2009-12-05: Game Changer



Date: December 5th, 2009


Peter and Lena stalk follow Tracy with a plan to change how she thinks about a certain Senator.

"Game Changer"

Washington, D.C.

Tracy's Apartment Building

Invisibility is helpful with stalking someone. Whether the person doing the stalking wants to call it that or not. It's rescuing! And planning when best to rescue someone. Flight makes it easy to travel back and forth from New York and DC, and that has been what he's been doing for the last day or so, to see how best he might be able to go about the rescue. Now is not the time for stalking. Now is the time for rescue. And this time Peter Petrelli is not alone. Standing beside him in the lobby of the apartment building is the young woman he flew down with. "She usually comes and goes from his apartment to hers around this time— hopefully we won't have to wait too long." He whispers, as he holds onto her gloved hand. Invisibility masks them from the cameras and the people in the lobby, but he can't help but speak a little. "I guess he's not as missing as people thought— he's just in hiding. But he seems to still be in the apartment I knew he had. And she's still visiting him…" Which means… she needs to be rescued.

"As long as we stay close to her, we should be able to follow her into her apartment and you can grab her then. Or we can do the elevator— but it might have cameras."

What a day. It began with a kitten to the face and now this: a long cold flight, and the prospect of ambushing someone who may or may not be soulcrushingly evil. Lena's trembling is not all just from having worn a hoodie rather than a jacket. She's keyed up, and it's taking an effort to remember the control needed for what has to be done. Purge the woman, don't send her on an adrenaline-fueled rampage. Check.

"He's not here, right? He doesn't visit her?" she asks Peter, voice little more than a susurrus of breath. Her hand tenses in his as someone walks by without pausing. "If he isn't here…I don't know. Her apartment then, I guess. I can't be filmed…you can't be filmed. Bad idea."

A moment is taken, awhile awaiting the answer, to lift her other hand in order to pull the glove there off with her teeth. It's stuffed absently into the pocket of her jeans, leaving her fingers bare and flexing.

Tracy has been coming and going at all hours lately, but some times are more reliable than others. This time, Peter has pinned down her schedule accurately. In walks Ms. Strauss, pushing through the lobby doors with an elbow as she skims over messages or e-mails on her phone. She is hard to mistake, walking with a purpose. The woman's long blonde hair falls straight but faintly mussed over the shoulders of her long, black, many-buttoned peacoat; her face pale after coming in from the blustery day, and she seems more than a little agitated. On edge.

An older woman, after walking right past the invisible pair, leaves through the lobby at the same time Tracy enters; the blonde flashes a vague, ninety-nine percent distracted but not unfriendly smile in passing, but otherwise doesn't look up as she approaches the elevator. She presses the up arrow a practiced motion, barely needing to look, she remains busy with her phone throughout the short wait. Even when they open, she walks right in without looking up and immediately thumbs the CLOSE DOOR button. Maybe she doesn't feel like sharing an elevator!

"He's supposed to be missing. I doubt he leaves," Peter says quietly, as he watches the door. There she is! She looks distracted, which will make things a little easier for them, or so he thinks. He watches her walk right by, moving to follow a few steps behind. But when the door starts to close almost as soon as she's inside, he grabs onto Lena's hand tighter so he can pull her inside before it closes. That's not fair! Unfortunately his shoulder hits the door as it's closing, causing it to stop and then open again, just like someone stuck their foot in it.

Malfunction!? Must be, cause no one's standing there as he pulls the girl in closer and away from Miss Tracy. If she keeps closing doors this fast, they may have to grab her before she's all the way in her apartment.

"I'm having this really bad feeling, Pete. Like…I'm tough, but this is kind of…" Terrifying? Lena will never admit it, but she doesn't have to. Even whispering, there's a tremble in her voice. Fear will have to wait though, as the lady herself appears. Recognition is noted when the teen draws a short breath and gives Peter's hand an almost convulsive squeeze. Time for complete silence.

Barring one squeak, muffled as she bites her lip in the mad, stealthy dash for the elevator.
And now they're trapped in a tiny box, with Tracy just a few feet away. Lena's bare hand is pressed over her mouth to stifle the sound of her breathing. She presses close to the man, turning wide eyes up at him in a silent question. He's calling the shots, should she…?

As Tracy steps back from pushing the number for her floor, the weird behaviour of the familiar elevator prompts her to give the doors it a strange look. In fact, her eyes rove around the whole space of the elevator with that very same bewildered and sharply suspicious look, as if looking for someone — she looks straight at Peter and Lena — but, perhaps, she's simply wondering if the elevator is going to work and not fail completely. It doesn't, instead beginning its efficient ascent upward, and she goes back to eyeing her phone.

A few seconds later, though, Tracy finally slides her very multi-tasking phone into her purse. She leans against the back elevator wall and stretches her arms along the railing that winds around the interior of the tiny box. Obviously thinking she's alone, she looks up at the ceiling rather imploringly, taking a few unsteady breaths and generally looking like she may have a nervous breakdown in two seconds. Not so scary now, Ms. Strauss the possibly soul crushingly evil woman. The elevator is a prompt, and already the doors start to slide open. She gets herself together, smiles with thin determination and waltzes out, gathering her keys for her apartment just down the hall. Never a dull moment.

The longer Peter's watching her, the more he sees the vulnerable woman from his dreams. She seems different, but not. There's something about the way she looks up at the ceiling and part of him wants so much to hold her close and protect her— even if he doesn't know exactly how he knows her. She feels far more familiar than he can even understand. She'd always felt familiar. Lena's the only one who can see the look on his face, and he squeezes her hand to hold her back. Not yet. Don't worry.

The situation may be dangerous, but he intends to protect the young woman just as much, for different reasons. Protective uncle/big brother-like feelings, rather than the other ones.

As she walkzes out of the apartment, he follows right behind, waiting until she gets the door unlocked before nodding toward her. She can grab her now. If she reacts, they'll know she's being used and push her inside to talk, if not they can run for the stairs.

Lena swallows hard as the elevator comes to a halt, not daring to remove her hand from over her own mouth even when she nods to Peter to show understanding. The only bright side to being this anxious is that it's left her sweating, a sure advantage once she actually gets her hands on Tracy. As they pace along behind the blonde, her forehead rumples with concentration as the proper effect is dialed up (in Lena-slang) for what's about to happen.
A silent prayer is sent up to whoever or whatever might be listening. Then she steps forward, already reaching to slip her fingers around the circle of bare skin that shows at Tracy's wrist, beyond the hem of her peacoat's sleeve.
If she isn't a Nazi, the effect is going to be immediate. If she is…well, Lena hopes that Peter's teleporting ability isn't too rusty.

Tracy's keys are still rattling metallically as the white-painted door swings open just a crack. It's enough to allow a sliver of the dim apartment to be revealed: a vase of flowers on a stand by the door, an unlit lamp, the rest in shadows. Tracy is just twisting the doorknob when she feels a sweat hands on her wrist. That's unpleasant at the best of times, never mind when it comes from a completely invisible source, but that is the least of her worries.
Instantly, she staggers back, though not out of Lena's grasp. There's no mistaking that Tracy is being affected: she immediately looks sick in the most classical definitions of the word, green around the gills, as they say. Her face pales all the more as she suddenly starts to sweat. Wide-eyed and angry, frantic, confused, she does the only thing she can think of and lashes out with her free hand to latch on desperately to whatever it is that's grabbing her. Granted, she weaves even as she stands in place as though she may collapse, fighting against just that through willpower. Very confused willpower, but willpower nevertheless.

As soon as she starts to stagger, Peter reaches out to grab onto the poor woman with his free hand, pushing her inside and pulling Lena with her. Just in case there's hallway cameras, he's going to wait til they're both inside before letting go. The invisibility drops almost immediately as both his hands go up to the woman. "It's okay, Tracy. You're okay. It's Peter. We're here to help you." The both of them, but him especially.

And for the record his teleportation is still spotty, but that's what the stairs are for.

Lena is drawn along, but she hardly seems aware of it. Her hand has locked around Tracy's wrist and there it remains; even when she's clutched at, and then subsequently yanked through the door, the teen pays no attention beyond stumbling a little to keep her feet.

"Give her a minute, Pete. Jesus, she's //full/ of this shit, I can feel it…"

The fingers linking her to the blonde are flexed and then tighten almost painfully as Lena grits her jaw and pushes with mind and willpower to force what are seen as toxins out of the older woman's system. Of course, she's still young, relatively unpracticed. God only knows what the effect might be.

Tracy moves with feet that would prefer to cross in front of one another and trip her, making her stumble along with Peter and Lena a woozy, awkward one. She struggles to focus on Peter, his announcement seeming to do very little to reassure her. If anything, she seems more offended. Vision swimming, there's no recognition of Lena. Yet. "Wh-what're you— what're you doing to me?" she forces out with a voice made low by anger and the tumultuous, unsettling detox she's suddenly being forced to withstand. Speaking of standing— forget that business. "I-I— " Her legs must be shaking as much as her hands have begun to, because she starts to fall to her knees.

"Damnit— I'm so sorry, Tracy. I shouldn't have left you here by yourself as long as I did," Peter says, remembering pieces of the dream. Always leaving each other… He doesn't even know he's dreaming of a different woman. They look so alike, sound so alike. How often are there secret twins living in the world? He kneels down with her, keeping his hands on her as he goes, waving toward the door to close it behind them.

That's a new power, but one he knew he had. The door closes without him needing to touch it. It doesn't lock again, though— that will have to wait.

"It wasn't this painful for me," he realizes. She must have so much more than him. She was seeing him every day. He must have been drugging her all the time!

"God…" Lena breathes out, then sucks in another lungful of air, face twisting with the effort required. She follows the others to the ground, sinking to one knee. "You didn't have as much in you and some of it was mine. Not…not whatever this guy does. It's like all through her. She'll…Syd was the same way but she was okay after. I was…I wasn't scared then, either." She has yet to say anything to her latest "victim", focused as she is on what's inside and on communicating with Peter.

Finally the older woman's wrist is released, Lena's hand scrubbed immediately against the worn fabric of her hoodie. It's an unpleasant feeling, that oily sweat. Her expression shows distaste. "I think…maybe that's all? I can look again after she comes back a little. Hey…hey, lady, you gonna be sick?"

Tracy falls to her knees in the midst of the others, using one hand to catch herself on the floor which elicits a wince. "Left— left me where. What did you DO!" she manages to get out, her voice biting through too-fast trembling breaths. It's hard to comprehend just what the hell is happening to her when, in addition to feeling absolutely terrible, her mind is suddenly a very confusing place. Things are still fighting to make sense. Everything is a blur and her system still seems on the edge of being too overwhelmed to stay conscious. All she can really focus on is the fact that these people done something to her, but she can't even do anything about that, because it's at this moment that Lena's question is answered with a choking cough and she is indeed sick. "Get away from me!"

"It's okay, Tracy," Peter says, though he's smart enough in this situation to let go of her and position himself between the two women. Just in case. "I know it's disorienting, but the same thing happened to me. And I realized that… There was something making me adore and believe in Ivory. Something other than…" His genuine trust in humanity and people? Well. He probably would have liked Ivory without that. "Listen, I know you've been… with Ivory a lot, but he's doing bad things to people. He… he's hurt women. I thought he might be hurting you and… I had to protect you."

Lena did not sign up to be spattered with vomit, so she is more than happy to leave the task of serving as barrier to Peter. She pushes herself to her feet, stepping backwards with another grimace. "I pushed it out of you. What the Ivory asshole uses to control women." Pause. "Maybe some guys too." Hey, she had questioned Peter's sexuality. Nevermind he denied it. With the man tending to the blonde, Lena finally looks around while absently stripping the remaining glove from her hand.

"Wow, seriously nice place." She sounds genuinely impressed, not nearly as emotionally invested in this rescue as her companion. "I'll…uh. Go get some towels for her. Maybe a bucket. You think rich chicks own buckets…?"
An answer will require a search, something Lena begins posthaste. She leaves the pair of them on the stinky floor in order to hunt down the bathroom. A surreptitious glance over her shoulder as she goes hints that the brunette might be checking to see if they're paying any attention to her. If not? There's no harm in going through a few cabinets, right?

"Just stop, stop talking," Tracy demands hoarsely, holding up the one hand she's not supporting herself with, palm facing Peter (and Lena even though she's gone) in a gesture for them to please shut up. Perhaps minus the 'please'. "I— " she starts off woozily before she starts tearing at the buttons on her warm, heavy coat. The shirt underneat is white, as it happens, in addition to the black business jacket she has on in addition. Too many layers. She's slick with the purged sweat and sweat from simply being too hot, making her appear drenched, and there's a sickly flush to her otherwise white skin. "I have to get this off," she says in desperation, "It's too— it's too hot— GET IT OFF!" Extreme heat is not something Tracy deals well with these days, only leading to her panic.

Don't talk. Undress her. If she wasn't covered in sticky stuff and if there wasn't a teenager looking to raid her closet, a man would probably think himself lucky. Peter doesn't right now, but he does move closer and use his nurse training to help her get her layers off, as much as is comfortable. A panicked power user is something quite scary, and he fails at her first command after a while. "It's going to be all right. Do you need to get into a shower? It will feel better after a shower…" Perhaps a cold one, in her case.

The shout summons Lena from wherever she'd wandered off to. There's a towel dangling from one hand, and the other is pushing a pair of hot pink sunglass up onto her head. With the hair pushed back from her face, it's a simple thing to see the anxiety written there. "What? What happened, is she okay? I…"

Words fail. For about half a second.

"What the fuck, guys! Now is not the time! Jesus Christ!" The towel is thrown, aimed in the general direction of the pair who appear to be trying to get Tracy out of her clothing posthate. "You could wait until I wasn't here! Ugh, gross…"

For now, Tracy's anger has been placed on a back burner. Her face is twisted by a pained expression, eyes cloudy and unsettled. "Yeah." She helps to wriggle free of her layers — down to the white tank top is good enough, at which point she attempts to stand up, grabbing on to Peter's arm, using him as support as much as she is to shove him weakly back. Feeling the cooler air helps, but only barely. Lena was right … about one thing, that is. The chemical imbalance was all through Tracy. She was hit hard by Ivory's influence. The hardest of all. And for months. Addicted to it, even, which makes this detox a true one, if an untraditional one. She has time to give Lena a blank stare in the dim apartment and take one step before she just falls.

Probably for the best. Maybe she'll feel better when she wakes up.

"What— it's not like that. She was complaining about being hot," Peter says, but the way his hands guiltily pulled away give some sign that he's embarrassed by the accusation. Perhaps because in another situation he thinks it may have gone that way. He has visions from his second apartment, after all. Graphic ones. Ones that wouldn't be allowed to be aired on network television.

But then Tracy hits the floor unconscious and he reaches back down to touch her. "She's unconscious— do you need me to try and get you back to New York? I can come right back here and stay the night with her until she wakes up— she's going to be having a tough night, I bet, but at least we know that… that maybe she's on our side."

So Lena was wrong about there being ravishing going on in the living room. She can't be perfect one hundred percent of the time. Chewing on her lower lip again, she approaches after Tracy is safely out of the game and squints down at the woman. "Hot? That's a new one…god, I wish it were easier to practice…um." A reluctant glance is sent up at Peter as she tucks her hands back into the pockets of her hoodie, securing her purloined items in place. And out of view.

"…yeah. Yeah, I guess I should go back. If I don't, Chi's gonna get them looking for me." And that would be bad. "Are you gonna be okay here alone with her? She's…I dunno. I wouldn't wanna go one on one with her."

"I'll be fine. Even a helicopter falling one me couldn't kill me— and… I don't think she'd hurt me." Or so he would like to think. Peter hopes that the woman he saw in his not memories would want him to stay beside her in this time, and he wants to stay beside her in this time. If he were aware of her theft, he might give her a stern brotherly look, but he's too distracted looking at Tracy, moving her onto her side so she won't suffocate on her own vomit if such a thing happens. He does have medical training, he does.

"I'll try to teleport you back. That should get you there quickly. You can take a cab from there. Central Park, maybe…" That would work out better than a random alley, or his apartment.

He touches Tracy's hair, before reaching a hand back out. "It may take a while, but it'll be faster than flying."
The sunglasses are removed and are added to the cache of goodies in her pockets, before Lena struggles back into her gloves. Only then does she reach out to take that offered hand. "You got my number, so if anything happens, you call. Okay?" Pause. "Central Park's fine. Um. Can we get some cab fare out of her purse, maybe?" Blue eyes cast around a last time, taking in the finer detail of the apartment. "She looks like she can afford it."

If Tracy's lucky, Peter will get the brunette out of here before she loses anything else.

"I'll give you some cab fare. Don't take it from her, even if she can afford it," Peter says, squeezing her hand and closing his eyes. There's a long moment where nothing at all happens. In fact one might think he should give up after a few minutes of nothing. "I'll get it eventually," he insists, keeping his eyes squinted shut. Need to think of the person he got it from… who he only met twice. Once in a subway, once in a Plaza.

As it nears the twenty minute mark, they finally disappear from the posh apartment, to reappear in Central Park.

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