2008-01-16: Bloody Hands

Starring:

Kory_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Though he's covered in blood, Peter seeks out someone. Can things get better, or will they just get worse?

Date It Happened: January 16th, 2008

Bloody Hands


Kory's Dreams

It's been a hectic, trying week, but Kory is trying her best to put it behind her. She came home to a message from her grandmother, indicating Kory would be needed to come home right away to help dear old granny with some stuff she's too old and feeble to do. Translation? Brother Anzeti came home with his tail between his legs after beating up on Kory's boyfriend-but-not-quite-ex-boyfriend, and dear old granny made him sing like a canary. So now she wants to spoil her granddaughter a bit. Kory's amused and pleased, so pulls out a bag to pack, while she has some of that tea she got for Christmas.

But she realizes the time is coming up on when Peter normally contacts her. And he missed a night; so she's concerned. She finishes the cup, and ten or fifteen minutes later, her fingers relax. The cup falls, and she's asleep sprawled in her favourite comfy chair.

It's not his apartment that Peter's in for the night, but a hotel room, paid for in cash. There's a drip of water close to where he's settled down for the moment, and he looks across at the wall. The sound of laughter can be heard in the distance, through the wall. A family, or a couple, or a group of friends— he doesn't know, but it makes him close his eyes and seek somewhere quieter—

One dream flickers in the sea of dreams, a great expanse that's only gotten bigger the last few nights, as he's found ways to stretch his influence further and further… One dream is far more familiar than any of the others, and even though part of him wants to avoid it, he can't help but reach out and touch it, slowly slipping inside.

Whatever the dream she might have, as soon as he steps into it, it turns darker. He's soaked, as if water poured down on him, soaking his clothes, his hair— but unable to wash away blood that stains his hands.

Kory's dreamscape is a bit less peaceful than the last time Peter saw her. There's a decent sized bonfire burning away, and it's the only light in an otherwise unbroken expanse of cold black, punctuated by blowing snow. She's sitting by the fire, eating a slice of apple pie, and basking in the warmth.

Kory looks up, though, sensing Peter's presence. "You're soaking wet," she gasps. How fortuitous there's a fire. "Come get warm by the fire. Right now." Her tone is not commanding, so much as it is concerned, but there is still an urgency there. Perhaps she's concerned of the idea of certain things befalling one in the real world if dreamed.

"The fire won't help," Peter says, voice thick and tense, but he moves closer and settles down next to it anyway, though the heat doesn't seem to touch him. The dampness remains, he's cold to the touch. Almost like he decided to run a shower over his head with his clothes on. The bloody hands lift up so he can look at them and he shakes his head. "I'm sorry, Kory… I won't be able to meet with you like this anymore." His tone is quiet, whispered, barely audible over the crackling of the fire, or the wind. The hope that always shined under the surface even in the worst of times has flickered almost entirely out of his eyes, replaced in by the guilt and the self hatred that occassionally made an appearance.

Kory watches, frowning. "Peter, what…what's going on?" She takes his hands, undaunted by the fact that he's cold and wet. "Has the Company found you?" The shining hope he wears like a standard seems to be gone, and that's more frightening than the tension in his voice. "Talk to me, Peter. That's what I'm here for."

"You'll get blood on you," Peter warns as she takes his hands, looking away from the fire and toward the hands that hold onto him. The blood doesn't spread to her immediately, as if he's trying desperately to keep it to himself. Metaphorical blood, it would seem… didn't he have blood on him another time they shared a dream. "They didn't find me— I went after them first," he adds, tone lowering even more, a rough sound starting to grate his words. "All I wanted was answers… All they had to do was give them to me…" There's another pause, and his eyes raise up, "Why are you helping me, Kory?"

Kory winces internally, but she is controlled enough not to let that show outwardly, where Peter would see it. He's worried about her. Everybody's worried about her. She'd be angry about it, but it's been a long week and she's not sure she wants to waste any more energy proving she's not a delicate spun sugar sculpture.

She's noticed every one of his dreamform shifts. She's seen the blood, and it didn't scare her before. It isn't frightening her now. She doesn't let go of his hands. "Because you're a good person," she say, in answer to his entreaty. "Because you want to help. You want to make the world a better place." It's the way she tries to live her own life. The way her dad would've wanted her to.

"What if I'm not a good person?" Peter asks, shaking his head and trying to pull his hands away against her will. It's her dream, she's stronger than him in the dream, and he's mentally shattered at the moment, so likely, he will not succeed very well at his attempts. "All I wanted was answers… Maybe I got them. Maybe I am the thing that should have been destroyed a year ago in the Plaza." There's that self-hatred, that guilt, stronger than ever. The blood on his hands seems to get thicker, and the fire crackles higher than before, as if he wants it to burn him. "Maybe you shouldn't help me— maybe you wouldn't if you really understood…"

Kory shakes her head. The Peter she knows? She met him in a dream not too much unlike this one: and his first reaction was to help. It's always been his first reaction, near as she can tell, and she is aware something's deeply wrong. Something has shaken his faith in himself right down to the foundations. "Even good people mess up sometimes," she says gently. "You're a good person. Everything I know about you tells me you're a good person. Would you try so hard to protect everybody if you weren't?" She reaches up and touches his chin, to force him to look at her. "I'm not an angel, and I can't tell you what the world would be like without you. But you know as well as I do what might've happened to friends of ours if you weren't around." She shakes her head. "I'm your friend, Peter. Even when times aren't good."

"Maybe you don't know everything about me. Maybe you should," Peter says, looking over at the bonefire. As she touches his cheek, it means she doesn't have quite as firm a hold on his hands as she had before, one of them moves away, stretching toward the fire. He's not close enough to do much more than hold it out, but the heat should be an unpleasant experience. "I'm not helping anyone. I don't deserve your help, or your trust— whenever I reach to you like this— over a further distance— anything that happened to me here, carried over when I pulled back out." It's the first time he's mentioned that small hitch in dreaming over a distance— it just hasn't come up. "If someone killed me in this— do you think I'd actually stay dead?"

"Nobody knows everything about anybody," Kory is quick to reply. "People married for sixty years occasionally surprise each other." She shakes her head, and lowers her hand again to hold his. "Beating yourself up is not going to fix whatever has happened." She widens her eyes as he mentions the issue of dreaming carrying over into the waking world. She'd always been aware of the old belief that if you die in your dream, you die in the waking world. What Peter describes is that fear in microcosm. "I don't know. But we can be careful that doesn't happen," Kory says, seriously. "Listen to me, okay? Whatever has hurt you, it doesn't have to crush you unless you let it. You can get through whatever this is. You're not alone." He reminded her of that; turnabout is fair play.

"Maybe I should be," Peter says, voice turning harsh. This time when he pulls away, he succeeds, actually getting back to his feet again. A new source of frustration shines through, after. His clothes don't change, he continues to be soaked, but now his hair actually seems to be slicked back, bangs clinging to his scalp thanks to the moisture. "Maybe it's not me you should worry about getting crushed. Maybe you should worry about who I'm going to crush next." Suddenly there's a gun in his hand, materialized there. He flips it around and holds the handle out to her. It seems he at least knows how to hold a gun. "Maybe you should kill me before I hurt anyone else. Could be this is all I was ever meant to be. A bomb. A weapon. I can't really save anyone."

Kory takes the gun and tosses it into the air. It's her dream, not his; and she wouldn't hurt a fly except in self defense. The gun dematerializes. "Who have you crushed, Peter?" she asks, gently, reaching to draw him into an embrace, as he did for her. She doesn't mind that he's still soaked. She's warm, radiating warmth to him; a tactile reminder of the warmth of their friendship. "All I've ever known of you has been kindness, Peter. Even if you're not meant to save everyone, you're not some kind of waste that should be put down to protect everyone else. I don't believe that. And deep down, you can't believe that either."

The embrace doesn't warm him anywhere near as much as it should— it still feels as if he decided to jump into a river, or try to pour cold water over his head. This time the water does try to soak into her, but the blood doesn't spread, staying right where it is on his hands. The blood is his— he can't wash it off, can't rub it off, and it shouldn't be places on anyone else. Peter doesn't return the embrace, either way. "My mother is one of the leaders of the Company— and so was Hiro's father. I didn't want to wait anymore— wait for them to come and take Gabriel— I wanted to know what they had planned for him." The longer he talks, the colder his voice gets, a forced kind of coldness. His subconscious is fully aware in this dream, he could lie— but there's no need to. No wish to. Or maybe the cold quality is as close to a lie as he can manage. "When he didn't tell me… I killed him."

Kory gasps, startled by this. She holds onto him, but it's an effort. Letting go would just prove this loathing part of him right, and she won't do that. She can tell from the way he phrased it, so bluntly — it wasn't self defense. At least, this part of him doesn't believe so. "Why?" she asks, gently tugging him back toward the fire. It blazes a bit brighter. The wind has stilled beyond their fire, though it's still a cold night.

"Because I needed answers," Peter says, unable to keep her from pulling him back toward the fire, though he doesn't really help make the job easier. It isn't so much that he's fighting her every step of the way, he's just being decidedly unhelpful. Could be he wants her to let go, to prove his self-hatred right. "He wouldn't tell me, he refused to tell me— just like everyone. I can't— I needed to know. I needed to know the truth, and I thought I could take it when he wouldn't just tell me." The cool tone starts to change again, frustration, heat beginning to rise up— and tension. The blood almost seems thicker than it'd been before, spreading up his arms and into his sleeves.

Kory listens. "You were angry… and you let your control slip." Regrettable. Unfortunate. And no one is being harder on Peter than Peter, obviously. "Now you know that slipping like that is both harmful and won't get you what you need." The fire burns warmer still. "What about your answers? You can't seek them out like this." The man wears his heart on his sleeve almost as much as Kory herself does. He must be a wreck.

"I wasn't angry at that point," Peter says, looking at her. He shakes his head, as if he doesn't think she could possibly understand. He'd been angry when he kidnapped him, he'd been angry when the questions weren't answered— "Something else happened. I wasn't angry anymore— next thing I knew I was cutting his forehead open, just like Sylar does. Just like Sylar killed all those people." He actually laughs, the blood's almost all the way up his sleeves now. The water's actually starting to dry, too. "The only answer I got is that I'm a threat to everyone tha I care about."

Kory watches, mutely, trying to keep the horror out of her expression as Peter's bloodstains move around. "It's obviously not the answer you want…but you're embracing it like it's the truth. Who has known you longer? Hiro's father — or you?" Just like Sylar. Why is that phrase bouncing around in her head like a lazy pixel?

"It's the truth… because I killed him, Kory," Peter says, trying to push away from her more forcefully now. As he does this, the blood may actually start to get left behind on her, but he doesn't notice that at first. "Because I couldn't stop it, because I couldn't change it. I couldn't heal him, I couldn't revive him. It doesn't matter. I even told Hiro to get him out of his office so he wouldn't be there, to travel back in time so it never happened. And it doesn't matter. There's nothing I can do to change it. How can I save anyone when I have blood on my hands?"

"I'm not denying that," Kory says, ignoring the blood. She's angry with him, now. He's giving up. On himself. And by extension, on Gabriel. On Jane. On anyone he's ever tried to help. "One terrible mistake does not completely overwrite all that you have ever been before that one terrible mistake. I understand you can't bring him back. Or undo it. But you can choose what you want to be. You can choose the path your life takes. But the first thing we have to do is figure out why Sylar's influence imposed over your natural mode of behaviour!"

"Because I'm no better than he is," Peter responds, still pulling away, trying to put some distance between them. The bloody smears from his hands are left behind on her clothes, unless she cleans them up, something he notices. The longer he stays with her, the more blood she'll have on her— "Not brothers in blood, but we're more similar than I ever thought." There's a quiet that starts to settle, though, even if the blood doesn't fade much from his hands or arms. It stops spreading up his clothes. Maybe he's trying to process what she said. Trying to think of something. The coat he's wearing disappears. He's left in just his sweater, soaked through with blood. And a watch that sits on his wrist. Still ticking.

"Are you not?" Kory demands, following him. Even though they're getting further away from the warmth of the fire. "What happened to 'if the bomb deserved another chance, why doesn't he'? What happened to seeking out the truth in him — to prove that he really did want to be a better man?" She brushes at her body almost as an afterthought. The blood steams off her, as she presses forward. "Isn't he even now making an effort to be a man, a good man, a man who fights to protect, rather than a killer? How did he begin to make those efforts, Peter? Alone? No! You put him on that path. So if you're no better than he is, he's better because of you!" She stops, though, and frowns at him. "Didn't we destroy that?" she asks, lifting his hand to peer dubiously at his watch. It's a question she's asked before, even, but since she's started drinking that tea, sometimes the details fuzz out a little bit.

"It's my watch," Peter responds absently, a lot of the argument falling out of him like drops of water that drop from his hair. "It was broken, and I fixed it." Despite the fact he's never fixed a watch before, doesn't know the first thing about them, and doesn't even remember doing it. "Maybe I can still get the answers I wanted…" he says, voice quieting back into a whisper as he looks down toward her feet, to the blood that he's gotten on her. Even if he's not alone… Even if he promised he'd be there for her… "This is too dangerous for you."

"It's not," Kory says. "You have only had it…" she pauses to think. "You've only had it," she frowns, eyes going swirly and iridescent as she dives into her own memory from inside her own dream. They snap back to their normal soft brown as it hits her. "Since we went into Sylar's dream!" The color drains out of her face, and her normal clothes turn to rags hanging loosely off her. "It's my fault. For…for not teaching you well enough before we did this." Her knees go out from under her, and she sinks to the ground at Peter's feet. "It's my fault this has happened to you." She clutches at her hair, and hangs her head. "My arrogance. I thought we could do it, because you're so confident and optimistic. I thought…my degree…but it wasn't enough. He was too strong for the both of us."

That makes him blink, because Peter didn't expect such a comment, or such a shift of blame in her direction. Maybe this is why he suddenly pales at the blood he's gotten on her, why he reaches forward as if he might try to wipe it off, but stops. He'll only get more on her. "This is not your fault. Don't blame yourself for any of this." He backs away a few more steps. "I have to go. I can't— I can't let you take the blame for my weakness." But he apparently can break his promise and run away. Which is exactly what he does, as he attempts to pull himself out and back into his physical body.

"It is," Kory says, voice shaking. "I should have trained with you longer. And…" And her eyes well with tears as he tries to back away. "Peter, don't. Please don't go. You promised. You said you wouldn't wall me out. You said you wouldn't leave." The words still hold the adult Kory's cadence, but by the time she gets to 'you said you wouldn't leave' she's a girl of only twelve. Still Kory. The hair, the eyes, the lips. All the same. But she's just a little girl. "You …you gave your word. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

The shift is seen. Peter stop trying to pull away, though he's gained some awareness of his body, some signs of where he is, where he's sitting. He could easily get back. There's even a hint of him fading out, almost as if he's started to turn transparent. But it stops when she shifts into a little girl, when her words hit certain buttons. The guilt appears. He can't stay. He can't give her anything except grief, blood and pain… but…

He closes his eyes and fades fully back into view, pieceing himself back together. If only he could leave a dream creation of himself behind for her, so that she could see him how he wishes he could really be. But he can't. He can't change how he feels right now. And he can't hide it. "I'll stay… a little longer." But he has to leave eventually…

Kory straightens and walks over to him. "You're my friend. I believe in you." Now her cadences match her youthful appearance. "I know you can come back to yourself. I know you can put the Sylar out. It's like getting a nasty stain out of your favourite warm sweater." She settles into his arms, and wipes sleepily at her eyes. It's getting hard for her to hold onto her end of the dreamscape. In moments, she'll drift into a deeper, post REM stage of sleep, and he'll be free to go.

Touching her with his bloody hands isn't something he wants, but Peter still holds onto her. He makes a conscious effort to keep the blood to himself. No more of it should be on her. "I hope you're right… I really do." But he might not have any of that faith in himself. At least she does— that's one person who believes in him. Maybe that will be enough. He takes a slow breath, and moves to kiss the top of her head. He'll wait for her to drift away fully, so he can leave, but he won't disappear until that happens. Maybe he can keep one promise.

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