2010-06-25: Good Money



Date: June 25, 2010


She says it's good money, but as soon as Peter hears the name of her employer, he doesn't think it's about the money.

"Good Money"


It's the middle of peak hours on a Thursday. Surprisingly enough, there was a dense crowd, but that… is no longer the case. The club's dim interior has been brightened, albeit marginally, and the girls try to dance to the music and stir up tips. There are still people who occupy tables and the bar, showing with full display New York callouses as they ignore the new entertainment:

A larger man, half-bald and well over the 'healthy' weight line, laid out on the floor in one of the private rooms and unconscious as one of the bartenders attempts CPR. The paramedics, supposedly, are on their way. God only knows, however, how long it will take them to get all the way out to the Queens hotspot.

The sound of sirens can barely be heard over the music, before the men in blue clothes step in the front doors, past any bouncers and immediately directed to the man on the floor. One of the men takes over on the CPR and they begin bringing in a stretcher to roll him out to the ambulance. A few moments after they arrive, the doors open again, and another paramedic strolls in, though this one noticeably out of uniform.

"Petrelli, you're not working today— you're listening to the scanner again, aren't you? Or is this where you spend your days off," the young paramedic teases as he wheels the gurney over.

"No, this isn't… I heard the call and was in the area, wanted to see if I could do anything."

"He's breathing, but we need to move him," the one on the floor says, moving to help lift the overweight man onto the gurney.

"I think we got it under control, but— man, I wish we had calls like this more often…" the man looks up toward the stage, and Peter's eyes follow.

It's a slower song, and the girl on stage happens to be trying to not pay attention to the unfolding of the scene in the back of the club. There's a pointed focus to her gaze, and its settled on the men gathered nearest her in the search for a bill to collect. Oh, sure, there's the occasional move towards something fancier upon the pole, but that is not her forte. Rather, it's the slow removal of what was once some sort of costume with a tight skirt and a white short-puff-sleeved blouse to the black underthings beneath.

It's not proud work, this. But it's work and it pays. And it… makes the boss happy. And, somehow, that makes her happy.

Spying a larger bill a small distance away, Trina, with all of her hair in pretty curls and high, metal-capped stiletto heels upon her feet, begins the careful picking of her way across tabletops to collect it. Red-stained lips smile coyly as she kneels down to collect it with manicured fingertips, her lower lip caught between her teeth.

She's not the best girl in this place, not by far. But she's trying. Does that count for something? Anything?

The next few moments go by in kind of a blur, as Peter gets stuck staring at the dancer stepping across tables. The one time he visited this strip club, he saw someone he knew, and this time he's seeing it again. Only it's someone very, very different. The stunned expression crosses his face, like he's staring into headlights, before he hears a voice behind him.

"I think I'm losing a pulse here," the paramedic says as he puts his hand on the man's wrist.

The man is up on the gurney by this point, beginning to get rolled out, and Peter pulls his eyes away from the woman, reaching to touch the man as if to help. There's a yell as the man starts to breathe again, eyes opening wide. Not the gentle healing of the past, but his more recent brush with a healer happened to be… different. His hands pull back quickly, as the others move to strap him down. The pain fades after a moment, and he's breathing more steadily.

"Man, I wish I was off," the one friend says, as he passes by Peter. "Enjoy some for all of us, Petrelli."

"Yeah…" Peter responds, running a hand through his hair as he walks over to the tables, remaining standing, but trying to meet the mechanic turned stripper's eyes.

Once the new bill's collected, folded length-wise and set in her waistband, Trina makes a show (carefully) of getting back to her feet. And then it's back towards the stage, towards the pole with that carefully balanced step. Halfway back, however, blue eyes catch something in their peripheral view, and she turns her head to look over her shoulder and past her mane of dark hair.

She nearly trips when she realizes who it is that is closing the distance between her and himself.

Trina's pale gaze turns back towards the stage, trying to ignore Peter as best she can so she can finish the routine. Why didn't she move to Nebraska again?

Cause it's so far away?

There's no physical interruptions from Peter as he continues forward, stepping around bill-waving men and settling down into a seat to watch the rest of the routine with some politeness, eyes focusing on her face, rather than the rest of her body— at least as much as he can. Vision covers more than just the focusing, but he can avoid looking anywhere else as much as possible. The doors slam closed, the ambulance sirens move away, and the lights dim again with the man carted off to the hospital.

And Peter leans back and watches, mouth thinning into a line that's almost like a frown, before he shifts and pulls out his wallet, to find a fairly large bill, and hold it up. That doesn't change the expression on his face, though, which looks far too serious for it's own good.

Another trip round the pole, and then one more walk. One more walk and she's done. As the music stretches out, she lowers herself down once more onto hands and knees to begin collecting the last meager handouts available. It's a path that sets her in front of Peter, eventually, and then there is absolutely no avoiding him. There's a momentary twinge of something just about the eyes, but then she leans forward to whisper something in his ear as she collects the money from his hand. If he's not listening closely, he might miss it entirely:

"You shouldn't be here, Pete."

It's a warning given just as the music starts to wind down and the dark-haired once-bartender sets herself down to touch her forehead to the stage as a bow.

When she starts to get up, there's a parting word. "Meet me by the backdoor if you wanna talk. Else, have fun tonight." And with that, she moves off with a wide sway to get herself behind the curtain to let the new girl up. Someone else collects her discarded garments after she's gone.

Oh, he hears her. Peter stays in his seat for a few moments longer, before walking over to the bar and dropping a tip into the tip jar, all without ever getting a drink. In his mind, it's a just polite, as he steps outside the front door, and walks around the building. While he moves, he pulls out his phone, checking for messages, and scrolling through the phone book to a name listed. Jack's number, with his name listed in bold. A friend who was given a message a few years ago, from a future that's past and gone.

No call is made, but he looks at it again once he stops next to the back door, to wait. "What happened?"

He may not even realize he said it outloud.

There's no hurry, or so it would seem, for Trina to get changed and make her way towards the specified door. The young woman's wrapped up in a short terry-cloth robe, and — once out of the bright lights — her makeup proves to be sickly thick. Pushing her way into the humid summer air, a hand lifts up to run through hairspray-stiff locks, even as she shoves a bucket in the door jam to keep it from shutting all the way.

Reaching into the pocket of that robe, Trina's nervous fingers fumble for the pack of cigarettes hidden there and then for the lighter. It's not until that precious length of poison is on her lips and she has a deep cloud of it in her lungs that she braves speech, filled with incredulity. "Pete. What are you doing here?!" Then, repeating the sentiment from earlier, she continues with an exhalation of that thick white cloud. "You shouldn't be here. This… You… You just shouldn't." Because nice boys like him don't end up in places like this.

As soon as she appears, he looks up from his cellphone and drops it into his pants pocket. The humid air means Peter's dressed lightly, a button up short sleeve shirt and jeans, with a wallet in one pocket and his phone and keys in the other. "That's what I should be saying to you," he says once she's finished, looking over at her in the robe.

"I was just stopping by to see if I could help when I heard the call, I'm a paramedic now." One who works too much, even when he's not working. The radio's probably still on back at the apartment, waiting for the next call which he won't hear, because there's something else that he found to pay attention to.

"I know we weren't close all the time, but you shouldn't be in a place like that— working in a place like that. What happened, Trina?"

"It… it's good money," Trina softly, and lamely, defends. She doesn't look up as her hand drags that cigarette back to painted lips and pulls in another breath. It's an insufficient defense.

She shouldn't need a sufficient defense, should she?

No. She shouldn't, and so she moves on at an awkward, stilted pace. "But… a paramedic? That's… that's great, Pete. I… I bet you help out lots of folks that way." Lifting her gaze once more, blue eyes don't reflect the light of the encouraging smile that her mouth adopts.

"Some days I can help more than others," Peter admits, but there's something absent in his voice, as if he doesn't think he helps enough, even then. Always too much to do, and only so many people he can save. "It's good to be able to do something, though." But there's an expression that shows, he's thinking about something else entirely.

"I know it's fairly good money, but so was bartending," he follows up, moving a step closer and looking down at her. "Did something happen? Is there anything that— that you need? That I can do to help? This— this just doesn't seem like you."

"Jack and I… We got into a little trouble with the… with the government," Trina explains quietly and hesitantly, her accent beginning to slide through her words more prominently. "So, it… It made sense that we split up afterwards." Rubbing her one arm lightly, her other hand continues to hold onto her cigarette as though it were her lifeline. "It ain't ideal, I know. I do. I… I didn't really mean to end up here. But the money's good, they don't care about my ID, and… and there's the owner. He takes real good care of me. He's… He's somethin' else." Despite herself, a girlish sort of smile starts to creep onto her lips and she looks down. "He's the one who found me. Gave me the job. The place to stay."

"The— the government situation was handled," Peter says quietly, looking away and down as his voice trails off. "You should be safe from them now, because we— we took care of that. It shouldn't happen again. If that's what you were afraid of. There's probably still some people out there who know, but they…" His voice trails off, and he tilts his head to look at the way she talks about the owner. It's impossible to keep from frowning, but that's because the discarded future gave him more reason than he'd admit to think that she belonged with no one other than Jack.

But then again it's not Elena sleeping in his bed these days, either… Futures change.

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

"You can not worry," Trina says, her little smile still upon her lips as she lifts her eyes. Then her hand reaches out to set against Peter's cheek. Her head leans in, and those eyes, trimmed out with layers of eyeshadow and eyeliner and fake eyelashes, try to seize his to make him understand. There is nothing but painful sincerity there as Trina's pale eyes desperately peer into Peter's own. "Iv'r— Mr. Wynn. He promised me that he's gonna take care of everythin'. My bills, my clothes, everythin'. Only thing I ain't lettin' him near is my car. It really isn't so bad. I mean, what's a little dancin' when you're already on the moon, right?" Lowering her hand, her fingers tug at the robe to make sure it's still folded shut. Modesty, despite the show some twenty minutes before. "And it makes him happy. He's not makin' me do this. I want to, Pete. For him."

"Wait— Ivory Wynn?" Peter says, pulling away from her hand and reaching down to touch her arm a little stronger than he might mean to. "But he's— that's— Trina he's not— Son of a bitch." At the relatively tame curse, he lets go of her arm and steps back a bit, quietly looking over at her in a different way. "Ivory Wynn was one of the people who helped Alpha Protocol, Trina. The government. Him and a few others used me to work for them and help them capture people like you, and Jack. And he has this— he makes you like him. It happened to me too. I wanted to do things for him, help him, make him happy. It's not real. He was supposed to have killed himself, but apparently he didn't."

There's a wince as Peter squeezes tightly down upon her arm, Trina finding the smile fade from her lips and her brow crinkle as she hisses a little and drops her cigarette from the other hand. "I… I know what he was," she counters, although there is some sort of surprise mingling with wariness in her gaze. "They were just usin' him. Same as they wanted to use all us. Ain' his fault. He's jus' lookin' for a second chance. To make things right." Rubbing at her arm where the younger Petrelli had seized it, there's a fierce defense that springs to her lips. "He ain' what you say he is, Pete. An' he… he cares about me. We all done things we ain' proud of. We all deserve a second chance."

"He seems to care about a lot of people," Peter says, looking off to the side and biting down on his lip. "Listen, just— watch how people react to him. You know what Alpha Protocol was doing, and you know they were using him— but think what they were using him for. He makes people love him, worship him. You can't help yourself. You want to do anything for him, and so does everyone else that he meets. Believe me, I know what it felt like. And I know what it felt like when I realized it wasn't real, and that it was just an ability."

There's a quiet moment where he starts to step back, perhaps feeling guilty for having grabbed her. "Just watch how people react to him. And… Just be careful. I'll come back and check on you, and if you want out of this, I'll help you." And if all else fails, he may help her anyway.

"It ain' like that, Pete," Trina argues, suddenly particularly hostile, the frown tugging down upon the corners of her moth as firmly as though there were lead weights attached. "I ain' goin' nowhere, so you can come back all you want. But… right now, I think you' better jus' go." There's a twitch of her nose, the mark of a barely checked temper.

"I'll go, but— just watch. Please. Ivory is like a drug, a drug you don't even know you're taking," Peter says as he backs away a few more steps, as if afraid she's going to crush him into a pea-sized shape with one of her forcefields. She almost did in the future. "It would be better if you want to leave on your own, but… I'll be back."

With that, he slips backwards a few more steps, and then closes his eyes and vanishes from the back alley, causing a the trash in the street to shift as if he left an empty space of air that suddenly tries to fill in, but no other sign that he'd been there at all.

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