Things Left Unasked


niki_icon.gif peter2_icon.gif

Scene Title Things Left Unasked
Synopsis Peter confronts Niki about the past, and ends up confronting Gina as well.
Date October 20, 2008

Primatech Research

Niki Sanders is heading down the halls of Primatech. The blonde has had some of her meetings…some of her training…some of her studying. It's a lot to take in, and she's a bit frazzled about the edges from it. Right now she's heading down the hallway, her expression a cross between "OMGexhausted" and "deer in the headlights".

"…so what I think would be necessary is to bring in someone with phasing, test and see the resistances of materials to their ability to pass through." Peter's voice is distinctive, even more so when he's in an energetic and business mood, his New York accent slipping out just a bit more strongly. The sound of his footfalls and that of two security technicians echo down the hall, "I've never really tried to mess with my phasing much, so my results would probably skew everything. There's got to be something that's harder to phase through though, right? I can toss the suggestion up to Sabra, and then we can run some tests and if an option presents itself maybe worn on a concrete lacing."

"There was some testing done with that in the late eighties, but with new advances in synthetics we might be able to come up with a new solution. I'll go dust off those records and see what's already been tried. As for the suggestion about lead-lining the cells, we already have some cells that are lined for radiation. The ones we have that are un-lined are specifically for psychics to be able to eavesdrop into."

Peter grimaces and nods, "Yeah, I guess that is an obvious idea, isn't it?" One hand moves up to rub at the back of his neck, and it's only now that he spots Niki coming down the hall towards him. There's an awkward look on his face, and he swallows nervously before looking back at the head technician. "Hey ah, let's call a break?" The technician eyes Niki, then Peter.

"You going to call a break every time a pretty lady crosses your path? We'll be stopping every fifteen minutes with the population of this facility." He cracks a smile to Peter, giving him a pat on the shoulder. "No sweat off my brow. Me and Harry will go get lunch." He looks down towards Niki, "Be careful with that one, she's a firecracker I hear."

Peter eyes the technician wryly, "Tell me about it." He says with a crooked smile, turning to head down the hall towards where Niki is approaching from.

Niki doesn't notice Peter till she's practically right on top of him. It's a mark of how distracted she is. Deer in the headlights. Finally, when she's almost on top of him, her brain finally registers "person you know" there, and she blinks, several times; it's like the lights are coming back on. "Hey there, Peter." she offers. She hasn't seen him lately…and certainly doesn't know of his recent developments.

Turning to wave over his shoulder towards the security crew, Peter turns back to Niki with one hand tucked into the pocket of his slacks, posture remarkably more relaxed than the last time she saw him. "Niki," There's a tiny bit of apprehension there, his smile a bit more gentle than it was earlier. "I've been wanting to catch up with you, but I've… been really busy." He grimaces awkwardly, one hand returning to rub at the back of his neck. "You look like you've been just as preoccupied. Guess that's kind've my fault." He cracks a smile, if not a bit nervously. His attitude seems to be slightly different, there's a bit more nervousness in his attitude, even though he carries himself more confidently.

Niki forces up a bit of a wan smile. "Something like that. I feel like I'm back in high school. I'm trying to get up to speed on…well, all this, and it's just…a lot to deal with." A brief pause, as even she realizes how frazzled she sounds. "Sorry. I'm not trying to dump on you." Especially not when you're the one who got me out of being locked up. Niki's thoughts bleed through easily enough to a telepath.

Peter grins crookedly, shifting his weight to his other foot, "They've got me working on security. The new lady in charge, Sabra? She called it the Fox watching the Henhouse, and I guess she's kind've right." He laughs to himself, awkwardly, and then grimaces somewhat. "Ah, that sort've is the reason I wanted to talk to you." His eyes divert to the floor, "That whole amnesia thing I was dealing with," He looks back up, slowly, "Some… friends of mine," Those words are carefully chosen, "They helped me get through it, and, well, I remembered some stuff that I think it's only fair that you know. I… I also had a couple of questions for you too, um, they might seem weird."

Niki blinks in surprise. "All right? Congratulations, on your memory, though. I know what it's like to have holes in your memory. Did you want to sit down somewhere and talk? Hallway probably isn't the best place for this." Especially if it's a secret. This place is full of secrets. She brushes back a stray bit of hair, looking back to him. "Lead on?" she offers. Then, more quietly, there's her mental voice again, but the "tone" is off. «Mmm. By all means, lead on. He's kind of yummy.»

Peter blanches, glancing side-long to Niki with a raised brow, and as he walks he diverts to a distractionary — and somewhat relevent — topic of conversation on their way to the cafeteria. "How've you been feeling? I mean, you know…" He tries not to directly call her crazy, "Has everything been working out for you since your release into Company activity?" There's a bit of a hopeful smile there, one tinged with a sense of guilt.

Niki moves to follow Peter, walking on slightly behind and to the side. "Stressed, honestly. I still feel like everything is up in the air. I'm waiting for some kind of…normality, I guess. I want to get back to having a place of my own. To having a life of my own. «Not that you'd have any FUN with it if you did.» "But, not so much as a peep out of Jessica, so points for that." An amused smile creeps into place. "If that's your question, it doesn't seem weird."

Peter nods as he listens to Niki, coming to pause by the caffeteria doors, looking at her with one brow raised as she makes the comment about Jessica. There's a momentary stare, as if incredulous, but he lets it pass as he pushes the doors open. "I hear that Gwendolyn might be assigned to you as a partner. She's a great person, I haven't really had much of a chance to work with her, outside of that one time in your cell, but she's got a really good head on her shoulders." As he walks into the cafeteria, a few of the off-duty agents raise a hand in silent greeting to Agent Petrelli, one that he awkwardly returns, like a kid in highschool who isn't used to being popular.

Niki steps into the cafeteria. "Yes, she has been. We talked the other day. I can't help but feel like a little bit of a lead anchor for her, though. I mean…if she's supposed to be paired with someone who has abilities, it would help if that person could actually use them." Without having to turn into a psychotic murderess to do it. «I could think of some "abilities" to use on him…»

Peter's brow tenses, glancing back to Niki after a moment with a furrowed brow. He hesitates, then, and walks over to one of the circular tables, pulling out a chair for Niki and just stands behind it. Seems some of his good manners have either been recovered along with his memory, or were always there from the beginning. "You're not a lead weight. I'm sure with enough practice you'll be able to handle it on your own, our abilities are genetic, the only thing memory and thought has to do with them is our own mental blocks we put on them. Like… when I was an amnesiac." He smiles crookedly, motioning for Niki to take the chair.

She sits in the chair. "Thank you." For pulling it out for her. "I guess. So far, everything they've done seems to indicate that I have to be scared or angry to use it, and since that's always been what brings Jessica out…it's not really the sort of thing I can test easily, you know?"

"Yeah, yeah I understand…" The chair is gently urged in when Niki sits, and Peter circles around to sit nearby. "What I'd been meaning to talk to you about though, it's kind've unrelated." He tenses his brows slightly, creasing the scar across his face. "When you escaped Level-5, it was because of me." There's no sense of pride there, "It's my fault you got out during your therapy. I… I used to work with PARIAH, the Evolved group that attacked the facility. I… I was one of their leaders, I guess." There's a troubled look on Peter's face for a moment, and when he looks back up to Niki it's a bit ruefully. "I didn't think of the consequences of my actions, and… and I'm sorry." His eyes close partway, "I never meant to hurt anyone. I thought I was doing the world a service by freeing people, and… and all I did was unleash a whole lot of evil onto the city."

There's that name again. "So…you're the one…" She starts putting things together. He's the one that broke in. Which means that he's the one who let Jessica out. And that in turn led to everything else. "Phew." She breathes out a long sigh. "I'm the last person in the world to hold anyone to task for mistakes. Pot and kettle, you know? Though that one is a pretty big one. But you'll make it right. I have faith in you, Peter. You're a good person." She seems confident in that.

"Thank you…" Peter's tone of voice is remarkably sincere, even so much as bowing his head when he speaks. "I am going to make it right, which, I guess I've already started to unintentionally, by getting you back on your feet. Next is Elle, and… I'm not sure what from there. But from where I'm seeing things right now, there's more good I can do here than anywhere else." Then, after a moment, Peter idly chews on his lower lip slightly. "There's something else though…" He looks back up to Niki, brow tensed, "I've… seen you before. Years ago…" He has no idea how awkwardly wrong Niki might just take that.

Niki nods. "I need to help get Elle out. I mean…it's my fault as much as anyone's that she's captured right now." She frowns as Peter brings up knowing her before, and just looks confused. "Are you sure? I don't remember seeing you before meeting you here." An apologetic half-smile. "Might have been Jessica?"

"Well, yeah. But, it wasn't an in-person meeting…" Peter tilts his head to the side, lowering his tone of voice. "I… A few years ago, before the bomb. I mean, I was working with some people… trying to stop it." His tone of voice is nervous, anxious and unsettled. "I um, I used to have these dreams — I guess I still do. They're like, dreams of the future… things that are going to happen." He looks down at the ground, then back up to Niki. "I saw you, in one of them. I'm sure of it. You were getting out of a cab, with… this guy. Black, tall, handsome. And a kid, I'm not sure if he was yours, but you were carrying him. Dark skin, curly hair… It…" Peter runs one hand over his face, "A lot of the other people in that dream, they were people who helped me try and stop the bomb. I mean, we… we failed, but…" His shoulders slack somewhat, "I just, I've always wanted to know who you were. Maybe, maybe if I'd have found the three of you, I'd have been able to do something different."

Niki's too fatigued to stop the emotions from smacking her in the face, as it were. Her eyes glisten some with tears that threaten to fall. "My husband, D.L. And my son, Micah." She swallows, rolling her eyes up a moment to look at the ceiling…one of those classic "I'm not gonna cry" tricks. When she thinks she has it under control, a few seconds later, then she risks looking back to him. "They both died. In the bomb. That was…the last thing I really remember, up till a couple weeks ago. I sort of…took a little mental vacation, I guess."

Peter's arms curl around himself, one hand moving up to rest his palm over his eyes. He breathes out a heavy, deep sigh and nods slowly, "I… I'm sorry." Though he doesn't tell her why that sounds so overwrought, perhaps he really is just that empathic? "I shouldn't have asked…" He says in a hushed tone of voice, finally looking up, and even Peter's eyes seem to be somewhat glassy. "I…" There's a rough swallow, "I didn't mean to bring up bad memories. I… I just — I didn't want to leave questions unanswered." He looks to the side, down to the black and white tile floor. "I'm sorry."

Niki doesn't guess it, certainly. And she doesn't seem to understand why he's so upset. She looks concerned, and leans in, reaching across the table, in a general gesture of comfort. "Hey…are you all right? It's not like it's your fault, Peter." A pause, then a look of sympathy joins it. "Did you lose someone in the blast too?"

There's a weak smile crossing his face, and Peter shakes his head slightly, "We… we all lost something in that, didn't we?" He closes his eyes and nods his head slowly. "I just, I remembered you already told me about your son, back when my memory wasn't quite right. I… I didn't put the two together until just now." He reaches out to rest a hand on top of Niki's, giving it a gentle squeeze. "I'm sorry, about everything, really. About… what I did here, and where you ended up because of that." It's worded vaguely enough to mean more recently, but Peter more so means the past. "I'm glad you're getting yourself back, though. I mean that."

Niki takes his hand, returning the reassuring squeeze. "Hey, it's okay. I mean that. It's…I'm in a place now where maybe I can start putting a life together again. That's not a bad thing. «No, but all this work is! THAT'S gonna stop soon enough.»

Peter anxiously eyes Niki for a moment, then gives her a hesitant smile. "Hey, if you're feeling a little burned out, why don't you ask and see if you can take a few days off? Might help your stress levels, and I don't think anyone will mind. Just put in the request and see what happens, I'm sure Sabra will understand. Besides, you could use it to get to know Gwendolyn better — Maybe a girls' night out?" He tries to sound less anxious about that than he really is, but it just makes him come off as a bit stressed in his own right.

Niki smiles a little. "I wouldn't feel right about it with Elle still out there. Not to mention that I don't want to saddle Gwen with the most incompetent partner ever. A little hard work never hurt anyone." She forces the smile, but it's clearly forced, and she is clearly stressed.

Peter smiles a bit reassuringly, "Niki, given how you handle stress," He tries to be a bit more blunt, "For all our well-beings, it might be a good idea if you take at least a day off." He smirks, as if trying to mean it in jest, or at least a little lighter than he does. "Just take a few days for yourself, nobody is going to fault you for that. Secondly, I think you should look into getting an apartment, something outside of the Company offices now that you're officially on the clean-sheet. It'll be on the company's dime too, so…" He smiles, "That might help some."

She looks a little taken aback at that. "I…" There's a torpedo to her hopes at competence. No, the humor didn't help. "Sure. I can see what I can manage." She manages to lock down her expression, but that doesn't help. He doesn't trust me. None of them do. Why should they? I'm the crazy lady. Damaged goods. But that OTHER voice seems thrilled. «Oh, YEAH. That's exactly what I wanted to hear. It is time to party

Peter winces, visibly, and goes to squeeze Niki's hand again, "Hey — No, that's not what I meat. I…" He shakes his head, breathing out a sigh through his nose. "I'm just concerned, you're pushing yourself way too hard. It was a joke, and a bad one. I'm sorry…" He's been saying that a lot lately, but it's quite like Peter to stumble over his own words and end up with his foot in his mouth. "Really, you should at least take a day off. You've been going at this non-stop for weeks now… It's not a slight." He smiles, weakly, looking a bit like a kicked puppy after the reaction.

And there's a sort of a…well, a mental clatter. It's not so smooth as when Jessica takes over. Jessica was better at it, and stronger than Niki. Gina isn't, and has to wait for Niki to be worn down to pull it off. But there's a sudden winning smile; an honest one, not a forced one. "You know what? That sounds like a great idea. I think I'll take you up on it and take a couple days off."

Peter's eyes fall on Niki somewhat uncertainly, brushing his thumb lightly over the back of the woman's hand, but he smiles none the less. "You sure?" Then, looking down to the table, he nods, "Just check in for the time off with the staff first, and you should be fine. I'm sure Doctor Salonga would recommend the same thing. Talk to Gwendolyn, see if she'll stick with you while you're out. It'd do good for you two to get more acquainted anyway."

Gina smiles back, and lets her fingers caress Peter's hand. Heck, her foot even bumps his leg under the table. A little flirting never hurt anyone. Peter's hot. "Sure. I can do that." Yeah, right. Sure I will. The blonde smiles. "You could always come with me." she offers.

Peter's brow tenses, and while he might have passed off the advances as Niki being tired, the mental jab is enough to send him straight up in his seat. He'd seen Niki acting like this before, not like herself, and he seems all the more worrisome. "N-Niki?" His head cocks to the side, and slowlt edging away from the woman, and his breathing hastens. He has no idea what this shift means, or how dangerous it might be for him, or anyone else in the room.

Niki… or Gina… smiles. "Mm-hmm? What? C'mon. All work and no play makes Peter a dull boy. If I need time off, so do you. Come on. We'll go out and have a good time." One thing seems clear; this personality is, if nothing else, a lot more sociable than Jessica.

Peter tenses up, breathing in a slow breath as his head tilts to the side, eyes leveling on Gina for a moment. He listens, inside of Niki, listening for the conflict there, and then exhales with a strong mental suggestion to Gina, «You should bring Niki back.» Sweat beads on his brow as he does this, eyes intently focused on the blonde woman. He hates using this power on others, most of the time, and right now he's too worried about the damage Gina could cause to Niki to simply let her run wild.

Gina is busy flirting…and then she gets plowed under by a telepath. At the suggestion, she willingly relinquishes control back to Niki. The blonde blinks. "I know it's not what you meant. I'm sorry. I'm just stressed and a little touchy right now, Peter. I don't mean to be ungrateful, I'm not." She continues as if she doesn't realize there's been an interruption between the last time Peter talked to her, and Gina's little debut there.

Peter's odd expression, the slight sweat on his brow, and his posture in the chair seems a bit off to Niki, but not enough. At her continuation, he just demurs with a smile, there's no reason she needs another kick to her confidence, not now. But at least he knows what works, at least on the weaker personality. "It's okay, we're both adept at sticking our feet squarely in our mouths it seems." He cracks a smile, squeezing Niki's hand a bit more securely. "Take a day to clear your head, call it a personal day to set up a new apartment and get to know your partner." He grins, "It's like work, but without the effort." There's a wink there, head tilting to the side, "I promise I'll stop by too, if you want. What they've got me doing here isn't eating up my entire day."

The blonde woman smiles back. "Shoe leather, tasty." She quips. "It sounds like a good idea. And I'd love to have you come by and do a "housewarming" as soon as I find a place. Right now you and Gwen are about the only people I know in terms of a social life in New York." She sounds relieved at the offer, and more warmly says "Thank you, Peter. I mean it."

Laughing awkwardly, Peter reaches up and rubs the back of his neck, "You and me both, we're uh… yeah. We're two of a kind in the lack of social lives." He grins at her thanks, and rubs idly at the back of his neck again, "Don't mention it," really. "I owe you enough as it is, besides, you're good people. I'll be there, promise." He looks down to Niki's hand, realizing his has been resting on it a bit too long and quickly withdraws it, grimacing as he rises to his feet. "I should probably get back to security detail…"

If she noticed, she doesn't comment. But then, she skipped over some of that time, so he hasn't been holding her hand as long. From her perspective. "Take care. I'll give you a call, once I manage to find a place." She starts to stand, and then it dawns on her. "Oh! Did you ask what you wanted to ask? The weird questions?"

Peter looks over to Niki, smiling faintly, and he nods slowly, "Yeah… yeah I did." He says in a hushed tone of voice, watching the blonde for a short time. "Don't worry about it, though. And, Niki?" Peter's brows tense slightly, "Try not to wear yourself out too much. I know it when I see it." He turns, heading for the door to the cafeteria, trying to get some distance between himself and an awkward situation. As he lays a hand on the door his eyes come to meet a transparent reflection in the glass. He stares for a moment, and in that brief time his reflection stares over his shoulder at Niki, then turns to look back at Peter, mimicing his confused expression. With a shake of his head, Peter pushes the doors open, hurrying back to work, to clear his head…

October 19th: Why Not?

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

October 20th: Lunchtime in Little Italy
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