2008-01-12: Past in Present


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Summary: Peter tries to get to the bottom of the mysterious voicemail he received during the events of It Starts With One. Meanwhile, Gabriel returns from his Saharan adventure.

Date It Happened: January 12th, 2008 (Immediately following It Starts With One and Suddenly Sahara.)

Past in Present

Hotel - New York City, NY

After the initial phone call, Peter didn't check his voice mail until a little later. Reason he did not answer the phone? Personal hygiene. He was in the shower. Twice he tried to call the number that dialed him, Hiro's phone, and both times he failed to get an answer. They found Sylar. It was Ando's voice, if he remembers correctly… The third time he inputs a completely different number, the cellphone used by Elle, and lets it ring. He's pacing through his apartment.

It has been a very long night for Elle. The time it takes for her to get from the 7-11 back to the hotel feels like eternity, and she's certain that when she returns, the Company will be there waiting. Why shouldn't they be? She hadn't shot to kill Meryl, and there's a very good chance that the woman had made her report after all. It's with tentative steps that Elle unlocks the door and pushes it open, listening close for the sounds of an ambush which never comes. In her silent paranoia, the phone is piercingly loud, and she scrambles to pull it from her pocket, fumbling with it for several seconds before she finally answers. She doesn't even look at the call display, opting instead to ask in a distraught tone, "Gabriel?"

As soon as she picks up, Peter stops pacing, straightening up a little with some relief, until the name she asks for is heard, and the tone she asks it in. "No, it's me," he responds, his own stressed tone shining through. "Someone called me, said they found Sylar— what happened? There was a gunshot, I heard someone scream." A woman, specifically. He'd been afraid it might be her. "The phone went dead and no one picked it up when I tried to call back." Cellphone probably did not mix with the sprinkler system.

"Someone called you?" Wincing at the information, Elle pushes the door closed behind her and moves into the room. She even does such paranoid and delusional things as checking beneath the beds and behind the shower curtain. But with her anxiety running high, it's better to be moving and have a purpose than it is to sit and be overwhelmed. "We went to the store," she explains, stepping out of the washroom. "Someone from the Company saw me. She said she was alone, but when we tried to leave, she tried to call the Company." Elle's tone is certainly upset, and she wavers between obvious anger and sounding close to tears. "Gabriel couldn't use his powers. The Company had to be there. So we ran." None of which explains why she was hoping it was Gabriel on the phone or the gunshot Peter heard.

Yeah, someone called them. "The two of you shouldn't have gone out in public— there's— I could have brought you anything you needed," Peter says, sounding genuinely worried, even if it might sound like he's shifting the blame in their direction for going out. Someone from the Company. "Did either of you get shot?" There was a gunshot, after all, he mentioned it. "Did you get seperated when you tried to run? What happened, Elle? Where are you?"

"They already know where we are," Elle says, her voice quiet and dejected, as if she were a child who'd just been chided. "They hadn't come for us in days. I thought we were safe." Running her free hand through her hair, she's quiet for a short time - just long enough for her to pace between the beds twice, then slump against the wall between them. "I'm at the hotel. Gabriel's gone." Resting her forehead in her hand, she explains, "He disappeared with Hiro. And no, neither of us got shot. I shot someone from the Company."

"I don't think you're good, they're probably… waiting for something," Peter says with a hesitation that might be a physical wince. "I'll be right there," he says, knowing that the phone isn't necessarily the best way to talk to her. He doesn't even really hang up, but the phone cuts off and the call drops. Changing locations mid-call isn't good for the cellphone company… Their GPS tracking probably just went haywire. He appears in the hotel, wearing a pair of jeans and an white undershirt, and phone in his hands. It's pretty obvious that he just got out of the shower. His hair is still wet, clothes are damp from being put on after little toweling. He closes the phone, sticking it into his pants pocket, as he confirms with his eyes that she's okay. "It was Hiro that called me. I can… try to find them."

In a manner of speaking, she's okay, but Elle is curled against the wall with her knees drawn up. She hasn't even taken off her coat, still soaked from the sprinklers. When the call dropped, she made a sound of protest and started to punch in his number again - but before she can hit send, he's there in the room with her. She looks up with a start, though she doesn't rise from the floor. "Whatever they were waiting for, they're going to come now. I shot one of their agents." An agent she has known for a very long time. Swallowing hard, she nods to Peter and says with some sense of urgency, "Try. I don't think Hiro was trying to help us." Since, you know, he had a sword.

"That's why you should leave now, you should've left before. I don't understand why you would think for an instant that they wouldn't come eventually," Peter says, looking over at the woman, and noting the dampness. He's wet too, for a different reason. Turning, he disappears into the bathroom and retrieves towels left by room service and brings them over. "I'll try to find him— I will. And we'll think of something— maybe you should just leave the city— I can teleport you as far as you need to go." He went to Arkansas once! To go to the mall. Once she has the towels, he starts to look around the hotel room for something specific— a map of the city.

"I wasn't thinking. It was stupid, alright?" Like so many other times in her life, Elle has to admit when she's done something completely absurd; it doesn't sit any better with her this time than it ever has before, and her tone is almost defensive. Taking the towels from him, she drops her phone to the floor beside her and does what she can to dry her hair. Slowly, she pulls off her damp coat and gets it on the floor, as well. When she speaks again, it's with the quiet tone from before, her defensive attitude gone. "Where would I go if I left?" The way she says it, it's almost as if it isn't even a question. "I don't have anywhere else to go." Wrapping the second towel around her shoulders, she watches him for a few seconds before asking, "What are you looking for?"

"You don't have any reason to stay here, either, do you?" Peter asks, looking over at her in his search, which has brought him to the desk. Most hotels have maps of some kind— for the tourists. And indeed, he finds one. It's just of the city area, with tourist holes highlighted. He picks it up for his explaination, "A map. How else am I supposed to find him?" She was the one who introduced him to Molly all those months ago— she should have figured he had her ability, though he didn't pick it up til later. Instead of finding a push pin, he pulls out an actual writing pen and unfolds the map, holding it over. "Won't help us if he's not in the city, but…"

Elle hadn't even considered that Gabriel might not even be in the city any more. That thought alone is enough to drag her spirits down further yet. "Right. I forgot about the map thing," she mutters beneath her breath, more for herself than for Peter; her daze has been such that details like those, which she ought to have been able to piece together on her own, are escaping her. Rolling onto her knees, Elle rises to her feet and turns her attention to Peter now, resting her hands on her hips. Part of her wants to turn away, to find something to do besides watch, but her concern for Gabriel wins out. She watches him expectantly, unaware that she's biting her lip.

Standing over the map spread out of the desk, Peter holds the pen up and it starts to shake. When it goes down onto the map, though, his hand seems to jerk, causing it to draw across the map instead of pinpoint anything. He lets out a soft sound, almost a curse, before putting the pen down. "I can't get exactly where he is— but he's alive. I didn't think Hiro would kill him… I didn't see Hiro, either— It looked like… I think he might be— carrying a drink?"

Having held her breath unconsciously while Peter searched the ether for Gabriel - or whatever it is that he does to find someone - Elle lets it out in a sigh of relief when he speaks. It isn't much more than she knew moments before, only now she's reasonably certain that he's alive, at least. "Good," she murmurs, her expression still bearing concern. "Thanks." Just like that, she turns away from Peter and hefts a duffel bag up onto one of the beds, pulling it open. She doesn't explain what she's doing; she simply sets about collecting what few items she's left out over the last few days, which isn't much, and stuffing them into the bag.

Out of the blue, the door to the room opens, and on the other side stands Gabriel. He's soaking wet, covered in sand, and his face is smeared with dirt and sand as well, and his right arm appears to be covered in cobwebs. In his left hand he carries a fresh Slusho, which he sets down on the table that holds the TV when he enters the room. Shutting the door behind him and not saying anything to either Elle or Peter, who he doesn't even seem surprised to see, he moves to one of the chairs and flops down in it, leaning his head back. He lets out a long breath and closes his eyes, and doesn't move after that.

"You're packing?" Peter asks, watching her begin to put things into a bag— when the door opens. It startles him, causing him to stand up straighter and turn in that direction. And there he is. He was carrying a drink of some kind. "Gabriel— you're okay." He says with a relieved sound, once the tall man flops onto the bed— with his wet and sandy self. "Where— where did Hiro take you?" He didn't think Hiro would actually kill him, not when he's not the threat, or anything, but he's still relieved to see him.

Whirling around at the sound of the door, Elle watches Gabriel enter the room with a wide-eyed, open-mouthed expression of shock. If ever there was an appropriate time to use the idiom "speak of the devil," now would be that moment. She turns to track him as he crosses to the chair, slowly regaining some of her composure. For a long time, she has no idea what she ought to say to him as he sits there looking much the same as he did when he disappeared - only sandier. Canting her head, she asks, "What the hell happened to you?"

"Let's see," Gabriel says in much too casual of a voice. He doesn't even open his eyes. "I was enjoying a lazy day at the hotel when a woman I know decided she HAD to have some sort of ice mix drink with a thousand flavors in it." He takes a deep, slow breath, and continues. "So we go out to a 7-11. It's safe, right? Well, at the 7-11, someone this woman knows from the Company shows up. Then, to make matters worse, a time-traveling Japanese man shows up. To make a long story short, you shot the woman from the Company and Hiro transported me to the— " At this point, Gabriel opens his eyes, sits forward, and pretty much just starts yelling at Elle, "—MIDDLE OF THE DESERT HALFWAY ACROSS THE WORLD ALL FOR A DAMN SLUSHO DRINK. THEN I HAD TO EXPLAIN TO HIM WHO I WAS WHILE I WAS WORRIED OUT OF MY MIND THAT YOU WOULD GET CAUGHT, AND DESPITE ALL OF IT, I /STILL GOT YOUR DAMN DRINK./" He takes another deep breath, rubs his fingers into his eyes, and when he moves his hands away from his face, he turns his head to look at Elle. His voice is much softer when he speaks this time. "Are you okay?"

This is one of those moments where Peter's almost tempted to just— dismiss himself and come back later if they need it. But Gabriel is right about one thing… "It was reckless to leave the hotel, but you're both safe and…" A Company Agent got shot— yeah that won't go over well. If Bennet was waiting for proof they might be a threat, he has it now. "I can get the two of you to somewhere else for tonight— and then you can take off and— maybe the warehouse I found you in that first night, Gabriel? I don't think the Company knows about it." It might still be hospitable, it just won't be as comfortable as a hotel…

It's been a long time since anyone yelled at Elle in quite this manner, by her standards; she hasn't seen her father in quite some time, and making her feel two inches tall was his forte. Even before he raises his voice, she knows what's coming, but that doesn't make her any more prepared for it when he yells. The words strike her like physical blows. She takes a step back, her expression cycling through a dozen variations of both anger and injury. There is one key thing she is missing as she listens, overshadowed by his temper: that he was worried about her. She'll realize that important detail later. Right now, her instinctive response is to lash out and shock him, her hand trembling as she snaps her palm out and hits him with a weak charge. "Peachy," she barks in response, her own voice not nearly as soft as his, but there is a tremulous quality to it that suggests she is on the brink of breaking down. Her anger is mostly a charade to distract them (and her) from just how unbelievably stupid she feels right now. "You two go find somewhere to hide. I'll do you both a favour and make this less complicated." And with that, she snatches her coat and phone from the floor, the duffel bag from the bed, and starts to move for the door.

Once Gabriel is done yelling and asking Elle if she is okay, he takes another deep breath, once again rubbing his eyes with his fingers. The pressure helps. He slowly opens his eyes, glancing at Peter and listening to what he has to say, but he isn't really /hearing/ it. He's just a voice in the background. Gabriel's real focus is on Elle, her condition, and the way she's reacted to him yelling at her. He can't say he's surprised, really, that she might be upset. The shock from her IS surprising, however, and he jumps in his chair slightly at the pain, but he forgets about it as soon as she moves towards the door.

"No," he says, his voice firm, and he stands from his chair, moving forward quickly to intercept her, putting a hand on the door if he needs to. "I'm sorry I yelled at you," he offers, but he would be lying if he said he wasn't afraid she's about to blast him out of her way. "I'm glad you're okay. … I got your drink."

"Elle!" Peter says, surprised, but at the same time not quite. After all he dated her for a month— a lot more than that if one counts the person who stood in her place. They must have had similar personalities in some respects. There really shouldn't be any surprise— such a reaction to a situation should be common. "I'm going to see if I can find a place for you two to move to for tonight. Keep your phone on." It might be rather sudden, but it sounds very much like he's going to go out the way he came, by teleporting, unless someone actually tries to stop him.

To be honest, the thought does cross her mind to shock the hell out of him where he stands and leave while he is temporarily incapacitated. There's no question that Elle is capable of it, particularly in this state. Instead of harming him again, however, she simply stops in her tracks and fixes Gabriel with a withering stare. "Fine," she says to Peter, though she's unwilling to turn her glower away from her partner in crime as he blocks her path. To Gabriel, and it's clear that she's speaking to him given her tone, she says, "Move."

Looking at Peter over Elle's head, Gabriel gives him a nod, even if he thinks it doesn't matter much where they move to. He's already had this discussion with Elle. If the Company wants to find them, they will. "If that's what you think is best." As for the person standing in front of him fixing him with that withering glare, Gabriel doesn't budge an inch. "No. I'm not going to move. What do you plan on doing, anyway, Elle? It's more safe for you to stay here."

"Don't let her go anywhere. It's easier if the two of you stick together," Peter adds, in a comment pointed mostly at Elle and not the one standing in front of the door before he disappears. To go find a place for them to stay, as he said, most likely.

With about five feet separating them, Elle stares him down as the seconds tick by, standing in total silence. This is painful. She's as likely to stand where she is and kill him just so she can leave as she is to turn back and give up. Her free hand flexes at her side as she considers her options. After several more seconds, Gabriel is still standing, and Elle hasn't even intimated that she might shock him again. No, it's beginning to look like she just might be resigned to her fate. "Fine," she mutters darkly, turning away from him abruptly and stalking towards the washroom.

Gabriel watches as Peter disappears, and then his attention shifts back to Elle. He matches the stare, not moving an inch, not even bothering to acknowledge her flexing hand. When she turns to stalk towards the washroom, he shakes his head, letting out a sigh as he moves back to his chair. He's halfway to sitting down when he suddenly changes his mind, slowly walking towards the washroom. "Elle?" he calls out, stopping just short of the door.

Why do they always have to follow? On her way, she managed to toss the jacket and phone onto the bed, but Elle still has the duffel bag slung over her shoulder, which is awkward to walk with in the small room. She's barely made it into the tiny washroom by the time he catches up, standing just inside the doorway with her free hand on the doorknob. When he calls her name, she turns back, her expression exasperated and tired. "What?"

It might have been better for Gabriel if he actually knew what he was going to follow up with before he got to this point. So when she turns and looks at him, he's slightly taken aback, and it takes a few moments for him to really say anything. "You made it back okay," he says, which is really quite obvious, considering she's standing in front of him without and broken bones or blood on her.

What a strange, disarming remark to make. Elle isn't quite sure what to make of his comment at first, searching his face for any hint of meaning that his voice was missing. It's difficult to maintain her snippish demeanor when he says things like that. When she finds no further hint in his expression, she arches a brow, regarding him as if he's lost his mind. "Yep." Half a second later, she realizes that he might have wanted to do something about being covered in sand. "Oh. Here, sorry. I don't really need to be in here." No, she was just going to hide out in what little privacy she could find in such close quarters. Instead, she decides to be kind to him, ducking her head as she brushes past en route to her bed.

Rolling his eyes (at himself, not Elle), Gabriel allows Elle to pass, stepping into the washroom and taking a look at himself in the mirror. A shower will be most swell. He needs clothes for when he gets out of the shower, however, and this means he has to turn around and follow Elle back into the other room, moving past her bed to his own. He kneels down and digs through a duffel bag of his own, extracting the necessary garments before standing up to head back to the washroom.

Dropping the bag by the side of the bed, Elle moves to retrieve her long-sought-after Slusho from the table before returning. While Gabriel is in the shower, she quickly changes into pyjamas and settles down onto the bed. One experimental sip and a scrunch of her nose later, she pulls the Pixy Stix from the pocket of her coat and breaks them open, subsequently dumping them into the slush drink. The next time she sips it, she doesn't make a face; thereafter, she makes short work of the drink, and by the time Gabriel gets out of the shower, she'll already be lying down with the blankets drawn up to her shoulders.

It doesn't take long for Gabriel to shower. Once the sand, grime, and dirt is all washed away, he steps out of the shower, dries off, throws on his clothes even if he's still a little bit wet, and moves out into the living area of the room. He takes a seat on the edge of his bed, stuffing his dirty clothes into a trash bag designated for just that purpose. After that, he sits there, eyes on the floor in front of him, going over the events of the day in his head. He turns his head so he can look at Elle for a few moments, and after that he stands from the bed, pulling the covers back so he can slip under them. Head falling on the pillow, it doesn't take long before his eyelids begin to feel heavy, and he's soon fast asleep.

Some time later, Elle finds herself unable to sleep - not because of bad dreams, because she hasn't slept long enough to dream at all, but because of the knowledge that when someone breaks down the door and comes for her, it won't be a dream at all. She lies on her side, staring at the door in the darkness, listening to Gabriel's quiet breathing.

When she's had as much as she can take of lying awake, Elle quietly turns the blankets aside and sets her feet on the carpeted floor. Without a sound, she crosses the short distance to where Gabriel lies asleep, draws back the blankets, and climbs into the small bed. As she lies down beside him, she rests her head against his chest, closing her eyes to try and sleep once more.

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