2007-12-29: Mea Culpa

WARNING: contains Season 3 Material.

Starring:

Elle_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Peter leaves the warehouse in search of Elle to make sure she gets home safely.

Date It Happened: December 29, 2007

Mea Culpa


Outskirts of New York City, NY

The cold winter air is unwelcoming as Elle walks along the road back to the city. Traffic is a rarity here, and what cars have passed by haven't even slowed in passing by. It's been nearly an hour since she left Sylar, or Gabriel, or whomever was in control, in the warehouse. She's dressed in a long-sleeved sweater, but her coat was left behind and she was doused from head to toe in water before she left. Suffice it to say that Elle is moving slowly right now. In fact, she's looking pretty miserable, her arms wrapped around herself, damp hair frozen. She was in tears for the first half hour of her walk; now they're under control, but only just. It has been a very, very long day.

In this case, it doesn't help that the warehouse was specifically chosen due to it's remoteness. It had been for the purpose of few innocents in close proximity. Few people who would be at risk if he managed to escape. For Peter, it's been a very short day. He's only been awake for a couple of hours, and he's already worn himself out quite a bit. Hair slicked back from the shower he had just before leaving to check on the warehouse. Dressed warmly, he runs down the streets, trying to decide which direction she would go, glancing down the alles to see if he can spot her. The fact that the area is relatively empty of people, when he spots someone walking down the street, someone with light colored hair, he moves more quickly, purposefully, until he can catch up to her. "Elle?"

Flinching when she hears her name, Elle pauses for just a split second, her head tipping as if she might look back over her shoulder. She doesn't; instead, she turns back and walks on, her bloodshot eyes fixed on the ground in front of her. Clearly, she heard someone call her name, or she wouldn't have paused like that. Still, it's questionable whether she recognized the voice, at first - until, after a few steps, she speaks. Her voice pitched to carry, she calls, "Go away, Peter."

"No," Peter says, pulling his coat off as he gets closer, even trying to put it over her shoulders as he gets close enough. There may not be much of a chance for that to work, but he's attempting it anyway. He looks winded as he slows from his run, a hint of green visible in his eyes, catching much more light than these streets should allow. "I can get you home safely at least, just let me help you, Elle." She wouldn't have been involved if he hadn't taken Sylar in in the first place.

When he's near enough to try to drape the coat over his shoulders, he'll get a quick shock - minor and not particularly painful, but it's there just the same. Shrugging the coat away from her shoulders, Elle ducks her head and moves away a few steps, turning back to face Peter. Well, aren't they a pair? They've both seen better days, that's certain. "I said go, Peter," she says again, her voice hoarse. "I can take care of myself." She can't, actually, or she'd likely never have been out here in the first place, but that's neither here nor there. She turns away again, starting back down the street.

"Elle, stop," Peter says, letting the spark absorb into him. He's not wet, so it just sends a jolt up his nerves, but doesn't make him pull away too far. "Listen, you weren't supposed to know about… him. It's my fault that you got involved, so— please just let me help you." The green fades from his eyes as he lets the boosting effects fade away. As it settles, he looks physically drained, weaker. For reasons that have nothing to do with the jolt. "He wasn't supposed to be alone, I'd been watching him until… You shouldn't have been alone with him."

Turning again when her name is spoken, giving in to the knowledge that Peter isn't about to be dissuaded just by her say-so, Elle fixes him with a look of tired, despairing exasperation. She watches as the colour in his eyes changes, but though her brow knits in confusion, she says nothing. Her shoulders raise, her arms wrapping tigheter around herself. "Stop blaming yourself, Peter," she protests, shaking her head. "This isn't your fault." No, in fact, it's hers; that's what she's thinking as she turns away again, though she doesn't make any move to leave.

"Yes it is," Peter says, still holding onto his coat as he moves closer again, trying to holds it out to her, rather than drape it over her shoulders. "I chose to hold onto him, despite everything— I should have figured you'd get figure it out when I asked for the Haitian Pills. I just didn't have anyone else I could go to. I couldn't exactly ask my mother for them…" Trust is an edgy thing— having more trust in his ex-girlfriend than his mother might be a little curious. "Are you badly hurt?"

Grudgingly accepting the proferred coat, Elle turns just enough to see Peter as he speaks, taking the jacket and slipping it over her shoulders. It's getting cold, and she's been out here long enough to put herself at serious risk of illness as it stands. "I'll live," she replies non-committally, averting her eyes down to the ground. It isn't quite a lie, but she's dodging the truth. After a few seconds of silence, she looks back up to him and answers his question more honestly: "Shocked myself a couple times, once pretty bad. I don't know how long I was out, but I hit my head hard on the way down. My back's sore from when your pet project tied me to a chair and kicked it over." Feeling guilty even for that outburst, however, she looks away again. "Look, Peter, you can't blame yourself for Sylar. It isn't your fault he's the way he is, and it isn't your fault that I went looking for him, either."

"I don't blame myself for the way Sylar is now, I do blame myself for him being alone right now," Peter says, not looking too cold, despite the fact that he's no longer clad in much more than a button up shirt and pants. "He told me about what the Company did, though I'm not sure how true it was, or what actually happened. I saw some files he had on him, and it does seem like they knew about him long before the incident in Odessa. You shouldn't have been alone with him, either way." There's a quiet pause before reaches for her hands. "I don't know how well I can heal you right now, but I can try— at least fix some of it."

"We helped make him what he is." Sure, she spent all that time telling Sylar otherwise while he blamed her, but when it comes right down to it, Elle knows that she's partially responsible for the killer's continued existence. "Whatever he told you, he was probably telling the truth." She pulls her hands away before he can try to heal her, pulling them back into the sleeves of the coat for warmth. "Don't," she says, shaking her head. "You don't look like you should be trying to heal anyone, and besides, I could use the reminder about thinking things through."

There's only so much force he can use against her, so Peter lets his hands drop away, not taking them further, or forcefully healing her. "Can I get you home, then? I don't have my phone either, so I can't call you a cab," he admits, not knowing exactly where his cellphone ended up. "I can manage another teleport, even with another person." It's not going to be quite so easy to get back to Sylar, but surely her apartment has a phone that he can borrow to call himself a cab. But there's… "Whatever the Company did to Sylar… it was a long time ago. All I'm trying to do is give him a chance to be something else. He's made a lot of progress…"

Flinching at the words, Elle is growing all the more incensed - not with Peter, but with herself. For coming here, for failing to take Sylar out, for leaving the way she did instead of shooting him, for having been involved in his creation at all, for countless other reasons she may never admit. Her heart beats faster, her eyes closing as she fights for control of her ability. "It wasn't the Company," she says, her hands clenched into fists, though they're hidden by the sleeves of the coat. "It was me. I saved his life, and then I destroyed it." Because they told her to. "Can we go now?"

"His ability destroyed his life, Elle, just like what I can do almost destroyed mine," Peter says, looking up toward the sky, where his brother flew him before he went nuclear. When he would have destroyed a large portion of the city and caused a terrible missfortune for the world around him. "My brother saved me from that. And you… you were the one who taught me that it was okay to leave, that I could live in the world despite what I did to my brother and what I nearly did to the world. I got a second chance to live a normal life, out of captivity." He reaches forward and touches her arm, closing his eyes and trying to think of the apartment she took him to. For the first moments, nothing happens, he has to scrunch his eyes tighter. Then suddenly, there they are, in the apartment, and he stumbles, nearly falling. Maybe he couldn't teleport a second time after all…

"Peter!" Reaching out with both hands to steady Peter once they're in her apartment, Elle makes a quiet sound of surprise. She isn't sure she likes teleportation, she thinks. She didn't even have a chance to say what she wanted to before he'd taken her arm. The heat of her apartment is a shock to her system, after having been outside in the cold for so long, and her shivering grows worse now that they're inside. She ignores it. "You need to sit down," she says, trying to lead him over to the sofa, as much as she knows he's likely to want to leave straight away and it's almost certainly useless.

"I'll be fine," Peter says, though he doesn't forcefully pull out of her grip, or deny sitting in the chair that she leads him to. He practically drops into it, leaning his head back and closing his eyes for a moment. Use of abilities takes a toll at times, this would seem to be one of them. "I do mean what I said, though, Elle. While I don't think the Company helped… It's as much the fault of his own ability— And if I can learn how to control mine, maybe he can find a way to control his. I don't know."

Settling down into the other chair, Elle pulls a knitted blanket around herself and curls up on the seat. She draws her knees up, resting her cheek against them, her arms wrapped around her legs. "He wanted to die," she says quietly, almost to herself, still shivering as she adjusts to the warmer room. "He knew what he'd done was wrong. I stopped him, broke the rope, talked him down. For the Company. And we waited to see if he'd do it again. I didn't think he would. He was so… normal. So we made him do it, dangled a carrot in front of his face and let him take the bait." Unwilling to look to Peter as she speaks, she buries her face for a few seconds, drawing a deep breath. "And now he can't stop. He's not going to get over it. You don't get past being a monster like him."

"If he can't stop, then why did he tell me to kill him?" Peter asks, letting his eyes open as he sits up, listening to the story get confirmation. "It's a step… It's something. Maybe this is the last chance— To stop himself again. And maybe not just for him, either." He pushes himself up further so he can see her better, though he can't quite reach out to touch her, or force her to look up at him. "A chance for both of you. To make up for what happened back when the two of you met each other. You can't change what's happened, but you can make something better out of it. It's… the same reason I tried to take you away from them. Before your father took steps to make sure I knew I never could give you a normal life." In ways he didn't even know until much later.

What can she even say to that? Despite what he's done, her father is all she has, and Elle isn't about to abandon him to try and take life on her own. She's smart enough, at least, to know that she would fall to pieces. "Because he knows he'll do it again," she argues, still unwilling to look to Peter as she speaks. But it's the last argument she's going to make on the subject of Sylar, and she lays her head down on the arm of the chair, huddled beneath the blanket and coat. "There's no making up for what happened, Peter. Some things, you can't make right. Creating a serial killer? Definitely falls into that category. I just thought that if I could lock him up, if he couldn't hurt anyone again— " Then what? Then her father would pat her on the head, and she wouldn't have to worry about feeling responsible for every new death. "— whatever. It doesn't matter. I'm not going after him again."

"He told me to kill him before I took him in," Peter says, shaking his head in some denial. "It was before there was any kind of chance to understand what was happening to him. The pills make it a little better. If what happened to him is tied to the pills, then…" He shakes his head, pushing himself out of the chair he sat in, until he's standing upright. It takes a moment of standing there efore he says softly, "I thought you could change too, Elle. I wanted to give you a chance." Until everything tried their hardest to keep him from even having the capability to help her in any way. "Do you mind if I borrow your phone and call myself a cab? I need to get back to him. I just needed to make sure you got home safe."

"Go ahead." Rising from the chair, Elle gestures to the small table near the kitchen, where a portable phone sits. The light is flashing; guess there's a message, she notes. The blanket left behind, she shrugs out of his coat and leaves it on the back of the chair for him to take when he leaves. She isn't even sure what she ought to respond to the rest of what he said; his words are a harsh reminder of her life several months ago, before her father took it all away. Again. "Sorry to disappoint you," is all she says, unintentionally bitter, turning away from him as her cheeks flush and moving towards the hallway. "I'm going to change into drier clothes."

"You never disappointed me," Peter says, as he moves in the direction of the phone. "You taught me that I could leave the holding cell I allowed myself to be put it. You believed that I could be stronger than I thought. You cared about me." There's a long pause. "You didn't disappoint me, Elle. Your father did." With this said, he picks the phone up and calls a number of a local cab company, to give them the address.

He said cared. Past tense. She could correct him, but that would be giving Peter too much of an insight into her head, even if Elle knows that he could look for it at any time without needing her to speak. Instead, she leaves him to call the taxi in peace, nudging the door closed while she quickly changes into flannel pyjamas, though not before examining the bruises down her back. Thank you, Sylar. Alone in the room, she mulls over what Peter said, knowing she couldn't ever make him understand why she still listens to her father, or why she went back to the Company. …her father. For a few seconds, she thinks she might lose control of her ability again as she succumbs to what she's been holding back since leaving the warehouse; she buries her face in her hands, pressing the fabric of her sleeves against her eyes. How the hell is she going to explain this to him? A few shaky breaths later, and she's managed not to all-out sob and embarrass herself any worse than she already has, today, though she might have unwillingly let a few tears get caught by the sleeve of her shirt. Gathering her wits, she opens the door again and returns to the living room, tying her hair back into a ponytail as she walks. Deciding against speaking to any of what they were discussing before, she asks simply, her voice ragged, "Any luck?"

The past tense was done to keep from assuming, just as he avoids reading people's minds, even when he wants to. After a few minutes, giving the address that he need to be picked up from, Peter waits, standing near the table and avoiding anything rude, like going through her possessions. However, he does wait for her, quietly looking down at his own hand, and moving to take his coat back, if nothing else. When she returns, he stands in silent for a moment before finally nodding, "Yeah. They'll have someone over in a few minutes. I just wanted to wait for you before I go down to wait." There's that pause again, voice barely above a whisper in tone and even soft in volume. "I'm sorry you got hurt, Elle."

"It's not your fault." Elle seems to be saying that a lot recently, particularly to Peter. "I'll be fine." 'Fine' being a relative concept that could mean any number of things, which is precisely why she chose it. It's not exactly a lie. She pulls the blanket from the chair and wraps it around her shoulders, still fighting off some of the chill from her walk. She's almost certainly going to be sick tomorrow. "I'm not going to tell them where he is," she says after a pause, flicking a reluctant glance to Peter if only so he understands that she's being honest. "Or that you're helping him. No one's going to come after you." At least, not because of her.

"It is my fault, at least in part," Peter says, denying her the right to take away his part in her predicament. However small or large that part may be. "And thank you. I appreciate it. Though I don't know how much longer he'll be where he is, anyway. The warehouse was just a temporary fix…" There's hesitation, before he pulls the coat on the rest of the way, buttoning it up. "Don't protect me more than you have to, Elle. I don't want the Company to do much more to you than they already have." With that, he reaches for the door, intending to leave.

There isn't much left for the Company to do to Elle, though even she doesn't know just what they've done to her in the past - or what they might be capable of doing to her now. Instead of admitting any of that to Peter, she simply says, "Don't worry about me." Which is just like telling him not to breathe. Fidgeting with the sleeves of her shirt, she takes a few steps towards the door. "Just… be careful."

"I will, though looks like you have reason to be careful too, Elle," Peter says, eyes lingering back through the door, before he finally closes it and starts to where he can wait for the cab. No teleporting for him for a bit. Luckily, he has his wallet, even if he doesn't have his own phone.

Elle won't deny that observation, though she's loathe to admit it, no matter how true it may be. Once Peter has left, she secures both locks on the door. A deadbolt and chain won't keep the likes of Sylar out, but it gives her some small peace. Turning, she walks straight past the phone with its flashing light, ignoring the message, and makes her way back to her bedroom.

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