2009-12-02: Little Peter Wins the Argument



Date: December 2nd, 2009


Lena really needs to learn how to say no.

"Little Peter Wins the Argument"

The Mall

Thanksgiving wasn't even a week ago, so Christmas shopping has been in full steam for a time now. There's Christmas Music playing annoyingly from the speakers, and decorations in every corner and hanging from the windows of most the stores. It's not one of the stores that Peter's standing in front of, but a Chinese Food booth in the food court. A drink seems to be all he's getting, even if he considered the noodles before that point. With his beverage, he moves away to look around, trying to catch sight of the teenager. She'd been a blonde the last time he saw her, but something told him it wasn't a natural hairtone.

Now if only someone would turn off the Christmas Music. It wouldn't be so annoying if it were old fashioned, or traditional. Instead it's a Chipmunks Christmas.

Hey, some people like the Chipmunks. Lena is not much of a holiday person but who doesn't know this song? She's humming it under her breath as she shoves through the crowd, not being careful with the use of elbows to carve a path through the crush. True to Peter's suspicions, the blonde has become brunette, although much of her hair is hidden beneath the baggy hood of a zip-up red sweater that would fit better on a guy. Black skinny jeans, black gloves, red Converse sneakers and a liberal application of black eye-liner mark her return to the emo spectrum.

Finding someone in a food court during the pre-Christmas shopping season is no easy feat but she's only fifteen minutes late by the time Peter's spotted. A mom with luxury sport stroller containing an infant and toddler are stepped around to place the teen at his elbow. "Hey!" In spite of the chirpiness of that greeting, there's some intense in the way Lena looks up into the man's face. "Didn't think I'd ever get here, it's insane. Sorry for taking so long."

There's a surprised start from the older man. Peter looks much the same as he had before, except for increase stubble on his face from an apparent lack of shaving, and deeper scars. How scars can look different is beyond comprehension, but somehow they do. He also looks tireder. While dressed warmly, his coat is laying over his arm. It's likely he's been waiting for a while. From the line for the Chinese place, he could have been standing there a good amount of time before he got his drink.

"It's all right," he says, looking at her face, eyes sliding over her hair. "You look better as a brunette," he says, not quite remembering that in his drugged haze he'd made that same comment. "Is everything okay? I know you were worried about… certain things."

"Yeah, everyone says that," Lena remarks, smile filtering into something more ruefully amused as she reaches up to touch the darker strands with her gloved fingers. The hood is pushed back in the same movement, leaving her head bare. "Makes me look older or something, I guess. You look pretty crappy, man. Kind of…" She pauses in order to conduct another scrutiny of the face on display, then shekes her head at what's seen there. "Like you could use a vacation, you know? You okay? I didn't think you were gonna call, figured you'd maybe have to take off after…"

But she trails off there, expression shifting to display uncertainty. Sure, Team Awesome assured her that it was probably alright to talk to this man but complete disclosure doesn't seem quite right either. Lena covers that moment of awkwardness by tucking her chin down, half-stepping in behind Peter to let a food court patron go by.

"I'm doing alright," she goes on after that moment's passed, eyes lifting to the menu. "Getting by, trying to keep out of trouble. Doing a shitty job of it but…how about you?"

Luckily she doesn't look too much older. Of course that reminds Peter he has no idea how old she is. He's not going to be arrested just for hanging out with her, is he? Luckily he looks younger than his nearly thirty years, too, so it may not register as easily unless someone recognizes him as Nathan Petrelli's younger brother. "Yeah— sadly I have a feeling this is my vacation." Which must make his normal life even worse, really. He looks back at the line and then looks back at her. "That line'll take about twenty minutes, unless they speed things up."

He looks down at his drink and then winces. "Sorry. I should have got you something too. I've been… distracted. Trying to figure things out. Staying in my own apartment helped a little. I— it brought back some memories." Just not in the traditional way. "Unfortunately those memories managed to confuse me even more. Did you want to sit down or try and wait in line to get something?" With the music and everyone eating and talking, listening it would be difficult, but could still happen.

"What, hanging out with me is a vacation? Jesus, Pete…you're screwed. I'm like the biggest shit magnet in New York right now, you better stand back." The girl's eyes widen and flick around as if she were expecting explosions at any minute, before crinkling at the corners with a grin. "Nah, it's okay, I ate before I came. Cmon, it's quieter by the fountain. I'll spot you a penny, you can make a wish and tell me what's going on. Stuff makes more sense when you talk about it, you know?"

Without giving him an opportunity to object, or remark on the one-sided nature of the conversation she's suggested, Lena cuts off through the crowd again. Outside of the food court, underneath the stairs leading to the upper level, a water feature has been set up. There are a few people seated on the ledge around it; the brunette claims an empty spot and sits down as well, one hand rummaging around in the hoodie's pocket for the change jingling around in there.

"Still haven't figured out what's going with your lost time, huh? I maybe heard something about a little of it."

The walk over to the fountain is done in relative silence, but the mall makes plenty of sound on it's own. Peter takes a sip of his drink, before settling down next to the claimed spot, letting his coat drape over his legs instead. "I have some kind of amnesia, I think, though medically speaking amnesia isn't supposed to work like this. It's not straight… lost time. It's usually a failure to create new memories, rather than completely lost memories. Which means they're probably not really lost…" He trails off and looks toward her hoodie pocket and the jingling change. Would a wish be able to bring everything back?

"I'm dangerous. The last thing I remember I went nuclear above the city. I could have destroyed the whole place, leveled it, killed thousands… if not millions of people. That's why I can understand what… what's going on. People like us can be… really dangerous." He keeps his voice down, luckily. "I'm probably one of the most dangerous of all, actually."

The penny is produced, bright enough to seem newly minuted. Its copper gleams against the black of her glove when Lena extends her flattened palm towards Peter, so he can take it. Sympathy is at war with a hint of wariness in her eyes. "You're…serious? That's like a real memory, not just a dream, or…or a hallucination? They told me…they told me you were probably safe. That you saved people, rescued them, before you got captured. And you wouldn't do anything to me," she responds, her voice lowering as well until it hovers just below the burble of the water beside them. "Pete, it's maybe something else. There's this guy…"

The teen pauses then and lifts her chin to look around; it's occurred to her that she is not being as vigilant as she could be, watching for government tails. As her eyes scan the swirling crowd, Lena adds almost absently, "Maybe someone doesn't want you remembering it."

"I don't want to hurt anyone, but my ability is… unpredictable. I electricuted someone the other day and I'm not even sure where I got that from, or how it happened," Peter looks down at his hands, and for an instant it looks like static jumping from one finger to the next, before he grits his teeth and looks back at her. The sparks stop. "I wanted to help people. I actually… wanted to be special. I prayed for it, I asked for it, but… I don't know. Someone said that I did help people? Some of the— I tried to help someone, save them from a person I thought was bad, but I'm not sure if I did the right thing, and now…" He trails off, remembering a news report.

"It could be someone doesn't want me to remember things. Tell me— the person who said I helped someone…" At this point he finally reaches forward to take the coin, only once he's sure he won't electricute her. "He said I was captured?"

"You…wait." Lena's forehead rumples as she tries to tease through the confusion of that story while simultaneously keeping an eye on the crowd and watching what he's doing with his hands there. It is not easy, which is to say that she fails miserably. If the government is lurking, she'll simply have to pray that Eric and Gene were right about the way they'd behave in a public place. Blue eyes lift for an intense study of his face. "You…hurt someone, because you thought you were helping someone else? But you don't know if that was the right thing? That's…what the hell, man. Are you like stealing my life?"

A thin smile indicates that might be a joke. Maybe.

"Yeah, right after you helped the people get away from the bad guys. They caught you, I guess with the helicopter on your head thing. Then you were working for them. But, see…" Lena hesitates, drawing a breath. Here's where things get complicated. "There might be someone there who can make people do what he wants them to. Remember when I…made you not high anymore? I did that on this other lady who was…being used by him, see. I figured maybe he was just using chicks but…oh. Wait, are you gay?"

"Not unless all my girlfriends were secretly guys," Peter says with a hint of a smile and a coughing laugh. At least he took the question well. And he's pretty sure none of them were guys, cause he was a nurse and knows what parts go where. "Unless something really changed in the last three years, at least, but the memories I've been getting back don't give any indication of that either…" he trails off, shaking his head and closing his hand around the coin.

His own life is tough enough, he doesn't need to steal anyone else's, but they might have some similarities…

"So I was fighting against the people I ended up with when the helicopter got dropped on my head?" He pauses, thinking back on Max and the first story. It does seem to have big holes in it now. Especially since… "I stayed with them cause I couldn't remember that I wasn't supposed to. They acted like they knew me, and… one of the people there felt so familiar. She still feels familiar. Even more now, actually." Now he has dreams, memories, of… things that definitely don't make him gay. "Do you think she needs rescuing? I just don't want to do the wrong thing again… bust in thinking someone's the bad guy and then finding out they aren't."

"Hey, there's nothing wrong with it if you are! But…I guess maybe he wasn't trying to sex you up, you were just useful, right? All the shit you can do. So, yeah, anyway…that thing I can do makes it so he can't control you anymore. But it could be they did something to you while you were there, right? So you wouldn't remember and figure out they were using you." Lena finishes the explanation, pleased enough with herself for connecting the dots to flash the man a grin. The teen sobers quickly, however. They are after all discussing Matters of Importance. "Yeah, man. You were helping folks like the ones I'm with now, looking after people like us. I knew you were too fucking nice to be on the bad guys' side, I told them so but…they dunno if they can trust you."

With a sigh, she dips into the pocket again and extricates a penny for herself. It's studied moodily. "I dunno if she needs rescuing. I really don't, Pete. Those folks, I wanna think they're not all bad, but…" Lena glances up at him. "Any luck finding your brother?"

"It feels like I can't help the people I want to help the most…" Peter says quietly, reaching up with the hand clasping the coin to press it against his forehead, as if he has a headache and is suddenly suffering. It stays there for a time, before it lowers and his eyes open. He has his wish.

The coin is suddenly dropped into the water.

"I haven't gone to find him yet. I know it sounds stupid but… I'm afraid to see him like this. Where I can't control myself, when I don't know what's going on. I know he could help me, that seeing him might fix this, but at the same time…" he shakes his head.

"I know, I'm acting like a kid. I just wish I could… control what's happening to me. Know what happened in the last few years… Know what I'm supposed to do."
"No…nuh uh. That doesn't sound stupid at all."

Lena is quietly vehement on that point. She had watched silently as Peter's wish was made, before looking down at the penny in her hand. Her face twists then, a sudden grimace, and her palm is turned down to let the coin just plunk into the water without thought or consideration. If a wish was made, no mention is made of it.

"You're not acting like a kid…or. I dunno. If you're acting like a kid then I'm acting like a kid. Even more like one, 'cause things aren't too bad for me right now and you're dealing with a lot of sh—stuff," she tells him. The hand that had held the penny is offered for holding; it's a gesture of plain companionship, extended with no risk of drugs being sent into his system. "It's gonna be okay though. That's what Chi keeps telling me. You…we…just gotta figure out what we want most, right? And go for it." Pause. "And it sounds like you need help before you can help anyone. You need your brother, dude. Would…would it help if you maybe weren't alone?"

"It might." Peter says, looking down in to the water. Suddenly he laughs, but it's hoarse and soft, not really with much in the way of humor. "I've been told I don't handle well when I'm alone. And I think that person was right." Little does he know it was himself from the future who'd said it. And he knew himself better than anyone. "Didn't the papers say he was hitting on teenagers, though. You're rather pretty. I wouldn't want him to start hitting on you too."

Mostly cause it's weird. His brother's daughter is likely as old as this girl, if not older, and there's just something… not right about that.

Lena tilts her head to one side, studying him with a small, mildly puzzled smile. "Yeah? You think too much, then. It's hard to be alone when you can't get your brain to shut up, you know? They've got medicine for that, I hear. Hell, I've got medicine for that." The bridge of her nose is crinkled as real amusement finally makes its way into the mix. "Dude, your brother already did hit on me. Did you see the girls in that picture? One of them's me. Don't let the stunning good looks fool you, okay? I'm tough, I know how to handle dirty old guys."

With the conversation veering from less serious waters, she cuts a look off towards the crowds. Not that Lena would know how to peg a government spy but she studies the pedestrians anyway. "Besides, I'm gonna be twenty in a few weeks. Past my prime and all. So yeah, if you want moral support or whatever, I can be there if you call me ahead of time, lemme know where and when. I gotta pay back some karma anyway."

"You're nearly twenty and I'm nearly thirty," Peter comments quietly, before shaking his head. Ten years age difference does seem a little odd, he half expected her to be older than that. And he still feels like it should be his twenty-seventh birthday coming up, and not his thirtith. Losing years of time has a way of causing aging problems. "I still owe you a flight too, but I can call you once I get ahold of his publicist. She should know what's going on with him, if anyone does."

He looks down at his ignored drink that he stood in line for, and takes a guilty sip from the straw. Eyes slide back up, and once he can talk, he adds, "Thank you. You— have absolutely no reason to really trust me, and you did. Even if you did meet me in public. If the— the government really wanted me they haven't tried to pick me up. Maybe they don't know where I ended up yet. Or— I have no idea. Maybe they're waiting for me to come back."

"Seriously? You're that old?" Lena's head swings around again and she gives him another of those grins. She seems to find more humor in than he does. "You maybe look that old today but some sleep, maybe some makeup, you could probably pass for twenty-five. And makeup on guys is really hot right now."

Teasing completed, she allows the more sober mood to drag her back underneath, even voicing a soft sigh as Peter thanks her. "Really, man, you don't have to…I mean, like, I'm no saint, trust me. I…kinda used you, right? Which was shitty, 'cause I'm always complaining that people only like me 'cause of how I make them feel. Besides, they told me it was probably safe out here in public anyway. They're not gonna grab you if folks can see." She pauses. "Could be the Senator being all missing too, right? He's supposed to be in charge of everything."

"I think I'll stay away from the make up, thanks," Peter says, though he does smile when she says he could pass for twenty-five. It's not an insult at all, really. Though it'd be more flattering if he weren't male. "I don't know what they'd do, honestly. They seem very good at keeping secrets, if they really are up to bad things. I was living in their building for weeks and I never saw anything that made me think they were up to no good," he admits softly, looking down at his hands. It's a gesture he often does, and in this case it seems to imply he thinks he should have noticed.

But he looks back up at the mention of the Senator. "Missing Senator?"

Lena considers the point, resting her hand against the tiled ledge and leaning her weight on it as she shoots an idle glance towards the second level's balcony. "Maybe that was their headquarters? They're shipping us off on trains, I figure there's gotta be like…camps or something. So the bad shit could go down elsewhere, and you wouldn't see anything where you were." Which may or may not assauge any guilt the man is feeling. Of course, she has a proven track record of believing rampant speculation to be true.

A curious glance slides back towards Peter's face. "Hmm? Yeah…Ivory Wynn, right? It was in the papers, he was missing. I dunno if they found him yet or not, things got kinda crazy around then and I had to move again so I haven't been keeping track, you know? You didn't hear about that?"

"Ivory's missing?" Peter says, suddenly standing up, grabbing his coat as he does. It's not so much the missplaced responsibility that came with enthrallment that has him reacting, but genuine desire to help another person. Especially someone who had seemed good— and who a certain blonde woman he thinks he must have loved at one point told him to trust.

"Ivory might be in charge of things, but I don't think he meant for things like the trains or shipping off into camps. I— he can't have…" Can he? Belief in another person is important, and in this case very strong. "I think there's others involved in this. Tracy thought that they might be trying to hurt Ivory for helping her— and she's like us. He helped her get out."

"Jesus, Peter, wait!" Lena leaps to her feet half a second behind the man, seeking to grab his arm to prevent any rapid rushing off. "No! The man is a shit! He fucking raped a friend of mine! Someone who's also like us!" This may be the first time that the young woman's actually shown anything like anger in front of Peter; her eyes are bright with it, and her brows are drawn down sharply over both. It's enough to make her forget to keep her voice down as well. They get a few looks for certain keywords just used and a little space is cleared around where they're standing by the fountain.

"Oh god…" The brunette glances around, frustration rising. "Look, we probably shouldn't talk about this here, okay? But trust me on this. He…the Wynn guy, he's bad news. She's still messed up about it, you can't go running off after him."

"He did what?" Peter repeats, suddenly surprised, but also moving even closer to her as she says certain keywords. Same keywords that likely make people move away, they make him move closer. Rape. A person who was like them. "Who? Why would he— son of a bitch." Is Ivory actually a very bad person who takes advantage of women? Is… "This person you're talking about isn't a blonde woman named Tracy, is it?" Cause if it is… what vague memories he was able to garner from his apartment, and another apartment…

Oh, they should— not talk about this here. He puts his hands down, keeps from grabbing at her too much. Which is probably good, considering he could be drugged. "Is that the person you thought was manipulating me somehow?" He fails at not talking about this here.

There are certain reflexes that Lena hasn't been able to shed entirely. Flinching at men who swear and advance into her personal space is one of those. The girl turtles, shoulders drawing up around her ears and chin tucking down as she leans from him. A flash of leery panic is there and gone in her eyes. "N-no, it wasn't…Tracy Strauss, right? I…I maybe met her, she's…oh god. Pete, we really can't talk about this here, okay? This is seriously fucked up. She's in on it too, but…"

There's a moment, when Lena glances around, that it seems she's on the verge of just breaking and running. Life had become somewhat more simple of late, barring the occasional bout of torturing humans who may or may not have been innocent. It would be better to run.


"Look…" Careful to keep her voice pitched almost at a whisper, Lena forces her shoulders down and looks up at him. "I don't know if he was the one who messed with your head. I know if I hadn't cleaned her up by accident, she'd still be crazy for him. He used that. He used her. And he's in charge of the fuckers who're grabbing us. He's bad."

"Tracy's not like them," Peter says, shaking his head in denial. If Ivory is bad, using people like that, then he must be using Tracy too. "Maybe you could do the same thing to her. Maybe she's just a victim too." And if she is a victim then he has to help her, maybe that was the whole point of his dream. Maybe… "She might need me— and if you can fix that, if you can make it so someone is freed from… whatever he's doing to them, then you can fix her. Together we can save her."

Because he knows he needs to.

But does Ivory know what he's doing? There's that question in the back of his head. He'd been so sure Sylar was evil until he busted in and stole the woman he claimed to love— "We'll figure this out. But I have to try to help Tracy if I can."

Ugh. She is a creature who lives on hunches and speculation, a fact which has gotten her into a lot of trouble but has also kept her brain inside of her head and not inside of a jar (or so Lena believes). Clearly this is a case of Peter not listening. After all, she spoke to Strauss. Saw her too. She knows, and she has no Little Peter to skew her opinion. But the skepticism written plain on Lena's face is softened by a touch of doubt. If Sydney was manipulated by Ivory, and Tracy works closely with him…

A huge sigh is sighed. "Alright. Alright, fine. So we try to purge her too. But she can't see me, dude. She saw my face before, when I was a blonde, and if she is a bad guy then I don't want her recognizing me, okay? This isn't something I can just…put in a bottle for you to dose her with. I gotta touch her, like I did you. And if she is being used, she's gonna be hella sick."

"I can turn you invisible," Peter says immediately, knowing that such a thing is possible. "I'd just have to get her to meet me somewhere, and we could walk in, and all you'd have to do is touch her and we'd know right away if anything was happening. If nothing happens, I'll get you out of there as quickly as possible— I'll get both of us out of there." Cause if nothing happens she'd be… a bad person? No, he doesn't think that, but the girl with him does, and he needs her help.

He barely knows her and he knows he needs her help. Even if there's a possibility he could figure out how to do it himself. He's not going to take the chance of doing it wrong and melting her skin. Or something.

And this plan appeases his heroic side, and Little Peter both.

Lena scrubs a hand over her face, only mildly appeased. They're dealing with people who obviously hate people like her. Like Peter. Sneaking up on one, popping out of invisibility and yelling "Gotcha!" while grabbing onto them does not seem like the wisest of plans. But…there is the matter of her unbalanced karma. "Okay," she sighs again. "Okay, fine. You set it up and I'll help. And sooner's better than later, Pete. We're gonna be moving our hidey hole soon, it'll make it harder for me to sneak off."

If Tiago found out about this, ambushing government operatives is going to be the least of her worries. In fact…

"I don't guess we could maybe do it tonight?" Lena adds, lowering her hand and looking up at Peter hopefully. "Get it done with? There's…I got a lot going on, see." Like an incredibly jealous and protective boyfriend waiting at home, thinking she's at the library.

Well if things goes how he hopes, they won't drop out of invisibility. Peter's bumped into people invisible before and nothing big happened— so he's hoping it'll work better than BOO. "I— I don't know how to contact Tracy anymore," he finally admits. "When I popped in here I kind of… I messed that up. I didn't have my phone and I haven't gone back to get it. And I don't know where to find her yet." So doing it now might be difficult…

He chews on his lower lip for a moment and then says, "Will you be keeping your phone at all? How far do you think you'll be going? I can try to find her, and get ahold of Helen too— that's my brother's publicist. And then I can contact you…" So doing all of that today doesn't seem too likely…

"Maybe I could take you flying today, though. It'd be safer to do it outside of two… So it might be best if that waits too."

"Yeah, I know. Figured I'd ask though." Lena is not mature enough to keep the disappointment from showing. It won't be easy to keep this from Tiago, much less the rest of Team Awesome, but that is the price one pays for trying to be a good guy.

Evil is soooo much easier.

She tilts her head, forcing her lips into the semblance of a smile. "Don't worry about it, man. I know you're good for it, and you gotta lot to deal with right now. I've got the phone but I dunno where we're going. Jersey, maybe? Somewhere further away, there's some complications with this chick who tracked me down being in the same building. It's getting harder to keep a low profile." Pause. "I maybe shouldn't have told you that. Jesus, I've got a big mouth. Not that I don't trust you or anything but…"

Ugh squared. She returns to rubbing her eyes with one gloved hand. One day Lena's going to learn that silence is golden.

"I get it," Peter says, not seeming to mind the situation. "I could still be working for the bad guy. I'd planned to go back and try to change them from the inside, after I talked to Nathan, but I kept getting… delayed." By memories, of all things. Ghosts. Dreams. All of these things going on in his head. And he doesn't even need hallucinagins to do it. "If I can get the hang of teleporting Jersey won't be too far for me. But New York is pretty big. Why don't you try the Bronx? Or Staten Island. You might be able to find safety in another part of the city— one less busy than Manhattan or Brooklyn or Queens." It seems like good advice to him at least.

"I'll give you a call once I'm ready to go see Nathan or Tracy."

Lena shakes her head, hair swinging into her eyes. "It isn't up to me, really. I can't deal on the streets any more, Chi and I went through our savings, we can't get our stuff…kinda have to go with what the folks who have shit wanna do. But they're helping us out just to do it, watching our backs…" Just discussing it is enough to make the guilt bubble up, thick and cloying. She has to stop, take a breath and fight for that smile again.

"Sooner's better than later, remember. I'll keep my phone on…just try to give me about an hour's warning or so? I'll need that much to make sure I can get away." She pauses in order to chew on her lower lip, glancing past him to the mall proper. When Lena speaks again, it's in a perkier voice. "Guess I should let you go. You gotta hustle, got stuff to do!"

"If you need cash, I might be able to help with that," Peter adds, keeping his voice down quite a bit even as he adds that. "Not immediately, but later on. Apparently whoever I was a year or so ago was pretty damn paranoid. I found a whole bunch of cash stashes. I must have emptied out my whole life savings and just kept it in cash form."

Little does he remember two years ago at this time he'd been on the run from the Company. And a little later he'd been an incarnation from the future who couldn't exactly use credit cards. Paranoid had definitely been his middle name. "If you need it, I can help out— but— later. Take care of yourself." And whoever that Chi is… Must be an important guy, if she keeps mentioning him. At this point, he starts to walk away.

"Yeah, you too. Stay safe, okay?" It's a quiet call, aimed at the man's retreating back. The offer of money isn't answered, possibly because while it's fun to joke about emptying your rich friends' savings…it doesn't help so much with the guilt, to actually accept those handouts. Should he look back, he might see a flash of that red hoodie, the hood in the process of being pulled up over Lena's head, before she too is lost in the crowd.

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