2007-08-12: DF: Pinky Swear

Starring:

DFElena_icon.gif DFPeter_icon.gif

Summary: Someone got drunk. There's fighting and physical contact and promises made. And shirtless Peter for an entire scene.

Dark Future Date: August 12th, 2009

Pinky Swear


Peter's Room — Phoenix Rising Towers

Early morning. Some people don't sleep after the meeting. Peter's one of them. His reason for not sleeping is a little different than most, probably. There's a bottle of whiskey he's getting to know really well. Even after his ice ran out and melted away entirely, he kept drinking, little by little, until finally he had enough "courage" (or stupidity) to get out of the room he was assigned and stop by Elena's room. Unfortunately, she never answered his knock.

After a few minutes of waiting, he opened the door, pulled something out of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bag, and walks over to set it down on her empty bed. She must be training, or doing something else entirely. But she's definitely not sleeping. Probably cleaning up after the other him's mess.

He'd been about to leave, when he catches sight of a notepad and a pen on a desk. Not interested in reading any notes she might have, though he doubts she'd leave them unlocked if they were important, he just grabs a blank sheet and writes a short note on it.

This is for everything that I missed between then and now. - Peter

Folding it up, he sticks it into the top of the jewelry box, peeking out enough that the note is obvious.

With that done, he disappears out of the room and goes back to where he belongs, to work on finishing that bottle.

—-

It was August 12th, around 4:00 in the morning when Elena returns, having quietly said goodnight to Eric before returning to her room. Rain-drenched from the outside, upon entering warmer confines, she strips off her jacket and drapes it at the back of the chair of her desk. Rubbing her hand on her face, she pauses, catching sight of something that wasn't there before when she left. She slides her fingers away from her face, and stares at the music box left behind.

Even without the note, she knew who it came from. Yet another something from her past invading her present. Only one person gave her those things. In fact, it was because of him that she had a collection to begin with, kept with a pile of mementos in a box under her bed, waiting to be forgotten but never were.

The yellow pad paper is sticking out from it. She almost didn't want to read it. Digging her fingers through her hair in frustration, she hesitates, and snaps the paper up in her hand to read the note.

Well, at least it wasn't a love letter.

She closes her eyes, sinking down on the chair next to her desk. Her elbow propped on the desk, she buries her face in her hand, that welling sense of frustration back and in full force. But she doesn't cry, no matter how frustrated she is. It's been a very long time since she's had. Her free hand inches forward, again the hesitation, the pause, and then flips the top of the elaborately engraved, beautiful object on her desk. The little chimes start to play. Chopin's Nocturne.

How the hell can she talk to him when she can't even look at him right now? Megan Deatley's pictures dance mockingly in her subconscious. With a grunt, she shoves off the chair, and goes to the bathroom in her suite. She needs a hot bath. And some sleep.

She'll talk to him later.

* * *

Three hours later and she still can't sleep.

She sits up the bed, hurling her pillow across the room in a sudden fit of anger. "Sonuvabitch," she growls under her breath, both hands pressing onto her face to rub frustratedly on it. Kicking off the covers, she reaches over and pulls on a shirt, the wide neck leaving one shoulder bare that she tugs at…but gives up on. She yanks on a pair of pajama bottoms, and heads out the door.

When she finally makes it to Peter's room, she knocks on it. She's got a glass of water, and a box of aspirin. She will forcefeed him the pills if she has to. Part of her was angry he'd drink at a time like this.

—-

No, not a love letter. Could have been. But wasn't. Simple and important as it is— everything that he missed out on between then and now—

Just the fact that she knows he's drinking shows how well she knows him. Of course, Peter had fetched a bottle of something stronger than beer when they last saw each other, but he hadn't actually started drinking on it until after she stopped looking at him and then left. She is right, though.

At least it doesn't reak the moment she gets to the room that he'd been assigned. Which at least means he didn't fetch a second bottle, or a third. Just the one. However, it lays on the floor, empty. Sitting against the bed, he's dozed off a few times in the last hours, until he hears the knock.

There's a sound, before he pushes himself to his feet and wobbles over, fumbling briefly at the door until he manages to turn the knob as he needed to. His appearance is much the same as it'd been in the meeting, only more ruffled in his hair, small curls twirling under against his forehead, and thicker forming stubble. And minus the shirt. It's discarded a small distance away. Holding the door open, he looks at her, blinking a little, as if not totally sure it's her that he's seeing. Quite possible he's not sure.

Even if the room didn't smell like alcohol, he does. It's heavy in his system, slowing down his mental responses, lowering his reflexes, dehydrating him, and likely hoping to give him one hell of a hang over tomorrow. "Elena…" he murmurs after a long while.

The really, really sad part? There's a cellphone on the floor near the bottle, flipped open. It's not glowing, though, battery possibly dead, and it wouldn't have worked in this time anyway, but he must have forgotten that.

—-

The urge to deck him was overwhelming. Elena shuts her eyes for a moment, slowly counting to ten. Hence while he stands there looking at her, her eyes are closed and keeping her breathing even. And when it's done, when she finally opens them to look at him, her lips press in a displeased line. She examines him, the state he was in, the tousled hair and the unshaven face, and tells him the first words she's got in her head.

"You're hopeless," she tells him bluntly. This is followed by two items pushed towards him, the box of aspirin, and the glass of water.

"Drink those, or I'll make you." It wasn't a request. She's not above getting a funnel from the kitchen, especially with the frustrated way she was looking at him. Her jaw is set, a muscle tensing slightly where the curve of her jaw meets her slender neck.

With a slow, deliberate exhale, she points a finger for him to go back in his room. When he does that, she follows, closing the door behind her. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" she demands. "I know you're upset over the state of everything but drinking yourself to a stupor is a little counterproductive right now. I know you can probably kill the headache in the morning, but….God, Peter. You're a grown man. I know you don't really need taking care of but someone ought to tell you that the bottle is never a good idea if you're in a situation where you need all your braincells!"

She could feel her temper rising. She takes a deep, calming breath. She doesn't say anything for a while before she really lays onto him. Finally, she speaks up again. "Look, I know things aren't exactly alright between us but no matter what…..it looks like I am trying to help you. Like the way I always have. If you don't like the fact that I will get upset with you on occasion, you need to suck it up and understand that this entire situation." She sweeps a hand to the side. "Isn't exactly easy for me just as it's not exactly easy for you. But I'm willing to look past that for the sake of everyone else you left behind to do this and everyone else who is suffering here. If you have an issue with me, talk to me, no matter what the hell I say. Let me take a breath, take the time to be in the other side of the room, but confront me."

She rests her hand on the side of her face, and breathes out. After a while, she lifts her eyes to look at him again. "You didn't have to get me anything."

—-

"Yeah, guess I am," Peter mutters almost bittery at her first words. There's definitely a look of hope drained from his eyes even when he processes who was there. Seeing Elena might have been a relief— and hearing her voice helps a lot in clearing his head— there's a reason he kept trying to call her. The first time he did this, when he called just to hear her message on the voicemail, he felt so much better— the time when he kissed her, though, it hadn't worked as well. Maybe he just didn't want to become sober that time at all.

The glass of water and the aspirin aren't pushed away, but he doesn't down them immediately. Only when she closes the door and starts her angry speech does he take a drink, and the pills, and at the same time turns to move away from her. There's very little in his room. A few clothes— that are all black or white and fitted rather well for him— he hasn't admited to anyone they were a gift from his "wife", along with the long trench coat that hangs against the wall. All clothes belonging to the man that she now hates, a man he may end up becoming.

"You told me not to!" he finally shoots back, yelling at her hoarsely. "You said Don't, so I didn't. You had things to handle, so I let you. You wouldn't even look at me!" Yes, it's not the best way to handle things, but at least he's not telling her to go on and live her own life again?

"I don't know what I'm doing, Elena. I don't know how to fix this— I don't know how find out what I need to find out— and I don't even know if I can get back!" That's not easy to admit, but there it is. He puts down the glass of water, half empty at the moment, and sits down on the edge of the bed, a bed he didn't even sleep in. The time traveller's head drops into his hands as he leans forward. tension showing on his shoulders. "I've never time travelled before. Hiro was supposed to get us back, and— he hasn't responded to anything. I don't understand Japanese, so I don't even know what he left on the only message I got. What if I go to the wrong time? What if— what if I can't— do this?" What if he lets her down? Lets everyone down?

And worse… "I just wanted to… do something for you…" And instead he told her something that made her draw away from him. Again.

—-

She did? There is a pause. She doesn't even remember - Elena had been so angry at the time she couldn't even process what she told Ali or him at the time. But she's not about to concede the point, she was too irritated. "First, it doesn't change the fact that this," she kicks up the bottle on the floor a little bit with her bare foot. "Isn't exactly conducive to you fixing things." Her gaze bores holes into his face. "Second, do you remember the last time you let me walk away from you angry?"

She hates herself a little bit for bringing up that day, but she couldn't help it. A pit forms somewhere in her stomach. Hasn't he learned by now? Or did he just forget in his liquored-up state? She didn't know anymore. By all rights, if she was smart, she should just turn on her heel and walk away and leave him to wallow in his misery. But he needed help, and part of her recognized that there was no way he could've anticipated this.

His own frustration about his current mission flies out of him. She crosses her arms over her chest and glowers at him as he yells at her hoarsely. Thank goodness the rooms were soundproofed, from what Prime told her with a waggle of his brows anyway. Otherwise they'd be waking up the entire headquarters and her Saints needed their sleep. Her temper only rises at each word he tells her. "Why the hell did you come here, then? If you don't know how to do anything? What the hell were you thinking then? 'When I get there, I'll wing it?' " she shoots back at him. "This is Time Travel. Your purpose is to change what happened. Did you seriously think all the answers were just going to be here for you to pluck off like weeds?? You had to have anticipated that not only was this going to be not easy, this may be the hardest thing you'd ever do in your life!" And it is, in a way. It's been difficult for him since he got here. But that was the cookie he decided to chew. She continues to glare at him….but it tapers off after a few minutes. "You have to keep moving forward, Peter. No matter how bad it looks. Otherwise this would've all have been for nothing." She looks away, narrowing her eyes at the far wall. "Besides. It's not like you don't have any support. If it's Hiro you need to find we'll help you."

She shakes her head. "I know it's easier said than done," she begins in a calmer voice. "But it doesn't change the fact that it's gotta be. You're not going to get anything done if you let your doubts overwhelm you. You're not going to get anything done if you turn to this…" She takes the bottle. "Every time things get hard." She tosses it in the trash.

When he sits down on the edge of the bed and buries his head in his hands, and when he says his last, she falls silent. She doesn't say anything for a few, long moments as she lets his words fade into the air and as he tries to hide his frustration. Footsteps take her up closer, and then, she turns around. He'd feel the cushion depress next to him. And while she doesn't sit too close, at least, not the way she had two years ago, it's a companionable distance.

Her hand stretches out, fingertips resting gently on his shoulder. "Here," she says softly, and she turns a little fully to face him, her other arm stretching forward. The invitation is there, and if he takes it, she'll wrap her arms around him loosely, fingers cradling the back of his head.

"…but I swear to God if you cry I'm gonna smother you with a pillow," she says in warning, grumbling.

—-

Bringing up that day is harsh. There's a flinch and he looks away from her. There's really no argument that he can make that would work. It's even a very recent memory for him, and one that Peter regrets quite a bit. But that— that had been the reason he left her the music box. He'd intended to wait until a proper time to give it to her, once he had it he could hold onto it for a while. This— somehow— became the proper time. But he doesn't say that. The flinch is all she gets— followed by some boiling frustration when she yells back at him.

"What the hell are any of us doing, Elena!? Do you think this whole saving the world comes with some kind of instruction manual? Do you think you can plan everything? You can't. It doesn't work like that. I took a chance and I hoped it would work— I was supposed to have Hiro with me— he's done this before." It hadn't been like he took it completely on chance alone. Even if— well— he might have tried to do it anyway even without the Japanese man. It's just not very likely. "And I know I'm not doing this alone, but everyone I trust and count on…" His brother shot and killed him. Cass is captured. Mara, who he does like, just not quite the way she might want him to, doesn't want him to change anything because it will mean they won't fall in love. Heidi— is probably in one of those camps. And her…

"And Sylar," he adds softly, once her hand's on him, and the invitation is given. He leans forward, pressing his forehead against her shoulder, and eyes closing. No tears this time, no wracking sobs, he just leans there and breaths against her. Her shoulder's bare, because he just happened to pick the one her shirt hangs off of.

"I spent a few days looking for one," he says softly, not really talking about the same subject, not arguing anymore, at least. It's starting to drain out of him, the fight. "The music box— wanted to give it to you when things slowed down— but I— couldn't find you. So I left it in your room." It's true, he didn't look much beyond her room. He didn't even go to the training area, which would have been his first guess of where she was— but he did try to see her after she stormed off angerly. And when he couldn't… he left her that, and a note. Because that's what it was meant to be. A gift to make up for all the times in between.

—-

"Well he's not around," Elena returns sourly. "So you're going to have to make do with what you've got for a while until we find him." The next step. Another way to do things. While she was aware that changing the current time didn't exactly come with an instruction manual, the very least he could do, in her opinion, was at the very least try something else other than sit there and wait for Hiro's communiques.

But when the fight drains out of him, the tension on her shoulders leaves. Her spine relaxes, and once he buries his head against her shoulder, she fixes her stare at the far wall, hearing what he says but not responding as of yet. She tries to ignore how he's breathing against her skin - she smelled clean, plain ol' Ivory soap and some generic brand of shampoo.

When he mentions Sylar, her expression grows somewhat stony, though he can't see it. The lie, the giant lie, is called back up to the fore. But to her credit, she doesn't say anything. At least not yet. Not about that anyway. "I was visiting…. a few people I used to know," is all she says, giving an explanation as to where she was. "I go when I can." She doesn't address the few days of him trying to find the gift, or his desire to not give it to her until after things settled down a bit. He knew how busy she was. He was trying to be considerate.

But he didn't have to. What purpose did that serve? Reminding her of how—

"Thank you," is said simply. "It's beautiful. Chopin's Nocturne, Opus 9, number 2, if I remember correctly. I don't listen to much classical anymore, but the more famous pieces, I can still call up." Her thumb finds the pressure point at the base of his skull, and she presses the digit there, gently. "How's your head? You ought to get some sleep."

—-

Well, in his defense, Peter has been trying other things than just waiting for Hiro. He's found out a lot of little things, but not a lot of actual details on the important things. People who had bad things happen to them, but no one seems to know exactly what caused the war, exactly who'd been behind it, or who caused the tornados. Clues, but nothing definite. Maybe McAlister can come back from her research with something solid— but he didn't have access to the internet— not safe access, and the libraries he knew were all destroyed or closed, and he has no ID. There's obstacles.

But he has lots of personal messages. And a partially complete Wonder Woman movie on DVD.

Why did he do it? Simple… but he might as well say that outloud sometime. If she ever asks. "It was a coincidence," he murmurs. "Or fate— or destiny— either way. I looked for a couple days, why trying to find information and avoid Homeland… and found nothing— but then I remembered that Ms. Cain extended an invitation and I asked some people…" Flock, probably. "Where she could be found and… I went to see her. Asked her if she knew where I could find one— she'd bought it off an illegal market the same day. Just that morning."

Fate and destiny seemed to follow them, even now. He'd even said something similar to Eric. If Eric hadn't come back from Norway when he did… he might be far more tempted to stay. At least since he knows she'll have him around…

"Haven't been sleeping well here," he admits, reaching up to rub his head. "You being here helps." That's actually two seperate things being responded to, which he adds on after a moment, "With my head. It's— you make things clearer…" Her ability as much as her presence.

—-

"Destiny…" Elena repeats quietly, though she doesn't say anything else. There was a time they both agreed on that, but now she was so busy she didn't have the time to actually reflect on it. Gone were the days where she could just flop on the grass in the middle of NYU's quad, fold her arms behind her head, look up the sky and think. It felt like a different life, like she had been incarnated to here from that past soul.

The mention of Candy causes the stony expression from Sylar's mention to soften. She can't help but close her eyes. Candy. There was something there that she isn't saying…how could she? She couldn't tell the other Saints, how could she justify telling someone who wasn't one? No matter how things have been between them in the past. Her past. It doesn't last long though, the determined expression returns, once she opens her eyes.

"Nobody sleeps well here. Except maybe your… the President," she remarks, her voice grim. "After all, he's the only one around who doesn't look tired in any goddamned way. But I try, at the very least. I take sleeping pills if I have to, or use my power on myself. I work till the wee hours, I know I need my mental acumen up. Besides. My abilities are mental based, if I don't take care of my head, my control goes. And you know how disastrous that is."

It would be painful, or deadly. Both is a possibility, just wipe out an entire radius of the city with people falling on the ground, twitching and frothing in the mouth. The other alternatives weren't better. She still remembers the nightclub, the first instance she actually lost control of her powers and almost turned it into more of a meatmarket than it already was. And when he visited her, when it hit him. When he almost took her on the floor of her father's house.

"I thought it'd be the other way around," is what she says, when he tells her she makes things clearer for him. Her hands move away, resting on his shoulders so she could push him out slightly so she could look him right in the eye. "No more drinking," she tells him seriously. "Are we clear?"

—-

"It's not just— I've been having nightmares," Peter tries to explain, not sure if she'll understand this or not. But she's seen them once. She broke into his apartment after one of them, actually. This time, though… "Can't remember any of them. Just— the feelings. Wakes me up after a few hours, no matter how tired I am…" Or how much he needs the sleep. He's been opporating on a lot less sleep than he probably should the last two weeks— has it really been too weeks? And there's really very little he can do about it— the dreams may not be entirely natural.

"Yeah— I know— you have to keep your head clear as possible…" Or else she'll influence people in ways she may not want to, like the night club, like him… even if he'd…

When she pushes him up enough, his eyes open, looking up at her, luckily no tears. She won't need to smother him with a pillow. There is, however, another look in his eyes, one that makes him glance away after a moment. At first it may be mistaken for shame, since he murmurs a soft, "Yeah… no more." But then when he looks back— that wasn't shame. It's something much deeper, and less negative. "You don't mind… that I got you another one… do you? To make up for— I'd planned to get you one for Christmas and… Valentine's Day— and you're 20th birthday…" There'd been plans, he had ideas. "Eventually I was going to get you things to put in them too— jewelry— earrings— rings— bracelets…" There's a hint of a head shake. "I know— it's…" Silly. Overextravegent. Especially if she looked at how much musical boxes of any quality cost.

"Don't know if you even kept the others." Just the first two, he's guessing. The one for visiting him while he was in the coma, helping him get out of it, and the second as a safe trip and… first kind of date. Which brings up another thought. Okay, maybe his brain is still fuzzy, he's rambling. "I'd thought about going to Spain. Until we… until…" The fight. "I wanted to go— even if it wasn't… even if I wasn't invited." He just would have had to find out where, what they were doing, and find a way to convienantly be in the same place. He'd really thought about it that night.

—-

He's rambling. Elena stares at him even with her hands still on his shoulders. It's a position that's quite perfect for shaking him back to reality. Well, this reality anyway. She remembers the expression on his face. It's not negative in any way. In the deepest recesses of her memories, she knew what it was, and she bites back the urge to run away. Again. God. Why did he have to make everything so…difficult? She knew he knew he shouldn't be telling her this, she was a completely different person! ….or well, not entirely different.

"Peter," she says, sighing quietly. "This was two years ago. Two years ago for me. You don't have to make anything up." But that was the way he was, and part of her wanted to shake him in frustration. He didn't need to do anything. "You don't need to give me anything to show me how much you regretted….still regret….whatever, the point is it was enough that you told me. I was never…" Things didn't matter all that much to her. She had been raised poor. She was used to not having a lot. "And back then I would've….I don't know. Locked you under an arm and gave you a noogie for spoiling me. You don't have to get me so many things just to let me know that you…" Love me. Even now saying the world was difficult. "I already know. Well. Now anyway. And it's not like I don't appreciate it either, I did. I do. And I know you can get pretty damned old fashioned with the entire showering the girl with presents sort of thing, but even if you just got me one thing or nothing every year, I still would've…"

Oh god. She lets go of his shoulders, pressing her hands to her face to bury another sigh there. And then, he brings up Spain. She takes her hand off her face and gives him a glance.

"Well," she tells him frankly. "Pretty glad that didn't happen. I mean, things were still a little bit in limbo between us then. You suddenly popping up in Madrid while I was there with a bunch of my coworkers and friends because you followed me in would've probably made me nervous. Like I said…I never anticipated ever in my life that I'd affect anyone so strongly, let alone a few people. Too much too fast would've been…" She pauses, and looks away. "You know what happens when things go too fast." So not looking at his face. She'll know what she means.

After a few moments, she moves to stand up from the edge of the bed, turning sideways to look over at him. "You know you can probably use my ability to put you to sleep. Drag you in so deep your dreams would hopefully be dreamless. You have dozens of special talents, you should use them to make your life easier while you're here. It's good practice. The point is to prepare you, yeah?"

—-

"It's not making it up really…" Peter says softly, though he's not quite looking at her at this point. There's so much he could try to explain, but this… She already knows. And old fashioned as he is— that's not… "I don't belong here," he explains softly, looking off towards the coat for a moment. He doesn't even technically own the clothes he's wearing— well, even if all he's wearing is a loose fitting pair of black jeans. The only thing with him that's his are his watch and his phone— and his wallet, which he still has, even if it has little use here— just like the phone. The watch is it, a rather nice watch at that.

"I don't know how much I can help— how long I can stay— or how much I can offer here. Don't just want to… take what I need from all of you and leave." He's trying to stop this future, but he's not going to assume this one will just cease to exist. It might become completely unreachable to him, but it'd still be here, wouldn't it? It's the baby girl that he held the few days after he got here that made him hope that this place would still somehow exist— which is why— "I want to be able to leave something behind. Even if it's just one or two memories— or a sentimental music box…" It's also why he offered to help Cass, while he'll continue to offer— even if people want him to leave, stay out of the way.

How things happen when things go too fast. There was that one time, in her father's house— when things almost went too fast. It hadn't been bad, even if she avoided him, and regretted it— he'd tried to tell her not to the night before the fight when she stormed out and he failed to chase after her. "You were a little… blind to the effect you had on people— still have on them." But… she stands up and talks about practice, preperation. He has been practicing and preparing, but since his dreams might well be a power, one he has no real control over, how can he avoid them even with another ability? He can try. "Survival isn't everything, Elena," he speaks up softly, moving to stand, planting his hands on his knees before he does. "Living is something else entirely." Survival is defined as not dying, more or less. Whatever means necessary. Living…

"That's what I wanted to give you. Can't give you anything else, just a chance to… do more than survive. Even if it's just something pretty— with a song, from someone who… loves you." Loved? Nope, still present tense. "This is all I have— right here, right now— and I'll have to leave…"

—-

"No you don't," Elena agrees softly, at the comment of him belonging here. "There are so many things you can prevent. So many people you could save. Truth be told, in a way, it was a relief to….be reminded of what you once were. Like I said, how we hold onto Hope these days is pretty tenuous. I know the pressure can't be easy on you. But…if you're going to keep moving on with this enterprise, you're going to have to adapt."

He comments on her effect on pepople back then, or still do. Elena's not blind to it now, in fact she takes advantage of it rather ruthlessly if she had to. But he isn't telling her anything she doesn't know already. Surving isn't the same as living. "I know." She rocks back on her heels a bit. "What's the point of living if you can't feel alive, right?" she poses rhetorically. "I dispense that to everyone else, I just don't take my own advice. It's hypocritical, but it's difficult for me to do so, not when there's so much to do. Not when so many people depend on the fruits of what I do every day." He saw it in the meeting. Jack depended on her. Ramon said the role suited her, and it suited her because she was the way she was at present. She wasn't going to let her nuncle down, or her Saints.

"One day I will," she continues. "It's just not as easy for me as others. Too much is on the line." At the last, when he tells her, she can't help but feel her features soften. The stubborn expression vanishes into something else entirely. She knew that already, the way he looked at her even now. It really was, however, different to hear it.

"You were always so kind," she tells him softly. Her lashes lower partway over her eyes, turning around so she could start walking for the door. Resting a hand on it, she pauses.

"I still have them. The other ones you gave me." Her eyes fix on the door. "I stashed them in a box, under my bed. Along with a few other pieces." Pictures of the Evosoft gang in Spain, Ramon and Dezi's wedding. A picture of Eric twirling her around in Barcelona on the beach. She even had the robot puppy Gene made for her in there, when she told him he couldn't have a dog just yet. There was also the scarf Eric loaned her when it got cold, on the way home from school. And there were plenty of trinkets from Jaden - when he was still known as Jaden - including the pirate hat with the Mickey Mouse ears. A picture of the Den with everybody in it during Jack's birthday after his recovery, a picture of him giving Trina a big, sloppy kiss. And a CD, with a video on it dated 2007.

"In a way I put it where it is in hopes I'd forget eventually. But…I know very well that I don't want to. How things were. It's good to remember how happy we all were. Once in a while." She touches the doorknob, and twists it. "If it was just….guns and bullets and all the other crap all the time, there'd be no reason to keep on going the way we are." She opens the door.

"Goodnight."

—-

There's a growing sad look in his eyes as she talks about the advice that she doesn't have the time to take for herself. Peter understands it— the desire to live and fight for others so that they can live and still live… but it leaves little else for her. The worst part is— he knows every single one of the Saints would probably want to see her happy, see her sound, see her live just as much as they want to live on their own. That's who she is— a bright shining ray of light that inspires and moves people— something almost untouchable. Something that can't quite be returned.

Kind or not— it's her confession of the items she keeps under the bed that forces him to draw adeep breath, and then— moments after, he's moving forward. She's saying goodnight, and he's reaching over her shoulder to grab the door and push it closed. She's not leaving yet. Not yet…

The other arm wraps around her, pulling her against his chest as he presses his face into her hair. "You're still there," he murmurs softly, actually sounding relieved, not just trying to make a point. "And you're right— without that— without— sunshine from before— this place wouldn't be tolerable…" They'd be miserable. They might not survive at all. "That's what you always were for me— before— this. Sunshine." The nickname he gave her, yet didn't dare say. Not to her. Not unless it could be dismissed as a joke.

"Made everything brighter— happier— warm— loved— made it easier to see things I might've missed— helped me see how much you believed in me…" Those things are all important to him, something he didn't get often. But then… "I wish… I could be that for you… here." But the him he became can't be. Due to their growing apart, due to the lie, but the one trying to hold her against his chest… "Even if it's only… temporary." Candy said it would make it worth the good bye. He only hopes that someone agrees with that.

—-

Oh god.

What was he doing?

Elena gapes at the door when it's suddenly shoved shut. She wasn't gripping the knob all securely, so it's a little surprising when it just flies out of her hand and the door latches, trapping her with her ghost. She whirls around, the protest is in her mouth. She needs to sleep. HE needs to sleep. She had a big day tomorrow, and she doesn't know how much of this she could take without railing at him at how frustrated she was that he was back. When she had so much to do and didn't have time to dwell on shoulda-woulda-couldas. But whatever she has to say, it's muffled by his shoulder, dragged towards him with his face in her hair and those quiet, whispered tones.

There's a flash of white light before her eyes. The deja vu was so startling it almost knocks her lungs right out of her ribcage. After he showed her the painting with Cass, he latched onto her before she did anything drastic. Said similar things. Her body stiffens, she isn't used to this anymore unless it came from Jack or her father or her brother. The first instinct she has these days when she's in someone's arms is to resist, unless she instigated the contact.

God, just when the hell did she start becoming a bundle of nerves? But she had a good reason this time. This can't happen again!

"P…Peter, let go," she says hoarsely, trying to quell down a rising panic. "Let…"

And then he starts talking. She closes her eyes, and takes a breath. Her body relaxes after, even as he finishes what he has to say. Her hand reaches up to gently grip the back of his shirt with her fingers. To her credit, she didn't lose it. She didn't lose to her frustration. Chalk one up to willpower. "I'm…" She hesitates. "I'm not made of glass, Peter. I'll be fine. The last person you ought to be worrying the state of is me. I know you do it out of…regard for me. But believe me when I say that despite everything I'm doing okay. It could be much worse. Much MUCH worse."

She eases back, so she could look at his face."I also know you can't help it." She can't stop a small, rueful smile. "Wanting to do the things you're saying. But you have to trust me. I'm not…believe me throwing your words back at you is not my intent. I just want to let you know that no matter what happens, I'll be okay. Just…help me out a little on occasion. It's all I ask."

—-

No shirt to grip. Peter hasn't been wearing a shirt since she entered, and he didn't bother to put one on, either. But that doesn't mean she can't grab at his shoulder blades a little. Continuing to hold her, despite being told to let her go, he waits until she gives her response before he gives her that. Letting go— that's what caused a lot of this problem. Letting her go. Not that he would force it if she continues to speak hoarsely, or if she actually sounded panicked.

Moving back so that they can see each other, he still keeps his arms around her for a while. "I know you can take care of yourself, Elena— but you're not just taking care of yourself." There's something quiet in his tone, he's not sure how to explain it. "You're spending all your energy taking care of— of the Saints— and everyone else— that you're not paying attention to what you might need at the same time…" And she thinks of it as duty, which he can't really blame her for. He'd asked her once to let him take care of her sometimes. And when he lets go of her, lowering one of his hands to take one of hers. He could do something more— but he just takes her hand.

"While I'm here— anything you want help with— you can come to me for. If that's all you ask… then all I ask is that you… tell me when you need it… or want it." Saying he'll be there is easy— but sometimes the only way he'll know is if she comes to him. "And I won't drink anymore," he adds, before he squeezes her hand gently, and then lets go, backing away a few steps.

—-

When he finally eases away, Elena leans back against the door, only for him to take her hand. Different words are used today, but the sentiment is still the same. She knows how much she pushes herself, she isn't blind - she's been told that she does on numerous occasions, and a bunch of people certainly can't be wrong. It had been a far cry from a time when people barely told her that at all, and he had been one of the only few. Again she couldn't help but remember. It was a miracle she could still look him in the face. But he wouldn't be denied, and given he was so fresh from his own regret two years ago, he was just….more…PERSISTENT than she remembered.

She sighs, lifting her free hand to absently rub the back of her neck. "I know," she tells him. There is a pause, and she can't help but shake her head. "Heh. It's a little strange hearing all of that all over again. I mean I still remember it of course but…you know." She gestures absently to the side. "This is happening live. It's not just some flashback or anything."

She hesitates, but she squeezes his hand back eventually. "I promise," is said simply. "What I want or need, I'll tell you." He lets go then, her own fingers sliding away, but before they disentangle completely, her pinky finger hooks delicately against his, and she lifts both hands up so he could see. Pinky swear. It was childish and something a teenager would do. But while they were being nostalgic, she uses it to seal the promise, a corner of her mouth slightly lifted.

When he promises not to drink again, she…actually laughs, letting go and quirking a brow at him. "I'll hold you to that," she says, reaching for the door and opening it. "So you better not break it. And I'll endeavor not to break mine." Searching his face, her smile turns more genuine. "Goodnight. For real this time." With that, she pivots on her heel, and slips out the door, letting it fall shut behind her.

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