2007-07-16: Five Seconds And Change

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Elena shows up for dinner and movie with Peter. They talk about many things, don't talk about some other things, and share a moment that lasts longer than five seconds.

Date It Happened: July 16th, 2007

Five Seconds and Change


Peter Petrelli's Apartment

He isn't back from work yet, and the first thing Elena notices about his place the moment she uses the spare key to enter inside Peter's apartment is the brand new TV and DVD situated in the living room, hooked up neatly and still sporting the newly minted Best Buy shine. "….what the hell, where did that come from?" she wonders out loud. She looks around for Snowy, and then promptly remembers that the fluffy white thing is, at present, residing with Julius and Caesar at the mansion.

"Right…" Elena murmurs, setting the paperbags she was carrying on the counters, and starts prepping the ingredients for what she's making. For ambience, she turns on the radio and turns the volume up so she can be a dork while she cooks. The dial turns…

~Now I've…had…the time of my li— ~ *SWITCH* ~And I would do anything for lo— ~ *SWITCH* ~Doncha wish your girlfriend was h— ~ *SWITCH* ~And if you follow, there may be no tomorrow….but if the offer is shun you might as well be walkin' on the sun…~

Huh. That last one reminds her of Heidi for some reason.

She tweaks the dial again. ~I've been around the world! I've seen a million girls! Ain't one of them got…~

"What my lady she's got!" Elena finishes, leaving the channel there as she washes some veggies and starts chopping things up, bobbing her head to AC/DC. She's got a couple of hours, might as well do what she can.

After said couple of hours, the time Peter arrives, judging by the smells out in the hallway he's clued into the fact that SOMEONE's invaded his apartment. Someone warbling to Rolling Stones's "Paint It Black."

—-

There might be a moments warning as the door unlocks, but since the kitchen is the first thing anyone sees when they open the door to apartment 1407… Peter can't miss her impromptu performance with back up and a spatula. "You beat me," is the first thing he says, before moving inside and closing the door behind him. Since no one else is supposed to be stopping by, he even puts the security chain on. That's mostly to keep his brother, mother, or sister-in-law from using their own keys. Security chain versus meddlers.

"Smells wonderful," he says, pulling the carrier bag off on his shoulder and setting it aside near the door for now. "What're you making?" He looks towards his stove, trying to figure it out based on sight and smell. From what he can gather— she's a better cook than he is. Which is good, because he pretty much taught himself in his bid for independance from the family.

"Is it okay if I shower first?" Though they hadn't set a time, he's still surprised to see her here already, cooking— and from the look on his face… he's not upset with her decision to use the key.

—-

She freezes, the spatula still poised against her mouth. Elena turns around and reaches out to the side to flick the switch of the radio off. "….you saw nothing," she tells him. Most of what she's wearing, just a pair of shorts and a halter, is covered up by a full apron with a cartoon frog on it. But she does grin at him. "Besides, this was going to take a while and nothing gets in the way of my movies. Not even food, so I figured after working all day today you were probably hungry."

She points to each pot on the stove. "Pasta, pesto sauce I'm gonna toss with it, there's garlic bread in the oven. I'll make the salad last. Also I have…absolutely no idea what you like for dessert so I bought one tira misu and one key lime pie. I would've made them myself but I don't want to leave your kitchen in too much of a mess."

And that's why he gave her a spare key, yes? Besides, even if he didn't she'd just Batman herself into his balcony again.

She looks over her shoulder and grins. "Go right ahead, nothing'll be ready for another…" She checks her watch. Thank you, Gene. "Fifteen to twenty minute or so."

—-

The key was actually to keep her from Batmaning into his apartment. Peter can just picture all her millions of friends appearing to beat him to death if she happened to fall trying to get inside to cook him dinner. But what he saw… that was her being adorable. Though he resists saying so, at least outloud. There's something softer in his expression, a hint of a smile, a quirk of one of his eyebrows. He's definitely pleased with her decision to sneak in to cook, and choose of food, and the state he found her in. So this is what it's like to come home from work to dinner?

"You like frogs, huh?" he says in a total tangent, pointing towards the apron she wears. That's not one of his, though if she'd looked around, he did have some. Reaching over, he touches her arm at the shoulder, just with two fingers really. There's a hint of hesitation in his expression, as if he's considering something… and then he lets his hand trail down towards her elbow before pulling away. "It sounds great— you already baked me cookies, so you didn't have to bake desert." And those desert choices aren't ones he'll argue against.

"I'll be cleaned up before it's ready," he adds, picking up his carrier bag and moving into the bedroom, where he drops the bag. There's a pause, and then he decides to close the double doors leading to the bedroom, before he sorts through clothes. Based on what she wore, he chooses a casual attire, before locking himself in the bathroom to shower and clean up. She'll get to listen to water running for a little while.

—-

Perhaps. When Elena is cooking anyway. She's done this for her father, brothers, sister…though these days Dezi takes over some of the cooking now too especially if Evosoft keeps her late out. Given how poor the family was, it wasn't like they could always afford to order food in. It seems, however, that their fortunes have turned a little bit now that Ramon's negotiated (and by negotiated, in this case, meaning 'asked') a pretty good salary, and Jaden's approved it. She's still at a loss as to how to make it up to her boss. What the hell do you get a man who can BUY anything?

The softer expression on Peter's face is returned with a rueful little grin, blowing a lock of hair away from her eyes as he comes closer. "I wouldn't say that but…it was a while ago, I was shopping around for new cookware and this little guy caught my eye. It was impulse," she replies. "Though it's kind of my thing anyway - I kept my cartoon ninja on my jPhone after I retired the old one." The touch on her arm causes her to pause what she's doing to look up at him inquiringly - however when he moves on she laughs. "Well I don't know if anyone would ever argue with both of those anyway." She hipbumps him lightly, because she can't leave the stove at the moment. "Go shower."

And once he moves off, she'll shut off one of the burners and strain the pasta. She turns on the radio again. Amidst the sound of running water are strains of Wonderwall by Oasis.

~Because baby…you're gonan be the one that saves me? And after all….you're my wonderwaaa— aaaall~

And whenever he steps out of the bathroom, he'll find her bustling around the living room, the bowl of pasta and tongs already tossed in the pesto sauce on the coffee table, as well as the platter of garlic bread, and a wooden salad bowl full of mixed greens and whatever she could find for salad dressing in Peter's fridge. She's putting down two plates, stacked together, as well as some silverware.

"How was work?" she asks, looking up.

—-

There's a few ways to make it up to a guy who has everything material. That may not be an option, though. Because some of those things the man might ask for now that he's single would be postitively immoral. Freshly showered and hair combed back, Peter opens the double doors wearing a navy polo shirt and a pair of jeans. Shorts never seemed to be his particular choice when it came to clothes, but they're loose jeans, at least.

The radio seems to be choosing good songs, too.

Moving to begin putting things into a stack, because he honestly hadn't expected her to be here yet, and he's getting self conscious about the whole… state of his apartment. Moving things around had been required to make room for brand new flat screen television and… he really hopes she didn't spot the music box sitting on his desk. He puts a magazine over it just in case. It's not time for that yet! After they eat.

"Work wasn't bad," he says as he turns back around. "Lot of sitting and standing. I got a few chapters done on a book I was reading…" On meditition techniques, actually. "Same as usual, no explosions or displays of craziness. But— looks like I have an assignment at Bat Country in a few nights. We're going to try to help Niki with her problems." Always a hero, even to someone whose problem got him killed.

—-

She hasn't, considering the first thing she did upon entering his apartment is to make a beeline towards the kitchen. And busy Elena is busy. So whenever Peter makes his reapparance and having cleaned up a bit, she grins at him. But when he starts trying to tidy up the place a little, she laughs. "You know you don't have to clean up for me right?" she states, leaning over to use the salad fork and spatula-type thing to toss the greens around to get some color out. "My own room's a state of organized clutter." ….but he's been in it. Cough. Thankfully her back is turned when she says this. She looks over her shoulder and winks at him. "Besides, it's just me."

Buddy. Pal.

…or not.

She still has absolutely no clue that Heidi TOLD HIM. If she found out, she'd be MORTIFIED.

She covers up the pasta bowl to keep the heat in, so she could move over and shut off the radio. "Oh? Which book?" she asks, her curiosity piqued. And about Niki, her expression shifts, looking a little wary. "And….that's good. ….you and Cass sure about that though? There are precautions in place right?" Well she can't help it. After what she heard, the idea of Niki/Jessica in the same room with the same two people she injured grievously made her a little nervous.

—-

Yeah, it's a good thing she's turned around when she mentions her room. He's seen it more than once, yes, but the last time he saw it… Eyes lower towards the desktop, and he stops tidying up at least. The music box is hidden, for the moment. But this whole 'just' me, earns a glance and a raise of an eyebrow. "It's you," Peter says, corner of his mouth pulling in the direction of a smile. Heidi told him? He's already been told by Jack— at least in the way that the other man thinks it. It isn't until he hears it from her that he'll no for sure… However…

"I'd never say you're just you," he adds, giving some emphasis to that particular word. She's far more than "just" anything.

But he moves way from his tidying and glances back into the bedroom, where his carrier bag is sitting. "A book on meditation— clearing the mind, consentrating. Figured it would help with some of my mental abilities." Especially since he has so many. "Or focusing my emotions." Since emotions are a big part of his control as well…

"We'll take precautions. It'll be okay. Got a few things up my sleeves… and Cass won't be in the room with us if I can help it." But he has a feeling she'll insist on it… That doesn't make it safe, by any means, but… "We'll be fine."

—-

At least they could SORT OF talk about it now as opposed to avoiding the subject altogether. And look, at this point, Elena's already cracking jokes about it. She recovers well, and quickly. She didn't know how else to be. Filling up a couple of glasses with eyes, she searches around the fridge to pull out an orange juice for him, and a Diet Pepsi for her.

His remarks on her flippant comment, however, causes her to look over at him, blinking just a little bit. In fact, she stares at him for a little while, the bottle of juice forgotten in her hand. But whatever it was, she seems to snap out of it. She laughs, and points to the couch.

"Sit," she tells him, and returns to pouring the both of them a couple of drinks. "It's been a long day so…you can go ahead and gorge. I know I will the moment I plunk my butt down your couch."

She walks over, setting the glasses on the table. When Peter tells her about introducing Niki to Bat Country, she nods, even if there's still a skeptical, hesitant look on her face. "Alright, I'll hold you to that," she says, letting go of the issue with a hint of a smile.

She uncovers the pasta bowl, and reaches for the serving utensils. "I called Heidi before I came over," she informs him. "Apparently the big move is going a lot faster than I anticipated. I asked her if her offer was still open, holing me up in the mansion for a while until I found a place around the city." She looks a little relieved. "Believe me I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest when I broke it to Papa. But….he's letting me. It's Manny who's not too happy about it though…"

—-

Gorging himself is something that he can do. Peter had very little for lunch. When he settles down onto the couch, which is more a loveseat than an actual couch, just big enough for the both of them, he immediately starts reaching for the food and will begin to be marginally quiet as it's impolite to talk while eating. That doesn't mean he's silent, however, because there's always need for breaks as he tries to decide what to dig into next. First off though was the salad. That's pretty simple.

Lots of Italian dressing, though he also had Ranch in his fridge. Anything else, she'd need to bring on her own. No bacon bits for him, though.

"That's understandable," he says to Manny's upset. "With all that's going on aside… you're his big sister. It was pretty hard on me when Nathan went away for college the first time. Course I'd been even younger than Nita, but…" Yeah, there's a lot more of an age difference between his brother and her siblings. "Tack on everything else… I can understand how he'd be upset."

But she's going to find her own place in the city. The food will hide his relief. It'd been mentioned before, but he wondered if she'd change her mind with everything that's been going on. She's not going anywhere anytime soon… relief is definitely present. Possibly short lived, but present. "Any help I can give you in moving, let me know. Think there might be some leases expiring— but I'm sure you could get something better."

—-

A side of salad, a slice of garlic bread, and a pile of pasta that's got a bit of an emerald tinge to it thanks to the pesto. But it's made out of fresh basil, and she even managed to find some pine nuts and toast them before blending them in for added flavor. Elena is very well aware that Peter's vegetarian, so meat products of any sort in this meal are nonexistent. Taking up her plate, she moves to sit next to him on the couch, slipping her sandals off so she could sit indian-styled on the cushions. There's no stiff formality, in fact given the months she's known him, there never really was.

She dabs some ranch dressing on her salad, looking up at him. "I still can't get over the age difference between the two of you sometimes. You and Nate," she remarks. But she does look a little contemplative, gnawing on a bite of her salad and remembering Manny's expression. "To be honest I didn't think he'd feel so strongly. I thought…after Mama died he and I sort of drifted apart a little bit. He wasn't the same person. None of us were. I think he's changing in the last couple of months though. And for the better. Cleaning up his act. Quitting gang life…it's been relieving for all of us."

She laughs and glances over at him. "You're offering to help me -move-? You must REALLY like me," she teases him. Moving, after all, is one of the most tedious and backbreaking events in a person's life. It's a pain in the ass. But she didn't expect anything less from him. "Let me know, I'll be paying for it after all so….if there's anything available that's cheap. And you've done it now. I'm taking you up on it."

She digs her fork into her pasta, smiling. "Didn't we joke about this before though?" she says, grinning up at him. "After that breakfast once the quarantine let out? God. You'd never get rid of me if we were neighbors."

—-

The lack of formality is actually a plus. Formality always struck him as faked, or forced for company that isn't really desired. If she were less comfortable in this, it might make things more difficult for him. The more relaxed she seems, the more relaxed he is. "We didn't lose a parent or close family member when I was young, so I can't really understand how that must have been for you— not the same way." Peter'd been in his mid twenties when his father commited suicide, died of a heart attack, whichever it really had been. He's leaning toward suicide. Maybe his father found out they'd planned to betray him while taking down Linderman— or maybe something else had happened. With his family, there's no way to know.

"He seemed better in the hospital. Glad to hear he's getting out of all that— it was dangerous for you both." Him, because being in a gang is dangerous, and her because… she's the beautiful older sister. And just his brief interaction with a gang showed that they treated her as a commodity, property, less valuable than the cars, but definitely still of value. And just like Carter's view of her didn't sit well with him, neither did that.

Does he really like her? Oh yes… But all he does is smile around a mouthful of pasta that he'd just started to chew on. Probably best not to answer that tease anyway— not yet. Once he's cleared his mouth, he nods. "I expect you to take me up on it. And look at it this way— the more time I spend with Niki, the better I'll be at carrying things up fourteen flights or stairs." It's half a joke— but really not at all. They'd just have to be careful about how he carries an entire livingroom set around. Look-outs will be necessary.

But— he can't resist saying one thing, "I don't want to get rid of you." It's simple. But meaningful. Followed up with an explaination that might be more… normal. "I know it's not exactly the closest to your school, but it's closer than Queens— and if you stay close we can do this again… maybe next time I can cook for you. Though I'll warn, I'm not this good."

—-

"I know, but you have. I guess…." Elena pauses. "We all move on eventually in our own way. It's just that it was a lot harder on Manny than anyone else. Luis and 'Nita were too young to understand what happened. And…growing up he was a bit of a Mamma's boy. Every time he got an A on a test, the first person he'd brag to was Mama. He used to be such a good student…" She digs further into her pasta, chewing a mouthful before swallowing. "But after…Syracuse…" She's VERY hesitant to mention it. Truth be told she was suffering from a bit of post-traumatic stress, with the way she averts her eyes more often and how she has to compulsively toy with something to soothe restless nerves. "…we're all closer somehow. I'm happy for that. I really am."

But she doesn't talk about her experience in the makeshift gas chamber, or how it was difficult to sleep without the lights on. Things she kept from everybody. She didn't want to look that weak.

She laughs at what he says. "Just don't pull a Clark Kent in public view carrying a couch with a finger or something, or fly things through the window," she jokes back, the faint dimple on her left cheek evident by how broadly she's grinning.

The simple comment blindsides her again. She can't help but feel… she didn't know, but she grins, and glances down at her plate. "Oh god. Don't be so hasty. Wait until about the dozenth time I knock on your door whining about getting an A- on a test before you even make a decision on that," she quips, nudging her shoulder gently on his.

"It's the reason why I have to, to be honest," she says, glancing over at him. "It's not like I can drive, and it's not like I can fly. I have my scooter, but the every day commute would be murder. And by the time school rolls around again I'm going to be so busy." But the prospect of doing this again causes her to smile cheerfully. "Movie night. It could be a brand new tradition. We can switch off on dinner duty." She laughs. "And I'd love it if you cooked for me. I'm kinda curious about the sorts of stuff you can make."

—-

The sight of her averting her eyes makes him set down his fork for a few moments. Not that there's anything at all wrong with her food, it's just— there's something there that she's not saying. Peter doesn't want to pry, but he does reach over and touch her back between the shoulder blades. "It's good to be closer after something like that… it's over now, though— At least… Carter is." Not something he's proud of exactly. His part in the man's murder and all.

There's something to be happy for out of all this. Not just that… but also… the moment he thought she was gone had been— it made him realize things. Probably wouldn't have asked her to do this if it hadn't been for that moment.

"Check, no Superman stunts— Doubt I could even fly anything too heavy through the window if I tried. I can carry a person, but a couch weights a lot more than that." A chair maybe, but a couch? Yeah, he's not doing that. "But you buy one of those fridges that weight a ton, and I may hire some movers to take care of that part." It's a joke… mostly.

"Scooter— I don't think I've seen your scooter. I used to ride a bike to school— but then I got a job near Central Park and it was a bit of a long bike ride, even using the subway." He could do it, but it'd make him really worn out and sweaty before work… so he started taking cabs or subway most of the way there.

Movie night tradition, he seems to like that. Taking his hand back, he returns to his plate, almost finished by this point, before he responds, "I'm best at breakfast, honestly. Got to the point I'd be cooking breakfast at dinner more than not. Pancakes and waffles, hashbrowns, eggs… I'll even cook bacon or sausage if I'm cooking for Nathan, Heidi and the boys." With dinner options, he's a little lazier. "You'll just have to tell me what you like, and I'll do what I can."

A glance is made towards the desk, then back at her plate. He'll wait til she's finished…

—-

The gentle touch causes her to look up and meet his eyes, giving him a small smile. "I know. I just….it feels like winning an Oscar, only not. So many people to thank and make up for. So many people to remember. I…don't really know what happened there. Papa wouldn't tell me, and part of me doesn't want to know." Her gaze softens. "….whatever happened…do you regret it at all? I think…getting in touch with that sort of thing is important. I know Papa…he could never get back what he lost that day."

Realizations aside, she had absolutely no idea he felt that way. It was easy to misconstrue his gestures as just something friendly. Peter was different. Unique. His power hedged on his ability to connect with other people emotionally….

She laughs when he mentions movers. "Oh no. No. -I'm- paying for whatever movers I need. Granted I don't have much. I'm moving in with your sister-in-law temporarily after all, so it's not like I can bring much. But the bed, dresser….I can just have a futon or something delivered to act as a couch. They're cheaper. And maybe I can have Jadinne help me make the place cute, whatever I end up getting. He won an award recently for interior design."

She bursts out laughing when he asks about the scooter. "Binky? Yeah, I can park him anyway," she says. "My rollerblades got worn down so…I figured it was time for an upgrade. I have him parked downstairs."

But that works for her. She loves breakfast things. Eggs. Bacon. Pancakes. Waffles. Especially with fresh fruit. "Sounds good to me," she tells him. "And you know we can have breakfast for dinner. Like IHOP." She grins at him, reaching out to take his empty plate from him, and leans in to press her forehead affectionately against his, closing her eyes. That's right, Peter. She's bogarting one of your gestures.

"You can be my personal IHOP," she jokes, opening her eyes and the smile softening around the edges, before she pulls away, taking the plates back to the kitchen.

—-

Does he regret it? That draws his eyes down a bit, but luckily didn't kill his appetite entirely. There's still desert left. It's pretty obvious what his answer to that question is before he gives it. "A little," Peter says, frowning at his hands. "We thought you were dead— you and Cass and Desiree— and we just— there were other things we could have done. Locked him in jail, or… something. I could have even destroyed his vocal cords so he couldn't use his ability." At least he hopes that would do the trick. Did he have to speak to them? He doesn't even know… "But it's done, and… it's better that we feel bad about it. If we didn't, we wouldn't be much better than him."

Once they start to take death lightly, that's when he'd start worrying. In some ways he's glad he's not the only one with regrets over this. Maybe he needs to talk to her father a little.

Speaking of her father, though, he'd completely forgotten about something he needs to show her— but first thing's first… "Binky. You named your scooter Binky?" That is… so terribly adorable. The serious expression fades into a genuine smile. And he certainly doesn't mind becoming her personal IHOP. But it's her gesture that causes him to freeze. She closes her eyes, so she won't see him staring at her until she opens them. Maybe he's just surprised? But the closeness…

He actually tilts his head slightly, nudging the tips of their noses together, before she moves away towards the kitchen.

While she's gone, he scrubs his hands over his face, and downs whatever's left of his orange juice. "I have a present for you. It's kind of a… glad you're alive and it's over present… Technically I have two, but the second one was kind of an accident." But first… he stands and goes over to the desk, picking the magazine off of the music box and bringing it over to her. "Figured I'd turn my last gift into a small collection."

—-

Thank god she has her back to him, having scurried back to the kitchen and hopefully -not- having given the impression of a scared bunny. It gives her time to recover, seconds to keep the flush on her cheeks to a minimum with her heart pounding the way it was. She remembered the gesture, the tip of her nose still tingled. She REMEMBERS where that led. And the feeling was indescribable, lightheaded and nervous all at once. She closes her eyes, mentally counting to ten. Don't DO this to her, God!

Finally, she speaks up. "I know," Elena says softly, her back turned to him. But she doesn't say anything more after that. It was over, at least, for now. They can breathe a little easier, enjoy whatever time they had left before crap hits the fan again. Perhaps that was why she was there, perhaps that was why she was leaving for Spain guilt-free and take some time as her own for a change.

And yes, she named her scooter Binky. "Yes. Binky. It is a perfectly acceptable masculine name for a scooter," she says, her tone laden with mock-gravitas. But at his genuine smile, she can't help but grin at him mischievously.

"So!" She turns around. "Key lime pie, or Tira Misu?" she asks….but he approaches her then, and sets the present down on the counter. She hadn't been expecting this. "-Two-? Oh, Peter, really you didn't have to get me anything…" she protests softly. But she does move forward, resting her hand gently on the lid. "I think this one's even prettier than the last one," she confesses. She can't help the smile on her lips.

"I wonder what you picked for a tune this time," she says with a laugh, opening the lid slowly.

—-

At least she's not alone in her need to recover. Peter needed a moment as well— but they recovered in their respective areas, with some semblance of privacy. "I think I'll go with the Key lime for now." But he imagines there will be left overs of both for a few days, if she chooses to leave him a slice or two.

The newer of the two music boxes is much better made. Smaller storage space, bigger musical score, but better quality wood and more delicate engraving. It's also brand new. The one he bought her last time had been used, with some scratches in the finish, but otherwise still in remarkable shape. This one looks as if it's just come out of a package. Which it did.

"I didn't get to choose the tune the first time," he explains, as she opens the box and Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Spring starts to play. "This one I ordered online, so I got to choose the tune." The quality of the tune is much better than the 18 note Beautiful Dreamer, and should she lift the cover hiding the music box she'll see why. There's a 22 note playing. The next step up in quality.

"I remember you like classical music, so it was either this or Claire de Lune," he says with a smile, before he moves away towards his bookshelf, where he pulls a canvas out. It's smaller than the ones he used for the stripper painting, and even the one with Cass, but this one… he keeps turned towards him. "I occassionally try to paint still— and a little after we got back from Syracruse, I painted this. It's… we can keep it between us, but…" He turns it around.

The painting is of an older gentleman with a visible eyepatch over his left eye, on bended knee to a tall woman with distinctive hair. Well painted, thanks to Isaac's ability, it's easy to tell who they're supposed to be, especially considering they know the people as well as they do. "I was glad to finally paint something nice— and not totally embarassing for you— for a change."

—-

To say that she's….speechless is stating the obvious, her fingertips busily admiring the carved lid by touch as well as by eyes. "Peter.." Elena murmurs. But what he says about the music strikes her, and she looks up at him. There it is again, the stunned sort of stare…and then, at least she vocalizes the reason this time. "…wait," she says slowly. "I think….yeah, I'm pretty sure that came out in the -first- time we hung out together. That was months ago. It was still cold. You remembered that?" It was a brief comment, mentioned in passing. But it managed to stick in the young Petrelli's head. His memory for the little things impresses her. It shows on her face.

She glances down at the music box, and smiles. "….it's beautiful," she says, a hint of embarassment on her voice and evident by the slight tinge on her cheeks. "Thank you." She grins, and looks up at him, meeting his eyes despite the sudden bout of shyness. "I'll take it with me," she returns with a nod. "House my accessories while I'm romping around Barcelona. Apparently that's where we're going."

She watches him when he moves away, chewing on her bottom lip. The sudden urge to just…TELL HIM a lot of things was near overwhelming. When she opens her mouth, however, he turns around to show her the painting….and her jaw drops the rest of the way.

"Wh…what. -What-. Is that what I think it i— is what he's DOING what I THINK it— " She walks over, closer, staring at the painting. "That's….Papa. And Dezi…and he's down on one k…"

Silence.

"…oh my god. -WHAT?- REALLY?" She can't help it. She laughs, and should Peter ever set the painting back down she'll suddenly throw her arms around him. "I was just telling him," she tells him breathlessly. Her eyes shone, she was so happy. "Yesterday, at dinner, how I was being so freaking -transparent- about playing cupid when I convinced her to live with us….I didn't think it would work THIS well!"

—-

"Yeah, it did— I have a good memory," Peter defends himself, though at the same time he's forgotten things involving other people. For example, he's still forgotten to mention her future step sister playing at the bookstore to his boss. And he forgot to call Niki back. She's a little on the special side, though. But he can play that natural… as natural as he can, at least. "I'm glad you like it. I've never been to Barcelona, but— I've heard it's beautiful." Travelling was never really his favorite thing in the world, but he's been outside the country a few times— never there.

"You're going with Jaden, right?" There's other people going, but he doesn't want to jump to that conclusion, yet. There's so much he wants to say, and the idea of her being alone with certain people in Europe… maybe it is a good idea to say something before she leaves…

But saying something right now is not an option. He puts the painting aside on the counter top that still needs to be cleaned off, and gets hugged. Helplessly, he hugs her back. "They look happy— and I'm sure Mr. Gomez had a moment when he thought she was gone— when he realized just how much she meant to him." Just like he did? But he can't say that yet. "I'll hold onto it. Though I might give it to them as an engagement present when they announce it." Because he has no doubts it will happen now. No need to ruin the surprise to Desiree, at least. If… her own ability hasn't already ruined it.

"Ready to start a movie while we eat desert?"

—-

She lets go of him, and Elena's positively beaming. Something's possessed her, she hasn't felt this happy in a while. All she wants to do is run out to Peter's balcony and announce to the entire city that her father's getting hitched with some pretty Southern lady from Biloxi. But she doesn't. She GROANS. "But…but…how am I going to keep -this- a secret?!" Because it seems impossible. Then again, Manny's sanity she has to think of too. The twins were going to be his stepsiblings.

She nods when Peter mentions her trip. "Yup, it's a photo-op," Elena tells him. "The details are pretty confidential still - the media relations head of the Company said to keep it quiet. But Jaden's going since he's the CEO, and so's Eric since he's the son of the successor company's CEO. And then I think we all decided to bring Gene as well." She looks concerned about the last. "He hasn't been feeling well lately, so we all thought he could use a break. I offered to pay my way for the trip in case the company wasn't writing it off, but Jaden sent me the travel packet and told me not to worry about it…" She groans. "Ugh. I owe him so much."

The idea of turning the painting into an engagement present causes her to smile in approval. "It's a good idea, and Papa knows you can paint the future, so…he'll probably get a tremenduous kick out of it." She takes a step to the kitchen. "And you bet, why don't you start up the DVD player? I'll cut us a couple of slices."

And she proceeds to do just that.

—-

"Very carefully," Peter explains, giving her a smile as he reaches over and touches her arm. "Maybe he'll save you the trouble and ask her before you get back from Spain." Then she wouldn't need to sit at the dinner table and pretend she's smiling for another reason.

Eric's mention may lessen his good mood, but he expected it, and he allows for a nicer segway as Gene is mentioned, and the DVD player as well. "I think— Gene's good with machines, right? I think I might have got something from him." There's a hint of a smile as she'll hear him start to turn things on from the living room. "When I was setting this all up— all of a sudden it was like I just knew where everything was supposed to go. And then I pulled some tools out of my closet and an old radio and TV remote… and I just started to build something. Not a Terminator, or an R2 unit, or anything, but— I think I built something that changes traffic lights."

He knows it sounds crazy. Oh yeah. "And I think I patched into my neighbors cable. And I have no idea how I did any of it. Gene's about the only one I know who can do things like that…" So he's kinda blaming him for it.

"Any thoughts on what you want to watch? Did you bring anything? I only bought a handful. The Illusionist looks pretty good…"

—-

"Maybe," Elena tells him with a smile, and then he leaves her. She puts a bit of vanilla ice cream on the slices of pie she cut out, before moving over to the living room. As Peter tinkers around with his new setup, she sets both plates down and sits on the couch/loveseat thing, dragging a pillow over to cradle it between her legs and hugging onto it. She won't touch her dessert until he joins her, damn it.

What he mentions about Gene, she stares at him. "Are…are you serious?" she wonders. Gene's been around Peter's vicinity. And like Peter, he's the only one who could do stuff like that they both know about. "…so he is one of us…" Elena says softly. "We wondered for the longest time. That's the problem with inherent knowledge-based powers….we don't know whether it's an anomalistic ability, or just the product of a latent form of genius. There are whiz kids that crop up around the world all the time, but if YOU can suddenly pull off what he could…" If Peter absorbed the ability… "That means the ability has to be there in the first place to absorb. Thank goodness." She doesn't -want- to feed Gene a Haitian Pill just to test him.

When Peter suggests the Illusionist, she smiles. "I haven't seen that yet. Edward Norton and Jessica Biel, yeah?" she says. She did like her movies. "I'm cool with that if you are." She scoots over, getting ready to make room for him and situating herself on the other side. One armrest for each of them, granted the couch isn't too big. She's trying to ignore the fact that the couch was built to seat only two people.

—-

Since she's not touching her desert yet, Peter pulls out the DVD of the Illusionist, and actually has to break open the plastic for the DVD. It could go faster if he just used Jack's power. He knows there's a disk in there! But he should do things the old fashioned way at times like this— even as he's talking about abilities such as sudden tech savant. "That's what I'm thinking, yeah. It started, then it was gone for a minute. I had no idea what I was doing, with tools in hand and radio opened… but then it came back and I finished what I was doing. Nathan thought I'd gone crazy. It was similar to when I sketch with Isaac's ability— not the painting, cause I was aware. But it was almost like I wasn't quite myself…"

He knows how it sounds. Dropping the DVD into the player, he joins her back at the couch and sits down, accepting his plate so they can both get started, and grabbing the remote as well.

"That's one mystery I can solve, at least— who knows how long ago I absorbed it… Probably the night he helped us rescue Heidi." The young man had picked them up in a car, after all, and that had been the most extended meeting he'd had with him. Nathan and him had been discussing keeping Heidi safe, too, which is what that whole encounter had been about.

"I don't think I'll put up much competition for his techno-savvy, though. Even after I finished it— I couldn't tell you what I did. I had to dump the left over radio parts into a box, cause I had no idea how to put it back together."

Raising the remote, the movie starts playing. "We can watch something with more action after— but I really think I had enough explosions last week."

—-

Dessert, gimme!

She picks up her plate, digging into her slice of pie and ice cream. Elena nods, glancing over at him with a small smile. "I guess actual comprehension has a lot to do with it," she remarks, pondering it a little with a thoughtful purse of her lips. "That's actually pretty interesting - understanding the knowledge itself isn't inherent with the power. It's….the way you're describing it, it's more like…I don't know. Instinct. Intuition. I'm sure even without the ability Gene can still understand the things he's building. Maybe he IS a genius in his own right, even without the power - he knows what he's talking about and he knows what he's doing. But take that comprehension away….you get what you did."

The more she does this, the easier analysis becomes. Elena was always a fast learner. "…..so did you really tap into your neighbor's internet?" she asks. "Wow. I guess teaching me to do that so I can get Internet access for free at wherever my new place is going to be is a no-no, huh?" She's just teasing him! Judging by the impish grin on her lips.

"No, no….I agree. I'm…" She hesitates, turning her eyes to the DVD menu when Peter hits play. "You've done enough for me this week," she says in a softer tone. "All of that, and now this. C'mon…" She looks over at him and smiles the sort of smile that softens her already delicate features. "The -least- I can do is watch a movie with no explosions when you don't feel like it, right?"

—-

Nothing is better than pie and icecream. Peter certainly doesn't think so when he manages to get the movie started and has the first spoon full. "Yeah, he probably is a genius in his own right. When it was done… I knew what I'd made— but couldn't tell you how I knew it or how I got there— doubt I could do it again if I tried." And he actually did. But he couldn't even figure out what he took from the radio exactly… "I gave the remote to Nathan for a late birthday present. I have no idea if it will actually work— but as long as he changes the batteries I think it will. He loved it. You could tell. He had the 'boy with a new toy' look in his eyes. I'm sure you've seen it in your brothers."

From Nathan, it's a really funny sight.

The opening of the movie strats to play, while he inhales another spoonful of pie. As neither of them have seen the movie, ettiquette declares they stop talking for a while. Which is good, because there's pie. Pie is important.

—-

Pie is good. Pie is great. Pie gives them an excuse not to talk while the movie is playing. Though trying to picture Nathan with the 'boy with new toy' look on his face is amusing, and he'll be able to tell she thinks so - because the moment he mentions that, Elena is grinning. "Your brother's a bastard," she tells him with a laugh. "But I'll explain later. Edward Norton's on."

So the movie starts, Elena finishes her pie and settles the empty plate on the coffee table. She curls her legs underneath her, her elbow on the armrest of the loveseat on her side and gets comfortable. She's still sort of cuddling the pillow, though she frowns a little bit when the window near her is starting to show signs of moisture. Summer showers again, in the evening. The weather was the same too yesterday.

She can't help but sneak a glance at Peter's profile now and then. Part of her wanted to ask how he was holding up. What with this not being over. With Simon and Monty to look after, she wondered…they did their best not to talk about what happened in Syracuse, or what happened before then. But considering how relaxed they were both being, as if things were back to normal between them, she was afraid to. Turning her eyes back to the TV, a quiet breath escapes her, content.

Food coma slowly, but surely starts to settle in with the next half of the movie. She can't help but lean against the armrest, curled up against the pillow and watching Jessica Biel and Edward Norton argue outside of the magician's home before they kiss and consumate their relationship. She'd be a little more awkward about it, but she's suddenly so tired. The rain wasn't helping either, the lulling pitter-patter against the glass pushing her further down. She closes her eyes right at the part where Paul Giamatti arrests Edward Norton during his paranormal show.

Just for a few minutes….

—-

As is the case with food and rain enduced sleep— a few minutes turns into much longer. While she snuck a few peeks in his direction, Peter did the same. Casual and brief, he looked at her profile, and watched as she leaned away from him. His empty plate and utencils join hers on the coffee table, and a majority of his attention stays on the movie itself, with a few brief glances in her direction.

But then there's one moment, when Norton finds Jessica Biel in the water, where he reaches over and touches her hand, aware that something bad would end up happening to her, but a certain level of empathy that he can't help but share. Edward Norton certainly gave a convincing performance there— it reminded him a little too much of how he'd have felt if they had to search through the rubble for her— or how Ramon would have felt with Desiree, how Lachlan with Cass… and even how Jack looked when he found Trina laying in the street. The four men who faced Carter had more in common than she knows… each had thought they lost a woman they loved for a few moments. Because of one man.

After the arrest, he glances over and notices her eyes are closed. The movie still plays in the background, but he doesn't look back, noticing the way she breaths, the curve of her cheek and nose… Carefully, he shifts how he's sitting, watching for any sign of awakening, so that he can look back and pretend he wasn't looking.

If no such sign is given, he reaches up towards her face, unable to help pushing the hair off of her forehead, fingertips skirting down her cheekbone.

She has a beautymark. It's barely visible at the angle he's sitting, and how she's laying. Had he ever noticed it before? Further risk to her waking up, he lightly runs his finger along the upper edge of her lips.

—-

She misses that part. Hell, she missed that part - even back in Syracuse. Peter felt things so strongly she had thought that intensity, the look on his face, grief mingled with overwhelming relief, he had thought for a moment that he had lost his best friend. Elena didn't have that much faith in her ability to attract others to her in that way. In fact she often thought she was stuck in the Friends Zone.

It didn't help that she was pretty dense about such things.

Or that she feared them a little.

When Peter leans over to clear a lock of hair from her face, he would learn something he hadn't known before - oh the beauty mark was indeed there, a little to the left of her chin and somewhat higher, a few inches below the corner of her mouth. But he didn't notice it before because she tended to hide it with cover-up, a little self-conscious about the blemish.

She also slept like the dead. She didn't even move. Save for the slight tilting of her head, breathing softly against his hand, unconsciously gravitating towards warmth and comfort.

—-

The movie keeps playing. And while she's the only one asleep, Peter's no longer watching. He only glances back at the loud noise as the Crown Prince finishes his own story. There's a small flinch, and he hopes her sleeping like the dead continues, but he looks back towards her, and continues to gently caress her face. Finger tips continue to lightly follow a path, curving around her mouth. He does glance back again when Paul Giamatti starts to put everything together to beautiful music and laughter. A happy ending. Part of him is very glad for that— but he doesn't have much time to appreciate it.

She's asleep… sound asleep. And as the rain patters against his window, he moves off the couch.

A wave of his hand at the table slides a little further away from him, making room for him to kneel down in front of her. While her nuncle seemed obsessed with a certain activity, he's far more interested in just touching her face, watching her sleep… as the credits roll to music, he moves in closer, nudging the tip of her nose with his own. If she wakes up now— he almost wouldn't mind. At this point telling her seems inevitable. She's graduated from the Friend's Zone, whether she knows it or not. And even if part of him is afraid it's too soon… he thinks he's ready to say something now.

He's just a man, not a handsome prince… and while she's definitely beautiful when she's asleep, he doubts she's a princess in disguise. There's no evil witch keeping them apart, no good fairies helping them get together— it's not a fairytale. But he still leans in even closer, and presses his lips against hers, eyes sliding shut.

If this wakes her up, he won't mind it. If it doesn't… One kiss… and then he'll go back to playing with her hair while he waits for her to wake up.

—-

Definitely not a princess in disguise, she was way too poor for that, and she didn't believe in magic and frogs turning into people - though if she DID come across a frog that turned into a guy, she'd probably ask him a lot of questions, like whether his parents were also shapeshifters of if he's read Activating Evolution and whether he was familiar with genetics. But still, she's oblivious, curled up against the pillow and sleeping deeply. Elena has been exhausted in the last couple of days, and after being released from the makeshift gas chamber, she had trouble sleeping. Sleepless nights were common these days, and go figure the ONE time she does fall asleep and deeply would be today. Especially in cooler weather, with the rain outside. Especially with the familiar warmth against her face and the soft, somewhat moist touch on her lips…

It felt like a strange sort of dream. For the moment she didn't know where she was. Whatever the sensation is, she turns her face towards it, her mouth parting to take a breath only to feel it stolen gently before it fades away…

Stark blue eyes open in the darker parts of her dream.

Elena, comes the quiet hiss.

Her eyes fly open, her hand reaching out to grab the nearest thing, and this happens to be his wrist. For the moment her eyes are wide, looking about wildly. It was dark, dimly-lit - they had shut off the lights because….well, who the hell watched movies with lights on, and her breathing is ragged. The thought about perhaps being back in that same chamber causes a small gurgle of distress to spill from her lips……and then realizes just what she was grabbing tightly.

The shadows of the dream turned nightmare turned dream dispell quickly. Her eyes roam over the familiar, handsome face over her. "….Peter…" She closes her eyes, relief flooding her face. "…I'm sorry, I thought I was…" Back there. But she doesn't say it out loud.

—-

That— certainly isn't the pleasant wake up he would have hoped for. In fact, as soon as she grabs his wrist, Peter pulls away startled. There was a moment when the kiss was returned and he leaned in more— but that moment is gone. Now he's pulling away, looking towards the wrist, and then into her frightened eyes. "Elena?" he asks startled, ready to apologize— right up until she apologizes instead. That leaves him almost speechless as she looks so relieved.

"It's okay— You're safe— still in my apartment. You— you fell asleep," he says, glancing back towards the movie. The credits have almost scrolled. No animals were hurt in the making of this movie. Not even the horse. Or the birds.

"What happened? Did you have a bad dream?" A few moments ago he was ready to tell her everything, and now he's more concerned about what she might have been going through while he kissed her— what memory would cause her to grab his wrist and let out a startled sound.

—-

"I thought I was… oh god, I really fell asleep on you? I'm…oh god…" Elena groans, to her credit a blush of embarassment creeps over her cheeks. She turns so she could face him a little more fully, though she's still lying on her side of the loveseat, burying her face into the pillow. Great, kiddo. Right here, after dinner, determined to be your fun and quirky self and make him laugh and make up for everything he's done that week….and you fall asleep on him. She couldn't help but feel a little mortified.

"I forgot where I was for a bit," she confesses without going to detail. She didn't want Peter to think she was traumatized. Hell, she didn't want to accept that she was. She'll get past it. It's only a matter of time. She turns her head, and while her eyes still have traces of sleep fog over them, she couldn't help the drowsy smile when she sees the concerned face. "….I can't help but….be a little embarassed though," she says softly. "I missed half the movie…was I making a lot…of noise..?"

He was leaning over her after all, maybe he wanted to wake her up. Her lips tingled, however. Her fingers reach up to touch her mouth gently. But when the concern doesn't leave his face, she reaches out, fingertips touching the side of his mouth where the dead nerves were. "…don't look like that," she coaxes in a soft whisper, her eyes half-lidding. Her lashes felt so heavy. "I'm tougher than I look." He was so close. She turns her head to kiss his cheek, but she falls short, her mouth brushing the corner of his mouth that she touched instead. "….is it time for me to go…?" She doesn't know what time it is.

—-

"We can finish it later," Peter says, trying to continue reassuring her, despite the fact that… there's little that he's worried he can't. Whatever happened, it wasn't just forgetting where she was. The closest he's seen her to this was when she stumbled out of the gas and almost fought them off. It worries him a great deal that she had been scared, something he doesn't want to dismiss. But he will give her one assurance, "You were quiet— not a peep until… I tried to wake you." He would have admited to it. But now he's not sure he should. What if part of her nightmare had to do with what he was— did she just kiss him?

As she kisses the corner of his mouth, his eyebrows raise a little, and there's a hint of a sharp inhale. He hadn't expected this at all. Sure, he knows it was probably because she was going for his cheek and missed, but…

Is it time for her to go?

There's a slow inhale, as his eyes stay turned on hers, and he stays rather close. Their noses could easily bump with only the slightest movement. "It's… raining." That has nothing at all to do with time.

But it's true. The rain continues to beat lightly against his windows.

He doesn't want her to leave. There's something so similar in this sentiment. Only this time their in his place, and not hers— her father isn't sleeping in the living room not far away. They wouldn't be interupted at all. And he loves her.

This should be so simple.

Sitting back on his heels, he puts some additional distance between them, eyes lowering towards the cushions of his couch. "You don't have to leave."

—-

"We can," Elena says softly. "I feel bad….I'm leaving in a couple of days. I'm not going to see you for close to two weeks. With….everything else the least I could've done was suck it up." She gives him a sleepy smile. He still looks worried, so she's trying to reassure him she was fine by talking about other things. Harmless things. There was something….a little off about his expression though. But it doesn't look like guilt, thankfully. She has no reason to believe he did something, or intended to do something.

And it's raining…

"…I remember…" Sort of. She remembers seeing raindrops slide down the window panes when she looked over there last. She didn't know how long she had been out, but it was raining still? It did look stormy the other day. And with the way they were now, she couldn't help but be reminded of -that day-. Her heart was thumping a little quicker again. There was -something- in the air. In the room. She can't really…she didn't know what it was.

When she feels her eyes lowering from his eyes to his mouth, she turns her head away. The tips of her front teeth worry on her lower lip a little. "Peter, listen…" she begins tentatively, turning to look at him. "I…you know I'm not really….-adept- at….telling anyone anything about…. but…I want to…"

GAME: Elena has rolled COURAGE and got a result of FAIL.

She feels the words leave her, but not continued. She sighs, hanging her head a little bit. "….I'll stay," she tells him softly.

NOT THE WORDS she wants to tell him. But…she failed her courage roll.

—-

"Elena… you don't have to suck it up for me ever," Peter says, reaching forward again and letting his hand touch her face, including trail towards her beautymark. "I don't ever want you to feel you have to do anything except be yourself around me— that includes if you're upset or scared or… I want you to…" Though he's being completely genuine, he trails off, looking towards his hand, where he's pushed it further into her face until his thumb rubs the mark that he somehow never noticed before. How much does she hide from everyone?

When she turns her head away, his hand is forced to drop again, and he watches her as she makes an attempt to tell him something… but fails. That she doesn't tell him is alright, really… but it just confirmed what he thought— she hides from him in some ways— from everyone. "You're safe here," he finally says, leaning forward to return a gesture that she's done for him dozens of time… a gentle kiss on her forehead, with his chin touching her nose. A little prickly. He has some stubble there.

"I know it's not… exactly appropriate. But… you can have the bed if you want. I'll find something for you to put on while you sleep, if you want to change…" He'd given back all of Elle's clothes already, so that isn't an option, and the blonde woman had been rather small anyway. It'd be something of his.

—-

"….ooops." Elena sounds a little sheepish, watching his gaze drop and his thumb absently running over the tiny, dark spot. "….I meant to cover that up. I've always had it, I just….the other kids teased me about it at school so I started covering up." She wasn't wearing any makeup today, as they were just hanging out and she didn't have to go to work. But his impressions would be right, granted it wasn't that she tended to hide….she just liked keeping a few things to herself. But at Peter's heartfelt expression as to not hiding, she meets his eyes, her expression softening. "….I…knew that actually," she says simply. And while the urge to look away from him, she holds his gaze. "Every time I covered my face when I'm upset you'd pull it away. I…don't say it often but I know you don't like it. I just…I can't help myself sometimes. Usually when I do it people just let me. Not you though…"

She closes her eyes, feeling the warm kiss on her forehead. She couldn't help but smile, at the gesture and because his chin tickled her nose.

When he tells her he could take the bed, she couldn't help but grin at him impishly. "…I'm smaller than you, silly," she says. "Shouldn't -you- take the bed?" She doesn't address her being safe, for a bit. But looking at him, she can't do it anymore. "…no I'm not," she tells him quietly. "I'm not. Safe here, I mean. I…don't mean…you know. Like in Syracuse. I mean…"

Her fingers lace together, glancing down on her lap where her hands are folded. "I'm….trying so hard to act so normally," she confesses. "After…what happened….not Syracuse. But before. I'm trying so hard but every time I see you, I just…I remember and… I already told you I don't want to ruin anything, and part of me feels like I have because….I can't help but remember. Everything. And it felt so…" She exhales. "I'm….so not used to this," she finishes with a humorless laugh.

—-

"I'm glad you didn't," Peter explains, looking towards the beauty mark even as she says they made fun of it. There's a lot that he likely got poked fun at about when he was in school as well, for example the droopy lip he has going on. That's not something kids can really ignore. It's a flaw. Far more of a flaw than a mark. "I just want you to be… you. And to feel like you can be you around me. I've been around enough people who fake smiles and fake happiness… you… always seem genuine, except when you start pulling away."

The pulling away upsets him in a way, but at the same time… he understands it.

"I'm not that much taller," he starts with a laugh, glancing down towards her hands, even before she does. But when she says she's not safe in his apartment, he looks back up rather suddenly.

What does she mean she's not safe? For a moment he looks worried, but when she explains… Oh.

"Elena, that— that was— what happened at your apartment… It wasn't just…" He trails off, eyes moving towards her hands. There's a slow breath, and his hands join hers, sneaking under her fingers to hold onto her, but even then he doesn't stand, and doesn't look up. There's so much he wants to tell her. But telling her would make staying awkward. And…

Now he straightens all the way, even stands, but still holds onto her hands. She'll be pulled to her feet unless she resists, and given the chance to lean against him for stability. "What happened didn't ruin anything for me. And I hope it didn't for you." But he's not so sure of that, from the sound of things. That's as close as he can venture saying right now.

"And I insist that you take the bed."

—-

"I'm just…I'm not used to it," Elena tells him, looking over to meet his eyes again finally. It was getting easier, at least, once the hard part is over. She shakes her head slowly. "I'm not used to….telling someone everything. I tend to keep it scattered around, you know. What I could tell someone I might not tell some other person. I honestly don't know why. I don't…" She lets out a small laugh. "I don't want to sound crazy or full of baggage, I'm generally -really- a happy person. It's just that….lately I've been…" She falls silent again, watching him as he looks at her, his eyes falling on the dot on her face. "I don't mean to pull away," she assures him quietly. "It's not like I don't trust you. I do. I'm just not used to anyone….caring -this much- about what I feel, or what I hide, who isn't family. It's ….so new to me."

Her hands are taken, and she blinks at him for a moment, looking down at where his fingers grasp around hers. And then she's pulled up. She can stand just fine - she doesn't need support, but her fingers are linked to his, and the distinct feeling that he's trying to communicate something to her without saying anything is there….for the life of her though, she can't make out what it is.

"It wasn't just….what?" she asks, looking up to meet his eyes. But when he continues on, she smiles, and shakes her head. "I…it hasn't for me, I just…I can't…" Stop dwelling on it. "….that entire thing was new to me too, so…it's harder for me to let go of it." She tries to keep from looking embarassed, and doesn't quite pull it off.

When he insists, she laughs. "You know I'm the one used to cramped spaces," she says, arguing the matter. But she does take a step towards the bedroom. If that's what he wants. She can argue it till she's blue in the face but he probably won't budge an inch.

—-

"You don't have to tell me everything," Peter assures, trying not to sound like some kind of creepy stalker who wants to know everything about someone. Down to what they had for breakfast. It's not like that, really, it's more… "I just don't want you to actually hide from me. You can keep secrets, surprises— and you can have things you don't want to tell me… but hiding… is different." Does that make sense? He hope sit does. He has secrets from her, and things he can't quite feel right saying. And in some ways he's even hiding from it… because he's so afraid of messing things up— moving to fast, or scaring her away. Is that how she feels?

Let go of it.

That draws his eyes back to her own, and his hands loosen so that she can take a step towards the bedroom, away from him. It's a sign that she won't continue arguing it, but there's a veil of silence that descends. With a shake of his head, almost like trying to her water out of his hair— the hair that's long since dried after the shower, he turns away to grab the remote, turning the DVD player and the TV off.

Still not looking at her, he suddenly speaks up what was running through his mind. "Then don't let go of it." He glances back towards her now. "If you don't want to let go of it— don't."

—-

She understands. Elena nods once, though she doesn't say anything more. But she does manage to look back over at him, and give a small smile. "….okay," she acquiesces. She's not going to fight it. All she can do really is try to do her best to agree with what he wants for the shake of their friendship, which already felt on shaky ground. There was an uncertainty now. She didn't know where it was coming from. But it was there. "I'll try. It's not easy to break a habit but if anything…" She laughs nervously and rubs the back of her neck. "I'm stubborn enough to succeed, I think."

Her hand is let go of, she moves towards the bedroom. Though what he says stops her. She freezes, her back to him though her eyes are fixed on the interior of the room before her. She rests a hand on the doorframe, but she doesn't turn to look at him. She could feel his gaze boring a hole at the point between her shoulderblades.

What did that mean?

Without looking at him, she straightens up. "I wanted to," she tells him simply, turning slightly to look at him finally. "Earlier. Just then. A repeat of everything. Even if it lasted just five seconds. I know…I have it in me to want and not feel guilty about it. But every time…" Her voice trails off - and she doesn't continue. She laughs, suddenly - it's a little nervous, but she does flash a grin at him. "I'm young, and a late bloomer myself. It happens."

She turns to take a step through the door. "Goodnight."

—-

There's that moment. Peter's watching her, knowing she should turn away and close the double doors into the bedroom and sleep— but then there's another thing running through him. She wanted to. It could be taken so many ways. Wanting to let go of it. But at the same time what she says… she wants it without feeling guilty about it. It's one thing she says that clicks.

As she steps through the door, he abandons the couch and the table and the television and follows after her, reaching for her shoulder and trying to pull her around. "Wait— this isn't— there's nothing to feel guilty about." She's not that late a bloomer. And any younger and he'd be under arrest most likely. But right now all he can do is try and pull her close, hands moving to cup her face in his hands as he lowers himself closer.

A brush of their noses, and then… it's happening again. Unless she forcefully stops him, it's happening again. And he doesn't want her to feel guilty—

One… Two… Three… Four… Five…

It's not a light chaste kiss, not something an older brother would give, not something a best friend would do.

Six… Seven… Eight…

After a handfull of seconds (with change) he pulls back and presses his forehead against hers, still with his hands on her face, thumbs at her cheeks, while his fingers slide into her hair. "Sorry… that was longer than five seconds…"

—-

He's following after her. Elena freezes, her hand on the door and willing herself to close it behind her before anything else could be said. She already said too much. She wasn't even sure she ought to….but when she's spun around, looking up at him and him telling her that there's nothing to be guilty about, she shakes her head. "Yes there is, Peter," she says, staring up at him. "You…you get attached to people easily. It's not a failing in any means, but I KNOW how you are and…..and you've been through enough without having to deal with me being young and impressionable and an -idiot- about -so many things- I'm not even s— "

She's silenced, pulled closer and her head held between his hands. Her lips parted in mid-word they only make room for him.

It wasn't light.

And it wasn't chaste by any means.

When he pulls back, her eyes remain closed, feeling the weight of his forehead on hers. Her arms have managed to move up, gripping his own by the elbows during the course of it. Her breathing is somewhat hitched. She's almost afraid to open her eyes. But at the words…

She can't help it. She chokes down a sudden gale of laughter, her eyes opening and looking at him. "You….you were actually timing it?" Again, she can't help it. When she's nervous or feeling trapped she cracks one out. Before he can say anything else though, she leans forward, silencing him before he could say anything else. Her fingers release his arms, and moves to grip the front of his shirt.

—-

Was he actually timing it? Yes, in fact he was. But then he had the problem of pulling back when his seconds ran out. Three additional seconds doesn't hurt anything, right? Peter keeps his forehead against hers, and feels her hands move to his polo shirt. His breathing is unsteady like hers, but his eyes open, and after a moment, he straightens enough to bump his nose against hers, and rub his thumb over her beauty mark.

"You're a lot of things, Elena… but you're not an idiot. I get attached to people, but it's really rare that…" He trails off. There's a few breaths worth of a pause, and then he leans in and kisses her again. Shorter and more chaste this time, but still with some pressure beyond what would be considered 'friends zone'.

"Don't want you to feel guilty about what happened in your room— anymore than I want to feel guilty about what happened when I was drunk— and I certainly don't want to feel guilty about this." Just to get all that out. It's wordy. There's a lot to it. He's not even sure how she's taking it, but the laughter and the fact that she's grabbing his shirt instead of pushing him away… There's a slow inhale and he straightens enough to look past her towards the bed.

"Do you mind if— if I stay with you tonight? Just sleep— nothing more." Her father would kill him. Her brother already has. "…Don't think that I can sleep by myself tonight. I realize that sounds… childish." And she's the one who complained about being young. He can be young too sometimes.

—-

He seems to like doing that. She could feel the brush of his nose against hers, and Elena can't help but open her eyes partway once he does. It feels warm, thanks to his breath on her face. Her head is tilted slightly, feeling his thumb rub over where the dot is. But she doesn't say anything yet - her brain wasn't working as well as it usually does. Was this normal? It's been so long since….and she wasn't even supposed to…

"I was…I didn't mean to— " she begins to say, but he leans in and kisses her again, and she returns it automatically, no matter how brief. His lips are starting to become familiar now, the contours and the feel, and also the taste - there was something about his mouth that was distinctly his. She couldn't put a finger as to what it was.

"You shouldn't…it's not like I'm…" Resisting. Fighting it. SHOVING HIM AWAY or defenstrating him out the window to get away from him. She tilts her head for another kiss — but something stops her before their mouths touch. She pulls away a bit and looks at him. "Wait." His words sink in. "-What-? You….you don't remember that…" Oh he told her he knew before, but this was during a splitting headache. She hears him loud and clear this time. "Who to— ?" She falls silent. And then? She GROANS. "-JACK-." Nuncle. OF COURSE. Otherwise WHY would he visit her to… that SNEAK! "Why that— "

When he asks her if he could stay with her, she looks at him. Sleep? ON THE SAME BED? WITH HIM? Cue spazzing internally. Her eyes are so wide that he could clearly see the gold hints fragmenting the irises. Her mouth parts. It isn't a good idea. She's never done THAT before, even if it's less than clandestine. But when he admits that he, too, has had problems sleeping, she cuts off the words that threaten to come. Her hand comes up to touch his cheek, her expression softening.

"Was it because of…." What he had to do? Whatever he did to Carter? He can probably pick it up. After a moments' quiet, she nods slowly. "Okay," she consents softly.

—-

Well for one he has dead nerves in his lip that probably make kissing him distinctly different from most men. That definitely makes it distinctly his. They both ate the same thing, so the taste is pretty much the same… Peter listens to her words about Jack, and he can't help but nod slowly, "Yeah… he brought it up… I'm just sorry I forgot it." He'll leave out the whole… green light thing.

The golden in her eyes is noted, and he keeps looking, wondering if he made too much of a request. He even opens his mouth to take it back, to give her an out, to say he'll sleep on the couch after all— but then she touches his cheek, and his hands loosen some. Can he say it's because of her? Because part of him knows that he'd sleep sounder if she laid beside him? That he hopes, with her nightmares, he can offer some of the same kind of security?

No, he's not sure he can. But he can say… "Thank you," and lean down to kiss her again. One last time. The rain continues to fall outside. Beyond the headboard of his bed is the biggest windows in his entire apartment, leaving out the balcony. They'll be able to listen to it all night, until they fall both asleep.

—-

"Well it's not like you were on your right mind and I wasn't about to bring it up," Elena tells him simply. "You were embarassed enough. And so was I…." She hesitates, and continues. "Not because you did it….wrong or anything like that." Peter's already kissed a lot of girls in his lifetime probably. It's probably something he was pretty good at if the last few weeks have been any indication. "But because…." She sighs. "Nevermind. We're both tired, we should go to sleep." She adjusts his collar absently, her eyes moving to her fingers.

She doesn't know what he was thinking. She doesn't know if her presence would lull him to sleep, or if her not being around kept him awake. She was going to be gone for two weeks….phone calls aside, she was still going to be out of New York, and what happened in the last few times she DID leave the city…

Her lips purse against his when his head dips to steal another. And then she'll put him to bed. She was already barefoot, and she won't be changing her clothes. But she'll stay with him, simply because he asked. She curls her arms around him, whenever they both get there, and she will listen to the rain….

But sleep is hard to come by, but not because of the events at Syracuse. Her fingertips dance over the strands of his hair on occasion, but she remains awake and staring up the ceiling.

—-

Luckily she's not the only one distracted. Peter doesn't have to slip off shoes, though he vaguely wishes he HAD chosen sweat pants or shorts, because they'd be a little more comfortable. And for the sake of her sanity… he leaves the polo shirt on as well. When he joins her on the bed, he puts an arm around her, while he stares between her face and the ceiling, listening to the rain. Sleep isn't going to come fast— but there's just one of those moments where he really doesn't want to fall asleep.

How much would he need to drop to take a quick vacation to Spain? He'd need to call Cass, his brother, Niki… he'd need to talk to Mara… What if Sylar attacks in that time? There's so much that could happen… but he can't help but think how nice it would be to go with her.

At one point when she plays with his hair, makes a sound that hints towards laughter, through his nose, and then he reaches up and pulls her hand down to kiss her fingertips.

"Do you need me to turn the movie back on so you can fall asleep?" he teases her, before he shifts to press his forehead into her hair, eyes closing. "It was a great dinner… maybe tomorrow I can pay you back with breakfast." The hand he holds is moved down to set on his chest, his fingers wrapping around her palm.

—-

She wasn't a mindreader. She has absolutely no idea impulsive, and downright reckless plans to pack up stuff and come with her for two weeks was in his head. Even now Elena's still trying to come up with excuses as to how exactly this was happening….and failing miserably. She looks over at him, the quiet look in his dark eyes as he looks at her, or the ceiling. Or the way he rolls his head back to listen to the rain. And not once does he pull away from her for needed space. He's not even trying to sleep. She can't help but smile - all this, just for saying yes. And they're not even doing anything that Ramon would have to kill him for. The simplest gestures could make him so happy…

She shuts her mind down at the part that wonders what the hell this all means. She can't afford to, not right now. She can't overthink this. For all she knows, she could be rebound. For all she knows, they can wake up tomorrow and REGRET. EVERYTHING, and go back to being as they were.

Her thoughts, panicked as they are, cursing herself some at her recklessness, are derailed when he takes her hand and kisses her fingertips.

And the joke. He's actually -laughing-. She's not even doing ANYTHING to get him to laugh. She can't help but grin, turning on her side to look at him, and lets him draw her hand closer to him. "For your information, -smartass-, I was paying attention for most of it~! I mean…at the very least I -know- the Crowned Prince was being set up," she teases. "And maybe. We'll see who wakes up first." She feels him bury his face in her hair, and she exhales, closing her eyes. "Race you," she murmurs. She doesn't open her eyes, but the wicked grin can be heard in her voice.

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