2008-06-02: Rock Of Gibraltar


Kory_icon.gif FuturePeter_icon.gif

Summary: Whether he has his abilities or not, at least one person's faith holds steady. Too bad it isn't his.

Date It Happened: June 2nd, 2008

Rock of Gibraltar

Kory's Apartment

Kory got out of the shower and got into immediate breakfast mode, because Peter had been asleep for a good bit of the time since she'd brought him back to her place. It's almost second nature to nudge his dreams into calmness. She doesn't go for outright pleasant dreams, because his subconscious seems to reject them as too good. The eggs, pile of pancakes, stack of sausage, tower of toast, jar of jam, and mountain of margarine are ready, and then she realizes she can't feel his mind. He's awake. While she was focusing on breakfast, he woke up and didn't say a word!

She taps on the guest room door gently. "Peter? You…you up?" When there's no answer after a minute, she taps again and opens the door. And …he's gone.

The first fifteen seconds after that realization are frantic with worry. He's in no condition to be taking off! He was barely able to stand! What does he think he's doing?! Is he okay? Fifteen minutes later, Kory's a bit calmer. A bit. Because now she's annoyed with him for leaving without so much as a word. Like he doesn't knwo her well enough to know she'd worry?! "Augh. Men," she sulks. She shakes her head and puts the leftovers away, then goes to sort out her day, rather than worrying about it.

There's quite a few issues with suddenly being powerless. For one, teleporting and walking through walls are out of the question. Which means when Peter finally make sit back to the right floor, he's forced to do something he very rarely has done in the last few years. Knock.

It's a mild knock. Not loud, not soft, but something almost hesitant in the way the second one comes after a long pause, before the third follows in a more natural way. Don't tell anyone he'd stood there for a few minutes before doing that much. The good news of the situation— he's standing just fine, looks fairly well rested, if a little winded from all the walking.

Kory answers the door, now fully dressed, and somewhere between worried and angry. It shows, as everything does when she's not concentrating otherwise, right on her face. "Oh. Hi. Fingers broken?" she asks airily, stepping back to let him in.

"What— ?" Peter says, as the door opens to let him in, a confused ridge to his forehead as he glances down at his hands. There's hints of dirt on his hands, but no swelling or anything to indicate broken fingers. And from the way he's seriously considering his hands, he's not even understanding this could be going somewhere else. "I think I would know if they were."

"Well, that's good, Peter, that you'r fingers aren't broken. But, if your fingers aren't broken what stopped you from calling or leaving a note, then?" Kory gives Peter her best Big, Shiny Innocent Eyes. There's a slight, bewildered tilt of her head to go along with it. This was probably deadly when she was small; but it's still a pretty powerful effect even now.

From the slow inhale when he looks up, it does have some kind of effect on him. Peter glances away after a moment, toward the door he just entered that he closed behind him. "Sorry," he admits quietly, a soft tone to his usually raspy voice, which has actually gotten deeper again since this started. "I'm not really used to doing that anymore— even before I came here." Taking the weight of the whole world onto his shoulders meant he often forgot little things like common courtesy. "I just went for a walk to Central Park. I wasn't planning to be gone long. But it's a longer walk than I remembered." Considering he used to not have to walk. "Was hoping my abilities would come back now that I'm rested. They— probably just need a few more days…"

The innocent face drops away as Peter speaks, expression going mildly irritated, then neutral, then concerned. "Your abilities haven't returned? And you were out — alone — with no one knowing where you are?" She flops down onto the sofa. "Okay, it sounds like you're going to have to learn to deal like a normal person until they come back." Because Kory is an eternal optimist, and besides, it's bad emotionally to embrace the worst case scenario. Isn't that why Peter gave her the list? Why he told her to keep her soul bright? So the future would be bright rather than dark…?

"I'll be fine," Peter repeats the token words again, though he's unable to meet her eyes as he does it. Not only did he go for a simple walk in the park, but he ran into someone from Pinehearst when he did it. Sure he ran into one of the ones who doesn't know him well enough yet to want him dead, but it'd still been a risk. All she had to do was grab him and drag him back to his father… "I'll leave a note next time," he says, moving a few steps away to get deeper into the room. "Or give you a phone call before I go out."

"I have a key you can use until you get your abilities back," Kory says, tossing it at him. It's on a Secret Lair keychain. "But do me one favor besides using the key?"

Coordination might have been part of his abilities, cause the keychain slips through fingers. Peter bends down to pick it up, turning his eyes back to her. "What?"

And Kory springs right up out of the sofa, clearing the distance between them in a quick flurry of bare footsteps. When he looks back up, she's right in his face. "Quit treating me like a mushroom, Peter," she says. "You don't need to keep me in the dark and feed me shit all day. I'm your friend and I care about you, which means, since I'm speaking a little too metaphorically for you today — Stop. Lying. To. Me." Her eyes are brightly ablaze with emotion. "You know I of all people wouldn't hurt you for anything in the world. You of all people should know you can trust me. You trusted me with the future, didn't you?"

There's a startled step back as he's suddenly getting yelled at. Tension tightens in his shoulders, in the way he holds his head, but he also looks rather surprised at the same time. That she'd be taken this far away from… "This doesn't have anything to do with trusting you or not, Kory," Peter says, closing his eyes a bit as he pushes the keys into his pocket. "I need to… What truth do you want here? I don't know if I'm going to be fine. I don't know if I'll get my abilities back today, or tomorrow, or next month. I do not know. So what part of this is a lie?"

There's a pause as he pulls back another few steps, as much as he can without practically plastering himself against a wall at least. "Just because you lost your ability once doesn't make you an expert on what this is like. You walk through dreams… I could do anything. You don't know— "

Kory didn't actually yell. She's impassioned, but she's not raising her voice. "'I'll be fine' when you won't meet my eyes," she points out. "That's a lie, hmm?" And she holds her position, rather than chasing him toward a wall, because that isn't what she's after. "Just because I lost my ability doesn't mean that I'm comparing my situation to yours. I'm reminding you that without your powers, you don't need your walls. You need your friends. You need support. More than you've ever needed it before."

"Ever think it might have been shame?" Peter says, shaking his head, more or less unable to meet her eyes still even now. It could be deception, since it is practiced, but a deception in an attempt to cover up something much simplier… "I don't know how to feel about this. I hate that I— I'm useless. I can't help you. I can't do anything. I always relied on people close to me, but this… I can't do anything. Even the fact that the… the hunger is gone doesn't make it all better. Cause everything else went with it. Everything that I could do to…" He shakes his head. "I'll leave you a note," he repeats again, even though he'd already said it.

Kory does close the distance between them now, though, and catches his face in her hands, gently. As if he were fragile like glass. "What do you have to be ashamed about, Peter?" she asks, shaking her head. "You try so hard to be hard like diamond, but under it all — you're the same Peter I've known for the past few months. I came to see that after getting to know you." She ducks down rather than lifting his face to make him look, so she can look up at him. "You're not useless. You walked through time itself to come back and try to make a better world for the people you care about." She gazes up at him. "It's okay for you to rest a little. Maybe this is the universe's way of telling you to take five…so to speak. You've passed the torch, and we're running the relay. It's okay to catch your breath."

"There's so much I need to do— so much I still need to fix," Peter says, shaking his head as he finally moves to find a seat to drop into, pressing hands against scarred forehead. "I'm not the same," he finally says, looking up at her. "My— your ability makes it so you don't have to sleep near as much as another person… Now imagine a thousand other effects to your body, to normal function— The ticking clock— the constant need to know and understand, to a point I couldn't control it— to the point I ripped someone's head open to better understand what I needed to know. I could feel your emotions, all the time. Your heartbeat, your blood, the amount of fluid in your body— I was aware of everything, I could control almost everything. It got to the point that… I couldn't pay attention to one thing unless I blocked out everything else. Like trying to isolate a single voice in a crowd— in a dance club, next to the speakers." She's a DJ. She understands that much. "I'm not the same person you've known these past few months— because so much of who I … I don't know how to rest, because everything I was… doesn't know how."

Kory settles beside Peter on the sofa, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "You knew once. Before all that. Before the hunger." She shakes her head slowly, putting that concern aside. "You can learn again. If your abilities don't come back. Mine did. Yours might. But for the moment, living in the moment is what you have. So you have to make the most of each moment you have." She strokes his hair gently with the other hand. "You've spent so long controlling so much that it's like — freefall — now that there's no way for you to control anything. I know it must be frightening. But the thing is — you're not alone. I'm here for you. I've been there for you whenever you've needed me. You know I won't abandon you. You know I believe in you."

"You mother asked me, you know. How much I believed in you. How strong was my faith." She turns Peter's face toward her so he can see the sincerity shining in her eyes when she continues. "I told her my faith is Gibraltar. And it still is."

"I didn't deserve that," Peter says, shaking his head as he looks down, that shame he mentioned pretty clear there on his face, even as he grits his teeth and tries to hide it when he leans back in the chair. Hiding behind simple lies is so much easier than showing how much he hates who he became. There's a long pause before he shifts to reach into his pocket. "I was going to give this to…" … To Niki. But he doesn't finish that part, before he holds a hand out. There's something the size of his hand in gold. A large pocket watch. "I can't even figure out how to read it anymore."

"Stop. Stop saying that," Kory says gently. It's not an accursation; it's more of a plea. "The Peter I know has always done everything he's done because he can't stand the idea of pain and suffering coming to anyone. Friends, strangers, anyone. And I know that's true of you too. You wouldn't have thrown yourself into the timestream, risked tearing a new timeline, if you didn't believe you were doing the best thing by the people who matter most." She knows there's self-hate there. But all she can do is remind him of the heart that drove him to bad things for good reasons. She glances down at the watch, regarding it silently for a long moment before she returns her gaze to his face. "Then set it on your nightstand and leave it there until you decide what you do want to do with it. But please. Don't agonize. Don't punish and abuse yourself anymore. Even this —" Her fingers stroke the scar gently, "Your lack of ability comes from trying to help your brother. You always sacrifice until it hurts you. No one could give more than you have. You've set the wheels in motion. You can relax as we steer from here, okay?" She is still spinning in her thoughts the ideas he's given her. About control. And what it must've felt like. And how hollow and dull and painful it must be to feel things like an ordinary man again. But all she can do is offer him an anchor by way of reminding him she's there for him.

The way she touches his face, his scar, makes Peter reach up and take her hand, pulling it away, but also keeping it close at the same time. There's rough stubble on his cheek and chin, which she feels as he presses the back of her hand against him. "I wanted it to stop," he finally says softly, looking off to the side of her when he does. His eyes are narrowed slightly, as if he's not completely sure on what he's saying. A confused sound to his voice. "I said it, I'm sure— I wanted it to end. I wanted to be able to rest. But this isn't… It's not what I meant. It's not what I wanted."

Kory lets him take her hand without resistance or protest. He always touches her back when he's actually starting to let his barriers down. "The world doesn't give us what we want in the way we hope or expect it," is all she can ofer him there. "But now you have a little downtime." And no way back to the world he left. Perhaps he never meant to go back. "And as long as it lasts, you're welcome here. And if you need me for anything, and it's in my power to help, you have only to ask. I care about you." It began for the sake of the Peter locked up in Level 5; but this Peter, so angry and hurting, so lost and alone — a shadowed echo of the man she knows — he needs a friend as much as the missing one does.

"But I'll let you be. I was just concerned, and I'm sorry if I was a little too…too intense…saying so. I've lost too many people already who matter to me, and — well, I'm just not ready to lose anyone else just yet. Selfish, maybe. But it's the truth." She gives him a reserved little half-smile as she drifts her fingers away from his grasp and stands up. "There's food in the fridge if you're hungry."

Never intended to go back. Downtime is the last thing he really wanted, it's something he's unsure how to deal with. And it isn't the first time people have tried to get him to take some. Peter whispers something under his breath, but as close as she is, even pulling her hand away and standing up, she can hear it enough. "You're going to lose me no matter what." Not a lie. That had always been the plan. He left her, he left all of them. And he wanted to disappear along with the world he's trying to keep from happening. "I'll get something to eat," he says, pushing himself up to his feet to stuff the pocket watch away again and head toward the kitchen. Something to eat, followed by more sleep. There's very little else he can manage to do these days.

"I know," Kory says, quietly, now the one who can't meet his eyes. "But that doesn't mean I am going to help you rush that moment along." She remembers their earlier conversation, about his existence winking out like a snuffed candle when the timeline realigns itself. "Or let you rush it along." Because all it would take is one wrong person finding out he's as normal as the other 99% of the world, and Pinehearst would have an advantage they wouldn't hesitate to press. Not that Kory would mention that to him. Guilt already weighs so heavily on him it's a wonder he can stand. "I'll be in the living room if you need me." She glances at him one more time before turning to pad up the hallway.

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