United in Destiny


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Scene Title United in Destiny
Synopsis Hiro Nakamura gathers Niki Sanders and Peter Petrelli to ask them a question they've already answered.
Date January 23, 2011

Central Park: Belvedere Castle

Constructed from the same stone as the Vista Point which supports it, Belvedere Castle seems to rise out of the earth itself. The miniature Gothic castle is easily visible from a distance, courtesy of both its height and the American flag fluttering from the turret's pinnacle. Its windows overlook views of Turtle Pond, the Delacorte Theater, and the Great Lawn. The interior, however, is anything but Gothic; the halls on both floors are filled with telescopes, microscopes, paper-mache birds, skeletons, and feathers, all laid out as parts of an interactive exhibit. In the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, visitors can borrow binoculars, notepads, maps, and guidebooks with which to study the wildlife of the park.

Why are time-travelers always late?

Is it some sort of conspiracy among their ilk to make light of the fact that they have all the time in the world or is it just some sort of dramatic sense of irony? Niki Sanders has had a long time to contemplate that while waiting in the freezing cold of Central Park. Belvedere Castle has seen better days, and the eccentric architectural attraction has been falling into steady disrepair in the four years and change since the nuclear explosion in Midtown Manhattan. Graffiti covers most of the frost-rimmed surfaces of the courtyard. Some old declarations of FORTIS EST LIBER in red, others pictures of fiery birds and the words RISE UP vandalized by the profanity of DIE MUTANT.

The pavilion adjacent to the castle's courtyard fares no better. Spray paint mars the stone columns that hold up the roof, with its peeling shingles and collapsed southern face. The weight of the snow from the great storm tore a hole through the wood-supported ceiling of the pavilion, and now icicles hang through the opening and faint snowflakes filter down in from cloudy skies.

No one could tell that it's noon, just by looking around here. The thick patchwork of clouds overhead blocks out the sun, makes things muted and gray and the lightly falling snow adds a certain ambient serenity. Wind sweeps across the snow, kicks up little twisters of winter flurries that whip past where Niki sits beneath the pavilion.

A faded poster plastered to the inside of one pillar reads in pinkish lettering, once red: VOTE PETRELLI, FOR A UNITED FUTURE.

United in fear, maybe.

She's been staring at the same scenery for hours. Since dawn. Can't rush time, or those who traverse it, it seems. Niki's figure is clad in an old military jacket, still warm despite its years and fraying edges. The name on the back says HAWK. Or did, once. Any insignia and patches have long ago been removed or torn away.

The green patchy camo does nothing for letting her blend in with the snow and the grey, the way that threadbare black gloves do little to protect her hands from the cold, most of the fingertips worn away leaving the pads of her fingers exposed. She doesn't need it. A pale green Thermos looks like a leftover relic from the 90s. Her hands stay wrapped around it.

Until they reach out and tear the Vote Petrelli poster away from the pillar it's been tacked to for ages, with perhaps rather more viciousness than is necessary. She wads the paper up in her hands before dropping it into the snow. Some mistakes can't be washed away.

Crunching snow coming up the steps to the pavilion indicates the first sign of life that Niki has heard since coming here. Central Park itself is busy with families and children playing in the snow, but the ordinary people give a wide berth to the castle these days, with its reputation for housing vagrants and general disrepair. It isn't a family-friendly establishment.

Peter Petrelli is the last person that Niki expected to see here today, dressed in a heavy woolen winter jacket of matte black, matching the scarf tightly pulled around his throat. There's a look of dismissal, then confused recognition when he spots the brunette sitting there on the bench with the Thermos in her hands. Dark brows crease together, lips part, and Peter exhales a breath visible as a puff of steam.

"Niki?" No, but close enough to count, like a game of psychological horse shoes.

"Peter," Niki breathes out without having to turn to face him. Her eyes get wide for a moment before she stands, leaving her coffee on the bench in her place, and hurries over to him. "I thought you went to South America. What are you doing here?" She doesn't move to embrace or to touch him. Though a look of uncertainty in her features suggests she wants to.

"I'm glad to see you," the brunette decides on, a genuine smile touching her lips. "Been worried. Stupid, right?" Niki laughs. It's a little nervous, bubbly sound. "You… here to meet someone, too?"

"Right," Peter agrees to practically all of that, his dark eyes averting down to the cold, snow-swept stone floor for a moment. "I was out in Pittsburgh, actually. Debating on how I was going to cross south of the border. I'd gotten to thinking about asking the Ferrymen for help with that, but— " Peter's brows furrow together, creasing that scar there. His attention flits back up to Niki, crooked smile not quite as sly as he means it to look. "I got a message from someone. I guess… an old friend? He said you needed my help with something, and I wasn't far enough away to not think about coming back. It sounded pretty serious, though." Peter's head tilts to the side, one brow raising as he shoves his gloved hands into the pocket of his coat.

"Who's Cyrus Karr, and why're you breaking him out of a prison?" Peter isn't going to get the answer he was hoping for.

Peter's question draws a heavy sigh out of his companion. "I don't know who Cyrus Karr is. I'm going to assume your old friend is Nakamura, whom I'd like to point out I've not been actually introduced to yet." She knows of him, for obvious reasons. It isn't as if Niki's never laid eyes on the meddling Japanese man.

"If I had to hazard a guess as to why I'm going to break someone I don't know out of prison? I'd have to say there's something in it for me." Where his grin was lacking, hers picks up the excess slyness. "One last job…" The grin fades into something softer, "I've left Redbird. I've packed up my things and I'm… ready to leave. You were right. About all of it."

Anything implied isn't left to linger very long. Niki turns away from Peter to call out to the area at large. "Nakamura! This would be a good time to show up and start explaining things in the correct order, buddy!"

"Yeah," Peter exhales breathily, closing his eyes and shaking his head, "good luck with that, he only shows up when its inopportune." Sliding his tongue across his teeth, Peter takes a step closed to Niki, brows furrowing and lips downturning into a worried expression. "You didn't have to leave them, you know. I know there's personal things for you, here, in the city. Unfinished business." D.L. is a factor Peter isn't even aware of.

Reaching out one gloved hand to lay on Niki's shoulder, Peter offers a slow shake of his head. "Where're you going to go? Argentina isn't exactly the most friendly stretch of country, and… there's some things there that I need to take care of on my own. I know you don't— really need anyone to stand on your own two feet, you're more than strong enough to do that. I just— "

Peter's hand drifts away from Niki's shoulder and his brows tense again, much as his throat does.

"Gina was right about one thing. I don't need you, Peter." When his hand leaves her shoulder, Niki turns and reaches up to touch his face. Her hand is warmer than it should be, given the temperatures. "But all you have to do is ask, and I'll be there with you." The offer is made. She doesn't belabour the point, or try to sell the idea of them working together as a team somewhere far from New York City.

"I thought I might go back to Vegas for a while… Once I've wrapped up the last of my loose ends." She gives his cheek a gentle pat before withdrawing her hand. "You didn't make me do anything. You only helped me see that… it's okay to be fed up with this life. And it's okay to start moving on." Niki drags her fingers through her hair, looking deceptively casual even as she holds Peter's gaze. "Thank you."

Something genuine passes briefly across Peter's face, the subtlest hint of an emotion that is quickly stepped down upon in favor of a more neutral and passive stare. "Maybe if I wind up in Vegas, I'll— "

"Peter," is interjected over that offer, and the voice of Hiro Nakamura is one that breaks the personal nature of the conversation entirely. Peter steels himself on hearing the voice, and seeing over Niki's shoulder where the darkly dressed Japanese man stands in the courtyard beyond the pavilion, hands folded behind his back, sword sheathed there.

"Hiro," is somewhat accusing, and as Peter rests a hand on Niki's shoulder again, its to help guide himself to the side and around her, towards Hiro. There's something about confronting him, here, in the snow that harkens back to simpler time out in the Alaskan wilderness. Simpler, painful times. "You've got some explaining to do."

"Inopportune." It's muttered so quietly, it may have been only the wind that whistles through Belvedere Castle.

Niki doesn't let Peter be the spearhead of this advance for long before she's catching up with his stride, standing at his shoulder. It's very much like asserting dominance, in a sense. Asserting equality.

"Hiro Nakamura." Not to be left out of this conversation, perhaps only marginally sore by the lack of invocation of her own name, Niki makes sure she takes care of her own introductions. "Nice to finally meet you face to face. Intentionally." As opposed to chance misadventures through time and space. "I hear you need something broken." Fortunately for him, she hasn't entirely retired from that business just yet.

"Broken into is perhaps the more appropriate explanation," Hiro corrects with a sheepish smile, "is that how I wind up explaining it?" There's something of a grimace that joins his smile, though the expression of happiness does actually linger longer. He's not what Niki may have imagined from all the stories. Short, a little soft in the middle, severe only in the way his pony-tail is pulled so tight. The sword is an odd anachronism, and the symbol on the hilt familiar in no flattering way. "It's good to see you again, Peter. It's… been too long."

That is a tell, as it were, and one that elicits the raise of one of Peter's brows slowly. "Why'd you ask us to meet you here? Who's Cyrus Karr, and why did you want Niki to break him out of prison?" More importantly, Peter asks of Hiro, "Why do you think I would help you?" All questions he wanted to ask him in Pittsburg, but had neither the time nor frame of mind to.

Hiro closes his eyes, exhaling a sigh and feigning a smile. "I'm sorry I'm so terse down the line, things are… complicated." Dark eyes open, and Hiro's narrowed stare flicks from Peter to Niki. "I need your help rescuing two individuals from government custody, Cyrus Karr and Gladen Summers. They're— they will be important, or so I've been informed."

Looking askance to Peter, Hiro seems sheepishly apologetic. "You two are the only people I trust to ask," though he'd not say why he trusts Niki, whom up until now he'd never even met. "You both also know the facility we'll be going to… intimately."

"Informed by whom?" Niki narrows her eyes sceptically, narrowly avoiding exchanging a glance with Peter. "Aren't you generally the one who tells other people about who or what will be important?"

Save the cheerleader.

And sometimes one has to wonder about that bit that's meant to follow.

"Not to sound callous, but… What's in this for me? I don't have a death wish, so I'm not going to do this in the hopes of going out in a blaze of glory. I don't care about the honour, or doing the right thing." Niki exhales a deep breath, visible in the chilly air as steam. "I'm tired. And I'm a mercenary. I don't work for free." The corner of her mouth ticks upward in a smirk that's as lopsided as anything Peter gives. "But my fees are reasonable and negotiable."

Hiro and Peter exchange a momentary look to one another, before Hiro's attention settles back on Niki. "I am the one who tells people those things, you're correct." That, also, is all Hiro is going to say about that. Hiro also seems intent on directing the conversation back to the matter at hand, as if Niki and Peter's agreement to help was already a foregone conclusion in his mind; or maybe it somehow is.

"Cyrus Karr and Gladen Summers are destined to die, they drown in the deep Atlantic ocean along with every other resident of their cell block." Peter's eyes widen when Hiro makes that assertion of fact, his mouth opening to say a name he never thought he would again, but instead finds Hiro interjecting over it.

"They reside in the Yellow Level of the Moab Federal Penitentiary, and the only time in which we would be able to infiltrate the facility is during the 2009 raid which disabled the security system there. This narrow window gives us a very short time frame in which to act, and while I could possibly do this on my own, I can't risk running afoul of Odessa's ability and becoming stranded when the temporal displacement event occurs. They— "

"Go to hell," Peter spits out, pointing two gloved fingers at Hiro sharply. "If you think for one minute that I'm setting foot back in that nightmare again you're dead wrong. I can't believe I trusted you enough to come back here, I should have known this was just another one of your stupid goddamned plans!" Already turning around, Peter has his back to Hiro before the time-traveler can even breathe out a response.

Hiro's expression is one of surprise and confusion, as if he doesn't even recognize the Peter standing in front of him by his actions.

"What are you talking about?" Niki's brows furrow. "Moab is- You want us to go back in time to rescue someone from prison in an incident that tossed me like a rag doll to a future I had my part in preventing?" A scowl not meant for Peter is turned in his direction anyway as she reaches out to grab his arm. Much like the last time she attempted to keep him at her side, she curses her lack of strength.

"I know you aren't big on explaining your motives," Niki says to Hiro, her expression softening some, "but you're going to have to. Moab was a bad place for us. And we understand it is for these people, too. I—" Realisation hits her like a fist to the gut. She clutches at Peter's sleeve.

Niki gets it now. Or thinks she does. "Their cell block ends up in the ocean after Moab is torn apart and flung through time." Grey-blue eyes grow wide. She's (Jessica's) done awful things to people, and will likely continue to do so in her future, but Niki still has a sense of what's wrong and what's right. Leaving someone to drown isn't right. "What makes them so deserving? Why save them and leave their other blockmates to die?"

Hesitating when Niki takes his sleeve, Peter turns up to look over his shoulder, back to Hiro with a dour expression. Were it not for her ability to play at his sympathies, he'd have left Hiro here in the cold, and left those men to their watery graves. Benefit of the doubt is thanks solely to that hand on his arm, and the scrap of a decent man still hidden somewhere inside of Peter.

"I left myself a note," Hiro explains in what may be the most straightforward answer of all time. "It's how it works, I keep the map updated, so I know where I've been and what I've done and tried, so I know where I need to be in the future and what I need to do." Hiro's dark eyes flick from Peter to Niki and back again. "All I know is that you help me, so I came ahead to ask you to. I'm not from here, now, I'm from a ways back behind, where the two of you have come from. I know it's confusing, but it's the easiest way to navigate, and not wind up traveling in my own footsteps."

Clearing his throat, Peter shakes his head and looks askance to Niki. "You can't seriously be considering listening to him, can you?" Peter's stare snaps from Niki to accusingly land on Hiro. "What makes you think she has any reason to risk her life for you? For two strangers who're dead anyway?"

Hiro's answer, admittedly, is a low blow. "I can give her some time with her son."


"Saved me the trouble of asking."

It's meant to come out strong. Assertive. I was gonna do that anyway. But her throat is so tight, her words so strained. She had been ready. Ready to say I'll do this, but you take me to see my boy. It seemed so selfish. And it seems insulting now for him to make the offer first. It's like a piece of steak dangled just out of reach of an enthusiastic, but very vicious dog.

She feels like she should tell him to stuff it. To take his sympathy offers and go to hell. Niki's hand travels down the length of that sleeve, and finds Peter's. She casts a look up to him that's both an apology as well as an askance of what should I do?

Then, the wounded mother fixes her gaze on Hiro again. It's unclear whether she intends to accept the offer, or lash out. Much like Peter had.

Hiro's attention expectantly shifts to Peter, the last piece in this. In return, Peter shifts his stare avoidantly away from Hiro and across to Niki, watching her with a modicum of concern as he shifts to more proerly face the two and address this situation. "If we do this…" Peter gestures back and forth between he and Niki. "Then we're done. Out." His dark eyes fix coldly on Hiro, his frown deep enough to manage equality on all both sides.

"If we do this, you don't come looking for either of us ever again, do you understand? No more missions, no more drop ins, nothing. I don't want to see you popping into my life again, and I don't want to hear about you coming into Niki's and screwing it up even worse than it already is." Peter's abrasive tone elicits a tension from Hiro, a visible sadness, and a reluctant acceptance. Sliding his tongue over his lips, the time-traveler looks askance to the snow down at his feet, then back to the two standing beneath the shadow of the pavilion that he has not crossed into.

"I promise," seems like a regretful thing for Hiro to say, but it's what's important at the moment that matters, not what might be in the future. Peter remains silent in the face of Hiro's promise, then looks to Niki, trying to gauge her mental well-being in the face of such emotional adversity. His next question winds up being a colder one than he'd intended.

"When do we leave?" Peter asks of Hiro, belatedly making eye contact after asking the question. That Hiro holds out his hand for Peter or Niki to take is indicative of the answer to that question:

We leave now.

Niki takes in a deep breath, giving Peter a bit of a reproachful look. It doesn't stick. She doesn't need him to go to bat for her, and tell Hiro that he can't interfere in her life anymore after this favour. At the same time, she finds herself grateful for it.

Hiro's outstretched hand is peered at almost warily. She disengages from Peter. "I need to call my sister first." The just in case goes unsaid. "She won't answer," she tells both men as she tugs the cell phone out of her pocket, manually punching in a number she's committed to her own memory rather than the phone's. "Just a voicemail. I'll only be a mi-"

Her boots crunch on the snow as she paces away, murmuring into the mobile. "Hey, Barbie. I just… wanted to let you know I'm leaving town on business for a bit. Not sure… how long I'll be gone. You know how these things go." She sighs quietly, staring down at the packed powder that looks grey without the benefit of light, and with the dirt that's been mixed into it.

"Do not meet with 'Klaus or… Mother without me. You promised." There's a quiet chuckle there. Forced. "I'll call you again when I get back. Until then, I'm off grid." A look is cast back over her shoulder to the two men waiting on her.

"I love you."

Phone snapped shut and tucked away, Niki steps forward again. But rather than reach for Hiro's hand, she rest her own on Peter's shoulder. "You don't have to do this for me," she tells him. "The incentive is mine. I don't— really need anyone to…" She catches herself repeating his earlier words back to him, and shakes her head. Falls silent.

Time-travelers may often be late, but they're also generally patient people. Hiro Nakamura is at least that much, in how he steps away to give Niki a semblance of privacy while she made her call. Peter is silent too, though less inclined to put distance between himself and Niki, especially not when it feels to him like Hiro is taking advantage of Niki's emotional distress to strong-arm her into compliance.

Laying a hand on Niki's shoulder, Peter's expression is one of wordless concern, followed by a more tempered one to Hiro. "In and out. No tricks, no surprises. I've lived through the Moab nightmare once before, I don't have any intention of winding up in Antarctica a second time." Offering out a hand to Hiro, Peter's brows furrow thoughtfully.

Taking Peter's hand, Hiro breathes in deeply, then exhales a steady sigh through his nose. "Thank you, Peter, Niki." Hiro offers in a humbled tone of voice, squeezing Peter's hand and completing the circuit between the three by lifting up a hand to lay on Niki's shoulder. Closing his eyes, the time-traveler from the past breathes in a deep breath, then exhales it calmingly through his nose.

In the moment before they disappear in a swirl of disturbed air and snow, Hiro and Peter both fail to notice something in their handshake. It is similar to someone pressing a button on a stop-watch and beginning a countdown.

Time is a fickle thing, it can be done and undone like threads in a tapestry. Woven and unwoven.

The green sparks in Peter's eyes is time ticking by, the hourglass turned over.

The countdown begins.

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