AN: Written for artemis_sparks for heroes_exchange on Livejournal. Thank you to airspaniel for the beta work. This is a one-shot and will not be continued.
Mend the Glass
The first wall he broke through to Niki was in a holding cell in the Moab Federal Penitentiary in Utah. They kept her especially locked up, fearing her amazing strength; imprisoning it behind a reinforced door.
Peter broke through and immediately he felt the strength of her power becoming his.
He had found, though, that abilities could be deceiving, for the more he came to know her, the more Peter learned just how fragile Niki Sanders really was.
Her weakness definitely attracted him, spurring him to want to save her above anyone else. He became possessive, guarding her and willing to share the blame with her whenever she did wrong.
Immediately, Niki joined the fight with Peter and Hiro, and she used her powers and saved people along with them. Despite her own ghosts and fears, Niki became a hero just like them.
It wasn't hard for Peter to fall in love with her.
He would never say she was weak. Niki was good at playing off concern, acting tough, and threatening him and Hiro on more than one occasion to mind their own business. She must have spent many years putting up a wall around herself, because she was really good at deflecting him and keeping details secret.
All Peter knew was that she'd lost her husband and her son in the explosion, and though he had his own regret and guilt to suffer, Niki wasn't quite as able to endure enough on her own as he was.
So others began taking the responsibility; "others" that Niki created.
The first time Peter met Gina, he and Hiro were only about 10 miles outside of Las Vegas where they were doing their usual operation to free specials from Homeland Security facilities.
Peter had known about Niki's disorder; she had finally opened him up about Jessica and said that she was confident she was gone. She never "saw" her anymore, and even though Micah and DL were dead, Jessica never returned.
But there were others; Gina was proof enough of that.
Gina was outrageous, and Hiro had to break off from them to salvage the mission while Peter controlled her. She just had to go to Vegas, to party, to dance - to escape the boring mission that Niki had proven she wasn't strong enough to undertake.
It was Micah's birthday that day, and Peter had tapped into her mind to hear her thoughts, practically consumed with memories of Micah. Proof enough that Niki was in no shape to undergo missions that day despite her angry assurances that she could.
Peter and "Gina" diverted from the mission as Sparrow and West, some more trusted rebels in their group, stepped up to help Hiro. Peter navigated her back to a safe house they had set up on the outskirts of Las Vegas, right beside a strip club, and Gina was more than happy to oblige his direction.
"Where's Niki? I want to speak to her," Peter demanded, crossing his arms as Gina bounced around the room and began undressing, primping and getting herself ready for clubbing.
She laughed. "What are you, her dad? I thought you were together. Besides... Niki isn't here right now, and I won't let her out until I can do some dancing." Gina squeezed a tight, sparkly shirt over her head and slid into a leather miniskirt as Peter watched her. She turned around, smirked and gave him a sultry look as she stalked over and traced a finger down his scar. "You have that bad boy look about you. I bet you could be fun." She paused and Peter didn't move, continuing to watch her with awe and caution. He didn't know what to expect from this girl, or what could set her off. "What's one little dance gonna hurt?"
Peter nodded, willing to oblige her as long as the end game was to see Niki again. He needed to get her back, even if it meant appeasing Gina. Also, if her learned more about Gina, maybe he could figure out how to make her disappear, just like Jessica.
"Let's go then," he said smoothly, offering her his arm. She smiled at him, tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder and walked excitedly next to him as they exited the door.
Peter only hoped that Hiro and the others were all right without him. He didn't want something like this to jeopardize their missions in the future. If it continued, he was sure Hiro would kick Niki out, no matter how useful her ability was, and Peter would never accept that.
He would help Niki; he had to - and saving her was becoming more important to him than saving a hundred strangers.
Peter had Gina up against the brick wall outside a scummy club in Vegas. Her legs were wrapped around him, her mouth over his, and she was bucking her body against him as she started to undo the zipper of his pants.
Niki was good; Peter never complained about Niki in bed. She treated him with tenderness as well as sexiness and intrigue. Gina was eager, forceful and hungry, and Peter couldn't deny her.
He pushed inside her, and she moaned in his mouth. She arched her back, drawing her head back as they moved into a coarse, sporadic rhythm, and Gina cried, she laughed, and she exhaled heavily against his neck as he pounded into her.
When he felt her tense tightly around him, Peter began to slow, and as Gina found her release, he hurried his, feeling her go slack against him as she fell into his arms. He saw Gina's eyes close, and not a sound of heavy breath or a cry came from her mouth. She appeared to be asleep, but he saw her eyelashes flicker, and suddenly she was coming to again.
"Peter?" He froze, realizing that something was different about her voice.
"Niki," he said softly, guessing she was back.
"Where are we?" she asked weakly, looking around as terror filled her light eyes.
"We need to talk," he said, and he pulled away, redressed and composed them both before heading back to the safe house.
Niki was, as expected, mortified about Gina.
"I've never encountered her before," she said mournfully, clinging to Peter on the couch. Peter sighed heavily and ran a finger through her hair.
"I don't think she wants you to know she's around, not after Jessica was so dominant and now gone - and that's only because you were aware of her and could take her down," Peter said, and Niki snorted. She shifted slightly and looked into his eyes.
"Peter, what if there are others?" she asked fearfully, and she furrowed her brow. "I can't fight the war and fight myself. I just can't do it."
Peter's lips pursed slightly as he turned contemplative. He'd been having reservations about continuing the war for some time. His mind wasn't in it, and he was losing his passion for saving others. His motivation had plummeted when he was almost caught by Matt Parkman in Costa Verde last month, a mistake due to one of Niki's episodes.
Peter knew deep inside the war would continue endlessly, and they could keep fighting, but he was starting to see that nothing would change. If he kept on going he knew he'd be caught by Nathan's people eventually, and while he'd expressed this to Hiro, his friend had shook off his concerns. Peter couldn't take it anymore, and the more Niki's personalities consumed her, the more Peter's focus shifted away from the war and solely toward her.
Pretty soon he would be useless in a fight; Peter was sure about it, and it troubled him more than ever that he could get someone killed: Hiro, Sparrow, perhaps even Niki, the one woman he needed to protect.
"Niki, I think we should quit fighting," he finally spoke. He met her eyes seriously. "I think the war is over. The government is getting stronger, and there isn't enough power and time to save everyone." He sighed, and he hated that he had to resign himself to this, but Niki was hurting, and if he could save one person at least, he would.
"Okay," she said simply, nuzzling her head back into his chest. They both went silent and snuggled close, waiting until Hiro and the others returned so they could tell them the news.
Peter and Niki set up in Las Vegas. It was an ideal hiding place, and if Peter ever wanted to meet Gina again, he figured this was the best place to draw her out. While they were there, Peter took odd jobs around the city, using his invisibility more frequently as he had to stay out of the open. He was still a known terrorist, and if his brother, the President, had anything to say about it, he would always be at the top of the wanted list.
Niki got a job as a stripper. She was good at it, and Peter wasn't bothered by the act she had to put on for money. He never worried she was unfaithful; she clung to him and needed him like no one else, and he needed her.
As they settled into a comfortable clandestine life, Peter began to meet the "others." Some of them weren't as ostentatious as Gina, some of them didn't have names or called themselves by a number. As long as Peter was there, holding her or engaging them in what they wanted, they were satisfied. Many of the weaker ones disappeared; the ones without names were mere shadows, disappearing back into Niki's mind as they realized he was there, becoming her protector and replacing the wall she had built around herself.
Peter became her rock, and the healing process began.
Once Peter woke up in the middle of the night to crying while he held Niki in his arms. Her voice had changed, so he assumed this was another personality, one he hadn't met. Most of the ones he met never returned again.
This one was different, however. She was a child.
"Jessica," she sobbed, "No, Daddy, No." She continued to cry, and Peter withdrew his arms from her and sat up in bed. He placed soft pressure on her shoulder.
"Hey, it's okay, I'm here," he said in a soothing tone.
The child was startled, and she turned around to face him, hugging herself defensively as she met his eyes.
"Who are you?" she asked, afraid.
"I'm Peter. I'm a friend of Niki's."
"I'm Niki," she said petulantly.
"How old are you Niki?" Peter asked.
"Seven," she said after a beat. "Where's Jessica?"
"Jessica...is that your sister?" She nodded fervently. "Jessica is gone," Peter said, as gently as he could. "Are you looking for her?"
"I'm afraid," she said, and if she could hug herself tighter she would. "I'm scared of Daddy."
"I won't let him hurt you or Jessica. I promise," Peter said, but the child Niki hesitated as she studied him.
"Why would you do that?" she asked curiously, but Peter saw desperation and loneliness in her eyes, something he'd never seen much of in Niki before. This version of Niki was more vulnerable, naive, and immature. She was lacking the fervor and independence his Niki had, and he wondered if this was the side of herself Niki buried the deepest.
"Because, Niki, I am your friend," Peter said, holding out his hand. He noticed when she relaxed, and she reached her hand out slowly to his. "And I love you." He smiled at her, and digging deep into his powers, Peter was thankful he'd met someone who projected emotions because he used them now, hoping to exude as much kindness and comfort for the young Niki as he could.
She fell into his arms and sobbed softly until she fell asleep. After that, Peter never saw the child Niki ever again.
Gina returned one evening when Peter was removing his clothes and crawling into bed with Niki. Niki had gone to sleep an hour earlier, so he was trying to be quiet. When he had first entered the room, he could see her sleeping; but when he put the covers over them, he felt her arm slink across his chest.
"Hey there, bad boy," she said with a husky greeting. "Miss me?"
"Gina," Peter said, taking her hand. "Yeah, I actually did."
"So...I need a favor. There isn't much use for me anymore. Also, I'm still sore at you for telling Niki about me. I didn't want her to know. She needs to let loose sometimes, and that's where I came in."
"I get that, but Niki lets loose a lot more now. She's becoming happier and getting over Micah's death," Peter said.
Gina sighed in exasperation against him. "I know, that's what I'm trying to tell you." She waited a beat, and her tone changed unexpectedly. "I'm leaving, Peter. It's been fun, but Las Vegas isn't what I thought it'd be."
"What did you think it would be?" He braved the question.
"Paradise...a place to get lost in," she said quickly. "Niki discovered that before I did. She doesn't need me anymore. Plus, she has you."
"And the others? I don't believe for a moment you don't know about them," Peter said.
"They're gone. Congratulations. Niki's going to be her own person," she said dryly.
Peter couldn't be more relieved. "So, about that favor?" he reminded her.
"Take me out to a nice place, Peter. Dinner, theater, and then dancing. I want top of the line," Gina demanded with a giggle at the end. Her voice trailed off with resolution. "Then, I'm gone forever. Promise."
So Peter did everything Gina asked.
Niki came flying into his arms one night, happier than he'd ever seen her. She had an envelope of money in her hands.
"Ricky gave me a raise and a bonus! I'm moving to the top of the show! You don't have to do odd jobs anymore!" she said with a squeal, and she drew him in for a long, jubilant kiss. When she pulled away, she ran a finger down his dark shirt. "He also said he's got a position as a bouncer, so if you want..."
Peter smiled. "I thought I didn't need to work anymore."
Niki's smile softened. "Well, I wouldn't want you to get bored, or fly off to join Hiro again." She met his eyes intensely, hoping for a sign that he wasn't considering that again.
"That's never going to happen," he said, pulling her flush against him.
"Then will you work with me? Stay... with me?" she asked, and he was already kissing a trail up her neck, onto her jawline, and then covering her mouth. She melted against his kiss until Peter pulled softly away.
"I'm not going anywhere, Niki," he said, remembering the promise that he made to all the others that were now fully reintegrated with her. Niki had no reason to be afraid anymore; he was here, and he would continue to save her in any way he could.
She wrapped her arms around him and drew him into another kiss. He felt her strength, almost unbridled, tug at him and for a second he was reminded of her true ability. Now, as long as he was by her side, Niki Sanders was more than strong, inside and out.
Finally, because of him, she was whole.