2007-05-05: Seeing Red


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Almost immediately after Jessica rearranges Enlightenment Cass and Peter wake up.

May 5th, 2007:

Seeing Red

Enlightenment Books

The office has been turned upside down while Cass laid on her side unconsious. A few feet away from her, there's a lot of blood… and bits. Like someone decided to slaughter an animal right against the wall and didn't bother to clean up the pieces of organs that fell out. And not only that, they're crushed, possibly even stepped on. The blood is also on the wall, while the door to the main part of the bookstore is flung open, and looks a little cracked upon close inspection. It's the blood that might be the most horrifying. There's heel prints, and a hint of a drip trail out through the back door, leading down the alley way to the garbage can, which has been closed.

The process that Cass goes through into wakefulness is slow and a little painful. Being choked and tossed to the floor does not exactly play well for a good waking up. Her eyes flutter open and she starts to push herself up from her lying position, a hand gently raising to her throat, sore and red from Jessica's iron grip. It takes a very short time for her to realize that something bad has happened in this back room. Turning her head, she takes in the mess of her store and, worse than that, the blood and the organs and bits strewn about and stomped on. Immediately she feels both faint and nauseous from the smell and the sight. Nausea wins out in the end and she quickly hauls herself over to the garbage can where she vomits until there's nothing left in her stomach. She stays there for a moment, weak before she shoves herself to a standing position. She's got to think this over. Figure out what happened. None of this is obviously her own, as she's all intact. What /happened/ here? Stumbling backward, she leans against one of the walls not covered in blood.

As soon as he's conscious again, and able to move, Peter pushes up the top of the large garbage can. It thuds against the wall, and nearly falls on him again as he gets up and practically falls out. He's still in the process of healing, blood flowing from the torn holes in his stomach, dripping down his front and soaking his pants. His shirt is ripped, torn, like something punched through into his stomach. Leaning against the edge of the metal can, he groans loudly, reaching down as if to make sure he's intact. He'll be intact in a minute. Right now his body is trying to remember where all his parts are supposed to go.

Back inside of the store, Cass is trying to get a grip on herself. She's seen hands regrown, she's seen people shot, she should be able to handle body parts strewn across the floor and blood on the walls. However, this is somehow even more of a perversion because it's happening in /her/ store. Not to mention she has no idea what happened here and who's…parts these are. Her vision swims as she tries to piece everything together. It's not just the violence, it's how /much/ violence must have been present to do something like this. Noticing the bloody drips trailing off on the ground, she decides that following it may lead to some answers. As much as she would not like to find out. Slowly and carefully, she makes her way toward the back door.

As she starts to the backdoor, Peter's pushing himself up to his feet, still bleeding heavily from the wounds. Sure, his body is creating new blood to allow him to keep going, and fixing his organs, but that doesn't mean his face isn't stark white as he starts to force himself over to the wall, and toward the door. Supported mostly by a bloody hand smearing against the wall, he's leaning against the wall next to the door when she comes out, trying to catch his breath, coughing against the blood still swimming the the lung that she collapsed when slamming hin against the wall. The blood on his pants and shirt aren't the only blood he has. His face is also bloody, as if his nose was broken, or as if he coughed up blood. Some of it has smeared a bit, but his eyes are wide and open, if pained, and the blood on his face just makes his skin look paler.

As soon as she sees Peter, Cass can guess whose blood and organs those were inside of her store. "Oh my God." Rushing forward, she moves to both support Peter and hug him. It's kind of a mixture of both, but she's gentle in the hugging. She's just so relieved that he's alive and that the Niki look-a-like didn't actually rip him apart beyond repairing. "Peter, oh my God. What /happened/?" She forsakes asking if he's alright, because he's obviously not. "There's….it's all over the back room…" her voice cracks a little. "I didn't know what to think."

There's a groan of pain, even if she's gentle in the hugging, but Peter leans into it a bit more than he might if he were steady on his feet. It's going to take a short time for him to fully recover from this, it would seem… "Niki— or Jessica. Called herself Jessica," he explains, giving his head a small shake and trying to clear his mind. "She's really strong… knew she was strong… didn't know she could do that." From the way he's sound, he's almost delerious. He'd mentioned getting super strength at one point, though he'd left out who he got it from. And he'd known Niki before— it might not be hard to put things together. "Are you okay? I tried to get to you— to make sure you were okay. You were just laying there…"

"Sorry!" Cass is quite apologetic as she moves to steer Peter back into the back room. It would do them no good to have someone stumble upon them like this back here. Plus, he needs to sit down and she can start washing him off inside. "…Jessica?" That name is new to her. "No…I'm fine. I'll be fine. She…whoever she was came into the store. We were talking about Mendez paintings when she just grabbed me. I passed out." His reveal of knowing about what Niki/Jessica could do is not missed, but there are more important things to take care of before getting names and powers straight. "Come on. Sit down. You need some time to regenerate."

"Lucky you just passed out," Peter coughs, still with some fresh blood coming out of his mouth, as well as still from his stomach. At least most of his organs are back in place, and he's not going into shock anymore. He'd been shaking a little before he gets sat down. "I'm bleeding everywhere— didn't know— thought someone broke in again— unlocked your front door and— saw someone in the back— the phone was busy, off the hook. I didn't know— I'm sorry." His head leans back, eyes closing. "Thought someone might have come— from the Company— to get that list— if Alyssa keeps it here…" Which that would have been a dangerous situation. "Isaac's paints? Why would she be asking about them?" He doesn't quite understand, in fact he's actually pretty delerious. Understandable, though.

"Yeah." Frowning, Cass gently lowers Peter into a chair. By now she's gotten blood on her clothes, but she doesn't seem to mind or even notice. "I'm so sorry this happened to you while trying to help me. There's nothing for /you/ to be sorry about." Quickly, she heads to the employee bathroom, gets a roll of paper towels and soaks some of them with water. Kneeling down in front of him, she reaches out to slowly and gently start wiping the worst of the blood from him. "I don't think she still keeps it here. If she did, it would have been sprinkler ruined, anyway." Since it used to be kept underneath the register. "I don't know. But she found out about the one I had in the front. She said she was in one of them. Who /was/ that? She answered to Niki…but…that wasn't Niki."

By the time she gets back with towels, Peter's already starting to look better. Sitting up more, less blood dripping from his lip when he breaths, or spilling from his stomach when he moves. The pain isn't gone, from the way he speaks, but at least he's not quite as broken or bloody. "You— you had a Mendez? Here? Really?" How did he not notice that? Would someone be coming after the paintings? He hadn't seen one, honestly, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there… He /does/ remember when Simone brought him to Isaac's place just after they figured out some of his paintings, they'd all been gone… and weeks later, after he came out of his coma, he'd been back, painting again, and working for the Company. "Not sure who it was— but she had Niki's ability," he says, looking up cautiously. Before he'd avoided telling her this, but now it's important. "She said I was slow— and— when I saw Niki again, after Kirby Plaza… she was falling out of a building. An apartment complex. I caught her and— she wanted to go back to where she fell, she didn't seem to know where she was— how she got there— who she'd been there— or how she fell. And Jessica… said that I went back to her crime scene. There'd been blood everywhere— and she'd had blood on her hands too. The news never reported on it." He's trying to figure this out, all the while looking pale, but helping her clean him off, even if it means removing his ruined jacket and shirt.

Gently, Cass dabs at the blood still dripping from his lips and wipes it off his chest and arms once he pulls off his ruined jacket and shirt. She's sympathetically wincing at all the damage that's been done to him. "It was in the store for years," she explains. "It's how I found out about abilities. Jack found out I had one and called Hiro Nakamura. They told me about the painting and how it could be dangerous if someone in the know saw it. So I took it down. Hid it." Frowning, she looks over at the bookshelf that's tossed down. "It was right behind that bookshelf." That's something she's going to have to look for in much further detail later, but right now Peter is what she really wants to fix. "Her strength?" That's certainly something she noticed when she was being choked and lifted off the floor like she weighed nothing. "She…I was in a tunnel when something exploded and gunfire happened. She was….like that, then, too. Cold. Aggressive." Not Niki. "When I talked to Niki about it, she didn't seem to know what happened, then, either." Hm. Curious.

"Yeah— it seemed so… different. Like it— like there was someone else in her body," Peter says, realizing how crazy it sounds. Realistically crazy, sure, but still crazy. He's sure there's a book in this store on possession and multiple personalities. Or was until the sprinkliers came on and ruined everything up front. "Guess— you should never mention— my painting to anyone." He hasn't shown anyone since he chanced showing Elle… the day before she got mindwiped. He hasn't shown her again, and may never actually do it now. "Only people you trust. They'd probably take that too." When he'd shown it to Elle, she made sounds as if to take it to the Company. Which is why he can't do it again, even if he believes her priorities might be with him. The wound on his stomach has finally healed over while she wipes away the blood, and only his breathing is a bit hoarse for a time. No more blood drips down from his mouth, and he might be almost completly healed. Some bruising and smaller cuts are the last things to go.

"That's just what I was thinking." Cass nods, tossing the bloody paper towel into the trash and ripping off another one. This one she keeps dry and starts to dry him off. It's a weird thought, Niki having a split personality, but it kind of fits. "I haven't told anyone else about it. I…don't want anyone to know about it. I feel like the more people know, the more true it becomes." A weird philosophy, but she can't help it. "It's not a matter of trust…just…" There's no way she can really put what she wants to say into words. It's just too disturbing for her to show to anyone else. It's something she would just like to hide away. Hopefully that's conveyed through her paper towel drying and not saying anything. She waits a moment, brooding on that topic. But when she speaks, that's not what she talks about. Instead, she says, "Thank you. For trying to rescue me."

"She saved me, you know… in Kirby Plaza. Sylar was hitting me with a parking meter and she took it away from him, beat him with it. Then I borrowed her strength to hit him a few times." Sure, that's when he lost control and started going nuclear, but to him /she helped him, saved him even/. Peter can't help but feel indebted to all of them. "Seen her before that, in a dream. She helped me. Didn't know who I was, but she /helped me/… Whatever that woman is— whatever Jessica is… Niki's still a good person." And even if he's going to be cautious around the other one, he still feels as if he owes the one who came to his rescue— even if he already rescued her once. "Understand not wanting to show anyone. Haven't even shown Elena," he admits, as if she'd be the first person he would have shown. And she probably is. "…seems like I'm the one who needed rescuing," he murmurs, shirt in tatters around the stomach, jacket bloody. Even his pants are soaked through. "Guess now I owe you for the cleaning bill…" And how is she going to explain this to the police? Maybe better if she doesn't… "At least I didn't have to break anything to get inside. Do you want me to call anyone?"

"She saved me, too." They both have their 'Niki saved me' stories, strangely enough. Cass smiles and washes the last of the blood off of Peter and dries it off. "There was a bank robbery. She tossed the robber yelling at me into a wall." She drops that last paper towel into the trash and sighs. "Niki /is/ a good person. I know she is. She worked for me until just today when this…Jessica? told me she quit." It's unclear if Niki would still have a job after her alterego strangled Cass and trashed the back room. "I'm glad. I don't want her to worry. She's got enough on her plate." No need to add the possibility of Cass' death to that. "No, you don't owe me anything, honestly, Peter." Fondly, but only as a friend might do, she moves to put a hand on his cheek. "You keep coming to my rescue. I can't ask you to foot the bill for that. If anyone seems to need someone coming to their aid all the time, it's me." As much as she hates to admit that. "It's okay. I'll call Lachlan to help clean up." She's the only one she can think of who wouldn't quite freak out over the thought of cleaning all of this up. Other than maybe Jack. "I'm sorry I don't have a change of clothes for you or something."

The cheek touching isn't taken as anything except friendly and even possibly family-like. Peter considers her a close friend and mentor, and true, he's grown to care for her deeply, but it's nothing beyond that. "Maybe I should take a part time job here. If you need any help. Until Mr. Cain's ready to hire, at least. Elena's told me about him and his business ventures— thought I might be able to get in with him, but nothing says I can't do a little work here on the side. Know I could use the money." He's recently spent quite a bit on his girlfriend, and he needs to pay back his mom eventually. And his brother… and not to mention he just owes her. He's starting to move to stand, picking up his coat, which he puts back on, holding the tattered remains of his shirt in hand. He's not going to be able to walk back to his apartment… "I can probably make it back invisible. It should be okay. Do you want me to wait until Lachlan shows up?" He's hesitant to leave her here alone, but it looks like he'd still like to get home, showered, change… and he probably should call /his/ girlfriend too.

It's good that Peter doesn't take it as anything more than it is, because while Cass really cares about Peter it doesn't go beyond in a friend-like way. "I'd like that. Since I, uh, seem to have a job opening." She's not sure what will happen if/when Niki returns. "I'm certainly going to need some help organizing and putting everything back once my book shipment gets in." Sighing, she looks almost through the wall to where the door has a crack again. "And a new door." Again. This store just keeps on taking a beating. "No, you should get home. I'll lock all the doors while waiting. I'll be okay. Just….be careful." Though he's powerful, he's also trying to regenerate being torn apart.

"I'll call you tomorrow… ask for what hours you want me to work. I'll drop of a resume for your paper work, too," Peter says, looking down at his hands. Yeah, he's going to need a shower. There's no way he'll be able to explain this away if Elle sees him. "You be careful. Stay on the phone with him if he has a cellphone," he adds, trying to think of ways to make /her/ safer. He's not so much worried about himself. Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out a cellphone, which he's getting smeared with some blood— it's not even had time to dry yet, really. And as he takes a step, he starts to fade out of visibility, turning transparent, and then disappearing all together. She'll hear him walk out the door, and then might catch the beginnings of a phone number being dialed.

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