We Should Go


peter_icon.gif niki1_icon.gif

Scene Title We Should Go
Synopsis No matter where you go, there you are.
Date April 11, 2011

Las Vegas, Peter and Niki's Apartment

Crazy for feeling so lonely
I’m crazy
Crazy for feeling so blue

It’s a rare night off for Niki Sanders. One she’d been hoping to spend with her partner, just connecting and trying to be normal in that way that they seem to have forgotten. Things never seem to quite turn out the way either of them would like. Peter is out.


It wasn’t like this when they began. They would get drinks somewhere or dinner once in a while - she knows a great Italian place - but all of that seems to have ended. Peter’s withdrawn even more than usual, and distant. He checks in, sure, but a voicemail isn’t enough. Neither are the brief kisses to her temple that he doesn’t think she notices after she’s crawled into their bed for the morning, too tired to wait up any longer, and he’s just turning up.

I knew
You’d love me as long as you wanted
And someday
You’d leave me for somebody new

So, that’s fine. She can spend a night off on her own. She knows to enjoy herself! Just… don’t think about it. There are few better distractions than whiskey and music. There’s a glass in her hand with rocks, and the bottle sits uncorked on the counter with a second glass, neat, optimistically next to it. She can at least pretend she expected him to show up. If he does. And when he doesn’t, she’ll drink his drink and abandon the glasses entirely. For now…

Why do I let myself worry?
And wondering
What in the world should I do?

For now, Niki dances in their living space, one arm holding the chilled lowball glass against her sternum, the other swaying in syncopated time with the motion of her hips, eyes closed, while guitars scream from the speakers.

Further into the apartment, the front door slams. It's a jarring sound, not because it's loud but because Peter never uses the door. But it isn't a government spook that comes through the doorway into the living room. It's Peter, there's blood on his hands, on his clothes, and he looks harried.

“Pack a few bags we have to go,” is the first thing out of his mouth as he comes through the doorway. He doesn't even stop to see what Niki does, he just moves through the horizontal bars of neon light coming in through the slatted blinds, throws open the closet door, and yanks a bag from the top shelf with a telekinetic tug.

The slam at the door jars Niki from her thoughts, and immediately she’s reactive. The glass in her hand starts to heat, evidenced by the way the ice begins to melt rapidly. But what’s come through the door is not a threat.

Well, not the threat she expected, at least.

“Peter, what the—”

For thinking that my love could hold you
Said I’m crazy
For thinking that my love could hold you

Niki knocks back the last of her drink and holds on to her glass as she stalks after him. “What happened? Did somebody— ” Find them? Attack him? She doesn’t need to pack a bag. They’re in hiding. Even if they’d started to get comfortable, her bags were already packed. She’s always been ready to cut and run at a moment’s notice. “Talk to me.

“Institute,” is all Peter says, blood dripping from his fingers into the carpet. He hurls the bag he’d grabbed out of the closet past her, sending it sailing through the air and then hooking to the right against trajectory to land on the sofa. “Whatever you need, we’ve gotta leave in an hour, tops.” Circling around Niki, Peter heads down the short hallway into their bedroom, pushing the door open and flipping the mattress over with a wave of his hand, knocking over a night stand and shattering a lamp.

He looks at the floor, tilts his head to the side and furrows his brows, then pries two of the hardwood panels off with a telekinetic force. The boards snap, scatter across the floor, and from inside of the hole drifts another small, navy blue bag. “They don’t know we’re here, yet,” Peter explains, “but they were in the building. You said the Ultra Luxe had openings?” For half what she’s making now, doing 3am to 9am routines, like a first-timer. He’s not even listening to her.

The bag flying through the air causes Niki to flinch for a moment, uncertain of the trajectory it’s about to take. It’s eyed where it rests on the sofa for bleary moment before the terrible crash in the bedroom brings her back to the moment.

I’m crazy for trying
And crazy for crying
And I’m crazy for loving y—

The stereo is switched off. “You want me to work at the Ultra Luxe?!” Niki is storming after Peter now. Mention of the Institute does nothing to really sober her up - this was not her first glass tonight. “Hey! I’m talking to you!” That glass goes sailing out of her hand and at Peter’s back.

The glass hits Peter square in the back and thumps noisily to the hardwood floor. “What the fuck, Niki!?” Turning around and grasping at his back with a bloodied hand, Peter stares Niki down and stalks towards her.

“Are you drunk!?” Peter shouts as he approaches. “There were Institute agents in the basement less than an hour ago, somebody is dead Niki! We need to get out of here!” He lashes out, grabs her wrist. “Get your shit together.” Peter’s dark eyes square on her far lighter ones, brows lowered, scar creased.

“Right,” Peter delivers sternly, “the fuck”, and with a tightening squeeze to her wrist, “now.

There’s a startled look when the glass connects. Somehow she just… thought it wouldn’t? That he would dodge it? Or it would sail through him? Fuck, she doesn’t know what abilities he has at any given time anymore. Bare feet are rooted firmly to the hardwood beneath as he advances on her.

For a moment, she struggles against his grip on her wrist, but it’s a half-hearted effort. Either she doesn’t really want to break free, or she doesn’t want to expend the effort required to. Grey-blue eyes blink hard, trying to clear her vision. “Get my shit together? I have my shit together.” It’s all in a black duffle bag and a fireproof lockbox in the bottom of their bedroom closet, in fact. “Why were there Institute agents in the basement? Why were you in the basement? Who is dead? What the fuck is going on?!”

Suddenly, her free arm is lashing out so she can strike against his arm and his shoulder with the flat of her fist. “You never talk to me anymore!” Each of those words is punctuated by a blow. She sets her jaw and stares defiantly. “If you’d rather fight, then let’s fight, Pete!” Drunk, angry, and scared is not a good combination on her.

Not having expected it, Peter stumbles back from the force of the punch. “Niki,” is spat through clenched teeth. “It doesn’t matter, they were here and someone is dead and we can’t stay here.” One of Peter’s more infuriating qualities — to Niki — is how hard he has to be pushed before he loses his temper. He’ll sulk, he’ll smolder, he’ll complain, but he rarely gets angry. It’s all bottled up inside, a powderkeg just waiting for a spark.

“Now get your fucking bag,” Peter snarls, pointing behind himself, “and whatever else you need. We’re done here.” He has no interest in arguing with her, no interest in explaining himself either at this point. He’s not sure she’d like the answer.

Finally tearing her arm away from his grip when he stumbles back, she rubs at her wrist gingerly. She’s not the strong one anymore. Sure, she has skill and she has muscle, but it isn’t like it once was. He can hurt her. This kind of damage is mostly done to her pride, however.

Both hands plant against his chest as she shoves him back roughly, making more space than she strictly needs for her to make her way to the closet and drag her luggage out. She slings the duffle’s strap across her body and holds the handle of the firebox in her left hand.


See? She’s been prepared for this for some time now. One last glare is shot in his direction before she strides out of their bedroom and back toward their kitchen. She picks up the drink she poured for him and knocks it back before grasping the neck of the bottle in her right hand and turning around to face him. “Where to?” Just fucking say something, she dares him wordlessly.

Catching himself on the door frame to stop himself from stumbling right over, Peter’s teeth press into his bottom lip and his brows lower. “Why do you have to be like this!?” Peter hollars, pushing himself back through the door and straight at Niki. “Do you think I wanted any of this to happen!?” He waves a hand wildly in the presumed direction of unfortunate events.

“I liked it here, we had a good thing going!” Peter’s dark eyes sweep to the side, a momentarily guilty look creeping across his face. When his attention lands back on Niki, however, it’s filled with anger. “I didn’t ask for any of this! I just wanted —” Peter can’t quite manage to figure out the answer to that last point. He wanted something, he’s just not entirely sure what it was now.

So he stands there, staring at Niki, fuming.

“Why do I have to be like this?” He did not just say that to her. Has he looked at himself lately? Has he looked at his behavior? “What about you? Tell me, do I have a routine? Do you know where you can find me at any given time of the day?” She blinks heavily, forcing the object of her ire back into focus. “Yeah, you do.” She’s forever dropping him texts even just to say she’s running out for groceries. Or to buy him more cigarettes. Because he wants to know where she is. Know when to expect her back.

The hand holding the bottle comes to her chest, then is extended out toward Peter to implicate him, then the motion repeats two or three more times. “We do not have a good thing going here, Peter. You have a good thing going, apparently.” Her scowl deepens, her knuckles go white around the glass neck she’s wringing in her fist. “What if I had been the one down in the basement finding whatever the fuck it is you found? What if I had needed you? You don’t even answer your phone when I call!” If he were anybody else, she’d think he was cheating.

After a fashion, she supposes he is. Just not on her, but on their life together. She’s been trying so hard for normal, and she knows he’s been unable to settle into it.

Her chest begins to rise and fall visibly from the force of the air that fills and is expelled from her lungs. He knows her well enough by now to recognize that she really does not want to cry. Not for him. “I have been working my ass off for us. Stop taking me for granted.” A sneer settles in on her face, self-aimed, as her eyes screw shut tightly for a moment. “You said it’s not safe here anymore, so let’s go.

“Nothing about this is good!” Peter blurts out, slamming the side of his hand into the wall. “I’m not taking you for granted, I’m trying to protect you from this fucking world!” Peter throws his hands into the air, closing the distance between him and Niki again. “You wouldn’t be the one to find the body, because I’m the one who keeps his eyes open! I’m the one people come to when they have a problem!”

Clenching his jaw, Peter circles around and then comes back to face Niki. “I had a Company agent here. Gracie Lee, she was around when you and I —” when his clone was doing Company work. “How do you think I’ve been helping out with money? Robbing fucking banks? I can’t get a normal job!”

Peter’s face is red, eyes glassy, he’s wound up tighter than a drum. “I’ve been doing odd jobs for Lee. Who’s fucking blood do you think this is!?” Peter’s voice cracks at that, and this time it isn’t out of anger, it’s out of grief.

“That’s not fair,” Niki responds tersely, setting the bottle back down on the counter with a loud thunk! The lockbox is let go of, and she doesn’t care about the gouge its sharp corner makes in the hardwood beneath. “You think I don’t look over my fucking shoulder all the time? You think I’m not watching your back?” He’s struck a nerve, and if he hadn’t just told her someone he cared about died, she would be responding to his criticism a whole lot differently.

“I can’t watch your back,” she tells him in clipped tones, voice barely above a whisper, but the crescendo is growing, “when you won’t tell me where the fuck you are!” If he wants to think she doesn’t have her eyes open, she will be happy to disabuse him of that notion. After they get out of here.

But she thinks about it, about everything he’s said to her. Everything he’s just admitted to, and she explodes. Her fingers ball into fists and she swings them at her sides, like the air is a tangible thing she could take her frustrations out on right now. “We were supposed to be— A Company agent?! You’re the one who wanted normal! This was all your idea! If this is fucked up, it’s because you did it! And if you think what I do is easy—” The fuel that stokes the flames of her anger seems to die out suddenly. The uncomfortable warmth that had been growing in the increasingly closing space between them recedes. She’s angry with herself for shouting at him like this. Terrified he’ll just leave and let her find her own way.

Now she’s loosing the strap of the duffle bag from her shoulders and lets the drop on the floor, too. She holds her arms out to her sides now, palms out in sort of gesture of surrender or harmlessness. “You get first blood,” she tells him, completely serious. They both need to lash out at something right now; each of them makes a convenient target. They’re both resilient. “And if you don’t take it, I will.” There’s a twitch at the corner of her mouth that could be a smirk or it could be a grimace, preparing for a response to her provocation.

“Give me your anger, Peter.”

Peter rolls his eyes, “Niki, don't be stupi —”

Well, she warned him.

One outstretched arm swings upward suddenly to deliver an open palmed slap across his face. And she doesn’t wait for him to retaliate before she drops into a half crouch so she can slam herself into his midsection, knocking him to the ground and carrying forward with her momentum to crash down on top of him.

On his back, Peter lets out a snarl of frustration and reaches up and grabs Niki by the wrists, “Oh yeah! This looks like you have your shit together!” He yells up at her, trying to hold her hands back, but the tiny amount of blood at his lip is nothing compared to —

He can hold her hands back, but he doesn’t have his hands around her neck. For a moment, it looks like she might be about to withdraw, but then her head snaps back down suddenly, causing their foreheads to collide violently. Alcohol dulls the pain of the impact, but there are still dark blossoms in her vision.

“Fight back!

Blinding pain, disorientation, and Peter’s control problems in periods of emotional outburst grant Niki what she wants. There's a thrum in the air, and an unseen force yanks Niki up off of Peter until she goes as far as colliding with the ceiling in a shower of broken drywall. Peter stares up at her, mixing fury and fright.

“That’s a start,” Niki growls. She should be frightened, too. But she isn’t. She’s not thinking clearly enough to be frightened. “But you can do better.” One foot kicks back against the ceiling just as Peter’s hold on her breaks. It allows her to redirect her momentum so she’s launching herself back at him, instead of just free-falling to face plant on the floor.

Niki hits Peter with a force has enough to — and successfully does — break a rib. He exhales agonized breath and rolls onto his side, then swings his legs and kicks her feet out from under her just as she's standing up. Then, more forcefully this time, Peter launches Niki off of her feet with a gesture and pins her with a sustained force against the wall.

The sound of his rib cracking isn’t lost on her… entirely. In the thick of it like this, her thoughts are less on apology and more on what her next move should be. She’ll be sorry in the morning.

Just as she makes to grapple for him, the floor is rushing back to greet her, spins her off to the next entry on her dance card. The wall kisses spine and scapulae in the same moment, hard enough to leave her without breath. This time when she tries to kick off of it, she finds herself held fast. Tongue rolls over teeth behind lips held together in defiance of the urge to make a sound, or to snarl. Rouge stains and has been smudged at her corners and down her chin by glass and tangle alike. It’s the right color, but too matte to be evidence of damage. By the time it’s lost its shine, blood is no longer a shade of red, but fading quickly into brick and brown.

Though he may have knocked the air from her lungs, it hasn’t diminished the wind in her sails. Niki struggles fruitlessly against the invisible force, her gaze fixed on her dance partner. Grey-blue blazes unchecked beneath sharply angled brows, but none of that telltale warmth radiates from her skin as it so often does when she’s angry. This wildfire in her eyes is sparked by something else entirely, and it carries no heat mirage with it.

Peter has a memory, deep down somewhere in his rattled mind, of a moment just like this. It scratches at the corners of memory, nearly peeling back a mental scar covering it like an old scab. There's a wildfire in Peter’s eyes too, but it isn't Peter staring back at her. Brows furrowed, lips parted, Peter slowly raises one hand as he maintains his kinetic thrust that pins Niki to the wall.

The scab tears, memory pulses like blood from a reopened wound.

The wrench comes down again, crashing into her forehead and sending Gillian back to crack her head against the side of the car, blood sprays on the wrench and across the vehicle's rusted paint, almost blending in to the reddish-brown shades. A few scuffing footsteps come, and Peter stares down at Gillian with steady eyes, backlit by a flash of lightning behind him in the stormy skies overhead.

This isn't right. It isn't him. Of course it's not him. The closest he'd been to this had been on a rooftop far away, with a cherub shot through the heart. Almost like Gillian feels she's been this moment. It's metaphoric, but just as painful as she's lifted, manhandled, wrench cracking into her head causing pain and blurred vision.

The world weeps. The rain turns cold with each blow. The temperature drops. The peal of thunder, almost matching the cries that escape her lips. Not him. Not the feeling she wanted. Not the light. Not the dream. A nightmare.

One hand up, two fingers pointed, angled at Niki’s forehead.

That little gesture changes everything.

Niki’s eyes, no longer ablaze with desire to keep up their fight, grow wide and frightened. Instinctively, she knows what he’s about to do to her. It shouldn’t be coming from him. This isn’t him at all. “Peter!” Like a butterfly trapped under glass, his telekinetic hold is like a pushpin through her sternum, but her wings still beat furiously in the forms of fists and feet pounding against the wall at her back, trying desperately to break free.

“Stop! Peter!

Resorting to her ability is a road she does not want to travel. Still, the heat begins to pour off her in waves. Paint on the wall at her back begins to blister and crack as the radiation spills onto it. “I don’t want to hurt you! Put me down!” That demand could have been delivered better without the hitching breaths and the shrillness that sounds so unusual in her voice.

The blows should be killing her. The pain is worse than any tattoo she's ever had, all of them combined. The closest she can think had been one moment in Moab— lightning striking her, running through her body. It burned her nerves, paralyzed her. In many ways she's paralyzed again.

Blood runs down her face, a broken eyebrow, a bulged eye, a bleeding temple. The rain washes the blood down like tears, the sky's crying the same as she is. The world weeps, because this is the darkness that she knew he could have been brought to. This is the road to hell he went down. This is where he ended up.

There's pain in her breath, in the gasps, as the wounds on her head start to knit up before his eyes, the blood washed away with rain. A lot of blood staining clothes, the car, the earth. But eyes that should be glazing over, that should be too stunned to do much more than stare, hold life, determination.

What was it that Arthur had told her? You're going to need to be strong enough for the both of them. And it's almost as if the both of them have merged into one. Overlapped. Bleeding into each other.

"Snap out of it, Peter." A demand not just of him, but of the very air. Get him away from her. And the air does it's best to accommodate, buffeting down with a sudden gale of heavy wind.

The scream that comes from Peter is like that of a wounded animal. He reels backward, yanks his hand away from Niki and falls against the wall. In the same motion, the telekinetic grasp at the center of her chest is undone, and Peter slides down the wall with his head in his hands, exhaling ragged sobs and confused noises.

By the time he’s seated on the floor, his fingers are curled in his hair and the still tacky blood on his hands has smudged across his brow in brown and red. He trembles, legs curled up, shoulders hunched forward, rocking back and forth uncontrollably.

Niki’s bare feet hit the floor beneath her with an audible slap of soles on hardwood. Breath comes to her in ragged gasps, limbs trembling and exhales shuddering as the terror gripping at her throat begins to ebb away. For the first few moments, it’s all she can do to stay standing. Her mouth hangs slack, eyes wide and staring unseeing ahead of her as she reconciles what the fuck just happened.

Then it’s her knees hitting the floor when she comes to kneel next to Peter. Her hands, still warm and still shaking, find the sides of his face and seek to reassure him that she’s not running from him. “Peter… Peter, baby, talk to me.” Tactics are switched and she wraps her arms around his shoulders now and drags him against her, holding him to her, head to her breast while she strokes his hair and shushing sounds punctuated with little gaps where no sound passes her lips, because she can’t keep her jaw from quaking and forming around what is meant to be soothing assurance. “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

“No,” Peter rasps out, gently pushing her away as he shakily makes it up to his feet. One hand presses a blood stain into the wall. Some his from the forehead injury, some Gracie’s. “No, it’s —” Peter scrubs a bloodied hand at his face, making it worse. He’s ashamed, most of all he’s scared.

We need to go,” is mostly a whisper by the time Peter manages to get it out there. It’s clear, from his posture, from whatever that was that he didn’t just leave New York to get away from the past, to get away from his failures, he left New York to get away from himself.

Unfortunately, as Peter has now discovered: no matter where you go, there you are.

It hurts. The emotional distancing has been bad enough, but physically pushing her away is like a punch in the face. Or to the heart. Still kneeling on the floor, her eyes close heavily for a moment, her chin tucks in toward her chest and all she can do is file this event away in her mind for later reconciliation.

Blonde head tips up again, eyes open and fix on his. There’s no glassy quality to them now. No desire to fight. There’s just concern and apprehension. A puppy waiting to see if it’s about to be kicked again. “I lo—” Her throat has gone dry and she chokes on the vowel she was about to form. Wetting her lips and swallowing back the threat of tears, she tries again.

“I lost sight of… why we’re here.” Bracing one hand against the wall, she rises to her feet slowly. Tentatively, she steps forward, but doesn’t move to close more distance than that. “I’m not going anywhere… Except with you. We can leave this town. Go anywhere. Anywhere you want to go.”

There’s no where they can go to escape this. Now she knows that. But she’s not letting him face this - himself - alone.

“I’ll get my shoes.” Padding back to their front door, she shoves her feet into pair of low top sneakers, not worrying about securing the laces tightly, or about socks. One hand against the counter holds her steady while the other hand hooks a finger between heel and shoe, tugging the bunching canvas into place. With her back to him, there’s a look cast aside to the bottle of whiskey near her fingertips.

It isn’t her reflection in the glass that’s staring back at her.

Her arm lashes out suddenly and sends the bottle flying across the kitchen to smash against the refrigerator.

“We should go,” she echoes.

Peter doesn't react to the noise immediately. He doesn't flinch or look toward the sound. His turning is belated, bewilderment in his eyes. From across the apartment he looks at Niki, blood smudged across his face, one arm at his side where his ribs burn like fire. For a moment they look at each other — see each other — as two broken and deranged things trying to force themselves into the skin of people they aren't.

And yet.

“Yeah,” Peter agrees with a hushed, but broken tone. “Ultra Luxe,” after a visit to a discreet, private clinic to take care of these injuries. It's not admitting defeat, it's refusing to be a part of the conflict at all. The war for truth in emotions and honesty in words.

They're two irreparably broken people.

Playing house.

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