2007-09-08: Not A Prize To Be Won

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: In the end, it's not about who's more deserving.

Date It Happened: September 8th, 2007

Not A Prize To Be Won


Sitting Room, Petrelli Mansion, Hyde Park, New York City

September was bringing rain already. New York had a beautiful weekend. It was sunny and cool throughout. Now that it was pushing towards the weekday, the atmosphere has decided that the state had to pay. Rain spatters over the windows, and there's a few, scattered flashes of lightning….but it wasn't as bad as early on the other week. Elena's perched herself on the sitting area by a window, one of those fixtures that attached right into the sill. She looks comfortable at least, with a pile of pillows that support her back. She's got an afghan draped loosely around her legs, and she's got a book open on her lap.

It was a very worn book, and it looks like it's been handled many times. It looks dated as well, the cardboard cover probably had a colorful image once upon a time, but this, too, has faded. The anthology was open to a page in particular, of a poem written sometime during the 1920s.

I HAVE no life but this,
To lead it here;
Nor any death, but lest
Dispelled from there;

Nor tie to earths to come,
Nor action new,
Except through this extent,
The realm of you.

She can't concentrate even though she's read the first few lines several times. Her head is leaned at the corner where the wall meets the window's frame. Her highlighter twirls and twirls around her fingers in a lazy, absent fashion. She's thinking, but not particularly hard.

—-

While Peter's got a strong preference for his own apartment over the family home, he chose to drop by tonight for one very… selfish reason. And sadly it's not the dog that's still somehow a puppy in appearance (minature) he's holding when he walks into the sitting room. The reason would be the woman sitting next to the window, with the rain drizzling down, reading a book. Due to the rain, he's a little damp— as he'd forgone any umbrella and chose to walk in it instead. Dressed in clothes that he usually wears to his job at Enlightenment Books, the white long coat he wore outside kept most of the rain off of his clothes, and he removed his shoes once he stepped inside. This keeps him from tracking rain into the house— but his hair is still slightly damp.

Stepping over, with her so distracted, he's quiet, looking at the book on her lap and reading a few lines before smiling, "Dickinson?" he asks, trying to impress her with what poetry knowledge he has. She's seen his bookshelves at his apartment. They're almost as full as hers are— but not quite.

He chose to come here instead of go back to his apartment just to see her… since he didn't get to travel back up to her father's house to visit her.

—-

She doesn't know anyone's coming up to her, until a shadow falls over her, blocking most of the light in the sitting room. This Elena hasn't developed the ability to home in on life signals yet. Though when Peter's distinct voice reaches her ears, she can't help but look up. Despite the look in her eyes, she finds it in her to smile. "Hi," she says softly, and when he correctly identifies the author, she can't help but feel a grin tug up the corners of her mouth. "Got it in one," she says lightly, closing the book and shifting so she could stand up and press a light kiss on his cheek in greeting. "Forgot an umbrella today?" she asks. He smelled like rainwater - but she didn't mind that. She liked the smell of rain, and it suited him somehow. Her fingers lift to idly play with the damp curl on his forehead.

"Visiting the family?" she asks, her hand dropping to ruffle Snowy's head lightly. But she retakes her seat, pushing a bit off to the side so he'll have room to sit next to her if he wants. "There's leftovers in the fridge if you're hungry, we just got done with dinner." She remembers the bookshelves in his apartment, Peter's got his own taste when it came to literature….looking at them one would think he had been a liberal arts major instead of a nurse.

She pulls one of the pillows away from the wall so she could hug onto it, cradling it in between her arms and lap as she looks up at him.

—-

Rain does seem to suit him, and he leans into her finger tips for a moment, and then leans in to kiss her on the forehead, before allowing her to ruffle Snowy instead. Peter's happy to have his dog back, and she's happy to see him, too. Luckily she didn't go and forget him— though he's not sure how well she'll adjust to being back at the apartment after this is all said and done. With the additional room, he moves to settle down next to her, the dog setting in his lap. She stays there, because his hand remains on her. "Thanks, I'll probably reheat something in a bit, but I should be okay— I had lunch." He worked today, after all. It'd been a pretty late lunch, all told.

It's her hugging of the pillow that he notices. It's one of the motions she'd tend to do when tired, or being playful, and he doesn't think this is a playful moment… tired maybe. The hand on the white dog lifts up and reaches to touch the hair on her forehead, pushing it aside, and then running down her cheek until he brushes over the beautymark that he admired once upon a time.

"I'm sorry I couldn't make it back to your dad's house after the Zoo… I wish I could have." And the only reason he didn't was because of who he wasn't allowed to spend much time with. He'd spoken to her on the phone afterwards— but it had been short. They'd both been tired. Just good nights and an I love you from him. He's been saying it a lot.

"You all right? Did Gene make it up to the house to talk to you?"

—-

She closes her eyes at the warm kiss on her forehead, Elena smiling a bit at it, but once they're settled on the seat, she absently toys with one of the tassels on the decorative pillow she's cradling. If he told her that he noticed the pillow-hugging thing as a quirk, she'd probably be amazed at how quickly he picks up on the little nuances that made her, her. It's always been that way through the course of their friendship, and in their more-than-friendship. She didn't know what else to call it, drifting in that limbo was a little strange - but typical of young relationships. She wouldn't know any of that though considering she's never really dated anyone before. Or at least never dated anyone this often.

When he thumbs her beauty mark she can't help but turn her head a bit to kiss the middle of his palm. "It's okay. We decided it was probably for the best….though even if you didn't really see Nita over the weekend, you've probably…got what she has anyway. I remember you met her once before when we didn't know she was…you know. The way she was. Chances are it's too late. I'm amazed it hasn't gone haywire. Maybe it needs time to develop…"

When he asks about her, and asks about Gene, something passes over her expression. She glances down at the pillow, watching her fingers as they tug on the decorative tassel. "I talked to Gene. He says he'll go with you to talk to Evelyn. He's not sure if she'll trust him, but he does know her. They've run into each other several times, and he knows which high school she goes to." Her fingers curl tighter on the tassel. "I needed to talk to him about some things anyway. I'm glad….I invited him up. He drove me back to the city, too." Hence why she's been at NYC for several hours now.

—-

"Maybe not. If she only just manifested her ability I might not have gotten it— I don't really know how it works," Peter admits, watching as she plays with the tassels, keeping his hand against her face for a time. His hands are cool, not quite damp, but definitely cool— and times like this he can't quite stop touching her. It had been more than twenty-four hours since he had the chance to, after all. There's something intoxicating about new relationships— and this one especially.

Her answer to the Gene question, and the sudden attention to her hand, draw his eyes there as well— when he looks back up, there's something more serious in his expression. Something's wrong, but he doesn't know what it is. What she needed to talk to him about besides Evelyn, maybe?

"I'm glad he'll join me for this— I'll see if I can set it up for sometime this week…" There's always so much that they need to do. Meeting Evelyn soon, finding out if it's already started… that's pretty important. If he can't set it up for tomorrow, then he'll definitely want it done before the week is too far gone. The dog in his lap is disappointed at the lack of hand on her, barks once, and then hops down to go and find something to chew on. She's not got the patience to sit in a lap that isn't actively petting her right now.

It's the unspoken thing that makes him move closer, his hand shifting from her face and cheek, to her shoulder. Then he's pulling her closer against him, trying to hug her against his chest. "Something's bothering you."

—-

His last several relationships hadn't been as drawn out as this one. From what Elena could gather, he fell for Simone pretty hard, and they skipped the entire friendship and dating thing to sleep together. And there was Elle, who probably ensnared him through a combination of her charm and Stockholm's Syndrome while he was trapped in the Company facility in Kirby Plaza. When she had entered the picture, it had been different. Tensions between them have stretched on for months. And seven months after meeting, more than half a year now, they've only just begun alleviating some of those tensions.

His hand is cool, and it gives her a sense of comfort. She nods though she doesn't really see the serious cast to his face as he observes her fiddling with the tassels. "I'll give you his number. I called him after you called me, I honestly forgot about giving it to you when you called last night. We were both pretty tired." She had spent most of the day asking Juanita questions, after he left and she came back to the house. But the eight year old wasn't much help. She didn't really understand what she had, just that she had 'wishes' that came true.

When he states his conclusion, and wraps one arm around her, she hesitates, though she follows willingly enough. both her arms curl around him, her cheek against his shoulder. The pillow's in the way, so she just lets it drop somewhere on the floor. "I just…" She falls quiet again. "It's not really my….I shouldn't say anything." Something else colors her voice. Distress. Worry. There was no small amount of sadness.

After a few more moments of silence, the story comes out eventually. How she and Gene had been testing his brain scanner sometime in June. How she tested it on him, being the only other living person in the room. How she found something strange in the scan, her suspicions. Going to Cass once she had the balls to come up to a person with training she trusted and show her, and then later tell her. And then finally this weekend telling Gene himself. About how he had been difficult. About how Gene reacted. She doesn't say that he broke down, but there's really only so much a person could hold in when you tell him his brain is killing him.

She falls quiet again after a while. When she speaks up, her voice is soft. "….I don't….even know how to begin to find a solution but I promised him. I'll find a way even if it kills me. He's done nothing wrong. He's only….all he's done since I met him was protect me."

—-

"You can give it to me tonight," Peter says, not wanting to rush anything. They have time— he's not planning to leave tonight, even if he hasn't told her that yet. Staying the night in his family home has never been an issue, but he hasn't done it in a while— and he's never done that with her. They have plenty of rooms, and he has some clothes that he can wear here as well.

But with her worry, he settles in to listen, and hold her close. She's warm and he's cool, and right now— he's most happy just to be there for her while she gives over what's bothering her. That's always been one of his many wishes where she was concerned… he wanted her to tell him what's bothering her.

Gene's situation… that earns a serious look, but it's over her head so she can't quite see it. She'll feel his hands tighten against her, and his mouth shift to press lips against her hair. "There's time— he may not have been perfectly healthy in the future… but he was alive. We have time."

Partially prostetic as he'd been, he doesn't think that he had a total brain replacement. There's time to fix things… That's the most he can really offer. She's trying to find a way to cure cancer— when people for decades have been doing the same without major success. "We'll figure something out." He pets her hair, closing his eyes and wrapping his other arm tightly around her, as if she were more delicate than she actually is.

—-

It had been a promise she made him quite a bit ago, when he had still been seeing Elle, and he had considered her his best friend. In fact at the time he said it was when he showed her Cass's fate on canvas. Elena had tried her best to keep that promise, though even now it's a little difficult. Her words halted. There were long pauses. But she did it. She was trying, and tonight she was at the very least moderately successful. And all he's doing now is being comforting. Part of her was happy about it, to have someone to do the same for her for a change. Part of her still somewhat dreaded it. She thought things with Peter would take a more gradual course, like it had been since meeting him. But now that the roadblocks that kept them platonic had been taken down, the last two weeks had been going by fast.

She closes her eyes when she feels his lips moving over her hair, but she nods, giving him a squeeze. "I know," she says softly. "We do. There should be a way to get rid of it," she says softly.

When he wraps his other arm around her, she can't help but sink in, closing her eyes and breathing in deeply. Scent was actually the most effective out of all five senses to trigger memory. He smelled like rain and the outside - clean, from whatever he used to do laundry. "Are you staying here tonight?" she asks, finally, her voice a little muffled against his shoulder.

—-

Actually it hasn't even been a week yet— it's been… a handful of days. And a little change. Peter's not going to argue that, once the barriers had been stripped away, that things between them have moved at a rapid, and almosts scary pace. For him… things are a bit different. He'd told her he loved her long before that moment in the coffee shop. It just wasn't quite to her— but it counted enough to him.

The comfort will continue for a time, fingers in her hair, rubbing against her scalp, as if he could ease the pain that isn't even hers just with his fingertips. He nods at the mention of what they'd been doing being included. "That should speed your work along a little, then. I'm glad they did that." Because it should be a big help, as he said. Speed things to a more permenant solution. Spare them finding a way to slow it down and let them move right to a cure.

"Yeah— I think I'll spend the night here," he says, keeping his arms around her, looking towards the dog that's chewing on something on the floor. Nothing she shouldn't be chewing on, luckily. "I want to take Snowy back to the apartment soon— let her get used to it now that I'm here to take care of her again…" Just like he's here to take care of the young woman held against his chest. And the whole world for that matter. "And things have been a little lonely the last few nights…" His bed has been empty— but he's not going to be a total baby and pretend like he hasn't slept— he still slept. The nightmares of the future are not as bad anymore— he just missed having her there.

—-

That was still a little scary to her. Elena had been comfortable with the knowledge that he would never return what she felt for him. How could he? He was older - the age difference was considerable despite social norms laxing in that regard so long as the girl or guy was legal. He had been from a different background. They had very different temperaments. He was emotionally dependent while she was notoriously independent when it came to her attachments, or non-attachments, with others. She had been so comfortable with the idea that this crazy phase would pass, because every girl with a straight guy for a best friend has crushed on him before. It was only when he started returning them that things got a little more complicated than she liked.

And the intensity. The intensity thrilled and scared her. He had a way of looking at her that sped up her heartbeat. He could be so easygoing when he wants to be. So relaxed and gentle about most things. But when it came to her, things related to her, things connected to her, he just…

When he confesses that it had been lonely, indicative that he's gotten used to her presence next to him at night, she couldn't help but smile despite her worries. They haven't done more than kiss. While he's honestly the only man that's gotten further with touching her, they've done nothing but sleep whenever she stayed over. In a way she was happy about that, his emotions were intense enough. Physically getting to that point was just… she tilts her head up to kiss him gently on the cheek. "Is that a hint?" she asks lightly.

—-

In some ways their differences have only helped their relationship. The differences in their ages have also probably been mostly ignored by the fact that even people close to her that are younger than him treat him as if he were a boy. Peter's not sure her father even knows exactly how old he is. But there has been a great deal of build up for their relationship. It remained friendship as long as it did because of obstacles— those obstacles have been removed— and now the only thing keeping them apart is themselves. And maybe the end of the world.

That afternoon in her father's house would have been the closest, since the night she inadvertantly drugged him, that they came to doing anything more than kissing— but luckily there'd been her father in the house, and a nosey younger brother to interupt them. And pool to distract them afterwards. Still… based on what Lachlan told her — though he still doesn't know — he has needs, and those needs may overpower his will eventually…

Good thing he's strong willed when it comes to certain things.

"…If it's a hint that I'd like you to spend the night in the room with me… then yeah. It's a hint." He's smiling at this point, nudging the tip of his nose against hers, and then kissing her full on the lips. It won't last too long. "Only if you want to, though." He'd never force her, after all. "If you're already getting sick of me being around all the time…" Even when he hasn't been around all the time the last two days.

—-

She had doubts that her father cared about how old he was. Ramon might not say much, but he wasn't dense. If anything, 40-something years in the world scraping a living with two hands to support his family, and especially even more after Catalina died, had given him a deeper insight on Life and what ought to be considered important. Once someone got Ramon going, he would find that he was actually a very world-wise man despite his somewhat narrow-minded view on masculinity. But the latter he can't help, it was more the culture than the upbringing.

She didn't know what it was about him, and rooms, and her father being in the same place that she found herself in those situations. Perhaps it was Murphy's law at work, but her memories of that afternoon had been hazy. He had a habit of being able to drive other things, including her usual, religion-based restraint, out of her head when he kissed her the way he did. But the sense of propriety and Luis had been welcome distractions. What hadn't been welcome was her little brother barging in her room the moment his hand decided it would be a good idea to crawl under her shirt and climb higher - and promptly yelled at him to get off his sister. Her father was one thing, but being berated by a 12-year old had been embarassing to her.

Thankfully Ramon's study was soundproof.

She kisses him back, pulling away so she can rest her chin on his shoulder as she looks at him through half-lid eyes. "Okay. But never say I don't do you any favors," she teases, leaning in to drop another brief kiss on his mouth. "And no, I haven't. I'd like to chalk it up to the idea that we haven't seen each other for close to two months and are just making up lost time. Just so we wouldn't seem codependent," she jokes.

—-

Denied second base by a tweleve year old. That'd been pretty embarassing for him too, so at least she wasn't alone in looking a little red in the face until they went to play pool. Peter begins to withdrawl a little at this point, more because of getting ready to move than that he wants to. The hands that are off her back and out of her hair have moved to her shoulders, staying there for a few long moments as he leans into the kiss again, deeper this time. Once he breaks, he confesses, "I'd never say otherwise." He's convinced that she's doing him many favors, even if she'd meant it as a tease.

It's the codependent joke that does make him smile a little wider. "I know you're not dependant on me, don't worry. The earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around." There's a strong meaning there, if she picks up on it, and he kisses her on the cheek, close to her chin, where the beauty mark stands out. This is when he begins to move away, shifting his hands down to find hers, so he can help her to her feet. "Think I could use some of those left overs— then I'll probably need a shower before going to bed…" The walking in the rain thing…

"Do you want to finish reading in here, or join me in the kitchen for a while?" Obviously she can read or something while he's in the shower, but…

—-

They can never. Ever. Tell Lachlan about that incident. It would be unforgiveably embarassing. And Jack would be worse about it, while slipping Luis a twenty and giving him a thumbs up, to boot. Elena's head tilts backwards slightly when Peter moves in to give her another kiss, but once he pulls away, she picks up the pillow and sets it back in its proper place neatly. She was still a house guest after all, even if she did kill Thomas the Lawn Gnome a few days ago. But when he tosses the Copernicus statement at her, she can't help but laugh. "Less than a week back and you're tossing out the nerdy science lines at me?"

Her hand is taken. She stands up, but the prospect of food causes her to perk up a little. He knows. HE KNOWS. "We had fetuccini alfredo today," she tells him. "Some fish, and salad." He can eat the pasta and the salad. "And you know me, I'll never say no to food." She frowns and glances down at herself. "I'm acgtually a little worried. I've been eating so much lately. I think I'm clocking about eight or so full meals a day." And she still somewhat underweight. She hasn't exactly picked up the fact that her metabolism has turned into a monster since her powers started developing. But he knows her answer to that. Hell, she even leads the way, tugging lightly on his hand as they move for the kitchen.

"How was work?" she asks, once they get there. And she'll proceed to go to the fridge to dig out the past and the salad for him. It was out of habit, she was used to be the one feeding people. Of course, Peter can get his food himself, but this is sort of automatic to her. They can share the plate.

—-

"It wasn't really nerdy science," Peter says, though he'll let her believe otherwise. It'd actually been a lot more metaphorical than scientific… but with a scientific base. It'd be kinda lame to admit that his world, or the world that he wants to make, revolves quite a bit around her. And his brother and his family in general and other such things, but— when he's with her, it might as well revolve around her alone. She makes him forget about everything else for a short time. With him, that's a good thing.

When she comments on the food, he frowns a little, but nods. "You ate a lot in the future— and you still didn't weight very much. I think your abilities are taking a toll on you— when you use them too much, you're burning energy. I used your ability a lot in the future— the other you insisted I train your ability so I wouldn't be too much of a liability. Remember being pretty hungry afterwards." But he still didn't break down and eat meat— that's a lifestyle choice he made back in college, and he's stuck with it.

Once they're in the kitchen, he gives her a look as she goes to get the food ready, almost reaching to take over, since she is the guest in this house— but… he settles down into the chair and watches her instead. "It was okay. Did you know that Nathan filled in a shift for me at the bookstore? I guess Cass had a huge emergency and needed someone to man the counter— there was a customer today who'd come in when he worked— he thought I looked like him." And had some interesting things to say about his brother the salesman.

—-

Well she was actually kidding about the nerdy science part - Elena knew what he meant, she just couldn't help but toss out the wisecrack because what he meant despite the metaphor had been pretty serious. Not like she was brushing off Peter's intentions, but this has been the first time she actually let herself just….be with someone. It was a strange feeling to be both excited and afraid at the same time. It was like getting on an inverted rollercoaster, adrenaline is pumping, you can't wait to ride it, but if you keep your eyes open, you feel like you're going to die.

She pops the pasta in the microwave, setting the counter, but the salad she leaves out. It was mostly cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, and romaine - but she liked it that way. It was unadorned so while the pasta is heating up, she drags out Italian and Ranch dressing for him. She's going by what she remembers in his fridge, walking over towards him and setting the bowl down and handing him a fork. "I guess that makes sense….my abilities tend to depend on my control over biochemicals…" she muses. "But really? I said that?" She frowns a little bit. She sounds a little hardassed in the future. She would've put it more gently than that. Then again she sounded like she had a trying time in the future too.

When the microwave does its work, she puts the heated plate in front of him. She has her own fork, so after peeling back the saran wrap, she spools some of the noodles into it, leaning across the counter from him with one arm folded. "Oh did he?" she asks with a laugh, offering the bite to his lips. "You know for someone who looks so formal all the time, Nate's actually pretty nice. I'm glad to get to know him a little better while living here. He drove me to school one time, but that was after he took Binky's keys away from me." She grins. "Did his one-day stint at retail go okay?"

—-

Being involved in a relationship can be disconcerting at first… knowing that someone's relying on you, relying on that person as well… it's not easy to adjust to when you're a fiercly independant soul. Peter takes more naturally to these relationships, because he's relied on others a lot more than he'll admit, requiring their support and presense. Actually he can admit to it— it's like she told her father. He's incapable of cutting people off like that. And when he does, it actually stunts him and he's forced to rely more on someone else to compensate…

The Italian dressing seems to be the one he gestures towards— the ranch in his fridge had been for vegetables seperate from a salad, like sliced carrots that he'd want to dip and have something to add to it. But some of the cherry tomatoes can be fingered and dipped in it and have much the same effect. "It's not as bad as it sounds— she was second in command of the Saints— Jack was the leader, but she took a lot on her shoulders. She couldn't risk me compromising her people— or myself for that matter. I couldn't exactly teleport back to the Present if I got myself really and truly killed." She'd done it to protect him, and protect others… But yeah, she could be a little hardassed about things.

There's a blink when he realizes with a shock that she's actually trying to feed him— but he opens his mouth and tastes the forkfull that she offered him, smiling lopsidedly, "That's what Cass said— I don't know how good a job he did— even when Nathan was younger he'd never worked retail— he's not quite got the people skills for it." Which is why he's surprised when she calls his brother pretty nice. "…He can be nice, yeah. But that's usually only when he gets to know you— or when he wants something from you." The last part is where his smarminess comes from. The first part is the side that only his family and close friends see. "I'm glad the two of you are getting to know each other."

His brother means a great deal to him, and having them be close is important. "He drove you to school?" Not one of the drivers?

—-

Said dynamic was new for her. Elena isn't used to asking for help, or for comfort - but Peter knows this and give it to her anyway despite the things she doesn't say, so in essence it works out for the both of them. When Peter launches into a description of her future self, she ponders it a little bit. Second in command? And she takes a lot on her shoulders. "….admittedly it sounds like something I would do," Elena says slowly. "I would've put it in a nicer way though." Her as in now-her. Of course she hasn't been exposed to as much death and blood as the other one. She can't help but look at him curiously though. She wondered how seeing her that way affected him. Or his dealings with her now. If she had been that scary, wouldn't he be discouraged pursuing things with her here?

Then again part of her would rather not know.

"I kind of figure those sorts of jobs would be beneath him even when he was younger," Elena says dryly. It might be a little unfair but she was almost sure she wasn't completely wrong in that regard. "Probably the latter," she says with a laugh. "He did ask me a lot as to whether I figured out a way to bring you back yet. He was….he didn't really say or act it but….he really was worried about you Peter. Very worried."

When he asks the last, she laughs. "Why is that unusual?" she asks, moving around the counter so she could walk up to where he's seated. There are other chairs, but if he makes room, she'll turn around and situate herself on one of his knees, turning her head to kiss his temple. As jittery as she was about pursuing anything serious with him, affection on the other hand came naturally. She had always been this way. She twirls another forkful on the plate before taking a bite of it, swallowing after. "I lost control of Binky a few days ago and he crashed into one of the gnomes. Nate confiscated my keys. I tried to get them back and I somehow ended up latching onto his back like a koala. He spun me around until he was all 'alright alright fine I'll drive you to school' but he also told me I wasn't getting the keys back until we had Binky looked at."

She laughs. "It was too bad you didn't decide to reappear then. You probably would've found it really weird. But yeah, he drove me to school. He crashed the car, mind, but he drove me to school."

—-

"She wasn't as mean as it sounds, promise," Peter says taking one of the cherry tomatos and dabbing some ranch on it so he can eat it. It's her decision on how to sit that also surprises him, making him move a bit so that she can do that. Wrapping an arm around he waist, he uses the other hand to put a fork full of salad into his mouth, spending some extra time watching her, even if he's worried about her somewhat serious expression when they're talking about the woman she would have become if everything had been left alone. For a moment… he's tempted to tell her more about it, but then he chooses not to. There's some things he's not quite ready to admit to yet— anymore than she's ready to hear them.

"I know he was worried— first thing he said to me is that he would kill me." It'd been an exclaimation of anger for how long he'd been gone, and worry— he knows this. She knows this too. "He was also upset that I didn't even tell him— but I couldn't. He would have talked me out of it… and I think we really needed this." He needed to do it. It will make things better now that they know everything that they know.

"Sounds like he was worried about you too, then," he admits, siting his brother wanting her to get Binky looked at before she rode on him again. It might have been for the poor lost gnome, but it was more likely to do with her. His brother won't admit it, but he has some pretty deep soft spots…

…and apparently he sucks at driving. "I'm glad you're okay, at least— though I do kind of wish I could have seen that. You hanging from his back like a koala?" It's a cute mental image. He dips some ranch onto another cherry tomoto, and this one he holds out to her to eat, if she wants it. "I found out we still have the house up in Vernon. Maybe you can koala on him and beg him to let us take a weekend vacation up there."

—-

"…you guys still have it? But that was ages ago, yeah?" Elena wonders out loud, turning so she sits sideways on his thigh so she could look at him. Then again she shouldn't be surprised. The real estate market was bust this year, and people were buying more than they were selling, simply because prices are dropping, and sellers either have to lower the prices of what they're selling or swallow a loss. Despite her family's good fortune in terms of their finances, it didn't change the fact that outside their bubble, the economy sucked. She was glad Jaden was so generous, otherwise she'd be struggling with the rest of them.

Though when he mentions that Nate could've been concerned, there is a skeptical look on her face. She honestly doesn't think she made that big of an impact with the older brother. She mostly just annoyed him. And kept annoying him out of spite. She couldn't help but smile. "Maybe. You know him better than I do," she says, her eyes drifting towards the cherry tomato offered to her. She plucks it out of his fingers with her mouth delicately and chews. "Though…" she says, swallowing the fruit. Because damn it, tomatoes are fruits, no matter what Whole Foods says. "I think he humors me because he thinks I'm amusing. Maybe politics is so boring that the more off the wall someone or something is, the better he responds to it. With a very serious face, but…maybe. I don't know. I've only really started to get to know him after a month."

The weekend vacation idea puts a surprised look on her face. It had been a casual comment, but she didn't expect him to take it that seriously. "…in Vernon? Really?" She's never been. It was probably gorgeous up there over the winter. But it was the family house. The house he grew up in when he was a kid. That was serious, yes? That same excited/scared/jittery feeling was back, but she tries not to show it by stabbing her fork into the pasta and spooling another bite, offering it to him. "Sure, I'm game if we manage to find a break in the middle of everything," she says casually.

—-

"I guess we just never sold it— Nathan probably kept it as an intended vacation home and just never got around to using it… There's a groundskeeper up there— probably someone who takes care of the house too, but the tree house needs a little work," Peter talks as if he knows for a fact exactly what it looks like now— when he hadn't been there since he was twenty just the other day. A forkfull of salad goes into his mouth, with fruit garnish in the form of a cherry tomato.

"He likes you," he adds, tightening the arm around her waist, smiling at her lopsidedly. "Even if he calls you a brat— he likes you." His wife and brother can be brats sometimes, and he adores them… "I think having you around helped him a lot— while I was gone." His brother didn't decend into a depression while he was away— no off the wall drinking either. There's definitely good things about this. But… he probably pushed things a little too far when he outright invited her up. She covers the jittery well enough, but… he can tell.

Taking a bite of the offered pasta, he waits til it's swallowed before he says, "Nathan wanted to take the boys up there too— they've never been, I don't think. But…" Man, that probably isn't helping, because that would make it a family trip. He hesitates, trying to think of the right way to make this not sound like too much too soon… He fails. So instead he skips to something he meant to bring up, "Do you have anything fairly nice to wear? I— kinda have an idea— for our third date." Third dates are very important in guyspeak.

—-

"…I think you mentioned the treehouse before," Elena muses, her face scrunching up a bit to try and remember what he said about it. "….you said…I think you mentioned that was your first drinking experience, right? Nate stole a bottle of scotch and lured you up there?" She looks at him and grins. "Do you still drink it?" The first and last time she caught him drinking, he had been drinking rum, and he smelled like vodka. Her father drinks, and so does Manny if he thinks no one's looking, so she can at the very least identify which is what. Plus she's had scotch before, thanks to Cass.

She laughs. "I don't mind if he calls me brat," she says with a grin. "Compared to him and you I probably am." She was considerably younger than the both of them. But when he says she helped Nathan out while he was gone, she looks a little skeptical. "I don't know. Maybe he felt better because everyone else seems to think you'll come back wherever I am. I know that's what Cass felt when we were all worrying about you not coming back." She isn't really tooting her horn on her importance in his life, she was only telling him what other people told her and that maybe the same applied to Nathan.

But yeah, good thing Peter catches onto that, because once he brings Simon and Monty into the equation - the last few times had been fine, she visited them, she babysat with them, but to go on a trip with the entire family? And they weren't even… still, she inclines her head at him when he changes the subject. Part of her is relieved. Part of her is surprised. Most of her is reeling as bits and pieces as to just how serious he was about her come out. Any illusions she might've held onto that this was just this young puppy love thing are dying bit by bit. Had he been like this with Simone and Elle? If he had been, it might be okay, but something tells her he wasn't. Hell, she even knows Elle pushed it on Heidi that she might be her sister-in-law soon and Heidi had been extremely uncomfortable by it.

The discussion of the Third Date only cements it. "I….dress up?" Elena wonders, shifting a bit so she could look at him in the face. "….so you're not taking me to a hockey game or anything like that?" she jests. Didn't Lachlan say something about third dates being important before? She had only gone on a second date with Eric, never a third so she doesn't know what to expect. Did he expect anything? Should she expect anything? Cue flailing/spazzing insert here. "I have a few dresses…" Girlspeak Code for 'I'll Have To Call Nadia.' "I don't wear them often, but…what's the idea?" Yeah. Definitely calling Nadia. She can't help but be curious.

—-

With Simone, he'd never had a chance to get this serious. Who's to say how he would have been if she hadn't been on the rebound and probably not even really in love with him. Peter's accepted that she probably wasn't— that she cared about him in a way, but not returned the feelings he had. And with Elle… even if he has been serious about dating her exclusively— because that's the way he does things— he'd avoided talk of engagement and hadn't been serious about that level of a step.

"I occassionally drink scotch, yeah," he does respond to the question, nodding that she'd gotten the story right. They'd talked about it a little. There's a hint of something there, though— as if drinking had become a topic of recent discussion that bothered him. Not really bothered him… but he made a promise. A scotch isn't something he drinks for casual enjoyment. The fruity drinks are far more casual in nature— though they can be just as easily abused, as she found when he ended up with a bottle of spiced rum he tried to finish all by himself.

"No, not a hockey game," he says with a hint of a smile, but— the worry is showing through too. He's pushing things, isn't he? There's hesitation again, his eyes shift downwards— but they ends up on her mouth. "It's a surprise," he adds, before he shifts her weight so that she's forced a little closer— and so that he can kiss her. They both the same, smell similar at this close proximity. The third date may mean something different to him than most men, but that doesn't change that he might be moving too fast for her.

—-

He talked about them a little, his past relationships. Of course Elena listened because she was a close friend of his, but once she knew that things between him and Elle were getting rocky, and once she realized her view of him was slowly changing, she tried to keep herself out of those discussions. Peter had talked to Cass, Nathan, who knows who else about Elle - but she always did her best to keep away and if it did come up, she was, of course, supportive. But she had always been conscientious of boundaries. Now that they've been thrown out the window however, she can't help but wonder about his romantic past. Honestly she knows she should quit it. Despite everything, she wasn't his girlfriend. The blurry line between friends and lovers was a huge gray area where definitions tended to not exist.

Though at the mention of the scotch, Elena frowns. He might not show it outwardly but there's a look to him that….she didn't know what it was, but something was suddenly bothering him. She picks up on it instantly. It wasn't even an obvious change, or even a subtle shift. She just knows. Her hand comes up to touch his cheek lightly. "…hey. What's up?" she asks quietly. She wasn't one to dance around a question after all, as long as it was about him.

And he could be, but if they were going to keep seeing each other, a third date would be happening eventually. Elena knows that she could be overthinking everything. She was young, dreadfully inexperienced, and she was currently seeing an older guy who had more experience with this sort of thing than her. So thankfully he distracts her from dwelling too much into it by shifting her closer. Her hand is still on his cheek when he leans in to kiss her, and whenever he does that she can't bring herself to worry about anything else for a bit. Her response is soft, as willing as always, and the hand on his cheek shifts to curl gently around to the back of his neck, fingertips resting there.

—-

The fork that he held drops onto the plate, and despite bein called on something being off— Peter's more focused on what he just started that he can't answer her question right away. The other arm wraps around her, touching her upper back, hand pressing against the shoulderblade, as he keeps her close and deepens the kiss. It could last for a while if this keeps up— and it could end up being more. The ability that they share between them wants to activate— wants to give her more sensation— but he resists— or at least… somewhat. There's a shuddered breath against her mouth, perception raised as he can't resist using her ability at least a little— not when they're this close.

That's clear when he's forced to pull back, to catch his breath. Instead of the usual brown, his eyes are much greener when they finally open, while he remains close to her— leaning into her hand. There was a question.

"In the future— I got drunk. Was when… when we found out that Sylar was still alive— everyone'd thought that I— the future me— had killed him. You… the future you… had thought I'd been lying to everyone for two years— saying that I'd killed them. The look that she gave me…" It doesn't matter now. They learned the real truth. But at the time that had really hurt.

"I got pretty drunk… Ran the battery on my phone dead trying to call you…" When he had no service in the future. Go figure. He'd been nearly a whole bottle of scotch whiskey drunk. "You weren't too happy with me for that— made me promise not to do that again." He moves one of his hands back from around her, plucking the hand off of his cheek, and then curling his pinky around hers. There's a fond smile— breathless as it may be from the kiss.

—-

There's a small sound at the back of her throat when Peter angles his head to take the kiss onto the next level, feeling her fingers curl into the nape of his neck instinctively. Her heartbeat quickens. Elena recognizes that he's doing something, she could feel it, but when the contact grows in intensity she can't help but wrap her arms around his neck and be pushed closer by his arms. There's no need to breathe, not yet. She doesn't even know what he's doing, only that he's… whenever he got like this, it was hard to stop, no matter what she's decided.

When he finally pulls away, she takes a breath, opening her eyes…only to gape at the change. "Peter, your….what were you…?" she wonders, her thumb on his cheek as she tilts his head back a bit so she could see. The green stands out like nothing else. She had been on the other side of a burning building when this first happened to him, so now that she's seeing it for the first time, she can't help but gawk. "I…did I do this?" she whispers in wonder.

When he tells her the story, she stares at him. And then? She groans comically. "Oh my god," she says, rolling her head back in half-serious distress. "I do drive you to drink! I'm sorry! It's just…" He can be so freaking impossible! She's told him that drinking never solves anything before and he listens to the other her?! Well, it was still her regardless, but come on!

She's still staring at him, and then she grumbles a little bit. "I was never happy when you drank when you were upset…" she mumbles. She remembers the time she dragged his ass home after the drinking binge he had with Jack and Detective Damaris at the Den. But when he plucks her hand away from his face to link her pinky into hers… "….and I still pinky swear in the future?" She did? Really? "…oh my god. I'm hopeless. I don't care how badass I sounded earlier in 2009, I still pinky swear in the future." She looks a little mortified, but jokingly so, and at the fond smile, she smiles back.

"Guess I'm lucky when it comes to me you're extremely biased," she says softly, her free hand absently touching the corner of his mouth where the dead nerves are, and leans in to kiss the area lightly.

—-

Not something she did to him— but it'd an ability he got from her. Peter can't help but realize, while like this… he can feel her so much better— smell the food on her breath more… taste it more. The lightest touch is amplified— even the area with the deadened nerves— there's a mild tingling that wouldn't be there normally. This makes using that ability so tempting while they do this— but he doesn't think he'd be able to maintain his hold on sanity if he did such a thing. "You could do this… it's… one of the abilities… you trained me in. Boosts senses… reflexes… strength…" For him, the senses are what's getting the most attention.

"Your eyes turn gold," he adds, leaning in to touch his nose against hers, enjoying the way that feels as well.

It's her blaming herself for his drinking that makes him draw back so he can shake his head. No. Not her fault. Not entirely. "My doing… you just mean so much to me…" The more someone means to him, the more likely they'll drive him to drink. But she is the one that he wants to see when it happens, the one he wants to be there to pull him through. A pinky swear…

"You were still you…" he adds ever so softly, an intense look present, before he starts to pull her back in again. Silence. It's amazing how much he can feel her when he's like this— But part of him knows he has to end this pretty fast— before it becomes something more.

Pulling away, he rubs his forehead against hers briefly, murmuring a breathless, "Love you," before he begins to angle her to stand up. He doesn't want to— he wants to stay like that— but if they stay like that much longer… "Think I should go take that shower…" While she cleans up the table…

—-

"Oh…." Of course. Elena remembers. She used it while she dragged Monty and Simon with her running away from a crazed rhino back at the zoo. "I remember, it…" Of course, she doesn't remember that ability had been active when she had been programmed to leave her friends and family at that incident in Syracuse. She's staring at him even as he looks at her intently, that distinct voice of his breathless. At first she's confused as to why he'd use it now of all times, but then…realization dawns on her. "Oh," she says, especially when he describes what it does, her cheeks flushing pink…well. Pinker than they already are. "I— "

She's rendered silent again as he continues. About how he did it (which was true), and that she drove him to drink because of what she meant to him. She's still staring at him, lips parted slightly even as he articulates his thoughts. And then…silencing her futher and not articulating his thoughts. The intensity startles her again, amazes her in plenty of ways, and she can't help but close her eyes and get carried away. She angles her face towards him, her arms curling back up around his neck.

When he pulls away, her breath is ragged, shifting when he leads her to stand up and get off him. Her arms are still linked around his neck though - she's not that much shorter than him so the reach is easy. "…oh…okay…" she says, her eyes remaining closed and feeling his warm breath tickle her face. It was hard to talk, seeing the way he is now, it's also a little hard to breathe.

She doesn't seem to be aware she hasn't let go of him yet. Her eyes open slightly - just slightly, a hint of more gold swirling to life in the predominantly dark depths before her lashes hide them away again. She knows it might be all over if she kisses him again. But she can't help it. She was curious. So she does. One more, before he goes off and she's left to clean up.

And everything's suddenly different. Oh. God. She clings onto him like a lifeline, her head tilted back a bit as it continues. Bad idea. BAD IDEA.

—-

Now she knows why he'd been making sounds against her mouth— and why he had a difficult time pulling away to do what he needs to do. When she pulls him in, Peter can tell that she'd done exactly the same thing he did— and that's going to make this… difficult. She's intoxicating, and it's not just because of her ability, either— her ability just heightens it, enhances something that'd already been there. It's almost against his will that he wraps his arms back around her and pulls her in close, deepening the kiss again, tasting and smelling her. There's food on the table they need to clean up before they can go anywhere, but for the moment— there's only her.

Though the table could have a use too…

For a few long moments it would seem like it could get the potential to become something that his brother would throw things at him for. The way his hands move from around her, fingers skirting up her side, over her ribs and dangerously close to somewhere else— it's possible things could get worse. Until they end up at her shoulders and push her away. He's forcing himself to stop this.

Not yet. Not right now. Not here.

No matter how much part of him wants this…

When his eyes open, they've returned to their brown shade. How much time passed while they did that? He's not sure. It could have been a couple lifetimes for how it felt— it could have only been seconds because he wants more…

"Elena— " he starts, but cuts off, unable to think of more to say right now. His hands move over her face, touching her cheeks tenderly. "I… really should… go upstairs… get cleaned up…" Really should. But he doesn't want to. That would mean leaving her for a time, and…

Before he'd sometimes drink to forget things… now he's beginning to think that all he'd need to do is this.

—-

This was, essentially, the good news, and the bad news of someone who didn't get this out of her system in high school, or even the first year of college. Now that the floodgates were open, she didn't know how to stop it. And now Elena had been inadvertently taught how to make things better. Or worse, depending on who's looking at it. She loses track of time. All she knows is that he's there, he's touching her, and he's everywhere.

Like him he doesn't know how slow or how quick time goes. And like him, she's trying to stop the trap from ensnaring her, before it drags her in further. Thankfully, he manages to grasp her shoulders an ease away, and she's left with a breathless, but incredulous look on her face. She's staring at him, first in wonder, and then…

Realization.

Wait a minute.

She's staring at him still even as he cups her face and stutters that he needs to go before it gets worse. Elena might be extremely dense when it came to…things like this…but when it came to science. Abilities. Stuff regarding the current steep slope of Evolution they were both in, she wasn't just sharp, she was quicksilver. As he looks at her with that intense, half-glazed look, her eyes are frozen on his face.

And then, she speaks up.

"Peter…" she says. Lowly. Breathlessly. "….how did you get the idea for using that for this?"

Dot. Dot. Dot.

—-

Oh.

That's the last thing he'd have expected her to ask. They've just finished doing something that pretty much wiped away any other mental thought process for a long time— or a short time (he's not sure). But then she recovers so quickly that she asks him that kind of question. Excuse Peter if he's vaguely flabbergasted at first. He blinks at her, stares, and then… starts to disengage, pulling away from her. There's a spot on her face he focuses on, the beauty mark, and he looks right there.

"It's not really… that I had the idea— it's just— there was a chance I would lose control of your ability and… that's one aspect I got pretty good at in the future." It was half to keep him from causing an accident from occuring, a reverse of the situation in her bedroom at the old home in Queens.

Eyes slide up towards hers for a moment, fully brown, and with a hint of hesitation, worry— someone who didn't know him very well wouldn't see it— she does, however. "I'll be upstairs…" He starts to back away, letting go of her shoulders and making to move towards the door out of the kitchen, and probably the staires after.

Fleee….. run awaaaaay…

—-

"Peter."
"Ethan."
"Petrelli."

Oh god. The full name.

Elena crosses her arms over her chest and glowers at his back even as he turns around to start for the door. Yes. Flee. Run away. But if you do you're sleeping alone tonight. Some part of him knows this, and when Elena is stubborn, she's really stubborn. Her eyes have gone from gold to dark, and she's standing there, with narrowed eyes, waiting for an explanation. She doesn't know exactly what happened, but she could guess. Either he somehow did this to her, or she somehow did this to him. And with what just happened earlier, either way, something probably happened in the future. When it came to power-sharing, she wasn't dense.

She exhales an exasperated sigh, and rakes a hand through her hair, turning away a bit from the door and resting her palms on the counter. She glowers at the pasta for a moment.

"Shit."

Her hand rubs over her face. "I let you defile me in the future, didn't I?"

Pause.

"….how was it?"

—-

The full name. Peter's already fleeing at this point, and he narrowly avoids smacking right into the doorframe when she uses the full name. He turns around, that worried look still visible in his eyes, but it's her curse and what she says after that makes him touch the doorframe he almost ran into. There's a sinking look. As if he suddenly feels like he ruined everything.

Defile.

That's a really bad word.

But the way his eyes drop even someone who didn't know him at all would recognize that expression. Caught. She's exactly right. Guilt. Worry. For the moment he's an open book, and she wouldn't even need to drill him much further to know that… whatever she thinks happened probably did. Even with her follow up question after the pause, he still looks as if he's done something very wrong, like he'd been smacked with a rolled up newspaper. But at the same time there's regret and grief that he'd been doing his best to hide the last few days.

He'd wanted to stay.

Cass had been right in her statement that he would try to go wherever she was— that he would come back to her. But to do that he also had to leave her.

He doesn't manage to get a single step further in his fleeing. With a hand against the door, he finally looks back up at her, open book that he is right now. "I didn't defile you."

Another pause.

"I made love with you."

A difference in semantics, but to him… there's quite a difference.

—-

It all makes sense now. Elena had been living through the entire week, reeling, wondering how bad the future had been that he'd barge into her class, kidnap her, kiss her, and say all those things before she could even breathe. She wondered where the hell the awkwardness was, the almost requisite 'Hey You' conversation when they got back. Instead, he plowed in like the reckless dope he is. And he said those words so easily because he said it plenty of times before. He practiced for it in the future, almost. With the other who, two years older and twice as mean. …or maybe she wasn't as mean as she sounded, but still. She didn't know whether to treat her as her, or her as another woman. Time travel made things complicated.

And the distinction only cements it. Peter was never the type to sleep with anyone he didn't love. She knew that, deep down. Even when they had been just friends.

She only sighs after, and rakes a hand through her hair. "Well. That explains it," she tells him simply. At the very least she doesn't sound angry. If she had been angry, he would be hearing about it by now. She reaches over to pick up the plate, put the saran wrap back over it and the salad bowl, and moves to deposit the things in their proper places in the fridge. Then, she moves to drop the spent silverware in the sink. She says nothing for a while. She's turned sideways to him at th door as she runs some water to soak the silver.

"Was wondering…whether the future had been so bad that you had to tell me everything right away. Compelled you to tell me the things you meant to before it was too late." She wipes her hand with a dish cloth. "I'm a little glad that things weren't all bad. I have to wonder…what happened to me then. If I had left to go to MIT, that means I left you behind, right? So why would I…?"

She pauses. She knew the answer before she finished the question. Regret was a powerful thing.

Her shoulders sag a bit at the sink. She was suddenly exhausted. This was so weird.

"…actually I kinda don't wanna know. The future you saw isn't going to happen anyway. I'm here. I'm not going anywhere."

—-

Time travel makes things complicated. Romance of any kind is already complicated enough… but throw in special abilities and it just makes everything even more complicated. Time travel moreso. If they'd been dating already, would it have been cheating? Is getting practice in the future too much of a cheat? Peter's not sure if she's even okay with this— he's waiting for the anger that never quite comes. She's not the type to hide her anger— so he's surprise when it isn't lashed out on him, when she moves to clean up instead.

If she'd been looking at him, she'd have seen him open his mouth— until she showed signs of exhaustion, until she said she didn't want to know.

The time traveller closes his mouth and steps forward, moving over to the sink where she's sagging. Hands touch her shoulders, and then wrap around her, pulling her up against his chest, and buring his face against her hair. "I wasn't… going to tell you yet…" Yet. He'd intended to tell her eventually. "Not because I didn't want you to know… not because I'm ashamed of what… happened…" Because the only shame he feels over this comes from the use of that particular word, defile… and the fact that he had to leave her behind. To go back to her. It's a small distinction— going back to her is the only thing about it that made it okay.

"I wanted to do things right this time… didn't want to mess things up." He had wanted to say everything he wanted to before it was too late, but at the same time he wanted to do everything better this time around.

There's a long pause. A lot of the last few days have been about what he wants— about what he thinks he needs to do. He knows he'd pushed things many times already, even if he's kept his willpower in certain things. "What do you want, Elena?"

—-

She should've expected that. Elena feels his arms slide around her as he hugs her from behind, her fingers resting on the sink and curling around the edges as his face dips and breathes into her hair. She doesn't stiffen up or anything, but the action does make her stop whatever she's doing. She shuts off the water, watching the little trickles drip down the sink before it stops altogether. There's nothing else to do but listen - she wasn't angry. She wasn't even jealous. It was just so….it was weird. She knew Peter was far from perfect. He was a man after all, and an emotionally-driven one at that. Finding her after several days of her not talking to him here… it had probably been too much for him.

That sounds like an excuse made for him though. She had to wonder why she did it in 2009. She knew to some extent - regret. Did she feel guilty? Did she actually still love him then? She didn't know. All she knows she left, came back, they didn't get along, suddenly they did to the point of that? She thought she was just helping him in the future, because of what had to be done here. It seems crazy to her to open herself up to that kind of hurt because she must've known he had to leave eventually. It was scary, to realize indirectly that he had that kind of effect on her much older and presumably wiser self.

His words almost fly past her. She catches snippets of it. He was going to tell her. But why was he waiting? He told her practically everything. Why not this? Was he afraid of how she was going to react? Was he afraid she was going to punch him? Why? It sounded consensual.

When he asks her the last, she chews on her bottom lip. "Peter….I'm nineteen," she reminds him. "I've never done this before. I don't know…how experienced I was in the future, but back here, I'm not. I'm just…trying to keep my breath and winging it." She turns around and looks up at him. "I operate a lot more differently than you. I'm more willing to just…go and go and go and see where it takes me. I'd like to think I was adventurous that way. That and I'm afraid that if I overthink this too much I might…ruin…everything."

She glances downwards towards her toes. "And if I did…I'd probably kick myself a lot. It's hard for me to…abandon a great friendship for something more. Because something more can break so many things I'd rather keep. But I'm trying because you make me feel so…"

She hesitates, and looks up to meet his eyes. "…you make me happy," she says simply.

—-

It's a little simpler than that… Peter didn't want to tell her yet because he didn't want her to feel pressured— didn't want her to think that's what he expected from her. Didn't want it to influence her decision one way or the other. It already changed the dynamic between them quite a bit, and there's no way for them to know how it would have been different without that. Would he have been as dead-set on saying what he wanted to say as soon as he had the chance? Would he have asked her out so directly? Would he have kissed her so many times, and risked closing the door at her father's house? There's so many questions… none that can be answered now.

When she turns around, his arms loosen, but stay up her her shoulders, and his eyes open so that he can look at her, listen to her response. For the moment, he's able to keep eye contact, even if she's looking down towards her feet. Right up until she looks at him. The very end makes him smile— there's even the hint of of a laugh in his breath.

She has no idea how sweet she is, does she?

Hands move to cup her face, fingers sliding back into her hair, while thumbs play at her cheekbones. He leans down, not to kiss her just yet, but to press his forehead and nose against hers. "Keep winging it."

There are some things where experience doesn't matter half as much as emotion, as attraction, as general fire. Experience doesn't create that. It only creates the illusion of it. And he doesn't want illusions— he doesn't want anything pretending or fake— he wants something real and natural… and something that she wants just as much as he does.

And in some ways— it'd be hard to go back to what they were before. It's sad, and mildly terrifying— but it also might be impossible at this point.

"Do you still want me to stay here tonight?" With her?

—-

She was starting to realize that. There was no going back now. And Elena was the type to press forward no matter what the cost. Still, she blinks a little bit when he smiles at her, and even hints at a laugh. She's fully aware she didn't really answer the question, fumbling about while being honest as she can. She was half-expecting a crestfallen face - and she was sort of convinced she was going to get it. He said the words so many times, while she avoided saying them back because she was way too chicken to.

She can admit it. Saying that to someone was huge.

She's staring at him, even when he slides his hands forward to cup her face, feeling his forehead rest on hers. And when he tells her to keep winging it, she can't help but smile, and swat him a little on the shoulder. "You weren't going to have a choice anyway," she says with a sniff. But there's laughter in her eyes, tension bleeding away at the sound.

Pressure was what she honestly dreaded the most. But the desire on his part just wasn't there. She was picking up on it. Slowly but surely. All in all….he just wanted to be with her. Was that honestly so bad?

At his last question, she slides her arms around his neck, and leans her forehead against his, closing her eyes. "It's raining," she replies softly, though she's smiling all the while. "It gets cold while it's raining."

—-

"Good," Peter says with the same smile, though it widens a little. The lopsidedness, droopy lip and all. If he doesn't have a choice, then he knows that it's her choice in the end. He certainly won't discourage it— winging it is nice, natural. And he wouldn't have it any other way. Though he's tempted to tell her that her future self had been winging it just fine even after two years…

It's raining, and it's cold.

Earlier in the year, when summer had still been at it's height, rain meant humid and sticky, which would have made it uncomfortable. Fall and winter, though… that's the best time for a bedmate. Even then, he can't help but tease her, "You're such a baby." It's a joke, really.

Emphasizing this, he leans down to kiss her. Not as deeply as before, but tender, warm, lovingly. Someday he'll need to hear it— but for the moment… he can wait until she's ready to say it.

"Think I'll skip the shower— I'm a little tired." And it's not like he smells BAD. It's just some rain. He didn't even do heavy lifting, it's not too warm, either. But first… He casts a glance around the kitchen, to make sure everything is cleaned up. Then they can head to the upstairs guest room.

Well she meant he had no choice but to bear her winging it. Elena moved at her own pace, regardless as to what anyone said. She was stubborn like that. Besides, these things were better off in the hands of God or the Ether anyway. She was quite honestly done thinking about it after today, because apparently thinking about it was making things a little more complicated than it should. So, winging. Winging good. Elena smiles at him more openly, lifting her fingers to touch the corner of his mouth that angles his smile, rubbing her thumb on it gently.

When he calls her a baby, she sticks her tongue at him and sniffs. "Well. I want my snuggles," she tells him, lifting her nose in a mock-haughty gesture. "You're just gonna have to deal." Hmph. And all that. But she sneaks a wink at him and grins. Though before she could crack another comment, he silences her, and her eyes drift shut, kissing him back. She never failed to respond regardless, she wasn't one to keep a gesture unanswered.

When he decides to skip the shower, she laughs, and gives him a playful push. "Oh I see how it is. Give you an opening and suddenly all you want to do is get in bed with me. I'm onto you, Mr. Petrelli." She's OBVIOUSLY teasing though, because she's grinning like an imp. She drops a kiss on his cheek, and she steps back so she can start heading for the upstairs and to the guest room. "Might as well, it's getting late though…" She frowns at the windows. "Hopefully the rain lets up some tomorrow."

"I think I can suffer through it," Peter says right before the kiss silences him for a while. Winging it is exactly how he wants her to be, and snuggling— well— he wouldn't argue with that either. He doesn't mind being her human pillow when she wants him to be. It's comforting, in fact, it drives away the nightmares, and it helps him sleep more soundly. The playful push, and the false accusation make him laugh. It's a good thing she's obvious about her teasing, or he might have been insulted by that remark. If he'd wanted to take any opening, he would have taken it when she boosted herself not too long ago…

Part of him knows that could have been the moment if he'd not resisted it. But then Heidi or Nathan or the boys or the DOGS could have just walked in and interupted them— and anything besides the dogs would have been mortifying. For both of them. Not ashamed as he may be, there's some things that should remain private and personal.

"I hope so too. I'll have to change my reservations if it continues much longer."

He moves after her, following up to the guest rooms, having checked to make sure that the kitchen is left mostly clean. No need to make things hard on the staff of the house, or anyone else. They're both technically guests.

"Assuming you still want to go on the date with me. It'll be at night— though not too late— but if you have a test early in the morning you might want to warn me." So he's giving her hints. Sort of. And if he can change reservations based on her exam schedule, it's at least flexible scheduling.

Yes. Hints. Sounds like whatever this is, it'll be outside. A curious glance is tossed at Peter, Elena climbing up the stairs, though it's good to hear him laugh. She had almost been afraid that gloom would settle over the limbo that was their….whatever it is earlier. But the cloud seems to have passed and the only rain present is outside. Where it should be. She looks over her shoulder and grins faintly. She knows full well he was being good earlier. It could've been a lot worse. That's what she gets for experimenting without knowing what she had been getting into.

She can't help but observe how adept he's become with her abilities. In such a short time. Her future self must have grilled him like no one's business. She wondered if she had to hurt him to do it - but it's honestly best if she didn't think about it too much. As far as she was concerned, they're changing that future. This was a re-do. Of everything. Save the World. Save everyone. And so on.

"….you made reservations?" she says, gawking at him. She's never done that before. Eric tried but their restaurant blew up. He probably wasn't kidding when he said to dress in something nice. Oh god. She's going to have to call Nadia now. She has no idea what to wear for this thing because she doesn't know where they're going.

"I can swing it," Elena says with a laugh. "When is it?" she asks, opening the door to the room that she's using. Inside…there were books. Some clothes. Her laptop, mp3 player on the desk. Her laptop's screen is up, showing a collage of photographs of her college life. The girls and guys from Dance Corps. Eric, Jaden, Gene….Nadia was there too. A very pretty Japanese boy with multiple piercings and a plaid fedora angled jauntily on his head as he posed for the camera is off to the side too. Elena's circle of friends and acquaintances was ginormous.

"Next weekend," Peter says, moving into the room behind her and then pausing. "Be right back," he says, before he moves down the hall and disappears into another Guest room. Actually it's his room, more or less. There's clothes in there, other necessities. He grabs a few things from the bathroom, and then a clean pair of shorts that he can change into. Part of him almost grabs a shirt… but he likes the way she touches his bare skin so… he just comes back with that much. He won't change just yet, but he's got everything he needs to now.

"I know I said it's our third date, but that doesn't mean we can't go ahead and do a few things before then— it's a week away— we can at least go to breakfast or watch a movie or something…" And make out, and do other dating things. But this one is special. "It doesn't have to be too formal, just something nice. Something you'd still feel comfortable in— something you can walk around in." So functional but pretty, all at the same time.

"I'll be wearing a suit, though." That's a pretty rare sight, but he's wanted to dress up for her for a while— so this works out well for him. He hasn't had much reason to pull out the suit yet.

"Oh that's a bit aways, I don't think it'll interfere with anything. Plus I can double-check my syllabi, see if I've got any tests coming up that week." And study in advance if she has to. At least Peter gave her enough time so she doesn't have to miss anything important in class. She gives him a smile at the consideration, though she blinks when he goes down the hall to disappear into the guest room that he uses. She glances at 'her' room. Looks like they'll both be spending the night here. She's already in sleepy-garb, considering she's been lounging in the house after roaming around the city, then showering, then dinner, then when he found her in the sitting room. She's got on a tanktop and a pair of pajama bottoms. Hedgehogs today. Cartoon hedgehogs, down the outer side of each leg.

She laughs, and reaches up to touch his cheek. "You're so bad for my GPA," she tells him - it tapers off to a mischievous grin, however. "I'm teasing, but sure, we can do that too." Granted there'll be times they won't be able to see each other. Study groups run late sometimes. She visits her family. She works. But they'll make do with what they can - Peter's busy himself. But it's nice to hear he wants to see her as often as possible.

When he mentions a suit, she stares at him, and she laughs again. She drops onto the edge of the bed, looking up at him. "You know you don't have to go all out like that, right? I actually like how you look normally." Casual. Jeans. Shirts. She's seen him in all sorts of things, even if he leaned towards the preppier side. But there was a time she remembered when he delivered her first music box, dressed in dark jeans, a nice shirt, and a sports jacket. The look suited him, not too formal, not too casual. But she's never seen him in a suit, unless one counted the picture she found with Nathan's campaign trail when she verified his identity after meeting him.

She leans back on her palms. "And the more you talk about it, the more curious I get," she says with a laugh.

"Just— when we're both available. Even if it's just walk in and crash with each other…" Because… nothing's wrong with laying down and snuggling, right? Even if it may continue to tempt things in another direction. Peter has work too and… "I need to see Evelyn this week— going to call Gene, see which day he's available, and then I also want to talk to Lachlan and Cass about a few things." Cass about training, Lachlan possibly about the future— or more likely he wants to find out how much he can afford and encourage him to buy an actual ring for her. Not that the potato ring wasn't adorable in some ways… it just wasn't a real ring. He might need help with that.

She likes how he looks normally. That does make him pause, considering. Then he disappears into her bathroom for a few minutes. To shed his shirt and jeans, put on the shorts for sleeping, and comb back his hair. No shower, but it'll get him ready. Don't mind the clothes he carries out being sat aside in a neat pile to be washed later. There's nothing that would be unbecoming on the top. And yes, he's shirtless. She hasn't protested about this yet…

"I'll probably skip the suit, then. I just thought you might want to see me in one. But if you like my usual look…" Then that works for him. "Ties were always more Nathan's thing, anyway."

But— if he keeps making her curious… "Then I better stop talking about it, because I suck at keeping secrets." If she prodded at him, he'd probably give up on it.

She laughs, and shakes her head. "Do what you feel like. Besides. I'm dating the man, not the clothes. I'm curious to see you in a suit but I…" Elena lifts a slender shoulder. "I just wanted to let you know you look good whatever you wear. You're a handsome guy, Peter. You always were." Even when they were just friends, she found him attractive. She shifts a bit when he moves for the bed, taking a pillow and cradling it between her arms and legs as she watches him. She's actually getting used to seeing him shirtless, at least some level of comfort has been reached there. Though she can't help but admire the strong lines of his back a little when he turns around, and she looks a way a bit when she realizes it, turning a little pink on the cheeks. But it's not as bad as….almost spazzing the first time he hugged her without a shirt on. It didn't help that he had still been with Elle then.

Then again, come to think about it, she's seen Lachlan naked. There was no coming back from that one. After the trauma, seeing a shirtless Peter was almost relieving. The only thing that makes her fidgety about it now aside from his good looks was the fact that the man kisses her on occasion. More than on occasion. Often really. As much as he can.

At the last, she laughs, resting her cheek on the pillow. "Well, I don't think you've let out any of mine," she says simply. "Then again, I don't really have many." She drops on her side, letting the pillow elevate her head as she snugs onto it, watching him move around the room.

She opens her mouth, a question on her mouth, but she closes it again.

The embarassment is shared between the two of them, at least to an extent. It's less with Peter, but he does look sheepish, and rubs briefly at the short hairs on the back of his neck when she compliments his looks. It's not that he doesn't believe her— he knows he's fairly attractive, but it's different when a young woman that you really want to be with says you're attractive all the time. With her hugging the pillow, he finally moves around to pull up the covers and slide into the side of the bed, sitting up so he can look at her. He noticed the questioning look, though he doesn't know why she has it. The pillow hugging is unbelievably cute too…

Reaching up, he brushes her hair off her forehead, just a small amount, and says, "If I didn't know you better I'd think you were hugging that pillow to shield yourself from being tickled." He doesn't try to reach around said shield and prove that he would, though, he just runs his hand down the side of her arm and seeks out one of her hands where it's wrapping.

"Are you okay? It looked like you wanted to ask something…" She doesn't really have any secrets, no, but… and the ones she does he has tried to keep. After all he hadn't told anyone really about what happened in the future— he hasn't even told his brother. She's the first to know.

She's still on top of the covers. She'll get back in later, she's not really sleepy. Elena eases up from where she's lying on her side, sitting up and a little hunched over and still hugging the pillow. But at seeing the somewhat sheepish look, she couldn't help but laugh. "What? It's not lip service," she tells him simply. "I'm sure a lot of girls and anyone with a gay tendency would agree with me." She absently picks at the pillow case, her eyes roaming down on it and purses her lips a little bit. She looks up, though, when she feels his hand move to brush a lock of hair away from her face. She flashes him a quick grin after.

"Maybe," she says with a laugh. "I'm not above cheating you know. Granted with all of your abilities you can probably make quick work of another pillow fight should you choose." When his hand tries to find hers, she intertwines her fingers with his, linking them together.

When he asks, she hesitates, chewing on her bottom lip. "Yeah, I was just wondering…I'm actually a little embarassed to ask." She lifts her spare hand, absently rubbing the back of her neck. "I was…just wondering why me. I don't really do anything…out of the ordinary. Well, out of the ordinary for our group. When it comes to the important stuff, all of us are pretty alike. Go out of our way to help each other and the world and all that. I was just….wondering what I did to make you….you know."

"I didn't say you were lying," Peter explains, looking up into her eyes for a moment. "You're beautiful too," he adds. That'd been one of the main reasons she got zapped by his ex-girlfriend, actually. It wasn't so much she had any reason to believe he'd been unfaithful… it was that she was so pretty and he'd pretended he didn't know her, or that had been her reasoning behind it. Flawed reasoning— but she'd been right. She is pretty, beautiful even. She has to know this, so many people chase after her hand. He's hardly the only one— not even close. Proposal after proposal, and confession after confession.

"Not tonight— you don't have to worry about it tonight," he assures her on the tickle-attacks that could happen, instead shifting so that he can now take both of her hands and face her. He won't pry her off the pillow, but this does keep him from sitting under the blankets very well.

Her question, the one she doesn't even really ask… makes him smile. Eyes dart down to where their hands are, and now he does try to pry one of them away from the pillow— not to force her to let go, but to draw her hand up enough so he can kiss her knuckles. "Even when we met… it felt like there was something there. A connection of some kind. Destiny, or fate…" They'd commented on it a few times before. The circumstances of their meeting. Everything. But that hadn't been all of it.

"It wasn't until breakfast— the morning after we spent the night in Mount Sinai— that I really… that it became more than that. You believed in me… you made me smile. Even in the future— after everything that happened. You could still make me smile. Sometimes it took longer, but… you were still you." No matter how much she tried to say she wasn't, she always had been.

"You're like sunshine… and spring." It sounds silly, but— he can be kind of a silly person sometimes.

"I knew I couldn't be with you— but I loved being with you. I don't know if I deserve you… but I want to be able to give you half as much as you've given me…"

She had a bit of an idea that was one of the reasons why Elle wanted to kill her. 'LOOK AT HER' she had yelled to Jane while she was playing a handcuffed possum on the Ellectroblonde's bed. It was also one of the reasons why Elena had forgiven Elle, aside from the fact that her religion had come into play too. If she had been in her position, she would've probably come to the same conclusion. Girls are mean and jealous of one another that way. However, she probably would've handled her confrontation a little bit differently. But she isn't one to judge. She did intend to tie Dr. Mohinder Suresh to a chair once. It just didn't happen because an 11 year old in a bunny apron foiled her.

"Oh good," Elena says with a laugh. "I'm glad. Otherwise I'd have to sleep in another room." She squeezes his hand absently. When she listens to what he says, she inclines her head at him, watching him draw up her hand to kiss her knuckles. The way he does it is so gentle she can't help but smile affectionately. When he talks about Destiny and everything again, she can't help but laugh. "You know what I thought?" she says, giving him a wicked grin. "Once I realized what you could do I thought that feeling was just you absorbing my powers. You know me, I….was a little hesitant believing all of that. You made it easier to swallow, somehow. Even back then."

She doesn't say anything for the rest, pulling away a bit so she could put the pillow away. She slips into the covers, shifting closer to him and resting her head against his shoulder while he's sitting up. Her hand finds his again, and her lashes lower over her eyes, just part way, at the last heartfelt words. "…when it comes to this stuff I honestly don't think it's about who deserves who or what anyway," she begins softly. "It just….happens. There's really little control anyone has as to who they care about, or how. It's almost like instinct. Love is meant to be a gift, not a prize to be won."

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