2010-01-10: If I Had A Hammer



Date: January 10th, 2010


The sibling rivalry between "Tracy" and "Niki" begins almost immediately.

"If I Had A Hammer"

Petrelli Safehouse, Staten Island, NYC

Sunday meant one thing and one thing only to the girl formerly know as Jade Eastly: Day off. Oh yes, the house was silent, Nurse Boy and Knife Lady having gone off to do whatever Nurse Boy and Knife Lady did during the day. She suspected it had to do with stabbing-related things, and then patching up said stabbing-related things. Maybe that's how Nurse Boy managed to afford his house, through synergestic business practices.


But the dark-haired teen had taken the time to pull out her CD player with it's attachable, tiny, speakers and began to blare girlpop through them. As Avril sang about her latest heartache and asked the immortal question of why he had to make things so complicated, Jade was busy redecorating her room. Technicaly, it was also Lena's, but she slept on the couch and only needed it when she was dressing, undressing, or doing any Lena-related accessorizing, which didn't seem to be much. This left Jade free to cover the walls in whatever the heck she felt like.

And apparently she felt like Kitten Calenders, Hello Kitty advertisements, and posters of all of her favorite girlbands that she could find on short notice at Wal-Mart. Her mirror had precious few pictures on it, three or four of her in three or four states across the country, one of the departed Tiago playing Xbox 360 in his underpants, and one of Lena, who was looking away and trying to put her hand between her face and the camera, and mostly succeeding. And right now, at that moment, the sound of banging could be heard, as Jade begins to hammer in a few L-shaped supportive pegs into the wall. Considering her surfboard was leaning against the wall, it didn't take much imagination to figure out just what was going to hang there.

First Lena insults Peter's mother, and now Jade has decided to re-decorate a la girly-girl. If the man had known what he was in for when inviting them to stay, he might well have reconsidered.

Also, because Lena insulted Peter's mother, she had felt it prudent to lay low for much of the day until the formidable Mrs. Petrelli had vacated the premises. That meant the basement, where a happy time was spent raiding the cardboard boxes filled with books. There was even a lucky find: one dog-eared Merck manual, much like the one Lena had attempted to refer to in the library.

But she couldn't stay down there forever. Eventually, a girl's gotta eat, drink and visit the bathroom. Oh, and then there is the small matter of informing Jade that she is no longer Jade. This is going to be a fun conversation.

The door to their "shared" bedroom is nudged open with a foot to allow Lena and a plate with a piece of leftover birthday cake on it. A fork has been set neatly beside the cake. Also, there is a FedEx envelope under Lena's arm. Yeah, she came prepared. "Hey! You got a minute?"

"Seein' the way you're actin' like your somebody else gets me frustrated~"

Oh yes, there could not be one of the songs she likes going on without her off-key accompaniment interspersing itself within the singer's lyrics whenever words she knew popped up. She doesn't hear the door-nudge, but Lena's voice finds her ears, as her mini-speakers unfortunately could not go to the house-shaking volume she would have preferred, the one her teenaged chromosomes demanded. If someone was in the next room, and listening quietly, they could make out the words, but even then, Jade's voice was louder than the music.

Being likely the least-paranoid person in the house, Jade doesn't flinch at the introduction of new noises into her environment, craning her neck to look back over her shoulder with a wide, bright smile. "C'mon in! Whaddaya think? I wanted to paint it, too, but… Given our track record, I was thinking I should wait on that. Petey's not exactly given us a lease spelling out no-nos, so I figure I have free reign to turn this into the male no-fly zone of pink terror."

"A little day-time snack you got there?" She waggles one of the wooden hooks in her hand. "I got a minute if you got one to help."

There's hardly any complaint Lena can make about the singing; Jade puts up with the guitar playing, after all. Even if the guitar playing is superior (it is, really!). Still, she does pull a theatrically disgusted face before offering both a small tentative smile and the plate to the other girl. "Maybe just drop him an extra fifty to cover the repainting cost? I don't think he's gonna mind." Pause. "Yeah, sure, I'll help. But, um…"

Here is where it becomes clear that Lena has ulterior motives. Whether the plate is accepted or set aside on the floor, the envelope is produced and wagged at Jade. "Remember how we emailed Rebel? He got back to us. The kid's fast, huh?" she observes in tones far too cheerful for her recent mental state. "You're gonna love it, we're like both legal now. Twenty-one, license, passport, high school diplomas…"

To avoid any immediate questioning, Lena goes right ahead and upends the envelope on the bed. Doubles of all of the documents she's named spill out in an untidy heap.

Cake. Plus hesitance. It equalled Jade was not going to like this. With a somewhat suspicious frown, the girl lowers both the wooden stud and the hammer, waiting for the bad news to hit. If she had to move again, she was gonna… Do something. She didn't know what, but it'd be something bad. Tantrum-sized, most likely.

Reluctantly, she takes the plate, wondering why everyone thought sweets made bad news better. "Passports?" That one word rings through her head most clearly of all as she takes a step away from the dresser, towards the bed, eyeing the contents as they come tumbling out. "But it's not real high school diplomas. I mean, I guess technically they are, but, y'know, it doesn't say 'Jade M. Eastly' on them." Setting the cake aside for a moment, down onto the bed next to the spilled documents, she picks up the pair of IDs, immediately liking the idea of being twenty-one, even if it was for pretend.

"…Tracy Hawking? Maaaaaan! What a terrible name. Oh well, at least it's a just in case thing. Ha! If I had to go through the rest of my life as 'Hawking', I think I'd cry."


How one syllable can be so ominous…

Lena tucks her gloved hands deep into the pockets of her sweatpants and hunches her shoulders. Here it comes. "Well, see…I didn't know this before, but part of what Rebel does, he…" Pause. "He goes in and kinda erases everything from before. So…so even if, say, someone told the government now that Jade Eastly hangs out with freaks…they'd never find her. You. 'Cause…you're Tracy Hawking."


"I think we're like from Kansas now, or something," Lena goes on, snatching up one of the passports and pretending to flip through it, casting a wary eye at Jade as she does. "You know anything about Kansas? Hey…I'm twenty-three now…"

"Of course they wouldn't. 'Cause I'd just show them my 'Tracy Haw-' Wait, erased?"

There's a moment of staring at the older girl's profile, watching her read, or pretend to read, the passport. It's a moment of stunned, heavy silence, the kind that hangs so palpably awkward in the air that you could almost reach out and grab ahold of it. And when it's finally broken, it's not by Jade's normal voice, it's by the high-pitched, disbelieving, How Could You Have Messed This Up tone.

"WHAT THE HELL, LEEN! I just wanted a fake ID! I didn't want my old life to freaking vanish! I liked my old life! I was going to go to school! I was going to… To… WHAT THE HELL, LEEN!"

"What do I know about Kansas, I was born in California! Gawd!" Turning on her heel, Jade begins to storm away to the other side of the room, her hair whipping out behind her with the rapidity of the motion, only to take a single step, turn back, lift a finger, and… say nothing. Her mouth closers, she glances away, opens it to try again, and… still nothing. Finally, in exasperation, she throws her hands up, turns away, and begins looking wildly around the room.

"Where'd I put that hammer!? I swear to God, when I find it…"

It's right around the time that Jade's voice reaches a spike that Lena chooses discretion over valor. The other girl doesn't even get to finish the hammer threat before the elder is whirling on one heel and darting right out of the room. The sound of her feet pounding down the stairs follows soon thereafter, followed by the slamming of the downstairs bathroom door. You know, the one with the bigger window, so it'll be easier to climb through if Jade comes through the door with a hammer.


"And another th-… -ing?" Whirling around once more, Jade finds an empty room, and the sound of pattering footsteps darting away. She stands there for a moment, in the silence, broken by the puncuating wails of the next artist on the mixed CD: Lindsay Lohan. "H-HEY! You can't just run away!"

Apparently her temper was more fiersome than she thought. Or at least troublesome to put up with.

Wielding the pair of IDs, the dark-haired teenager begins to stalk off in pursuit, trying various rooms before finally heading down the stairs. For some reason, when angry, people had a tendency to get lost in their own houses, and today was no exception. She first found her way into the living room, twice, the kitchen, three times, the garage once, and even the pantry, before trying the bathroom door and finding it locked. Bingo. Her small fist closes and begins banging on it. "Leen! Leen, you open this door right now! You open it!"

"Oh wait, I should call you…" Voice dripping with sarcasm, she looks down at the identification cards in her hands. "'Niki'! Leen, if you don't open this door, I am going to… be so pissed at you! …How come both our last names are 'Hawking?"

Lena can totally run away. Jade may well be more bark than bite but Lena's taking no changes when blunt instruments are mentioned in that tone of voice.

Inside the bathroom, she has her back pressed against the door and her head cocked to listen to the sound of her new sister's stompy progress through the house. She's ready with extra bracing action via the legs once the pounding begins.

"Not till you stop yelling at me! I didn't know what he was gonna do, okay? I thought we'd just get some fake IDs too, not that he'd erase everything." Although really, Lena might have come out ahead in this bargain, considering some of what is on record for her real name. "He's fourteen, Jade. And…and he was probably right to do it, okay? You didn't see what they're throwing at us. At me. Once they knew figured out you lived at Syd's place and worked at Randy's shop…"

There is a brief pause, a weighted silence. Then slow, very slowly, the door's handle is turned and one blue eye peeps through the crack. "Um. 'Cause we're sisters now. Niki and Tracy Hawking."

"FOURTEEN!? You let some fourteen-year-old brat choose our new names? No wonder they're so crappy! I'm shocked our new names aren't Daphne and Velma Doo!"

Once that door is opened, even the tiniest bit, she has the distinctive urge to kick it into Lena's face and pry out that eye with the edge of her very own new ID card. But just how did one's friendship survive a broken nose and violent eyegouging? There's a moment there, a long, tense one, with Jade glowering huffily into that cracked door. After a long, drawn-out bit of lip-pursing, jaw-setting, and glancing away, she holds out the Niki Hawking identification document towards the crack.

"Tch. …I forgot about that part. I just liked my damned name. And when I graduated college I freaking wanted it to say 'Jade Eastly' on it."

Sucking a deep breath in through her nose, letting it out through her mouth, Jade holds on to her peeved expression, which quickly turns into something suspiciously like a pout, folding her arms, and taking a step back from the wooden portal. "Get out of there. You promised you'd help me hang my board."

If Jade only knew how close Lena was to slamming the door and going for that window, when her voice climbs again. But it is the fascinating series of looks she manages to scrunch her face into that convinces Lena that maybe, just maybe, today is not her day to die.

"He's like a genius. But…yeah. Still fourteen." It's probably wise to not mention how much the name 'Niki' meant to Rebel. So…Lena doesn't. She just eases the door open and reaches out to take the ID. Her sigh is every bit as regretful as Jade might hope for. "I'm sorry. I really really am. I didn't know. And…and maybe once this is over, he can get everything set back up."

ID safely in hand, and body unmolested by a hammer, Lena steps forward away from the bathroom, hesitates, and then opens her arms to try to hug Jade. The Petrellis have worn off on her. If it's accepted, it's performed in silence. If it isn't, she dodges any retaliation punches and scuttles for the stairs.

"You make it sound so dirty. Hang your board…hang your board…"

"Over? Leen, this isn't ever going to be over. There's always going to be people afraid of you, people after you. We just have to stay ahead of them." Unfortunately, Jade can't stay mad at a hug, though she fights the urge to return it and just stubbornly resigns herself to patting the older girl on the back, while fighting a winning battle to keep that I'm Still Mad At You expression on her face. But after that comment, she pulls back. And swats at Lena's shoulder.

"Oh, that is so gross." She waves a finger under her new sister's nose. "You've been hanging out with way too many guys. I forbid you from using the words 'sack', 'balls', 'bitches', or 'dude' in my presence. C'mon."

Imperiously turning on her heel, flicking her hair over her shoulder with her nose in the air, like the queen bee of the castle leading the royal procession up the stairs, Jade returns to her room. She vaguely wondered if she'd have to change the name of her diary now…

"Just help me line up the pegs straight, and then hold them steady. …I promise I won't try and hit your fingers."

"It might be over soon." But that's all Lena's going to say about that. What Peter shared was in confidence, she's pretty sure of that. Besides, there'd be no end to the torture if Jade found out that the murse cried, and she's a protective cuss when she sets her mind to it. Upon their return to the room, she retrieves the pegs that had been previously on offer and presses them to the wall. Using just the tips of her fingers because hey, this may well be a clever ruse to use that hammer after all.

"So I was thinking," Lena remarks, keeping a careful eye on the tool. Both of them. "Gene wanted me to keep practicing, you know? For just in case. I could maybe use your help with that. You and Pete. There's something I want to try but…I got the shitty power that I have to use on people to practice."

She pauses just long enough to allow for fretting before adding, "Not you, I mean. But I need a second person."

Watching Lena take the peg in her hands brings a smile to Jade's face. And it's not a nice one, either. It's the smile people got when they were going to hurt someone. And like it. Picking up the claw-headed hammer, the dark-haired teen approaches the girl holding the peg and sets the metal edge against the surface she was going to be hitting. She only draws back a few inches on each swing, tap-tap-tapping it into place. It took longer, but hey, no smashed fingers were likely going to result from it.

"Wait." As the middle peg is nailed in, leaving only the last one to go that would support the tail end of the board, Jade lowers the hammer, held in both hands for added control, with a frown. "You want to experiment on me? To get me high? I don't know… How safe is it? Getting high kills braincells, and those don't ever grow back, you know. I think I did enough of that stuff in my 'tweens to already put me in serious jeopardy. Just… what are you trying to do?"

Lifting the blunt instrument of terror again, she takes aim on the final peg, and begins tap-tap-tapping it into the wall, as well.

Lena is a most excellent assistant when she is not being harmed in any way, shape or fashion. And Jade will never prove that she flinched at that hammer-tap. Ever.

"Not on you. At least not if you don't want. I mean, everyone's gotta let loose sometime but…this is kinda different." Blue eyes cut briefly towards the other girl, gauging her reaction. "Gene told me to…keep trying other stuff. Like, new drugs, and turning it off if I can. New stuff's easier so I've been reading about stuff that might help. Like…truth serum."

It sounds a lot cooler when it isn't said out loud.

Lena hastens to clarify. "He needs anything I can make, and truth serum would be super useful. So I thought…maybe if you and Peter are up for it, I could dose one of you and the other one has gets to ask the questions to see if it works. 'Cause if the book I read is right, you have to like…get a constant dose of it, at really low levels, for it to work. So I'll need to concentrate."


And it was done, the last peg in place, in a small, curving line above the long, low dresser. Jade steps back to eye her handiwork, though salso to fidget with the head of the hammer nervously, using the claw end to clean imaginary dirt from under the edges of her fingernails as if it were the most interesting thing int he room right now. "I don't know." She murmurs. "I mean… I wanna help out, but I don't wanna be the team guinea pig. I'm nervous! I haven't done drugs in a long time, and… But this is more like medicine, right? Like, they give out that truth stuff as a painkiller at hospitals, don't they? So it's not like brain-killing or anything, but…"

"I-I guess…" Jade managed to agree, yet at the same time sound anything but happy about it, finally setting the hammer aside on the smooth wooden surface of the dresser, moving to pick up the overly-long surfboard. It's length was almost enough to take up the entire width of the wall, less a foot on either side. After a moment of manhandling the heavy piece of equipment onto the trio of pegs, she goes about adjusting it to hang juuuuuuuust right.

"Okay. If it'll help you control things better." She shoots the older woman a sharp glance. "But you'd better not put me in the hospital. Or it'll be Hammer Time for reals."

Wait, did Jade just agree? Lena's hands drop back to her side and she stares openly at her friend. There was remarkably little abuse in her response, too.

"Uh…no! I mean, like…Jade, you're not a guinea pig! Jesus, you think I see you that way? I don't even want to use this on you if I don't have to. Pete can heal and…and I mean, it'd be useful to try it on someone normal, but. Not if you're worried about it, okay?"

The guilt, it just oozes from every pore.

Lena flops onto the end of the mattress on the floor and sighs, rubbing a hand against her cheek. The board adjustment is watched with minimal attention. "Please don't even say the words 'put you in the hospital', okay? It's bad enough I have to ask your help with this. It's going to suck, you know. If it doesn't work on Pete and I have to dose you…I'm gonna have to detox you after. You're going to get all goopy. You're not gonna end up a junkie. Or a turnip. But it's still gross." That warning is all about keepin' it real.

"Hey, I'm the one who potentially has to get all hopped up on your faux-meds, and you expect it to be easy on you? Please! No one in their right mind would jump into that burning building without at least a little concern."

Finally satisfied, she steps back from the board, eyeing the flat, finned beige construct critically, eventually coming to the conclusion that it looked just, like, so totally bitchin'. With that, she turns her back on the dresser, leaning her bum against it as she jams her fingers up to the knuckles into her hip pockets, lifting her chin up to indicate Lena on the mattress.

"Don't sit on my cake. Geez, I said I'd help. If I can't step up and help you the first time I'm able, then who the hell can you can't on?" Quirking her lips, she shifts her weight onto one foot, crossing her other leg over at the ankle. "Besides, I'm going to go out on veeeeeeeery thin limb here and trust you. But I want you to promise me something in return." Lifting her eyebrows expectantly, Jade waits a few heartbeats to make sure she's got Lena's full attention.

"No matter how bad things get, no matter how much we think we need money, don't ever sell your abilities again, okay? I'm serious. You're better than that. You only need to use them to help people."

Lena, fooled. She swivels at the waist, in a panic to check and make sure that she didn't really sit on the cake. When she turns back around, the expected glare is firmly in place. "I hate you." Not really. "I didn't say it was wrong to be worried. Hell, you should be more worried. I didn't think you'd say yes so fast. There's a reason I'm illegal in all fifty states."

Then comes the strings. Lena should've known. She fills her lungs with a breath and holds it, expectant. And, sure enough, it's a doozy.

Exhaling slowly, her eyes narrowed in a wince, Lena regards the other girl in obvious pain. "Ever ever? What if…what if the feds bust in here and we have to go on the run again and we need some cash? You can't make forever promises about that kinda thing, Jade. You don't know what's going to happen."

"Ever ever. I mean it. Because 'my sister doesn't sell drugs' is something I'd like to be able to say without lying. We'll get jobs or something if that happens!"

To rescue her cake before the wrong shifting movement was made and it suddenly became a whole lot thinner with a Lena's elbow-shaped smush in it, Jade pushes away from the dresser and plucks up the plate and fork. Her fanny plops down on the mattress with gusto, making the springs groan and squeak in protest, even as she cuts off her first bite-sized slice.

"I know you look at me and you just see great hair and pink scooters and bitchin' taste in footwear, but I've slept in my share of ditches, drainage canals, and truckstop bathrooms. Maybe, and I mean maybe, if we need money to save someone's life, then maybe. Otherwise, we can skip a hot meal or two, and take our naps in the train terminals. I've never asked what you had to do before we met, or anything like that, but it doesn't have to be that way anymore."

"Besides," She pops a forkful of cake into her mouth, talking around it. "If a lil' prima donna like me can make it from coast to coast in four years without doing it, a bull-dyke prison bitch like you can."

The subject of this little piece of emotional blackmail remains silent throughout, eyes wide at first before narrowing again under scrunchy brows. Try as she might, Lena can't prevent her lips from curling once Jade has finished. "Fuck you," she says comfortably. "I was tired of dealing anyway. Shitty benefits. And people are always whining at you. Wanting discounts."

Once Jade has safely swallowing that mouthful of cake, Lena aims a poke at the ribs. "You could afford to miss a few hot meals anyway."

Without waiting for return abuse, the once-and-future brunette leaps to her feet and swipes the cellphone off of the dresser. "Oh, Tracy?" Lena pauses at the door to give her "sister" a grin before making her escape. "Your board's crooked."

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