2007-05-16: Phantom Inadequacies

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Heidi_icon.gif

Summary: Having run away from Peter's apartment, Heidi calls Elena, her nearest friend nearby. Elena, who has just been stepping out of Cass's bookstore, gets the message. The young Gomez later takes Heidi back to her family's apartment to shelter her from her marital problems for a bit.

Date It Happened: May 16th, 2007

Phantom Inadequacies


Somewhere in Downtown New York City

Elena will have gotten a call somewhere around three, maybe four in the afternoon, from an unrecognised number. It was the only number Heidi could remember off the top of her head, though, besides Nathan's, or Peter's, or her own, none of which she has any intention of calling. In the end, she stopped by a small internet cafe near Peter's apartment and used the payphone there to make a call.

The message, whether Elena answered or not, would have been simple— I need to talk to someone, I'm here, I'll be here for awhile— And then she would have hung up. It's not something she wants to discuss over the phone for many reasons, one of which being the fact that she's on a payphone in a relatively strange place.

The cafe itself is clean, modern, and on the first floor of a small vertical complex with a flower shop up on the second floor, and a thrift shop on the third. There are a few people in here with laptops, and a few people borrowing time on some of the new desktop computers that are scattered around. Heidi herself is seated at a round table somewhere as far away from the other patrons as she can get, almost under the stairway leading up to the second floor. It's not exactly 'prime real-estate' as seating goes. I fact, it's probably the nicest-looking table because of the fact that no one ever sits at it. And she looks like a wreck, too. She's already washed the remains of her makeup off, which makes her look older, in a way, but at least she doesn't have black streaks running down from her eyes. She's already emo enough, dammit.

Somewhere, and actually quite nearby, Elena steps out of Cass Aldric's bookstore, feeling the phone vibrate in her pocket. She fumbles a bit, pausing and digging out the signature, cherry-red thing and flipping it open….but she fails to get the call on time. She pauses, not recognizing it when she sees the voicemail icon pop up in her phone. She hesitates, looking around. She knows full well that she had quit answering her phone unless it was someone she knows, considering the fact that her father was doing the vigilante thing and doing his best to hunt for a serial killer who -used- phones to get to his victims. So, after careful deliberation over the fact that nothing's happened to her so far regarding that, she carefully accesses her voicemail and listens.

It doesn't take her long to reach the internet cafe that Heidi detailed in her voicemail, rubbing her eyes. While she actually looks okay today, some part of her was emotionally drained - replenished somewhat by the fact that Eric took her out on a random dinner date the night before. It had been a welcome break, but she kept getting distracted through it all. By something. She didn't know what it was. Like she was forgetting something.

When she sees Heidi, she hurries over. "Heidi," she gasps, the expressive face turning from contemplated to horrified in a split second, dark eyes so wide the tiny, golden flecks that stood out ferally when she was angry looked obvious and bright. "Oh my god, what happened? Did those…those PEOPLE try to— " Oh my god. If that happened she was gonna KILL SOMEBODY. …..okay maybe not, but she can introduce them to terrible sensations they've never thought to experience in this life. She looks around quickly. That god the cafe wasn't too populated today, and reaches out with both hands to the woman to give her a hug. "Heidi, let's get you out of here, okay?" She was certain the woman had her pride, she's going to try and get her out of there before more people see her like that and stare at her. New Yorkers were NOSY.

Thank God someone's here. She could have called her mother, but that would have been a bit of a drive… And Elena was close by anyway. That worked out well, considering Heidi has no idea where Elena lives. The blank look in the woman's eyes turns grateful for a moment when she sees the friendly face, but she's too tired to keep that up for too long.

And while Heidi does have her pride, it doesn't seem like she cares all that much at the moment. "No, no, it was nothing like that," she says, the feeling completely gone from her voice. If she puts too much into the conversation, she'll just lose it all over again, and she's really trying to keep herself slightly composed. It's not working, judging by the tears that appear in her eyes again. Well, crap.

"Go where?" she asks, rising a little to wrap her arms around Elena. For everything that's happened, Heidi seems fairly steady. Not shaking, though there's a cloth wrap around one hand that's already starting to discolor from the laceration underneath it. She should have stuck around the apartment long enough to ask Peter to fix it, because it stings, and possibly needs stitches.

It wasn't even Peter's fault, it was hers.

Though reluctant to let go, Heidi eventually sits down again, too tired to remain on her feet. She just ran a couple blocks as quickly as she could, /with nice shoes on,/ and sitting is really nice. "I can't go…" Home. Not right now, even though her boys are in her thoughts.

She gives the older woman a squeeze, and Elena blinks when she pulls back, and sees Heidi's christmas-lights eyes pool tears again. Oh, damn. Whatever happened, not only was it bad….she had a sinking feeling this was personal. Personal to Heidi. Heidi Petrelli. Which meant her family. What the hell, she -just- saw them all work together to rescue this woman, or at least the boys anyway. The last she saw Heidi, she was happy, relaxed, -walking- on her own two feet and laughing over the Incredibles with her and joking over who one of her two boys might end up becoming Dash from the movie. Not…like….

"My place," she says softly. "It's….not like the mansion or anything like that." She looks rather embarassed while she says it. "But it's clean, and it's home. Papa works late, Dezi stays in Juanita's room for the time being, and Manny's always out anyway. None of them are home right now, it's quiet…and I'll be able to see to that more readily with my supplies." The laceration doesn't escape her. She rests her hands over the cloth covering Heidi's hand, taking away the pain entirely. She turns to the side, and, should Heidi allow her, gently removes the cloth, tears it down in half, into thinner strips, and uses one so she could bind the wound more securely, looping it on the space between her digits and tying the ends gently on her wrist.

"Come on, don't worry about the cab. I'll take care of it." She didn't have a lot of money, but thanks to her new job, she's making more than Starbucks fare. She is perceptive enough to realize the woman doesn't have her purse with her. This is why she didn't call from her cellphone, otherwise Heidi's Caller ID would have popped up. She slips an arm around her, in case she needs support to stand. She looks exhausted, and hollowed out.

Heidi still can't bring herself to tell Elena what happened, because saying it is like cementing it in reality. At the moment, it's still some sort of bad dream, but the moment someone else finds out, it becomes a waking nightmare.

Quite relieved when Elena offers her house, Heidi slumps just a little, some of the tension leaving her shoulders. She grew up in a fairly small house; sometimes the mansion makes her agoraphobic… Too many open spaces and not enough things to fill them. You could go for an hour without seeing another person, even if there are ten people in the house. Spike hides so well that sometimes no one can find her. "I'm sorry, I don't want to intrude," she says in a small voice. This time, she barely even flinches when she feels the pain leave her. Still, just that simple action causes her to clench her teeth in an attempt to prevent herself from outright sobbing. Heidi can't do anything like that. She's not good enough.

The gash across the back of her hand is roughly diagonal, fairly deep, but not life-threatening. It's still a little bright red in places, though the bandage applied by the blue-eyed woman at least seems to have slowed the bleeding. Elena's expertise probably makes it a lot better.

Following after, Heidi mutters a thank you uder her breath. She shouldn't have left her things at Peter's apartment, but she's not going back there now. Heidi actually tries not to lean, but she's still feeling that pain in her back. Pain that's not actually there, it's just that how she's feeling now is roughly how she was feeling right after the accident, only this isn't /quite/ that bad. Thankfully.

Thankfully, Fate seems to be coaxing Elena into thinking that she was meant to take care of Heidi today, because once the young woman leads her out of the internet cafe, a cab is pulling up right in front of them, letting off the passengers it was carrying. She leads Heidi to it, assisting the woman in getting in. Walking around to get in through the other side once she is seated, she instructs the driver to drive them to an address in Queens. Once they're on their way, she looks over at Heidi. "It's okay," she says softly. "Papa's….he could be a bear, but he'd never turn a woman out when she needs space to cry." And that was true. So she turns to lean back on the chair, frowning a little bit. What…..the hell happened?

It will come out eventually, she was sure.

The Gomez Apartment was in the heavily latino area of Queens. Heidi can tell by the Spanish signs and the variety stores everywhere. She is led up the fifth floor, and when the door opens, it reveals a 3-bedroom flat that's around 1900 square feet, built specifically to maximize the premium space that New York had so little off. Mismatched furniture, hardwood floors, the first thing that greets Heidi once she walks through the door is the smiling portrait of Catalina Gomez, a beautiful, older woman with the same eyes as her daughter's. It wasn't hard to surmise one of the major reasons why Ramon hasn't been able to move on as of yet.

She leads Heidi to the living room, helping her take a seat on one of the more comfortable couches in the room. "Wait here, I'll be back." And then, Elena disappears in the bathroom, only to come back out with a medical kit and some antiseptic. Her powers were still active on her, so long as she's in range. Pulling the coffee table closer so she could sit directly in front of Heidi, she unpacks what she needs, and takes Heidi's hand gently so she can give her some better care.

"I can make you something if you're hungry, or get you something if you want anything to drink," she says softly, swabbing the lacerated area gently with a cottonball soaked in hydrogen peroxide. It fizzles on her skin, but it doesn't hurt. Not while she wa so close.

Still no word on what happened. In fact, the whole ride back, Heidi is almost silent, staring at her hands, or at the floor of the cab, at the driver's picture. She already feels a lot better just having someone with her, since she felt so /alone/ when she left Peter's apartment that she had to call someone. If she had no numbers, she might have even called the operator JUST TO TALK. Just kidding. Or maybe she's not - Heidi's not sure.

Though she hasn't lived in an area like this /ever,/ she doesn't seem terribly uncomfortable, though she doesn't show much interest in her surroundings, either. She'd never be able to find her way back here if she had to, and the only thing she knows is that she's in Queens. Upon reaching Elena's apartment, she does look up, noting the portrait, someone important. Elena had mentioned previously that her mother died… This must be her, has to be. Heidi can't imagine growing up without her mother, or leaving her kids without one. The thought makes her want to get home, but she can't.

It's disturbing - just a little - that she feels no pain in her hand, even while Elena's cleaning it up. It's about now that the blue-eyed woman figures she ought to give some sort of explanation as to why her hand is messed up, and why she's so upset. "No, not really. Not right now," she states, briefly catching Elena's eyes before her somewhat tired mind comes to the conclusion that the very best way to start this is to say, "I hit Peter."

There's a brief flicker of something unrecognizable, at the P-name again, though part of Elena wants to turn around, trot to a wall, and bang her forehead in frustration against it. She'd been trying to run away from his calls, his voice, and his -name- for the past few days and all the people who need her -this week- can't help but -talk- about him. However it took today to realize that it was driving her crazy. It was ludicrous. God wasn't trying to tell her something, God was LAUGHING AT HER. Like the event with Jack in his apartment wasn't bad enough!

"It's Peter. Sometimes he needs to get punched in the face to get something across effectively," comes the quiet grumble. While Elena would never hit him physically, maybe (one never really knows, she IS Ramon's daughter, and Ramon doesn't brake for small animals), she had called him an idiot once, when he said that he put the people he loved in danger. But she looks up to meet Heidi's eyes. After bandaging the wound, she closes her fingers around her hand gently. "Heidi….what happened?" she asks softly. She couldn't picture Heidi getting that angry at anyone, let alone hit someone -because- she was that mad.

Inspecting her face, she reaches into the medical kit, and pulls out a pack of soft kleenex. Tearing it open for her, she starts trying to wipe the black streaks from her face, trying to get rid of smeared traces of makeup and mascara gently. "I'm…not going to force you to talk about it," she continues hesitantly. "Cry, if you need to. You don't….there's no one to impress here." Unconsciously, she uses the words Gene had told her when he picked her up a few blocks from Jane and Elle's place after the incident. And, incidentally, the same words that made her cling to the young inventor and bawl her eyes out. God. She hasn't cried like that since she was 16.

Heidi doesn't notice that look from Elena, since she's busy looking down at her hand as it's bandaged, trying to figure out how to continue this conversation without completely breaking down. She needs to maintain some dignity. In the past month, she's already lost it /completely/ twice in front of Elena, in front of her family. Two huge secrets she was never meant to know about are just right out in the open, though, staring her in the face.

No, no, don't tell her to /cry!/ Unable to help it, that's exactly what Heidi does, taking the Kleenex from Elena without any pleases or thanks or gestures of gratitude other than that she's crying at all. It's painful - the whole thing. And… And—

Many minutes later, she finally takes a couple choking sobs, catching her breath so she can speak. "He was reading my mind," she says. "And I could hear him, in — In my head. He was talking to me. I— I think it was— " She pauses for a moment to dry her eyes, catch her breath. "It was an accident, he didn't mean to. But…" Another long pause and another long silence as she looks from the floor, up to Elena, then back to the floor again.

And this is where she tells the story, it just spills out in short bursts, from Mara arriving drunk, to the vision, to Peter's arrival. Heidi was concerned for her, tried to help, and in the end— "She looked at me, and I knew. Elena, Nathan was having an affair."

When Heidi starts crying, Elena's face scrunches up a little bit in concern. Well, more than just a little bit. It sounded like the cacophonous chorus of someone whose heart was yanked from her chest, thrown through a window, and letting a parade of big rigs roll over it before it's carried off by wild dogs. She slides from the coffee table to sit next to Heidi, and wraps her arms around the older woman. "It's okay, it's okay…" she says softly, hesitating for a moment before she strokes through the woman's jet black hair in a comforting fashion. Oh god. Oh god. What the HELL did…?

And then, the story comes out. There is nothing, for the moment. And if she looked up at Elena's face she'd look….well, if the Hawaiian volcano deity were ever given human form, she would've been implanted on the young latina's expression at the moment. She doesn't even hide it. The young woman was ABSOLUTELY LIVID. At them BOTH, Nathan Petrelli and this Mara Damaris creature (the same woman who abandoned the Gomez case, so she wasn't on the good books to begin with). She opens her mouth, she's actually about to, most probably, rage on her behalf….but it is only the young woman's impressive willpower that makes her shut her mouth with a sharp click. Her jaw works though, in an effort to hide it.

Whatever happened. It wasn't done. It went against her rose-colored glasses view on marriage. Well, sort of. Catalina had a temper. Ramon was stubborn. They've had their rows. Their angry fights. Elena had been old enough to remember most fo them. But Ramon loved his wife. Catalina loved Ramon. And two people who loved each other and who were married just…didn't -do- this to one another. It wasn't right. Why marry at all if they were just going to do - that-? She closes her eyes, and takes a deep breath, and exhales slowly. "I'm sorry, Heidi. I'm sorry…you had to find out like that. It wasn't….it wasn't…" Right. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair. And what the hell was that homewrecker doing in Peter's apartment anyway?! Didn't he know? He had to, he was a mindreader!

Oddly, the only one who isn't angry through all of this is /Heidi./ It'll come eventually, but the only anger she's actually shown so far was that strike at Peter - something she feels incredibly terrible for and is going to have to make up to him eventually, when she can stand being around either of the brothers. She /loves/ Peter. She /adores/ him, in fact. But he looks like Nathan just enough for Heidi to want to avoid him, at least for the time being. And the thing is, she loves Nathan, too, and that's why this hurts so much.

She can't believe he did this to her. More importantly, she wonders what she did wrong for him to find the need to seek solace with another woman. Actually, she knows. "I'm not good enough for him," she says quietly. God, this sounds so ridiculous, so not like her to brood like this, but as far as she sees it, it's true. "I can't do things like he can, or you, or Peter. Or Mara. It's not enough. He sent me away when he was hurt… I should have figured it out then, but… I needed him. I wanted things to work, I just… Didn't see it. I had to believe him, Elena, I couldn't just…" She wants to say that she loves Nathan, but she can't.

Not for fear of sounding weak, like she has no willpower to break away. She couldn't if she even wanted to, because she's built a life for herself, she has pictures of the future in her mind, and Nathan is in them. Heidi wants that future, doesn't want to be alone. Not for her own sake, but because she married Nathan because she /loved him./ But she just can't get those words out.

There's a brief moment of anger that crosses her features, lip pulled back, eyes narrowed… But it passes just before she says, "It shouldn't have happened at all." She reaches out for Elena's hand, knowing she should feel pain in her own, but there's nothing. She won't complain. Blue eyes meet brown and remain fixed as Heidi fumbles for words. "I want to know what I did wrong. Why…? Why did he do that?"

She wasn't good enough for him.

Elena recoils, visibly, as if Heidi had just punched HER in the face. "Wh…what?" she stutters, but she's cut off by the other words from the woman's mouth. She's staring at Heidi disbelievingly, even as word after word invade her usually serene subconscious. Powers? Abilities? Were those the measure of what people in 'her world' think now? It was ludicrous, and all the young woman wanted to do was shake Heidi by the shoulders, and call HER an idiot for thinking that. However the woman was fragile right now, crying in the middle of her living room, and had just found out that her husband for god knows how many years was boffing some flaky homicide detective who can….what could Mara do again? She didn't know, nor did she much care. And yet, part of her, the merciful side of her, the part of her that has seen Nathan's face when he found out his wife was taken and that same shortness and singlemindedness to go and RETRIEVE HER no matter what, couldn't demonize the older Petrelli entirely. It was bad. It was more than bad. But it wasn't unforgiveable.

Was it?

Part of her believed that Nathan thought of Heidi when she was sent away when he was hurt. She had heard from Peter that he had been terribly burned, scarred…it was a miracle the man didn't die of radioactive poisoning from that much exposure to a human nuke. Part of her believed that Nathan sent her away because he didn't want her to see him the way he was, knowing how much she would probably cry at the sight of him. But…need. She needed him. If her husband ever tried to do that, she would've fought him, kicking and screaming. Heidi fought back in her own way, she tried to give Nathan what he wanted - space. In the end, she came back, to retake her rightful place as his wife.

"You couldn't just leave him," she says softly. "Because you love him." Love. Present tense. The perceptive girl knows that the woman wouldn't be LIKE THIS, and blaming herself over something she was the victim of, if she wasn't such a fool for her soul-damned husband. "I understand, Heidi." If she wasn't going to say it, she will.

She curls her fingers around Heidi when she reaches out to grasp it. She covers it with her other one. She exhales a breath, and looks at the woman right in the eye. "Heidi, you can't do this," she says softly. "You're not…you're NOT substandard. Stop talking about yourself that way. This wasn't your fault. He was being selfish. They were BOTH being selfish. Just because we have…what we do doesn't make us….it doesn't make us BETTER for one another. It doesn't. Having our gifts doesn't make us any different in our capacity to love, feel pain, or…or…-do the right thing-. We're all still human despite it all. You can't….you can't go around THINKING this is your fault, that you didn't measure up somehow. HE didn't measure up. Not you. It's HIM that's not good enough for you. You can't…you can't BELIEVE that about yourself. It's not fair. This -already- isn't fair to you, the last thing you need is to be unfair to yourself." She ducks her head, so she could switch the angle of her gaze so she could look straight through Heidi's eyes. As if she could beam realization into her head psionically.

Did she says something wrong?! "No, Elena, /no,/ that's— " And Heidi just breaks down again, pushing her hands into her eyes. She's honestly not used to /saying the wrong things,/ though she can understand how what she said would be taken the worst way possible. God, no, she doesn't consider any difference in the merit of character between herself and someone with abilities, but she /feels inadequate,/ like she should be able to do something and can't. At the moment, it's the only thing she can actually wrap her mind around, because she can't think of anything else she might have done /wrong./

Even when Nathan was so badly burned, Heidi was /there./ She saw him, even if the boys didn't, and she wanted to be there for him for as long as it took him to heal. It was a hell of an argument between them, most of which didn't involve any words at all, just an silent staring match that lasted until Heidi couldn't see putting Nathan into any more pain than he was already in… And she took the boys and left.

And came back. At which point she realised that something was /very wrong./

Even though she's logical and rational by nature, she's already drawn conclusions of her own. He said he loved her after she was kidnapped, and yet, the affair with Mara was happening still /at that point./ He took her flying, but who did he /really/ want in his arms?

"No, I know, I'm sorry." Wait. "I— I don't know, though. He just… What if— What if he really— " What if this really is all about whether or not Heidi is special? She takes some time to calm down. "Nathan, you don't know him. He always wants the best, he doesn't want to settle for anything less than what he considers is the best. He won't. He was a really… I mean, he could have been the best lawyer in the state, and he still had to run for congress. He was talking about running for president before he was even elected. If I… If I'm not…" She sniffles, rubbing the Kleenex under her nose. "It's not fair, but I need to know why."

But it seems like there is much power with Elena's thought-beaming prowess today, because Heidi seems to get it, slumping back in the chair. "I know it's not true," she says. "It was the only explanation I could come up with, though. It's the only thing I could think of— I don't know what to do now. I never thought this would happen. I thought things were okay. He was starting to talk to me."

Oh god. She's crying again. At the new wave of tears, Elena grabs her up in a hug and holds her tightly, weathering the storm like the base of a cliff. The more sympathetic side of her wants to break down with her, and bits and pieces of her own heart were crumbling inside. She hated seeing people get hurt. She hated seeing people in pain. This probably explains why her powers developed the way it did - a theory she has been working on and is being proven bit by bit with every person she meets who was similar to herself. But…this phantom inadequacy. It needs to be dispelled. Exorcised. While she wasn't sure whether Heidi or Nathan will ever reconcile in this life, all she knows is that what's important RIGHT NOW is Heidi get her sense of self-worth back. Otherwise she won't be able to fix anything she wants to have fixed.

"…you're right. I don't know your husband. Not very well. I'm only going by what I saw in him when he rushed out to rescue you. I'm sure…he wants the best of everything. Everyone does. It's a human failing and blessing at the same time. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't recognize what he has. That doesn't mean he doesn't know who the best match is for him. I don't think Mr. Petrelli is the sort of guy who'd marry just -anyone-. Not with his proclivities." She nods. Not only does she need to know why. She DESERVES to know why. And so she doesn't say anything else about that. She just nods.

"Maybe there is no explanation," she says softly. "He's only human, Heidi. And male." And men are predisposed in the evolutionary sense to spread their seed for the survival of the species. It's been that way for eons. Some may even argue that marriage really wasn't the way to go in human society. But whole governments have risen and fallen through marriage. Monarchies. Theocracies. Human society the way it was is practically -centered- around marriage. Philosophical ponderings about whether marriage actually goes against human nature, or at least the nature of men, however, can wait.

"Heidi I'm not…I'm not exactly…I'm not exactly qualified to….advise you what to do on this," she says softly, hesitant, and somewhat frustrated. This was one of the rare events in which she wished she was older. Wiser in the ways of the world. She didn't WANT to advise Heidi to leave her husband. She was Catholic, divorce was out of the question for her. She didn't WANT to advise Heidi to forgive her husband either. Not right now. Not when he DIDN'T DESERVE it. And she didn't want to advise Heidi to talk to Mara either, for one, it'll probably end up badly when emotions are running so high. "I think you should mourn this for a bit," she says softly. "Trying to do anything right now, trying to think of what to do right now….I don't think you should because what you might come up with in this state might end up being too hasty. You need time. And some sleep. Have a good cry and just let things be for a while."

She'll be forty in a couple months, and yet, here she is, reduced to the mentality of a teenager. Or, so it feels like; then again, she should give herself more credit, since she's been married to Nathan for so long, and thought he loved her.

Heidi was still in the wheelchair the last time this happened, and she asked him— Despite feelings she had to the contrary, Heidi was willing to believe him when he said that he hadn't been with anyone else. Even when he walked away, putting a hand on her shoulder, she wondered. But in order to keep herself going, since she knew very well she'd be devastated if he had, she told herself that she believed him, and this belief eventually became truth. The wheelchair was an obstacle.

Her mundane nature is an obstacle.

But then… There's a reminder of how he /does/ care for her. Risking his life to save her, sitting with her, holding her while she was afraid. His smile. There must still be something there, but the question is, is it worth fighting for?

God. That's an entity with which Heidi has a love/hate relationship. She's been angry at God before… Livid. And now she's wondering if the peace she made with him is going to be enough to get her through this one.

"I don't know if I can excuse what he did," she says. Heidi appears to be calming down slightly. Could just be the eye of the storm, though it's also possible she's starting to figure things out. "It doesn't matter what you are, it's /who./ Male, female, black, white, Russian, American— I don't care." She plays with the new bandage, pressing down on the center of her hand where there should be a fair amount of pain. "You say 'only human,' but aren't we the ones who're capable of making the right choices when we want to? Shouldn't he have been able to make that choice for himself?" At least it seems she's starting to crawl out of the hole where she's blaming herself. Unfortunately, the blame is starting to fall on Nathan.

Realising something, calming, Heidi's hand reaches out for Elena's shoulder. "I shouldn't have put you in this position." Finally, the blue-eyed Petrelli manages a very weak smile. "I'm sorry, Elena. But… thank you for coming. Thank you. And if I could ask one more thing, I need a place to stay tonight. If it's not here, a hotel, something. I can pay you back. But I can't go home tonight." The kids will be okay… She trusts Peter enough to find someone to watch them. But she'll have to call later anyway - worried mother and all.

If she could just curl up in a ball and cry for a year, that would be perfect. But she can't. She needs to start working on how shes going to fit the pieces of her life back together.

God, in Elena's case, was a force of nature that gave her strength. Perhaps it was the reason why despite her young age, she could weather almost anything so far, and bounce back relatively quickly with a smile and a quip. "You don't know now, but I'm not one to underestimate the capacity of a human's heart to forgive. Or to love." She glances to the side. "Elle intended to kill me, but when she showed up to apologize, I forgave her. I think if someone asks for forgiveness, to mean it with their own souls that they want some measure of atonement, I think it ought to be given freely. But I know the world can't afford that sort of thing sometimes. You can't forgive someone who repeats his crimes just like that. You can't forgive a murderer who kills children over and over again even if he knows he's wrong, no matter how many times he says he's sorry. Sincerity has always been the key to such things."

She looks over at Heidi. "He should've," she agrees. "But I also say 'only human' in terms of the fact that we weren't created infallible. Only God is." She looks….a little embarassed when she says that, toying absently with the gold crucifix that rests on the dip of her collarbones. She knows most people these days are uncomfortable around religion. The fundamentalists all over tend to give her lot a bad rap. "We make mistakes. The wrong choices. Sometimes we selfishly pursue what we want and damn the rest. This is why we're also given, I think, a large capacity to regret our actions. I think people are inherently good, Heidi. They're….also just incredibly dumb sometimes."

Yes. Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

"It's okay." Elena gives Heidi a small smile, and reaches out so she could hug the older woman, whether she wants one or not. She gives her a small squeeze. "I'm getting used to tough positions. I've been finding out more and more lately that sometimes even doing the right thing hurts sometimes." She pulls back a bit. "You can stay with me for the night. You can take my bed. Our apartment isn't much and my father can be gruff, but he'll never turn a woman out of his own home if he knows she needs the sanctuary." These days, Heidi isn't the only one - they're sheltering someone 'doomed' as well, but now wasn't the time to tell Heidi that. "And paying me back for anything isn't necessary. Really. You're….you're my friend, Heidi. You never, ever, ever have to pay me back for anything."

She searches her face a bit, and smiles. "Okay?"

With strong faith for years, Heidi can understand where Elena's coming from. Even now, she believes in Him, or else she'd have no one to be angry with. Perhaps it's not the best idea to ask God why you deserved to have your spine broken, or what you did to cause your husband to essentially /look elsewhere,/ but at least she fully believes that there is a Being up there who both provides strength and throws out trials like they're the next Big Fashion.

"You did? Elle? Really?" Heidi remembers how upset Elena was. Maybe this will help Heidi to forgive Nathan… Who knows? After all, he always /came back./ He seemed happy. Was she missing clues somewhere, though, maybe something she should have caught but never did? If Elena can accept Elle's apology, though—

"Not… right now. I need to think. I need time." She needs to figure out how to do this without ruining Simon and Monty, for one. She also needs to make sure both her and Nathan are at least decently happy. And— Ground rules. Perhaps people would think her a fool for even /considering/ returning to him, but as far as she's concerned, he's only got two strikes, and considering the home runs he's been hitting for the past couple weeks…

Maybe she'll just walk him this time, to finish up the baseball analogy.

Finding herself in another embrace, she makes no effort to pull away, though she's no longer at a point where this contact is making her cry - probably good for Elena, at least. "Thank you," she says, sitting back, a genuinely grateful look in her eyes. There's a moment before she nods. Okay, she can live with that for now.

It's necessary to stray back to religion for just a moment, though… Smiling almost pathetically, Heidi looks around for something rather specific, and finds it on a table. She should have known, with Elena talking of God, that there would be a Bible in the room. It's picked up, held for a moment, then she pages through it until she finds what she's looking for. "I used to read this one and Revelation," Heidi says, handing the Bible to Elena, which is open to Job.

She sits back down again, eyes wandering, taking in the house so that she'll know where she is when she finally does wake up - and Heidi has the feeling that she'll be asleep for a year. "I wanted to be like him, but I already called God some pretty nasty names when I broke my back." Maybe this is payback.

"Yes, you definitely do," Elena says with a small smile. "These sorts of things can't be figured out in just one sitting, Heidi. I've…been called reckless, but this is your marriage. You need the time to take a breath and let things sit for a bit. Who knows? Maybe inspiration will hit you while you're thinking." She blinks when she hands her the bible, and she smiles faintly, taking it from her. She looks down at the pages, brushing the fingertips over the pages lovingly. "It was my mother's. Given to her on her wedding day. Papa sleeps in the living room because he gave up the other bedrooms for us kids, so…he tends to keep this close to his head. He says it makes him sleep better."

She looks up at him and she laughs. "I've been avoiding at looking at Revelations these days. Knowing I'm trying to….well. Nevermind." She grins at Heidi sheepishly. "But…I didn't know you were…you know. And it's alright to be angry. I know Papa lost touch with Him when Mama died. It was…there was a point where I was afraid he couldn't handle the loss. But he tried very hard to keep the family together. He succeeded, I think. At the same time, I wouldn't wish that sort of fate on anyone. Losing a parent in the way I did."

The book of Job was familiar, detailing about a man who was blessed, and God giving him a test to see if he would still be devout if he took away everything from him. When he steadfastly held onto his faith, he was rewarded by double of what he had lost. "And you're only human, Heidi. Like I said, we weren't created perfect. I'm sure….if you made peace, things will be okay. I know I sound incredibly naive and optimistic, but….someone once told me that if you don't believe that people are good, they never will be." Hiro Nakamura's words. She wondered where the chubby Japanese guy was these days. She pauses, and gives her a relieved smile. "I'm glad you understand at least. I don't….I try to hold back what I say about my faith. I know some people tend to be uncomfortable when it's brought up."

She pauses, and closes the book gently, resting it on the cushion as she gets up, shucking off her jacket while doing so and tossing it on the coffee table. "I'll get you something to drink, okay? Something cool." She looks tired. Something refreshing was in order. With a smile, she turns to head to the kitchen.

As the jacket lands on the table, however, something slides out of the pocket, and drops onto the floor with a solid thunk. While compact, it had a bit of weight - it looks like an extra cellphone, only certainly MUCH more high-tech than the cherry-red, simple one that Elena preferred. Voices seem to be coming out of it, as the young woman ventures into the kitchen.

"Smile…you're on candid camera!"
"….you realize there'll be revenge later."

Her marriage. Yeah, that'd be something worth fighting for, huh? Heidi does glance down to her hand, though, which is missing a wedding ring at the moment, and she's suddenly very worried about whether or not Nathan still has it. She'd be tempted to call and ask, if her abject despair wasn't becoming anger. She doesn't want it to be over, but he kind of did something really close to being unforgivable. Even God says that one of the reasons to dissolve the marital vow is unfaithfulness. The other one is death.

She could leave him.

But—

"What happened to your mother?" she asks suddenly. The question seems out of place, but it hurts to hear Elena talk about a parent in the past tense. "I've heard you mention her before, but I never felt comfortable asking." She still doesn't, really, but her social grace is kind of numb at the moment, so… Now would be the time that Elena will likely see Heidi make an ass out of herself several times. Hopefully the older woman doesn't resort to petty namecalling and mudslinging.

If only she knew what to say about Nathan - not only to her friend, but to herself. She ca believe he's good all she wants, but it doesn't make him so. If she trusts him too much, he'll think he can get away with horrible things whenever he wants. Heidi /wants/ Nathan to want to be with her, though… She doesn't want to scare him into it.

Heidi's so drained, she wouldn't even notice the phone if it didn't start talking to her. Briefly, she considers the fact that she has no business picking it up, since it's Elena's, but again, her social grace is almost completely absent at the moment. And with Elena in the kitchen getting her something to drink, there's no one to stop her from picking it up to see why it's talking. And why she recognises that voice.

Marriage, especially one based on love. Especially one built upon the love of someone as taciturn as -Nathan Petrelli-, was something certainly worth fighting for, in Elena's opinion, considering she firmly believed that the former congressman wasn't the type to just marry -anyone-. She can be heard bustling in the kitchen, adjacent the living room - and considering the apartment wasn't that large to begin with, she can hear Heidi easily. Her fingers curl around the refrigerator's handle….though she pauses at the question. Her back to Heidi, she speaks up. "…she…..she died. Three years ago. You can say someone invaded our home and took her from us. It had been a cold case for the longest time. Everyone thought she killed herself." She pauses. "But she was Catholic. And devout. She would never….she was denied a Catholic burial because…" That very last one still grated at her. "…the case was reopened recently." She hesitates, and then….she continues. "Whoever did it was one of us. He had an ability. He can make people do things, if he knows your name."

And that's all she knows, and perhaps all she's willing to give Heidi because she knows they scare her enough, or make her somewhat uncomfortable. But this was what she was talking about - just because one had abilities didn't mean that two people were better for one another. Their kind can be monsters too, and of the worst kind. She pulls out a pitcher of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and gets a couple of glasses so she could fill them both with ice.

When she picks up the device and looks at it, it's her brother-in-law, being crawled on by tiny, balls of fluff with heads and legs. Puppies, all over him. He seems to be content enough to make himself a jungle gym for the critters.

"Have you always liked dogs?"
"Who wouldn't like them? They're affectionate."

The video was somewhat Cloverfield-esque, separated in choppy segments considering both young people tended to try and steal the camera from each other when one wasn't looking. Snippets of conversation, and lots of laughter. There's a part where Peter confesses that his middle name is 'Ethan', and that aside from watching movies with Claire one day, he's -never- watched a chick flick in his life. There's a part on Elena confession she had -two- middle names instead of one, and that she liked classic, badly dubbed kung-fu movies. Theres a brief segment on how Peter tells Elena that when he was eight, he wanted to be a pilot, because Nathan had been a pilot. And where Peter tilts the camera so both of them could be on it. All in all, it was a video. Of two kids being dorks. Happy dorks. Happy grinning dorks.

"So what do you think your best feature is?" Elena asks.
"Physically— last year I would've said my hair. Maybe my eyes now? I don't know…"

If Elena could have seen the look on Nathan's face… Heidi remembers it pretty clearly, though she's not sure how she was supposed to read it. He reached out, tried to touch her, and she wouldn't let him. She still doesn't regret that, since the general unease that he slept with someone /not her/ is still too fresh in her mind.

Dredging up Elena's past does help Heidi a little, only because it gives her someone else to concentrate on besides herself. "Oh, no, Elena," Heidi says quietly, sitting forward in her seat. The 'one of us' does catch her attention in particular, because she's learning all these horrible things about what people can do, and it's /scary./ But… The fact is, she's been alive for four decades, and these people with abilities aren't /new./ She doesn't fear them…

…She just doesn't feel adequate compated to them.

"I'm sorry," is all she can think of to say. Just like Elena can't relate to marital troubles, Heidi can't relate to loss. The closest person to her that she's lost is Nathan's father; both of her parents are still alive. "If there's anything I can do…" The case is old, sure. But an ear, or a shoulder- those are things Heidi can provide.

Her attention goes to the video, though. Oh, god, the puppies. They're adorable. Are these Snowy's littermates? Despite herself, Heidi smiles as she watches, though the connection between Peter and Elena reminds her a lot of the connection between herself and Nathan. There's something there. Somewhere along the line, she and her husband lost that. It's not like this anymore. Heidi wonders if Elena and Peter even /know./

The device still in one hand, Heidi closes her eyes, fingers threading through her hair as she rests an elbow on her knee. She's going to cry again. /What the hell happened?/

"What about you?" Peter's asking her this time.
"Mmmmm….what I like the most about myself? I think what I like about myself the most….is my ability to make others happy. Even if just for a little while."

The hand on Elena's shoulder grips, and then the frame jostles slightly as it slips around her front to hold at her other shoulder as Peter leans in to pull her against him. Kind of a half hug from behind. What's visible of his face when the camera settles looks quietly content if nothing else, and his voice is whispered, to the point the camera doesn't even pick it up.

"It's okay," Elena says, taking the glasses from the counter and walking to the living room again. "All we can do now is try our best to— " She pauses, blinking as she comes across Heidi hunched over the couch, her face buried in one hand, and the jPhone that's in her hand. Was she trying to call someone? And then, she could hear it. The words. "………." There was only one video in that phone, having been made out of a whim because she thought Peter chasing around fuzzballs should've been immortalized for potential blackmail material. She didn't think…it had just been….it had been impulsive.

The look on her face is indescribable. Shaking her head, she walks over to the side table, setting the glasses upon it and taking a quiet seat next to Heidi. She looks at her profile for a moment, and then she glances at the active video. Hesitating, she reaches out to take the device gently from the older woman's hand, and turns it off. "It was the day he adopted Snowy," she explains. "He mentioned he hasn't had a pet in a while so I thought I'd immortalize the moment for him in some way. I haven't…actually sent him a copy of this yet." Because of EVERYTHING ELSE. She sets the phone back on the coffee table, and reaches out to rest a hand on Heidi's back, rubbing it gently. "Heidi…." Talk to me. She didn't say that out loud, but it's implied. She didn't know why Heidi was crying now. Then again, she did mention she felt bad for punching Peter.

She can still hear the video, even if she's not looking at it anymore. It's something she can sense, something she's experienced, something she'd thought about as a parent for when her own sons get older. Maybe the situation in which Heidi has found herself is causing her to look for things that aren't there, but Peter - the smile on his face. He's having fun. The phone is surrendered easily, with Heidi having no reason to hold onto it anymore. After all, if she has it in her hand, she might be tempted to call Nathan or something equally stupid.

She sniffles, mostly winning the battle against tears this time. Her eyes are a little damp, but that's all. Who is she right now? Friend, or protective older sister? The protective older sister would sit down and have a talk with Elena about how Elle is slightly batshit and needs to go, because /clearly/ she's too crazy for Peter, and Elena is much, much saner.

Heidi's not that cold.

"It just reminds me of something, that's all," she says, allowing a tired smile. "Just— " Think of something, Heidi! "Peter. Reminds me of Nathan." Yeah, that sounds about as convincing as an obvious LIE, but she's trying not to offend Elena, or jump to the wrong conclusions, or— Bother. She's quiet for awhile, picking up the orange juice and holding it in her hands. "Elena." Frown. "I…" Uh. "Do you like Peter?"

She has absolutely no idea what Heidi saw. Elena, when it came to things like that, she was rather….well. It wasn't because she hadn't thought about meeting the perfect guy for her one day. There was a time where she crushed on her professors, and doodled Eric's name in the margins of her notebooks. She knew what infatuation was, but….these days her imagination had been enough. She had a lot of things to do. She had three younger siblings to care about. She had a father who was now just starting to have cardiopulmonary problems. On top of everything else, she had to help save the world, just so she could KEEP DOING all the things she had been doing BEFORE the impending New Yorkan apocalypse fell onto her lap.

"….what, former pets?" Elena teases, trying to inject some levity back in the conversation. She wraps one arm around Heidi, giving her shoulder a squeeze. And when she says what she does, she blinks. "…uh. Really?" And this is said rather skeptically. Peter = Nathan? But they were nothing alike! Except for maybe the features, the fact that they were Italian, and they had the same last name. Then again, she remembers what Heidi told her quite well. She does NOT know Nathan Petrelli. She has absolutely no idea how the man was unless his stage persona counted when he was campaigning. Then again, she has absolutely no idea what Heidi just saw.

She didn't know that much about the world.

The last question causes her to blink. And then, Elena fidgets. "Heidi….I don't know what he told you but…it's not like I hate him." What? "I just need to be away from him for a while so Elle could be a little more secure in his relationship with him. I mean I know things are kinda okay between us now but if she…I don't know. She might flip out again if I don't. Don't take this like…you know. I don't intend to ever be friends with him again. I do. I'm just waiting for things to settle back into the status quo, is all…" Uh yeah. Completely misunderstood the question.

It would be great if she just had the courage to go back and face Nathan, face Mara, tell them all that Nathan is hers and no one can have him. That's only how it works in badly-written novels, though. The truth is, there's a lot more to it than that, but seeing that video makes Heidi miss the days when she didn't have to worry about things like Nathan's interest in another woman. She was innocent. Still is, to some degree, but her trust, the ability to take him at his word without question, is never going to recover. She'll always wonder, and at the same time, always long for a time when she and Nathan could sit and laugh and watch the sun set and talk about nothing for hours.

"Yeah, Peter and Nathan. You can really see it if you know them well enough." Heidi smiles. Doesn't seem like she's having much trouble talking about her husband at the moment. "He's so serious. Thinks he has to be. But he's just— " She trails off, shaking her head as it catches up with her that she can't go home to Nathan tonight. She wants to say that half the time, especially with the boys, he's a giant kid who tried to deny that compulsion to have fun, and that's probably why /fate gave him the power of flight./ But none of that is stated.

"I thought I knew him," she finishes.

Finally, she takes a sip of her orange juice— Then more, because she's just realised that /crying/ makes you /really thirsty./ When she's done, less than half the glass remains; she sets it on the table. A quiet chuckle escapes, she sighs, then nods. "He'll be glad to have you around again." No clarification from Heidi… Not today. The question was about as personal as she'll get tonight.

If only she knew. Elena couldn't help but watch the expressions on Heidi's face, flitting through like hummingbirds over the Spring. She falls quiet, and she says nothing for a while, a silent presence next to the female Petrelli who doesn't seem to even be looking at her anymore, but at someplace else beyond. Again, it wasn't like she could relate. She had never been married. Hell, she's never even had a boyfriend, and she's never really thought about all of those things seriously. But she knows of one thing - and that was trust. She dealt with Trust every day, ever since this End of the City thing started. It was something she knew held a big factor in Heidi's chances of reconciling with her husband.

God, Petrelli. What were you thinking?

Wait. He wasn't. At least she hoped he wasn't. At least there'd be some sort of excuse. At least there was a minuscule window to salvage and go through.

"I'm afraid I haven't really interacted that much with your husband." She quirks a faint grin. "Too serious. I like comedy now and then." She jests, but it's weak and halfhearted. At the last, she nods. "I think…" she begins. "No matter how old we get we still retain our past selves. Things change, it's inevitable but….I don't think you've lost -all- knowledge of him, Heidi. Even now you're probably thinking about all the other things that made you marry him, right? I think it's still there. Otherwise….I wouldn't have seen the things I did when him and you were concerned."

When Peter's brought up again, she nods, glancing to the side. "Yeah. Maybe." Guilt returns in full force. While she had been so busily keeping herself from even so much as knowing what was going on with him these days, it crashes right through her living room. She can't put it off any longer. Not while this was happening. She was a scientist, but her Catholic upbringing had given her a deep-seated appreciation for signs. How his name -just wouldn't disappear- from her radar. Heidi calling her. Peter calling her. Elle dropping by more often. And now the video automatically playing because the phone crashed onto the floor. She had been yanking the end of her own, red thread and dragging it forcibly to the farthest point she could reach, only to find circumstances. Fate. Destiny. -Whatever-. Dragging her back in kicking and screaming.

The thought of hypocrisy gnawed at her like a living thing. What sort of friend would she be if she persisted staying away from him knowing the cornerstone of his life was crumbling and -invading- her own? "I'll talk to him soon," she promises.

It's just so /tiring./ She's been half-asleep for the last several hours. Crying has taken way too much out of her, running has exhausted her, she's lost a decent amount of blood, which wouldn't be an issue except for the other two things. Thoughts of the laceration cause her to lift her hand, looking at the bandage around it, feeling no pain even still. She might have to keep Elena around 'til it heals. "I think I'll go to the hospital tomorrow," she says, "Just to have this checked." And give her something to do. An excuse not to go home.

So tired.

Ah, Nathan the Serious Brother. He's had funny moments. They'll have to invite Elena over to Heidi's 40th birthday so she can see Nathan acting a little more casual. Except said birthday is in two months, and for some reason, Heidi can't see herself reconciling with him that quickly. This is kind of like trying to cross the Grand Canyon on foot, just by walking across the air. It can't be done.

Her attention wandering, it's only after Elena's spoken again and Heidi realises she hasn't heard a /word,/ that she figures she ought to get some sleep. "…Sorry, Elena," she mutters. "I think I should just— I don't mind a spot on the floor, really." And she's so tired, she'll sleep in her clothes, if she has to. Before going to the hospital, she's going to have to find a way to get her purse back, and she can't do that without at least a little rest.

Sigh.

"I'll go with you." Elena pauses. "I'll take you to Seville Medical. My boss's company funds it, I can get you seen without much trouble even if you don't have your purse with you." It's an excellent explanation, considering the fact that she doesn't want to launch into just -why- she doesn't want Heidi anywhere near Mount Sinai. After everything she doubts she can handle the news that one of the most prestigious hospitals in the area seem to be involved with nasty, shady business.

Heidi looks tired. She was surprised she hasn't asked to take a nap. But when she mentions the floor? Elena shakes her head vehemently. "No. -No-, Heidi," she says, putting her foot down in the way that seemed almost out of place for someone so young. "You're sleeping on my bed. And I'll let you borrow some of my clothes." Thank goodness Heidi was petite, not to mention she has a lot of oversized things if she wants something baggier and more comfortable. She'll even tell Heidi the story on how Papa got her a bunch of oversized things the first year she decided to wear hip-hugging jeans. It nearly gave him a heart attack.

"Come on," she says. "Let's get you some rest, huh?" She'll bring the orange juice with her so Heidi will have something to drink once she wakes up.

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