2007-09-04: Back To The Present

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif Nadia_icon.gif

Summary: Welcome to the Peter Petrelli Four-Step Guide to Making Up With The Woman You Love. Step 1: Invade her class unexpectedly and make her blow up her lab assignment. Step 2: Kidnap her away from angry professor using handy Invisibility powers. Step 3: Snog her head off at the back of the lab building. Step 4: Make nice with the Best Female Friend.

Date It Happened: September 4th, 2007

Back To The Present


Sciences Building, New York University Campus

It was in the middle of the day. The onset of September promises more tepid days ahead temperature wise. The new semester was in full swing at New York University, and outside the science building's windows, students of all levels and ages mill around the main quad.

Dr. Edward Morrison was a tough professor, but fair, if not strict. He grilled his students, Socratic-method style, despite the fact that they were undergraduates and not law students. He was a stauch Republican, and proud of it. When he gave pop quizzes, they were really pop quizzes, and he ran one of the bigger laboratories on campus. Pushing his late sixties with silver-gray hair, a Colonel Sanders' mustache, and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses, his sparkling blue eyes and Southern accent actually made him an affable man outside of class, but in class, he was the devil.

Demonstrated now as he scrawls out a complicated looking chemical formla on the blackboard.

"Remember to payeh attenshun to yer mesheh-ments," Dr. Morrison warns the class, peering at the rest of them above his glasses. "Wouldn't want anythin' to blow up now, would we? Last thing ah wan' is a reee-enactment of Gettysburg in mah laboratory."

One of the more nervous students swallows somewhere in the back.

Jeff Gates, leans over to the female sophomore next to him, muttering from the corner of his mouth. In a Bill clinton-esque accent he whispers: "Ah. Ahm. Bulletproof."

Elena closes her eyes, trying her best not to snicker out loud. Instead, she knuckles Jeff in the arm and gives him a look. "If I spill something acidic and ruin the counters, this is going to be all your fault," she whispers back, setting the protective goggles over her eyes and fires up the bunsen burner. "Do you want to do the recording or should I?"

"Maybe I ought'a," Jeff remarks, placing his own goggles on his nose and squinting at the assignment. "I've got less girly writing. Maybe that'll work in our favor."

"Hey. You watch it."

—-

There may be many students milling around in the quad outside the science building, but one person running through the quad is not a student here. Never was, actually. Peter Petrelli went elsewhere in the city for his education needs, but that doesn't mean he'd never been to campus. Knowledge of some of the buildings came from friends in the past, though he stops to whip open his cellphone and check again. He'd never used this feature before, and he's very grateful for it. He's just glad his service wasn't cancelled while he was— out of range.

There— that's the building.

At least his brother, somehow, knew where she would be.

And it's not at MIT. There's no way at all to describe that relief, when he arrived over a month later than he intended to.

Just like he ran through the quad, he runs into the building. People who see him run by probably think he's missing a class, or suddenly got a text message that there's a surprise test and he better haul ass and pretend he's late. He doesn't look that out of place on campus, after all. He's young looking. Running through the halls might be frowned upon, but he does it anyway, not caring if someone yells at him to slow down, or stop. They're mostly empty. He's not in danger of hurting anyone.

And there it is. The room. Busting into someone's class is incredably rude. But he does it anyway. The door opens a little too fast and bangs against the wall, rebounding off of a rubber stopper that keeps damage from occuring, but he holds it in place. Where is she?

Eyes scan the lab, looking for one person and shutting out pretty much everyone else.

He's dressed in normal jeans, a pale gray shirt that's suited for the still warmer weather. He'd not shaved in a few days, his hair is longer than it'd been almost two months ago, curling at his forehead. The former nurse's breathing is fast, as if he ran the whole way from wherever he ended up— and it wouldn't be far from the truth— though he did take public transportation to get most of the way to campus. And then he ran.

For a moment, there's no one else at all in the room except the two of them. Or at least it feels that way. Because he's looking at no one else, and he doesn't hear a thing.

—-

The chemical solution is poured carefully in a beaker, set on top of the bunsen burner after. Elena reaches for the tongs, pulling a test tube off the rack and filling it up with another chemical. Her lab partner continues to jot down observations. All of her other classmates are getting to work.

And suddenly…

BANG!

UNEXPECTED PETRELLI.

The double doors herald the wake of the younger Petrelli brother as he invades Dr. Satan's class. Silence descends on the academic collective as all eyes turn to the door, all except Elena who's busily trying to fill the chemical up to the right marker before pouring it in carefully to the beaker.

Jeff, on the other hand, isn't as focused. He stares at Peter, who's gaping at his lab partner. "….oh crap. Oh crap," he utters nervously, catching sight of the older, young man's state of dress and stressed behavior. "We're gonna get shot. We're gonna get shot. I knew we were next!"

"What?" Elena looks up at Jeff. "What are you talking ab— " The words freeze in her throat, her eyes wandering towards the front of the classroom where her entire Chemistry 210 class is staring at the recently returned time traveler.

"….oh….crap," she squeaks.

Dr. Morrison EYES Peter from where he is, an irritated expression on the Southern professor's face as he crosses his arms over his chest. "Just what in tarnation are you doin', boy?" he bellows, in the way only a disgruntled Academic can. "Class is in session, an' ah don' know you, so ah'm assumin' yer in th'wrong room!"

"….oh crap," Elena groans, still holding onto the test tube with the tongs.

Jeff's eyes widen as he stares at the bunsen burner. "Elena! Get that thing off the flame!" he cries, already backing away.

The sophomore snaps out of it, staring at Jeff, and staring at her test tube…that she just emptied out into the beaker.

"OH CRA— "

BOOOOOOOOOOOM!

WHOOOOOOOOSH! Smoke billows out from the beaker, glass shattering. A thick cloud of smoke gushes out in all directions as students let out startled cries. And to make matters worse…

BRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!

SPRITZ!

The fire alarms go off. The sprinkler system is engaged. Startled cries become a stampede out the door as college students grab their things and try to run away from the mess. Because their books will get soaked if they don't leave the room now.

Elena's no exception. With the professor's outraged braying from the front of the class, she uses the crush to RUN AWAY and flee the professor's wrath. Oh god. OH GOD. Did she set the lab on fire?! Thankfully it just looks like smoke, but she can't help but look over her shoulder, quickly getting drenched, protecting her backpack with her arms as she rushes out with the rest of the crowd.

—-

There's no weapons in hand, so really, not much to be worried about, right? Well, maybe not. There is an explosion. Even with a professor yelling at him, all he can really see is one young woman working on her lab assignment. She really is here. Right here. And he's in the right year, just a month and a half or so later than he intended to be. But she's here. The intensity shifts into the area of relief— a quiet emotion, a soft one. The hand on the door may be needed to support him as much as hold it open.

It's the explosion that finally snaps him out of it.

The sprinklers go off. People start to run for it. He abandons the door. They're running out of it anyway. The water droplets catch in his hair, on his face, soak into his shirt. It's a heavy spray, really, but it's not going to destroy him. He ignores the wailing of the professor for now, the panic of most the students, and goes straight to Elena, trying desperately to protect her books.

As soon as he reaches her, he has to touch her, almost as if to make sure she really exists— there she is. That's her.

Grasping her arm, she won't even notice as they suddenly slip out of visible sight of everyone else. No one will really notice in the chaos that they just vanished— the professor might think he's gone mad with rage. It just helps keep her out of his radar, long enough to get out the door— which is the plan. Even if she wasn't fleeing, he'd be helping her flee, pulling her along with a strong grip that doesn't want to let go. Out the door— down the hall— to a side door— He hasn't even started to apologize for what he did yet.

—-

The crowd has swallowed up her view of Peter, so as Elena struggles to get out, searching, actually, to make sure Jeff was alright - she thought for the moment she had been hallucinating. She probably didn't see Peter at all, and maybe Jeff was right and it was just some guy who just looked like him and was about to shoot up the place like most recent campus crimes. And before she knows it, her arm is grabbed, and she gapes at Peter. She opens her mouth to speak but he's pulling her away from the crowd, away from screaming collegiates and an angry chemistry professor, yanked down the hall and to a side door. Oh my god. He was here. He invaded her class. Her lab class. And…what is he doing?!

In retrospect, most girls wouldn't argue getting kidnapped out of class by Peter Ethan Petrelli.

"P…Peter…!" she stammers, dragged to the side door and quickening her pace so she could keep up. "What the— are you nuts?! What are you doing here?! How long have you been back?! And…and… are you crazy?!" She hasn't spoken to him in little over a month, and the first thing he does is kidnap her from class!

She looks over her shoulder and GROANS. "Oh my god. I blew up the lab. My professor's going to murder me…" Or her grade. She didn't know which was worse.

—-

Well— in retrospect, he hadn't intended to kidnap her. If the lab hadn't suddenly caught on fire, Peter'd intended to do the polite thing and wait outside. Or maybe he wouldn't have. Honestly he's not sure how he would have reacted. The idea had just been to see her, make sure she was really here— and that plan kinda got thrown out of a window when she blew something up. It might have been thrown out the window the second he saw her.

Once they're outside, through the door, he pulls her around close to the wall and stops, looking her over. Not a scratch on her. Just water. The glass didn't hit her, she's okay.

She's beautiful.

Her accusations don't fall on deaf ears. He hears them. Her professor is going to kill her? He'll talk to him, but right now… she asked a question. A couple questions. But the first and the last are the ones he'll answer. Is he nuts? Is he crazy?

"Yes."

Said so simply, so matter-of-factly. He's crazy. In more ways than one.

Any further groans or protests are going to be silenced as he reaches up to turn her face towards him, pushing her closer to the wall of the science building, and leaning in to kiss her. The nose nudging of the past is skipped, for now. The first moments are forceful, insistant— and the following moments gain desperation. He'd ran across campus to find her, and what breath he regained, he's giving up to do this. Maybe he can survive without breathing— he's not sure.

—-

…well. At least he was honest.

Her backpack drops somewhere next to her when she's dragged around the back of the building, his hands on her shoulders as she's pushed back a bit. She could feel the cool brick behind her, staring at him wide-eyed as he looks her over. No scratches, no scrapes. She's drenched though, her dark, wet hair clinging to the sides of her face and tendrils swirled and webbed over the sides of her neck. Her tanktop was soaked, but it was navy blue - the color only darkened and it keeps her decent. Her hoodie is tied around her hips and her jeans, and both are soaked as well.

"….." She didn't expect an affirmative answer to that question though. And her mouth opens, her hand even comes up into a fist with every intention to swat him on the shoulder and demand some answers. But that's cut off when she's pushed further into the wall and kissed. Thoroughly. The intensity surprises her. It had a double effect of stiffening her spine in shock, and inwardly curling her toes. It had been a while, so much so that his mouth felt foreign on hers.

"Mph— !" The raised fist drops on his shoulder, her fingernails clutching at the fabric of his shirt instead. She felt lightheaded, her mouth yielding at the desperate onslaught as she sags into the wall boneless. Her other hand comes up to tangle into his hair.

Her heart was trying to escape her ribcage, somewhere.

Wait. What the hell was she doing?!

She pulls her head back, panting breathlessly. "Peter, you— " His mouth is there again, and she can't help but return it. Them. Everything.

—-

Not that it would really matter, but they're still invisible for the moment, pressed against the wall. To a casual passerby, only the discarded bag is visible. Seemingly left behind by a student near the edge of the building. Perhaps this will cause alarm later. Could be a bomb! But for the moment— just a bag. No more explosions, even as the fire alarms go off— even as the sprinklers are still doing their thing in the building. It might as well be non existant for all he can hear.

There's a break for a moment when she pulls away. It doesn't last long.

Somewhere— deep down— he knows this is wrong. She hasn't seen him in two months almost. The last time she saw him, they fought, they argued. She may have left a reply in his voicemail, but that doesn't give him any right to do this. Sure, to him— he saw her just yesterday. To him— this gesture is far more justifiable. But to her… it might be outlandish.

Still, he can't stop. Not yet. Not until all of his breath runs out. Not until he has to. Heart racing, he finally does pull back when he has to catch his breath, when his body demands it. His forehead presses against hers, noses touching, eyes closed. "I just got back," he manages breathlessly, tendrils of air hot against her skin. His skin is warm where they're touching, naturally so, not feverish, but also cooled by the dampness of the sprinklers.

"Sorry," he adds. He could be apologizing for so much. Kidnapping her, kissing her— but he's not sorry for that. Unless she's REALLY angry at him. Then he might be sorry. "Sorry… I took so long… getting back… So— glad— you're actually— here…" She wasn't supposed to be.

—-

When he finally pulls away from her, she's panting, Elena's breath mingling with his own. She can't help it, he was so close, and he had literally kissed her breathless. Her eyes are still closed, her fingers still helplessly clutching onto him as she concentrates on regaining some precious oxygen in her lungs. She doesn't say anything for a while, and she was warm. All over. Her lips tingled. Her heart felt like it was going to cave in on itself, it was beating so fast.

She swallows, and she opens her eyes partway. Nope. He was still there. This wasn't just some crazy, vivid dream where she wakes up in her borrowed bed at Nathan's house ready for another day.

When he apologizes, she blinks at him. There's a certain degree of haziness in what little he could see if her irises. "…what? Huh?" she asks absentmindedly. But when the words sink in, she gapes at him, uncomprehendingly at first.

Oh, right….she had been mad at him.

She hasn't been for a while though. Instead, she curls her arms around him and buries her face at where his neck met his shoulder. "You idiot," she grumbles, her voice muffled against his shirt. Relief threatens to swallow her whole, and she could only clutch him tighter. "Where the hell else was I going to be?!"

She pulls away from him, looking up at his face. "I'm more mad at you for worrying everybody. Where have you been?!" The future. She knows. But where and when in the future? "…and….and…" she stammers. Her skin was still flushed from what just happened, a warm blush across her cheeks. "…what took you so long?!"

—-

"Massachusettes," Peter responds, though he looks as if he'd like to sit down all of a sudden. She's backing away from him now, and he allows it, even if it's very tempting to reach out and take her shoulders in his hands and— continue what they were doing. The invisibility faded away sometime after he broke the kiss, which allows her to pull away and still look at him, thankfully. Moving, he puts a hand on the wall beside her, touching it instead, using it for support, and standing there.

In a way this may look like a blocking gesture, like he's leaning at her— holding her in place, but it's necessary physical support. And it does keep her from running off— at least one direction. The other way is free and clean. Not that she would run off.

"Two years— in the future. New York. Didn't want to— come back— until I found enough information. Hiro and I seperated and…" He shakes his head. It'd not been the Japanese man's fault. He may never know what happened there. He just hopes he made it back all right. "Meant to come back around the same time I left— but I— I'd never time travelled on my own before. I guess I missed." But he'd never done it on his own. Being a month off is not that bad. "You're still here…" Like she wasn't going to be.

The kiss broke not too long ago, and that leaning continues— and gets worse. His eyes close again, and the tip of his nose brushes against hers. Even though he's only barely caught his breath— he's drawing in again.

—-

"Massa— " Elena sighs, sagging against the wall even as he leans over her. He blocks one way out, she could see that, one well muscled arm braced against the bricks behind her. "That's what I was trying to tell you before I left," she grumbles petulantly. "I applied the middle of last year and I just forgot about it. It's not like I could leave now of all times, Peter. Not with…..everything being in transition." With her father, Dezi….maybe switching Luis and Nita to better schools. Save the world and still maintain her GPA. Things like that. "Besides. Like hell are you running me off my damned city, Peter Petrelli." She looks up at him then, and quirks a small smile despite herself.

She blinks when he tells her a little bit. Two years into the future. "….that's what I told Nate," she tells him quietly. "Either something went wrong, or the two of you got separated. I don't know, I tried on my end but it's not like scientists these days are experts in the space-time continuum." But when he repeats it, that she was still there, her look is softer, and more serious. Her mouth presses into a soft, determined line. "I'm not going anywhere," she replies.

She takes a step forward even as he lists towards her. Her hands come up to cup both sides of his face, and her mouth connects with his again. It's less of a kiss that someone can drown in, but it's more than just a peck or even a regular kiss. It doesn't take long, though, for it to escalate, pressing closer and tighter against him and curling her arms more securely around his neck. 'I miss you.' Even though she doesn't say it out loud. If he checked his voicemail when he got home, he'd know. Besides, once it starts, it tended to be difficult to stop.

—-

But that's not the way things went in the future— she did leave. Peter had valid reasons to believe she might have left. He had good reason to be worried! "About that— I wasn't— trying to make you leave, I really wasn't. I just got so— I'm sorry. I said things I shouldn't have and— you'd left. You'd gone to MIT in the future." That's important, the fact that she didn't— that might be something that changes everything. "It's good that you didn't…"

The world will be better for it. He'll be better for it.

"Saves me having to catch a flight to Massachusetts, for one." Because— he would have. That would have been one of the many things he did, after making a bunch of phone calls. If she was still in Spain, he would have flown to Spain. But he didn't have to. She responded to his voicemails, Nathan knew what class she would be in— and she's here.

And they're kissing again. That's fine by him, he'd have restarted it if she hadn't.

Arms move around her, pulling her body up against his more securely, he returns the kiss a little more tenderly than the first time— it gets more heated as it continues, before he finally is forced to break it again. If they keep this up— they'll get nothing done. And there's a world to save. The one he left behind would never forgive him if he didn't fix things.

"There's so much… I need to tell you. When are you done with classes today?"

—-

"I know. I told you, if you say something, I'll believe you," Elena says quietly. "You were never really a good liar, usually when you open your mouth, you speak from the heart. It's not— " Wait. She left? Really? She must have been extremely angry in that timeline, but it's not like she would've been able to talk more, not when he pulls her up against him. He felt like a solid wall against her - there were marked changes on his body wrought in by the harder future he had to stay in for a month. She notices, the external changes and the internal changes as well. He wasn't the only one who got better with his powers when he was away.

A flight to Massachusetts? Was he intending on invading her classes there if she had gone?

When they're apart again, her eyes lower towards the dip of his collarbones, her fingertips resting lightly at the base of his skull behind his head. Students mill past the building. But that was alright, seeing two young people in this position was pretty common place on school grounds anyway. None of them bat an eyelash. "You do," she agrees. She takes a step away, reaching down to yank her backpack off the ground and shouldering it. She also fishes out the lab goggles that had slipped off her face after that first moment of fire.

She tucks those in her bag, and turns to face him, sliding her hands into her pockets.

"I'd skip class if I didn't have a test in the next one, and another lab in the other. I'm done at around five today." She falls a step next to him. "Advanced Shakespeare is in ten minutes." She turns to head for that direction. "….level with me, Peter." She looks at him, her expression serious as she walks. "How….how bad was it?" He wouldn't be this frantic if it had been bad, right? And… "Wait. You ran into me 2 years into the future?"

—-

Yes. He would have invaded her classes there if he had to. Peter won't claim he's not a little reckless at times— and she's worth it. More than she'll ever realize. The kiss had to break— which is a shame, because he really wants to do the same thing all over again. There will need to be some contentment in keeping his arms around her instead. That will have to be enough for the moment. And even that gets taken away when it's clear their time is short. She has another class— she won't be done for hours still.

He allows her to pull away so that she can arrange things, watching her quierly, and shakes his head, "No— it's fine. I have a few important phone calls to make— I just— needed— to see you." And somehow just hearing her on a phone wasn't anywhere near enough. Though he probably should have called first.

As they begin to fall into step to move towards another building, he reaches out to take her hand, fingers entwining between hers and holding on tightly. "Bad. Some parts weren't— but mostly it was… bad." So many people dead. So many lives lost. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, too. There's so much under that. But it was bad. "Yeah— I met you and— a lot of people in the future— some I barely know, but— yeah." The details on his meeting with her future self are limited. There's a lot he could say on it. "Can I meet you at five? Go to dinner— just us— and— talk about all of this?" Cause the ten minute walk to class isn't going to be long enough to explain.

—-

She has a test, and a lab - she can't afford to miss those. Even despite everything, Elena tried to live a normal life as much as she could. She had dreams too, ambitions. She poured as much energy in that as she did this big mission that had been dropped in her lap at some point during February of this year. As he talks, she nods, her hands sliding out of her pockets so she can fish out a pen from her backpack, spooling her dark hair along the length and twist it around, sticking it through to hold the style in place. She didn't have a clip with her, but her hair was wet - this would have to do to keep the locks out of her face, even if a few stubborn pieces escape to frame it.

Her arms lower, and she can't help but quirk a smile. "Well, I'd say you should've called but….I was in lab anyway, my phone would've been off." She continues walking along the quad, gesturing to a building ahead wordlessly. That's where they're headed - it was near the Bobst Library.

Her hand is taken, and she can't help but look down, a little startled by the gesture - but then again after everything that's happened, she shouldn't be surprised. It was just that….they kept things platonic for so long that doing this sort of thing out in the open was new. To her, such movements weren't instinctive. But she doesn't pull away. She lets him tug her towards the direction of the liberal arts building.

"So…I guess even if I did leave, I came back to New York. You didn't….meet yourself while you were there, did you?" she wonders curiously. "Because….wouldn't that cause problems with the entire space-time thing?" She keeps following, though she catches up enough that she falls a step next to him. And when he asks to meet her at five, she blinks at him. "Dinner? I….yeah, sure. Where? Did you want to meet here, or…?"

—-

Calling wouldn't have been enough anyway. Peter needed more than that. Just from the way he's unable to let go of her right now might show that enough. Holding her hand while they walk hadn't been something normal for the two of them, even if he's pretty tactile in general. It's different in public. The building they're heading towards is taken at a medium pace, enough that he won't make her late, but slow enough that he can actually catch his breath. The kissing hadn't helped with that too much.

"You came back, yeah— I'll— there's a lot to explain. I never did get all the details, just— basic ideas." And he intends to tell her everything— almost everything— that happened. At the mention of meeting himself, his hand tightens briefly. "No— I didn't— meet myself." There's something there in the way he says that, something a little thicker than it should be, pained. It fades, though. He'll explain after the dinner, though he imagines it'd be best to wait til they finish eating for most of it— appetites fail the more he even thinks about it.

"I'll meet you here— just tell me what building you'll be at— what door to wait at. I'll find someplace for us to go." The idea place would be an all-you-can-eat, considering how she scarfs things down… or maybe she hasn't developed that yet. But from the look of her… even if she hasn't, she could use the extra food.

—-

She didn't know what to think of it, save for the sense of inevitable draping somewhere in the back of her mind. Elena can't help but notice how worn and callused his hand became since coming back from the Future. If it had been bad, it might've been really bad. Hell, he looked different, and he carried himself differently. She can't help but watch him as he moves forward with her in tow. Considering how young he looked, he fit right in the student body with the ragged jeans and the shirt. By the average NYU's student's eyes, he looked like some regular guy lugging his girlfriend to class.

When his hand tightens around hers, she wonders if she said something wrong. By the slight inflection and the change of tone, meeting himself might not have been as good of a meeting as he would've liked. She can't help but look at him, half-curious, half-concerned, but she does squeeze his hand back, gently, in a reassuring manner. It's a little awkward, now that the urgency of physical contact has abated somewhat but it didn't take her long to touch into his moods. "We'll talk about it later," she reassures him.

"I'll be back in the science building - the one we just left, but on a different floor," she tells him. "Third instead of the first. I…guess….you can just meet me at the side door where we left when…uh. Yeah." She glances away a bit, she can't help the flaring of color on her cheeks. "I mean by now you know where it is." Because they just came from there. And given the constant use of her powers these days, it seems to have kicked up her metabolism from normal to crazed. While she's hardly rail-thin or bony, her collarbones showed more prominently by the looks of how her mother's crucifix was resting in the dip between them. "Peter….are…..you….okay?" she asks. Physically, he was fine, but… "You know we don't have to….I mean, you must be really tired. You don't look like you've slept too much at all."

—-

The only thing that might offset this perception would be his eyes. Peter's looking at things a lot differently than most people might. How many of these people were lugged off to detention camps, treated no better than animals? How many died in the storms that threaten to ravage the city in a few short months? Most likely, they'll never know if he changes anything, they'll never have to know. And he's glad for that. He hopes none of them come anywhere close to knowing what could have happened. He'd spare the girl whose hand he's holding if he could—

"Later— I promise." No reason to make her sit through hours of classes with the knowledge that he's dead in the future. That's one of the many things they'll need to talk about— and he'll insist she eats a full meal's worth first. "I'll meet you at the side entrance of the science building— where we kissed." She may stumble over it, but he's not quite as bad about it. They kissed. More than once. And she technically intiated one of them.

"I'll be fine," he says softly, "Didn't get much sleep the last month or so. Looks like I'd been there just as long as I've been gone." He'll have to check a few things out, but he's pretty sure it's a day-to-day conversion. Which is weird to him, but— at least he won't have to try and refigure his birthday. They're close to the building now, and he thinks he has enough time to stop. They're close to one of the entrances, "Elena…"

That darkened look in his eyes softens, but it's no less serious. "I didn't really— last time I didn't make it clear— so…" He takes a slow breath. "This isn't just a business dinner. It'll be important and— there's a lot we need to talk about— but— It's not just business." Is that clear enough?

—-

Give her time to recover! It's not every day a girl gets kidnapped away from an angry professor by an invisible man! Elena does keep a careful eye on him though, watching him as he watches everyone else strolling about campus. They're near the Liberal Arts building now, closer to the steps. She's got class in three minutes - Advanced Shakespeare, which she had with Nadia who was probably already saving her a seat inside. But his grip is tight on her hand, and she didn't have the heart to let go just yet. He'd been gone for a month. He saw things that weren't easy to see. And he hasn't been sleeping….

"Okay," she says, giving him a brief nod when he mentions later. And when he reassures her that he's going to be fine, she inclines her head a little bit. But then he stops walking, and since he's the one leading her, she has to stop as well. "And….what? Oh, you mean….I guess so. I don't know. I could give you a paper but I think you're right. Not bad, for a first time time traveler." She gives him a small smile, trying to lighten up the mood. It can't be so doom and gloom so fast, right? Just how bad had it been?

"…you…didn't make what clear? And which last time?" Elena wonders, looking up at him and at the serious-but-soft expression on his face. But when he gets into more detail, she blinks at him once…..and when it starts to sink in, her lips part in a small, "Oh…." She scuffs her toe a little bit on the ground, her free hand sliding in her pocket as she glances to the side. "About…how we parted the last time?" Which had been a lot of yelling and things exploding.

—-

"OMG. THERE YOU ARE," comes a heavily New York accented voice from the building's entrance. "Class is cancelled.. and HOLY EFF. Is this the guy? The one you've been crushing about? NICE choice!" Tact, what's that? Nadia seems to have little grasp of the concept as she shoulders her bag and darts over to Elena and Peter.. whom her eyes are feasting all over. "Were you two totally about to kiss? 'Cause if you want, I could turn away, avert my eyes. You two are SO adorable, which makes me sad, cause this guy's all Italian looking and /hot/." Does she stop to breathe in between sentences? Unaware of what she's interrupted or that she's making anyone uncomfortable, an arm is slung around Elena's shoulders in a congratulatory and sisterly hug. "Hi. I'm Nadia." Her free hand is thrust out in Peter's direction for a shake.

—-

…She didn't get it, did she? Peter's shoulders actually slump a little. He's going to have to me more clear about this. He really is. And he's starting to. "Elena, I'm trying to ask…" He's cut off. My an OH. And an EM. And a GEE. He blinks, glances over and— there's an Italian girl. The class is cancelled? Well, that makes things easier, a little, but at the same time— He lets go of Elena's hand, just out of surprise more than a guilty conscience. He'll get over it quickly. "Nadia— I heard about you." In the future. He's careful not to say that— she might be a "normal" friend, after all. In fact he's pretty sure she is. But— "The one with the tattoo. It's— nice to actually meet you." And now he's not sure he can finish what he was trying to do. There's someone around. Someone calling him cute and making sounds like they'd been about to kiss again. Which— is very possible.

—-

The blast of OMG from the top of the stairs causes Elena to whirl around. "….oh my god. Nadia," she says, even as her friend bounds over. She's lost track as to how many times she's said that phrase since meeting her, but when she makes a beeline to verbally assault Peter, who lets go of her hand, she….turns into a very interesting shade of purple and crimson. "N- N- Nadia!" she blurts out nervously when she turns to Peter and spills and overexaggerates things. ……okay maybe not so much any more, but when she told her about him BACK THEN, she made it clear he was a buddy! But when Peter says he's heard of her, she gapes at him. She doesn't know if she's mentioned Nadia before to him, but she definitely recalls not telling Peter about her tattoo. She sighs, and hangs her head comically. "….Nadia Selvaggi, Peter Petrelli," she introduces, still somewhat red in the face.

And then there is a pause. She turns fully to face Nadia and… "What do you mean class is cancelled?" she demands, focusing on more important things than her SHEER EMBARASSMENT. "I studied for this test for five hours yesterday!"

—-

Nadia winks at Peter, "All good things I hope!" Her grin is very cheeky and amused. "Oh, you told him about my tattoo? You shouldn't have, you cheeky monkey!" Her arm tightens around Elena's shoulders, but her grin never wavers. "/Love/ the thing that your hair's doing by the way," she says, looking up at Peter's hair. She gestures to her own hair by making a flippy motion. "SO nice to meet you!! You and Elena should so come on a double date with me and my man. It'll be a blast!" Oooh poor choice of wording there. Haha. "I mean… class is C A N C E L L E D. Professor upchucked, the TA didn't wanna deal with it, so boom. No class. Or so that's what's being said. Let's go get some coffee! Peter, love the name too. Peter Petrelli, it's got this amazing ring to it and it's so deliciously Italian."

—-

"Technically I— was told that— did she talk you into getting one already?" Peter looks towards his friend, who he'd just been trying to make more than a friend, but that didn't quite work out how he'd planned. He'll give it another try, though. He absently runs his hand through his hair, pushing back the lock that's dangling on his forehead. He hadn't had much time to cut his hair the last month— and he hadn't really wanted to anyway, but… double date. Thank you, Nadia. "I think that's a great idea." Maybe now she'll get what he was trying to tell her by their dinner outing tonight not being all business. If not, he'll keep trying. "Thank you— I have some time left— no plans until five— let's get coffee." Take the poor girl's mind off studying for five hours for a test that won't be happening yet.

—-

"….as you can tell she's a little biased about the Italian thing," Elena remarks dryly as an aside, even as she's squished by the huggy Nadia. She can't help but smile though. As boisterous as her other Italian friend was, Nadia was a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately she has absolutely no idea she's a mafia princess. "And you know I've actually never met Leo yet," she points out. But when Peter latches onto the double date idea, she can't help but stare at him a little bit. Now it's sinking in. First thing's first. She hugs Nadia back. "Coffee it is. Which means I've got an hour before lab." She gestures to the side of campus. "I think Flava Java just reopened after their summer renovations, we can go there." And then…wait a minute. How did he know about her tattoo? "Oh, uh…yeah I did. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it was going to," she tells Peter, taking a step in the right direction. "But yes. The devil woman over there talked me into it."

—-

Nadia loops her arm through Elena's, the other one through Peter's. It's like totally down the yellow brick road or something. "Yay!" Who actually says 'yay' anymore? Gosh! "DUH Elena, it's how I was raised. Italia first! You saw how my dad was about the Irish bar he caught me in, by the way, your friend, he's not pissed about that is he? Dad's uptight a lot of the time and I've been meaning to go apologize about that whole incident. And YEAH. I know. We've got to fix that about Leo. He's such a clueless dork, but I love him." She marches her friends, cause Peter now counts by proxy to Elena, so there, off to the nearest coffee joint. "And her new tattoo is simply /adorable/. Play your cards right, she might show it to you.. or when nerd girl slips off to lab, I'll show you the picture!"

—-

Arms linked, Peter looks across the other girl towards the one he'd… probably rather be linked arm in arm to, but he'll allow this. At least she's given him an in to the whole date thing by suggesting a double. "Nothing wrong with Italian, no," he has to admit, even if he's never really been raised with the same lifestyle as many others. Father may have been a mob lawyer, but that really doesn't mean he was involved with that. And luckily he doesn't recognize her name as a "family"… if it even is recognizable. So she has gotten the tattoo already. He actually smiles faintly at that, then looks surprised 'if he plays his cards right'? "It's on her shoulderblade right?" That shouldn't be too difficult to get to see— all she'd have to do is wear a strapped shirt of some kind… or a tank top…

—-

"Jack? I think Jack's forgotten about it, but I don't think he blames you. He's pretty nice when it comes to the cute girls. Shades of his player past and everything." Before Trina anyway. She flashes a small, almost timid smile over at Peter - but it's far from apologetic. He knew she had a lot of friends. Besides, he might find in something in common with Nadia. When Nadia brings up the tattoo, she flushes red again. "Nadia! Oh my god, I told you to delete that picture!" she cries, horrified. NOW SHE CAN'T LEAVE FOR LAB with Nadia dangling the picture around like that. And when Peter mentions where it…..wasn't, she blinks at him confusedly. Did Future Her have it in her shoulderblade? "Oh…uh. No…it…if I put it in the shoulderblade it would be too visible, so I…um. It's well hidden. OH LOOK. There it is!" She unlinks, striding forward hurriedly so she can open the door for both Nadia and Peter to the on-campus coffeehouse.

—-

"Oh you have noooo idea emo boy," Nadia says with a wiiiiide grin up at Peter. In other words, no. "Oh good.. Jack was pretty damn cool and all. He let me jump over his counter and everything. Of course he got a peep show at my thong when my skirt flapped up." By the way, you're welcome for that mental image. "Delete it? Are you kidding, this is GOLD baby. Pure gold and it's a great memento of our bonding." When Elena makes a fierce attempt to change the subject, Nadia grins up at Peter, "She's so adorable, you could just eat her up!"

—-

"It's— well hidden…" Peter's looking between them both, almost shaking his head while he does this. That could mean a lot of areas that— yeah— he'd have to play his cards right to get to see. Looks like more changed already than just MIT. He's very tempted to make sure it's still a rose, but he's almost afraid to ask where it is considering how— up front this young woman seems to be. The chances he'll get to see the tattoo later by picture are pretty good— but it's better he not upset Elena by bringing that up. "How did you two meet?" he asks, stepping into the on campus coffee house. Him and Elena met in a coffee house, come to think of it— But that's neither here nor there.

—-

She follows after them. "In front of the Starbucks I used to work." Peter would remember the place well, that was how they met. "I was waiting for Sam to get off her shift, and Nadia was just standing outside the same area I was, chatting away with her mom on the phone - who apparently seems pretty cool." Elena glances over at Nadia and smiles, wandering over to one of the tables closest to the big windows overlooking the main quad. "We just hit it off, I guess. We have a lot in common. Large, loud families, overprotective fathers….apparently Mr. Selvaggi really likes the power drill." As opposed to running over small animals with a van. She takes a seat, signaling for a waitress to come over and see to them.

—-

Nadia doesn't relinquish her hold on Peter's arm until they reach the door and walk into the coffeeshop. "We ran into each other while shopping. Don't even ask me what I was buying that day because I SO don't remember. Meeting Elena is like the shining moment for that day!" Giggling, Nadia sits down across from Elena, and angles her seat so that Peter /has/ to sit next to Elena. "Daddy likes to scare the neighborhood kids with it," she says breezily. "He's just a big ol' bear." And she does mean bear.. not teddy bear either. Carmine is a scary man when riled. "Oh I hope the tea's good here, I so don't need anymore caffeine." Which is putting it mildly. "Hrm.. I could go half and half.. OH SO! Double date, where to? Leo's used to me picking the places, he's not all there when it comes to picking date spots."

—-

Even if the Italian princess hadn't forced his hand, Peter would have sat next to Elena anyway. Settling down into the seat, he smiles at her, and nods. "We met in Starbucks too— I was having a late night coffee craving. Last order of the day." And he'd just escaped from the evil clutches of the Company not a few days before that, with a little help from her and her friends. First, ordering drinks. He gets a coffee, regular and black. He looks tired, so he might actually need it. "Mm… Well, we could go to dinner or a movie— or maybe a play on broadway. Or a night club— though I'm not that great of a dancer." They have options. His most recent dates have all been to… arcades or amusement parks… It's not late enough in the year for ice skating yet, though it's getting there. "Anywhere you'd like to go, Elena?"

—-

"You were getting reminded by your mom to buy pasta, though I forget what kind," Elena tells Nadia with a grin. "And you were just clothes shopping, you mentioned you were stopping by the groceries after." She scoots a bit to make room for Peter, ordering the same - coffee, black. She was going to need it for lab. Quitting Starbucks has done wonders for her ability to ingest coffee again. Whenever Nadia orders her tea, the waitress leaves, and she leans back on her chair. "…..clubbing? Really?" she wonders out loud, glancing at Peter. He didn't seem to be the clubbing type. Peter always seemed to be the sort who indulged in quieter pleasures. But when Peter asks, she blinks. He….was serious? "Uh…well…" Oh sure, ask someone who's only been on two dates her entire life! She ponders, absently toying with her napkin. "Dinner and a movie sounds good. Unless you find that boring, Nadia," she asks her friend with a grin. "Though if you guys want a more active night….the Annual New York Salsa Congress is sometime this weekend. It's a dance and music festival. Instructors go around, show you some moves, live bands playing all night. It's pretty fun, a bunch of us from Dance Corps went last year."

—-

Nadia looks between the pair with beaming expectance. This is all on you now Elena. "You so don't wanna leave this up to me to decide. C'mon girly girl, pick a spot, any spot!" As to the topic of dancing.. "PP, I don't think she'll care if you're a good dancer or not," and yes, she's deliberately phrasing this as if Elena weren't there. As Elena rattles off the details of their first meeting, "How do you remember this shit? You really are a nerd!" and it's said with the most affection. "Oh jeez and that's such a tough decision.. hoooow about.. the Salsa thingie one night and another we do the dinner and a movie?" Because in her mind? This is not going to be a one time double date. Oh no.

—-

"Just— Peter's fine," the former nurse tries to cope with being called PP. By all rights… it's one of the worst nicknames. Even moreso than Heidi's Piglet. "I think the dance festival is a good idea— you did promise you'd teach me how to dance someday— and I'll have to return the favor by teaching you how to iceskate when it gets cooler." It's already cooling, but in later months, this will be an even better time to learn how to skate on frozen ice. Course he could find out she already knows how— he's not sure if it ever got brought up. "So two dates already— just so long as you let me have a couple with her alone before then. I've been gone a month— we have a lot of catching up to do." Yes, he just asked her out on extra dates— indirectly.

Elena has no idea how to ice skate. She was a warm weather person, trying to drag her out of bed during colder months was a chore. But when Nadia proposes two double-dates as opposed to just one, she almost chokes on her coffee. How did she get from one date to two already just by sitting there? "I did…" she says to Peter, feeling a little lightheaded. Wait. What's going on? "And I remember because….hey, I need the elephantine memory, okay? I'm pre-med. You think I'd be able to spell half the diseases I'm learning about without it?" She winks at Nadia. Yes. Nerdy Elena is Nerdy. And at what Peter says, she's staring at him from where she's sitting. She's….what? Alone? "I— " she says, surprise etched on her face. But she tacks on to the last words he says, and she nods to Nadia. "He's…..been traveling," she says. "He was on a trip the last month. He just got back today."

—-

"OMG, that's so cute. Ice skating. Take her to Rockefeller Center! You /have/ to," Nadia says, bouncing a little in her seat and clapping her hands. Then she's nudging Peter, "Sure thing, two double dates then she's all yours tiger. I have to vet you for my BFF you see. Grr. Protective of her and all! I think she also needs supervision for a little bit. For all those brains, she needs a bit of schooling for dates." Then she's whirling to look at Elena, "We are going to have so much fun! You. Me. We're so shopping. We're gonna blow our mens' heads."

—-

"It was a rough trip," Peter admits, taking a drink from his coffee before he smiles across at the BFF. She's an interesting young woman— though at the same time he's been kind of the best friend— until a month ago when they fought and he vanished, and now he's meeting her female best friend. It's a different kind of creature, there. But— he was planning to take her out on dates before these double dates, and he opens his mouth to say so. Thank goodness he's not drinking when she says what she does. He's stuck staring a little. Did she just— seriously say— He's just going to sit here— and stare at her. Give him a minute.

—-

"….I've never learned…" Elena tries to say in between Italian chatterings. "I might cause an accident…" Because the Gomez lady on ice skates is either a tragedy or a comedy (possibly both) waiting to happen. "…wait. Vet him? What does that mean?" she wonders. "He's not going into battle, you know!" She would like to THINK spending time with her wasn't all that dangerous….if you didn't count the overprotective people in her life. But when Nadia excitedly blares about going shopping, she looks down at her clothes. "….I….we don't really need to dress up for these things, do we?" she asks. She's not exactly unfashionable, she lived in New York after all and went to college there, but she preferred dressing down than up. She takes a sip of her coffee….and half-chokes, half-sprays it into her napkin. At least it doesn't go on Peter or Nadia. But she does cough, keeling over a bit as she does and her napkin pressed against her mouth, her eyes watering. Oh god.

Nadia seriously said it. Expect anything to come out of Nadia's mouth. Really. She reaches over and soft punches Elena in the arm, "No, but that's not the point you tard! Trust me, the boys will thank us later. I know my man will. Not that he's interested in what I'm wearing." As to the stares and shocked faces she's earning. Clueless! With an angelic smile, she sips at her tea. What?

—-

"The movie and dinner can be casual, but a dance festival might need to be a little more dressed up," Peter adds, so she doesn't have to feel she's getting too pressured— and her reaction is cute. It helps him smile after his original stunned look. He's actually really glad he's getting to meet her— even if the idea of a double date might be a little on the weird side. He's just going to smile at the now, lopsided as it may be. Then he makes the bad decision to look at his watch. "I should get going. I have a couple phone calls I need to make before dinner, and the longer I stay here, the less chance they'll get done." He drinks more on his coffee, then pulls out his wallet and fishes out a couple dollar bills. Luckily he doesn't grab any that were printed in 2008. But it looks like he's going to pay. He's not gone yet, though.

—-

"I should— " Elena is about to reach for her wallet, when Peter pretty much takes the tab in that unassuming way of his. …well, she could always pay him back, right? How does this work? She didn't know anymore! Insert internal flailing here. She's still got some coffee left, and some time before class, so she remains where she is. "Alright, you know where to meet up, yeah?" she asks, propping her chin on one hand and angling it slightly upwards so she could look at him as he stands. The science building, but she still looks a little befuddled. He'd been trying to tell her something earlier before Nadia came in - but whatever it was, she'll find out later. "Try and get some sleep, okay?" she says, a small frown etched on her mouth. "I mean, you must be tired. You just got back today."

Poo, Peter is no fun. However, Nadia is not deterred. "We're still going shopping," she says, beaming at Elena. Because that's what girl buds like to do. "Aw, and I still have to show you the picture of Elena's tattoo.. but I'll be a good girl. I'll let her show you that herself!" She wriggles her fingers at Peter, "I'm /so/ glad I'm finally getting to meet you, Peter. Seriously. I've been trying to pry information out of Elena here about her mystery guy for months. She's very tight lipped." Nadia scootches her chair around closer to Elena, because.. it is almost time for whispered giggles and probing for information.

—-

"Yeah, science building— side entrance. I remember," Peter's standing already, putting his wallet back into his pocket. There's a pause, hesitation. He glances across at Nadia. She's giving him a poo-poo look and— sometimes it's fun to do things like this. He reaches over and touches Elena's cheek gently, just enough to get her attention, and then— yes— he's kissing her. In public. Just a light kiss, but it's on the lips, and there's a lingering touch of their noses when he pulls back. "I missed you." There's something about the way he says that that says something else all together. "It was nice to meet you, Nadia." And with that, he'll attempt to slip away, if the Latina girl doesn't forcefully stop him.

—-

"If you want, yes, we can go shopping," Elena says with a sigh, and a fond smile directed towards Nadia. Of course when the Italian girl scoots over to her, her attention is on her female friend. The touch on her cheek works to divert her attention though, and she turns around expectantly, mouth parted to inquire when Peter leans in and kisses her lightly on the mouth. There's a blink, and a….well, she's staring at him a bit. But since his face is lingering there, her eyelashes drop halfway as he affectionately touches his nose to hers. And then, he's up…before he gets too far, though, he'll find her fingers pulling his sleeve on the wrist lightly back. She's still a little pink on the cheeks, her eyes on the table. But she does stand up afterwards, succumbing to everything, and angles her face up to brush her mouth lightly on his. "Seeya," she murmurs against it.

—-

*SNICK* That would be the sound of a cellphone camera going off, followed by, "WOOHOOO! That's the money shot I'm talkin' about!" And Nadia's dancing in her seat, more of a butt cheek wiggle, but it's still seat dancing! "It was so NICE to meet you Peter Petrelli!" Then, she's turning and BEAMING at Elena. "You two are so freaking adorable."

—-

That— "I want a copy of that, so don't make her delete it," Peter says to Elena, touching her hand for a moment and keeping it there. He leans in one last time, this time to press his cheek against hers and whisper something into her ear. What he said without saying— it's getting said. But at least he'll save that just for her. "I'll see you at five." For their dinner date. Now— now he'll leave. He's stunned the poor girl enough. The future taught him a thing or two about seizing the moment.

—-

"-Nadia-!" Elena groans, and tries to get the pesky camera away from her. Of course, she fails. And Peter oddly enough wants a copy of that. She's still a little red, and she grumps. "I don't believe this. The two of you just met and you're ganging up on me already." She can't help the wisecrack, she was a little nervous - she can't even believe what she just did. But then his lightly-stubbled cheek brushes against hers, and he murmurs what he does, her eyes widen…enough that the gold flecks could be seen clearly. She turns around, staring after Peter at what he had left her with before departing, fingers coming up to touch her cheek. "………"

Wh. What's gotten -into- him?

—-

Nadia leans over and gives Elena a sisterly cheek kiss. "Aw, just adorable. C'mon, finish your coffee, I'll walk with you to the lab." And she's downing the rest of her tea. The joking and teasing backs off immensely as Peter departs. Looks like she's trying to reign herself in and not come across so strongly with her enthusiasm.

—-

She's a little stunned when she sits back down. Elena glances at her coffee. "….uh….what?" she says, looking up at Nadia, having been torn out of the film of haze that had overtaken her befuddled little brain. "Oh, yeah. Coffee." She downs the rest of it, and she smiles, gathering up her things. "Let's go?" She stands up from her seat, sliding her hands in her pockets. Her cheek still tingled. His whisper takes over most of her conscious thought. First, the what and then the since when. She glances over the door again - she can't help but wonder what happened in the Dark Future that changed him to this extent.

Nadia slides her arm around Elena supportively after the pair get out of their seats. "C'mon honey, you look like you just got the shock of your life." From teasingly vivacious, she's now tending to Elena and completely backing off. Aw. "Too bad you've got lab, otherwise I'd take you for a pedicure. Looks like you could use the relaxation. I swear it's better than what'cha call it.. meditation. Yeah."

—-

"Oh it's okay. I need something to take my mind off the last couple of hours anyway," Elena says. "It's not every day your best friend kidnaps you from your classes and suddenly….does…." She gestures vaguely to the side. But with Nadia tending to her now, she can''t help but loop her arm around her as they head out of the coffeehouse. She can't help but laugh a little. "It's complicated, I guess. I mean, it shouldn't be but….yeah." She lifts one shoulder up in a shrug. "And….I kind of sort of blew up the lab. One of them. Dr. Morrison's gonna kill me. I didn't know what else to do, he just flew in there like a pigeon out of hell looking for me while I was mixing chemicals."

—-

"You are /so/ dead. This is why I don't do chemistry. I completely lose my head and there's no way I'd remember about cutting blue and red wires." What? Nadia's gotten off track. "Or whatever all that is." Honestly, she's smarter than this. She's just in babblebrain excited mode. "Sooo.. to class with you, then you're going off to meet up with a very cute catch. Very good job."

—-

If she were drawn a cartoon, her head would be hanging and a large drop of sweat would be over it as she walks. "…yeah yeah," Elena says with a sigh. Yes. Go her. She's still a little….what's gotten into him? What's gotten into her? One month of no contact and…she should be mad at him! Worry and the Fate of the World (or at least New York City) tended to eat away at that she supposes. But she does squeeze Nadia in a one-armed hug. "So I guess I'll be seeing you and your Leo over the weekend. We can go shopping later tomorrow after school if you like." Besides, it's Nadia. This is how they roll.

And so, off they go, to the science building, and the hallowed halls of Nerd.

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