on the back wall of the tub and wrapping it around her body before she steps out onto the bathmat.

Would she know how to manage without Jessica and even Gina?

Niki passes into the next room without an answer.

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