sanders2_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Surrender
Synopsis Two soldiers finally believe they've had enough of this war.
Date January 7, 2011

Speakeasy Hotel and Casino - Lorine Hawk's Room

There is character to the room, if in the way that 'character' carries negative connotations. The paint is peeling off the skilful wooden moulding, the carpet is faded and the bedding looks old and tired. The painting hung behind the bed is so old as to be retro and the bathroom sports a clawfoot tub and a pedestal sink. Both leak and have hard water stains. The whole place carries a faintly musty smell, though it's clear the staff have attempted to keep it at least somewhat clean. The sheets are stain-free and the bathroom is always stocked with little bottles of toiletries. The windows are thin and let in a fair amount of traffic noise. The one good thing is that the old radiator keeps the room toasty warm in winter.

The small room of the Speakeasy smells almost obnoxiously of hair dye. A box of the stuff has been discarded, as well as the contents. Dark speckles litter the floor and the wall of the bathroom where they were neglected to wipe away.

The water in the tub, however, shows no signs of it. Just fluffy pink bubbles that obscure the freshly re-dyed brunette's form. Lorine Hawk, so says her ID, is curled up in the warm water with her knees peeking up over the surface, evidenced only by a mountain of bubbles. Her eyes are closed, a rag resting over them. Her hair is still wet, dripping onto the floor, only a little darker tint to the pooled droplets to suggest the dye wasn't entirely thoroughly rinsed.

From the main room, the radio plays music softly. The Eagles tell a tale of a place to rest along a dark desert highway. The woman in the tub hums along softly, no real effort put into keeping up with the melody.

He's been knocking for five minutes now, hopelessly, on that hotel room door. Finally, in the pause immediately following the observation that we haven't had that spirit here since, 1969 the sound of a man's voice calling out, "it's Peter, open up," seems just out of place enough to merit some function of cognitive energy from the woman who is — as of late — burdened with a microwave-ready pair of hands. Fortunately, the man on the other side of the door doesn't have a pace-maker.

Also fortunately, she can re-heat her own bath-water.

Outside of that cramped hotel room, Peter Petrelli's appearance is more worn and weary than even the gambling addicts haunting the floor below appear to be. He's worn thin, much like his dark clothing, though clean shaved. With his hair slicked back as it is, Peter's face takes on a narrower quality, making him look both younger and thinner than he really is, from those high cheekbones and knife-like features.

"C'mon open up," Peter announces at the door, unable or unwilling to make psychic contact over the distance of the room — or perhaps into the divided mind he's looking for.

And still those voices are calling from far away. No, wait. That's Peter. The woman pulls herself up and out of the tub with some amount of haste, grabbing a towel and wrapping it tight around her body before she hurries to the door, heedless of the wet footprints she leaves on the carpet.

The wash cloth is perched on top of her head when she opens the door. "Peter. You look like shit," she observes. "But you appear to be breathing free air, and you don't seem to be dead, so you look better than I thought you would." Truthful. "Get in here."

Glancing over his shoulder, Peter's brows furrow and his cadence becomes rushed as he emerges into the hotel room. His battered denim jacket is torn on one shoulder, a cut is healing across his chin and there's bruising on the side of his neck that resembles patterns consistant with choking. "I put in an off-night at this fight club out in Long Island City…" Dark eyes avert to the rug, and Peter sweeps one hand over the back of his neck slowly.

"I… went to your apartment, saw the note." Peter's brows furrow, creasing that scar between them. "I— was kind of hoping I could find you there, but I guess this isn't— " only then does Peter realize that she's wrapped in a towel, eliciting a crack of a smile that hesitantly spreads across his lips. "Ah… if I came at a bad time…"

Peter glances up and down Niki— Jessica? Probably not Gina. "I can make this short?"

There's a soft bark of laughter and shake of the woman's head. "No, it's fine. Just wait here while I get dressed?" It's a careful crouch she drops into, one fist holding the towel in place as she gathers up a tank top and a pair of shorts from the floor.

"I was just soaking," she explains, a smile overtaking her features just before she turns slaps a hand over the radio to shut it off and then disappears into the bathroom again. She doesn't shut the door, so they don't have to raise their voices. "It's good to see you. I was a little worried about you, I'm not gonna lie. I was going to order a pizza tonight. Would you stay for dinner? I'd like to catch up."

"I'm fine," is a lie stated with hesitancy as Peter's dark eyes follow Niki until she disappears out of sight. "I— actually came by to tell you that I'm leaving." Tucking his hands into the pockets of the jacket he's still yet to shed, Peter steps further into the hotel room, around the foot of the bed and then over to the television that's been turned off. "I'm… leaving New York, maybe the US, I haven't figured that far yet. I'm just— I'm sick of it here, I tried fighting this god-damned war and I just— " Peter's eyes close as one hand moves out of his jacket pocket to pinch fingers at the bridge of his nose.

"I'm tired of fighting." Moving to the corner of the bed, Peter slowly settles down to sit, hands folded in his lap as he regards the bathroom door. "You should too. Get— out of the city, I mean. This place is falling apart, and with the martial law someone's bound to have a dossier or picture of you at a checkpoint. One of these days— you're gonna get caught."

Wringing his hands together on the bed, Peter lets his feet jitter up and down excitedly. "I need t'put some distance between myself and here."

Niki - or whoever she is right now - steps out from the bathroom again with her black tank top and grey shorts still clinging a little wetly to her frame. She's wringing the worst of the moisture from her hair still with a dark towel. She seems surprised by what Peter's telling her. The towel is discarded carelessly on the floor as she approaches the bed and sits down next to him.

Her hand finds his, wringing together as they are, and rests gently over the top of them in an attempt to quiet him. "This isn't like you, to be this restless. Or to… to want to quit." Her other hand is held up immediately, defensively, signalling she has more to say. "You've done more than your fair share, it's true. I'm not going to say you owe anything to anybody, because you don't. Not to anyone but yourself." A look down at where their hands are joined prompts a perhaps unexpected question, "What abilities do you have right now?" Certainly not regeneration. She sees his injuries.

"Amplification," Peter admits with a see-saw motion of one hand, as if to emphasize his on-again off-again level of control with that particular power, as evidenced (or as not evidenced) by the Moab Federal Penitentiary. "Telepathy too, but— it's not on," perhaps that much is consolation to Niki for her privacy, or perhaps Peter's remaining sanity in spite of her mental condition. At a point a telepath is staring into the void in less than allusory ways.

"And…" Peter folds his hands in his lap, expression tense but words lacking too sharp of an edge. "I just… I don't have anything worth staying in New York for. Too many bad memories, too many— " he doesn't say scars, but he does snort appreciatively to the notion. "There's more to run from in thie city than to. I'm just— I know a losing battle when I see one."

Still staring down at his folded hands, Peter asks. "D'you know why I even came back to New York after the bomb?"

"Well, you don't want mine right now. I'm… not in possession of my own ability anymore." Sanders trails off a little at that and purses her lips. "It's a bit of a long story. You first. And if you still want to hear it when we're done talking about you, you can ask me." Her smile is meant to be encouraging.

But a smile can't take away the look of hurt in those grey-blue eyes when Peter says there's nothing to stay in the City for. She doesn't know why that bothers her, but it does. "No," she admits, "I don't know why you came back. I assumed it's because you wanted to help people. Because you're a good person, and helping is what you do."

Peter's silence implies that he isn't going to go any further with his rhetorical question. Whatever care Peter had for sharing his own problems is shoved aside the moment Niki reveals something of her own that is far more worrisome. Standing up off of the bed, Peter's dark brows furrow and his head cants to the side. "What do you mean you don't have your ability any more?" Visibly bristling, Peter has a look about him of a spooked animal.

"Sit down," Peter motions to the bed, stepping aside to give Niki the same corner he'd been perched on prior. "Tell me what happened…" There's three things that he knows of in this world that can change a person's abilities. One of them was his father, one of them is the H5N10 virus, and the last is the phantom of red lightning hailing from a future far beyond here. A man he had heard died on the roof of the Pinehearst building.

The bed shifts under her weight, and the brunette cracks a grin. "At least you won't tell me I'm completely crazy when I try to explain this." A deep breath is all she needs before she begins. "This… stupid fu- kid tried to rob me in the street, so I chased him down." Her body did the chasing, at any rate, regardless of which personality willed it so. "I was going to break his nose for copping a feel, but then…"

Sanders' lips purse. "It's Richard Cardinal, from the future, but then having lived in the past - complicated, I told you - in another body. Tyler Case?" Brows arch like she expects the name to mean something to Peter, given their strange experiences with people from or in the future.

Break a kid's n—

Richard Cardinal from the wh—

Tyler C

"Stop," Peter covers his face with one hand, fingers pinching at the bridge of his nose and eyes falling shut. "Slow— slow down and explain what the hell it is you just said. Because none of that made any sense. Why would— how did Richard— How do you know any of this? Start from the beginning," Peter slowly lowers his hand, opening dark eyes to stare across the divide of the hotel room towards Niki. "The last anyone told me is that Tyler Case died on the roof of the Pinehearst building, or— one of him did. I don't know, there was another Tyler, one that got brought from the future by a man named Edward Ray…" Peter looks askance to the darkened screen of the television near the bed, then back to Niki.

"Tell me everything." Suddenly he's engaged, emotionally and intellectually; invested. "Everything."

"If you're going to have me go through the whole thing," Niki murmurs, "I need a drink." She gets up from the bed and crosses to a mini fridge she obviously brought in herself, because it's newer than everything else in here. "And since you don't have a super liver…" She procures two bottles of Guinness, popping them open with a bottle opener and then passes one to him as she settles back into her original seat.

"Once upon a time," she starts, rather tongue in cheek, "there was a man named Richard Cardinal. He began as the man we know, and then he apparently became a very, very bitter asshole who travelled to the past and founded the Institute." The look she shoots Peter says I know, wrap your head around that one. "Sometime in the 70's, he was killed, and his brain was preserved somewhere. A few months ago, someone transferred the consciousness of that brain into Tyler Case's body." She pauses for a generous swallow of beer. "Keeping up so far?"

One hand steadily reaches out for the beer, and Peter's stare isn't quite as steady. There's a flash of a look to one side, then back to Niki with the expression of a person who's expecting— hoping— for a punchline at the end that comes with a flustered bit of laughter from a practical joke. Unfortunately for Peter, there is no punchline at the end of Niki's brief explanation. There is no loud gong or uproarious laughter. There is just silence, and expectancy.

"Yeah," is Peter's monosylabic answer, followed by tipping the bottle up and taking a long drink from it. It'll take a few more to take the edge off of this conversation, for all that it seems likely and plausible.

"This information is all second-hand from Elisabeth, and our Richard, I should note." In the interest of transparency on Sanders' part. "But I hope I'm getting my facts right. It's like-"

Eyes lid shut heavily, and she catches herself before she starts talking without thinking about her choice of words. "I know. It's fuckin' weird. But I guess it's a different… version of Case than the one who died at Pinehearst. And Edward Ray… That fucker. I don't even know where to begin with him. I'm not sure if, or how he actually factors into this. I admit to kind of trying to stay only peripherally attached to Endgame, at best. My interest is in taking Linderman down. I'm working on d'Sarthe next."

A quiet sigh and another sip of beer. "But that's neither here, nor there. Obviously." Brown hair clings wetly to shoulders still as she shakes her head, clearing her thoughts. "So this other Richard, in Tyler's body, has apparently gotten himself attached to FRONTLINE as well, and he's been attacking various… people and swapping their abilities. I heard Wireless and Logan got hit. Elle Bishop and two of our own at Redbird were swapped around, too."

Elle Bishop is alive? News of her survival of the culling of the Company raises one of Peter's brows slowly. There's a look of uncertainty painted across Peter's face in that moment revelation; one of many. "I had something similar happen to me, over a year ago. This girl wound up with my ability, I— " Peter's brows furrow and he turns away, pacing from the bed to the door to the bathroom if only because it is the longest walkable distance in the hotel room. On his return towards the bed, he exhales a tired sigh. "It lasted a long time, a few months… more. I've heard some people who never got their ability back. Abigail— but— " Peter shakes his head slowly, "she was sort of different to begin with."

Lips downturned into a frown, dark eyes scan from one side of the room to another, searching more mentally than visually. The adjacent neighbors aren't listening in, his survey of their thoughts comes back with little of interest. "Why?" It's the logical next step in this line of questioning. "Why would Richard do this to you? Why would he found something like the fucking Institute? Why— " there's a frustrated sigh, and Peter sweeps one hand down his mouth.

"We never could win," Peter defeatedly answers his own question, "Richard had this all rigged from the start."

The honest answer is, "I don't know." There's another swallow of beer that also washes away a lump forming in the brunette's throat. Her expression perturbed. "He didn't call me Niki. Or… Or Gina. He called me Jessica. It makes me worry a little, Peter. What if someday… Jessica is the only one left?" She angles a glance his way, brows knit together.

"What if that's the only me he knows now?" She looks down at her hands. The beer still feels cold in her palms. "I just want my own life… And he said what he did was insurance. Like in his timeline, this is who I am now. I'm not okay with this." In case there was any doubt.

"You have your own life," Peter asserts with a frustrated tone of voice. "Just because someone changes your ability can't change who you are inside," and Peter himself has had a long time to think on just that scenario. "If— if whatever he's trying to do is some sort of plan then the best thing you can do for yourself is put as much distance between whatever's going on and yourself as possible. This isn't your fucking fight, it's Richard's. To hell with whatever anyone else might think."

There's a scowl crossing Peter's face as he looks down to the floor, anxiously tapping one finger on the neck of his beer bottle. "You know why I came back to New York?" He doesn't look up as he reiterates his earlier rhetorical question. "Hiro Nakamura came and found me, told me I had work to do and that I had to fight." Peter's dark eyes alight back to Niki, and his lips sink down into a frown.

"Bullshit," is how he feels about it now. "I'm done fighting, and if you know what's good for you, so're you."

"So where'm I supposed to go? My entire family," biological, adoptive, and married-into, "is either dead, or on some sort of federal watch list. Putting myself in Ferryman hands, if I even felt that was an option, would put Barbie in danger."

Niki rises to her feet slowly and stands in front of Peter, posture somewhat of a challenge, but not threatening. "So, convince me this isn't my fight anymore. Convince me it's not my responsibility to make sure that Linderman goes down, and that d'Sarthe doesn't just pick up in his place." A challenge, yes, but also a request. A plea.

"Just because you don't have anything weighing you down," and that seems to be what Peter considers family these days, "doesn't mean you don't have anywhere to go. It means that you have everywhere to go. Hell, leave this shit-hole country behind. I'm thinking about seeing South America, I've got some fond memories of Argentina and there's people down there I know…" Peter's attention squares on Niki, even as he tips back his beer and stares down the length of the bottle at her while he drinks.

"You don't have a responsibility to do anything. To hell with Daniel Linderman and whoever else it is you think you need to stop. No one cares what you do with your life, that's just how this world is. Forget trying to make a difference, make it right. I'm going to go live my own life, because I'm done trying to live everyone else's…"

The bottle is set down on the dresser that the television sits on, clunking down softly on the wooden surface. "Let Richard Cardinal worry about Richard Cardinal. Let everyone else put themselves into an early grave fighting a battle that can't be won." Peter waves one hand dismissively in the air.

"Hiro Nakamura's the one that got me into this, right from the fucking start he was the instigator. I never— I never should have listened to any of this, done anything. If he'd never come for me in Alaska or on that subway…" dark eyes wander to the floor. Peter doesn't take the hypothetical any further.

"To hell with him, and to hell with this city and everyone in it."

Niki sets her own bottle aside after neatly draining it in the time it takes Peter to talk to her about responsibility, and where it lies. (Namely not with them.) "Shut up," she demands just before she reaches up and plants a hand on either side of his face. She half leans in, half pulls him forward, and locks lips.

It's not a product of a bender, or an emotional breakdown. It's deliberate. It's wanting. When she breaks away, she makes a second demand. "Take me with you. You're the only person who makes any fucking sense anymore. You're right. Nobody else cares. I'm just a fucking pawn. Nobody—" Grey-blue roams the lines of his face in their close proximity, settling on his darker gaze.

"N- I want you, Peter. I don't need you, but I want you. If you'll have me."

In the long and tangled lines of relationships Peter Petrelli has managed, few times has he ever openly resisted something. Now isnt any different than before. His eyes shut with the kiss, one hand coming up to rest against the back of one of Niki's. When she breaks the kiss, ruins it by talking, his eyes stay shut as a sigh slips out on his breath. His hand curls around Niki's, squeezes gently, then moves the hand away from his face as he slowly offers a shake of his head.

"Sorry…" sounds like he actually means it. "But right now I'm not in any place to be with someone, not yet." Not when he's still haunted by something from the riots, something that peels at the corner of his mind like a fingernail under a scab. "I need to do this on my own, put some space between myself and everything else, clear my head. Maybe if you ever decide to leave this city on your own…"

Peter lets go of Niki's hand, taking a step backwards and away from her, "maybe I'll look you up wherver it is you wind up. But me— right now— I need to be as far away from everything as possible."

The lack of super-human strength is cursed heavily in this moment more than any other. Her hand reaches out, grabs hold of Peter's wrist and squeezes assuringly, but also pleadingly. She lacks the strength to make him stay. "Fine. Tomorrow, you go. Wherever you need to go. Do whatever you need to do. For you."

He steps back, and she steps forward. "But tonight… Stay with me. Just for one night. Then you're off doing for you, and I'll do what I need to do for me." This time, one arm snakes around his waist as the other hand slides from his wrist and up to curl around the side of his neck, her fingers tangling in dark hair and her thumb resting against the underside of his jaw. "Just one night before we say goodbye."

When she closes the distance between their equal height again, she doesn't ruin it by trying to reason in words. She leaves the reassurance to her lips, and her fingertips, peeling away denim from darker cloth.

It's hard to argue with a request like that, even harder when it comes with the ability to disappear like a ghost in the morning. Broken as they both may be, Peter Petrelli and Niki Sanders operate on a similar level of brokenness. Their damaged nature is complimentary, where others have gone against whatever inscrutable emotional grain he has.

Peter lifts one arm to wrap around Niki's waist, drawing her close.

"Deal," Peter whispers, his forehead coming to rest against Niki's. While there may be no peace for either of them here in New York City, they can at least make the attempt for one night. Because by the time the sun rises, they'll go their separate ways, and Peter Petrelli will finally free himself from the grasp this city has had on him for too many years now.

Some might call it running. But to Peter…

It's surrender.

The mirror on the bathroom wall rattles loudly, but only in the mind of the woman in Peter's arms. Fists pounding on reflective glass that separates the woman from the rest of the world. Her protests go ignored.

The white flag goes up.


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