2008-03-03: Set Yourself Apart


Peter_icon.gif McAlister_icon.gif

Summary: The DJ and the tarnished Hero finally meet, and a wallet is returned. Remarkably, nobody gets punched.

March 3, 2008

Set Yourself Apart

It's early afternoon when the phone - the one listed on those myriad of wallet-cards - gets a call. The number's a new york cell.

It takes a few rings, perhaps due to being in a pocket, and looking at the number trying to recognize it, before Peter answers the phone, "Hello?"

"Hey." It may take a few words, but that voice is a distinctive one, Ali's low alto somewhat hesitant. "Peter, right?" She doesn't pause long - "You somewhere near Central Park?"

"…McAlister," Peter responds, recognizing the voice. Maybe he's a radio fan? Or really good with voices and names. There's a hesitant pause. "Yeah, pretty close." Within a minute, no matter where he is.

"Alyssa. Ali." There's an intake of breath, the - "Meet me over by the Lenon memorial? I got your wallet." Simple enough.

"You do?" Peter says, sounding rather surprised. It isn't an accusation right now. He might have given up hope that he'd ever see it again. "I can be there pretty fast." Pause. "Thanks…"

"Yeah, well, it's my fault it's missing, so - it's only fair I give it back, right? I'll be there in .. what. Ten minutes? Lemme get a coat." There's a long pause (in which rustling, and a the banging of at least one cabinet can be heard) - then, "Bring coffee, or the pic on your driver's liscense gets it." Wry, even with a snort, but.. right after, that line goes dead.

It wasn't her fault… she didn't make him turn into a puddleman! But… Peter does respond, "I'll be there. With coffee." No vandalism of his face, please.

Strawberry Fields, Central Park:

It's not too long at all, the length of waiting in line at a coffee place he knows of (street side), and then a short walk, before he gets to the memorial. With two coffees in hand.

Strawberry fields is a cold, cold place in early March. But - there's an Ali there, the blonde bundled up in a heavier jacket … and wearing those awful glasses. Again. oi.

But she's pacing, in front of the Imagine stone, blowing into her hands and doing her best to keep some semblance of warmth.

The coffee is piping hot at least. Peter approaches her, recognizing the glasses more than anything else, and holding out the coffee. "You didn't say what kind," he adds, showing that he'd chosen to get one of the easiest orders to make. Just an espresso. Nothing fancy or extra flavored. "Thank you… you didn't have to return my wallet…" He seems to be mildly uncomfortable. Maybe due to the cold. Possibly due to… well… she looked rather angry at him before he turned into a puddle.

"Yeah, I did." Ali actually seems surprised at the coffee - and what /was/ a rather tiredly serious expression softens, just a bit. "Uh.. thanks. I was sort of kidding, but.." Not that she doesn't take it. "Yeah. Thanks." Already, she's fishing in her coat pocket.

"I picked it up, I should give it back. Fair, right? I looked in it enough to find a card." She offers the thing once she's gotten it loose from her pocket. "I was half-tempted to throw the damn thing away, if you wanna know the truth."

Taking the wallet, Peter can't really check it with one hand holding a steaming coffee, so he just shoves it into his pocket. Maybe he trusts that she didn't steal his cash, since she bothered to give it back at all. "I noticed that you… didn't respond well to my name," he chances, a hint of a question in his voice.

"Yeah, well. You beat the hell out of my roomate." That's flat, Ali shrugging slightly. "A couple of friends I have are scared to death of you. Couple of other friends like you… Elle for one. I haven't decided what end of that seesaw I'm standin' on, but, yeah. If you'd held still I would have hit you." She looks down, before saying that. Not at him. "Woulda beat the alternative." Those eyes snap back up, Ali raising her chin, almost defensive. "I'm meaner than Erin is, though." That's almost a warning.

What… Peter seems rather confused at first, but as she continues, his expression drops. He might have been about to ask her who her roommate was, and why the people she knows are afraid of him, but… Then she says the woman's name and… he takes a step back. There's a sickened look to him for a moment, tension around his eyes. "I didn't… I didn't mean to hurt her," he says, shaking his head. He doesn't deny that he did, but… There's another step back. "I'm sorry. Thank you for… returning my wallet." Erin's roommate… He doesn't disappear, but he does keep putting some distance between them.

"Hold it." Ali eyes him - there's no force in it, but she does take a step or two after him. "'cause you and me, before you go? We need to talk. About something /else/. See - I know what you do. I've been.. told. By people. And that means I have to ask you something."

As she says to hold it, Peter stops moving away. He's avoiding eye contact for the moment, before he looks back at her and nods. "All right…" He has some questions of his own based on what she just said, but he doesn't ask them. Instead he holds the coffee close. The steam warms his face some, but he doesn't drink it yet.

"THe little girl - you did what she can do." Ali's oddly blunt, there. "She wants to meet you, at some point - I think seeing that made her feel just a little less alone, you know?" She glances down at that coffee, then back up. "So how's it work? Doing.. whatever it is you do. Because - right now? I need to know if I can trust you - and I have no idea how I'm supposed to do that." She takes a breath. "So help me out here."

Less alone. Peter's tension softens for a moment, though the guilt hasn't gone away. "I guess that's one good thing about my ability…" No one has to be completely alone with their power if they get to know him. "I don't— I couldn't do that until the other day," he explains softly, letting eye contact drop. "I don't… it was her ability. I absorbed it." He's explained this enough, just not to her. "Copied it. I can use abilities of people I've met. But I can't always control it." There's a pause. "That's what happened with Erin. I… lost control of… something."

"So anybody you meet?" Ali's head tilts - and she nods. "I'd avoid gettin' anywhere near her. She doesn't have a lot of control, and pissed enough? You might discover what coughing up a lung really looks like." It's somehow resigned - thoughtful - and she goes back to that original thought, moving the few steps it takes to get to the stone, to settle to sit on it, just next to the 'I'. "So …. if I could do something, you probably could do whatever it is, too, right now? And chances are you won't mean to do it?"

There's a visible grimace. Peter glances away again. He knows she's not telling him that he can't go to see her. He'd been avoiding it on his own long enough. But… there's a hint in his eyes when he looks back at her that shows he might not be listening anyway. Her question is easy enough to answer. "I didn't mean to turn into a puddle. Or set a napkin on fire and burn my hand." But with hers… he knows hers. He'd used an ability very similar for a while… "I'll try not to."

"You will. I try not to, and do half the time anyway." Ali smiles, tiredly, setting the coffee aside. "Tell me you're a good guy, Peter? I want to believe that - because I don't think I'm up to stopping you, if you're not. But I'll try. 'cause.. what I can do scares the crap out of me, and if you have it? That's my responsibility - and that scares me even more. And I don't even know if I should /tell/ you, if it means you won't figure out how to use it.. but this other part of me says if I don't, you'll end up doing something as bad as I've done by accident, and you may not stop things in time. So you tell me - what would you do?"

"I mean - you're the guy that flattened my roomate on one hand, and that Cass thinks hangs the moon on the other. So I'm a little torn, here."

That's a tough question. Peter knows he's done terrible things, and he can't claim to be a saint. Especially not now. "I'm trying to be a good person. I want to help people." It's genuine, but there's a saddness in his voice. There will never be a way to get forgiveness for what he's done, however… "I know what you can do, Ali," he finally says. "I don't know exactly how it works… but if you want to tell me something… if it will make you feel better about me… You can do anything that you want. I can't take back the things I've done, but I can try to control what I do from now on." And he has been.

Ali blinks at him. "You.. what?" That derails her. Utterly. ".. I." Oddly enough, she goes a bit pale - that's a sudden fear, pure and simple. "How did you know? I don't.. somebody told you?" The 'oh-god-who-else-knows- underlying that may be obvious. But even as she worries, she dismisses the second half out of hand. "no. I don't do that. Not like that. Not anymore." She even drinks from that coffee - looking somewhat haunted.

"You know my sister-in-law," Peter says, forgetting for the moment that he could be using past tense in public, but it's fine to use it with her, he's sure. "Heidi Petrelli," he explains, hoping that she remembers the woman who knew of her ability. That wasn't the only way he'd heard of it, either. "And I… I was dating Elle when the two of you knew each other. We'd not met, though."

And he knew you in the future.

"… mmph. And .. your nephew, I guess. How's his arm?" Ali mirrors guilt there, for a moment, clearing her throat. "Yeah. I forgot about that - " She steadies herself, takes another sip of coffee, then nods. "Sometimes, you take a leap of faith, right?"

Ali mulls things over for a moment - then looks up to study this fellow in front of her. "So I guess I'm not going to tell you that you can fly from the top of the empire state." That comes with a lopsided smile. "One day, you're gonna have to talk to Erin. She's gonna be pissed I didn't slug you."

Funny… he would've survived that if she had told him to. Peter nods, though. "He's fine. His arm healed fast enough he could still swim before summer had ended." Thanks to his abilities. There's a pause that follows, he takes a long drink from his coffee before he says in a whispered and serious tone, "I know I need to go see her… and if you want to punch me, you can. I deserve it."

"I don't kick puppies." Ali shrugs, then, "If you were being a prick about it, I'd have kept your wallet, you know? But if anybody gets to punch you, it's her. So.. what. You and Elle broke up?" No, she doesn't know - but she does seem mildly startled. "She was seriously into you. I wouldn't have guessed it."

"I'd have hate to spilled my two dollar coffee anyway," Peter says with a hint of a smile. It's grateful that she's not going to hit him, while not denying he still deserves it, and will probably get it someday soon. "What happened with me and Elle… it's a long story. I'll let Elle explain it to you." Jane could as well. It's one of those insane situations and he's not sure she'd believe him. "We're friends, though."

Ali grins at him. Abruptly. "Good. She's a really neat chick - I don't know what I would have done if she hadn't … kinda put things in perspective, early on." The woman reaches up to adjust those glasses - "You know, dodgin' stuff you do wrong never helps. You want Erin's phone number?" She pauses, then adds - "I know a way you can get on her good side - or at least get her to listen. If you're interested."

There's a pause. Putting it off is something he's been doing, and she's calling him on it. So Peter moves a little closer again, "Yeah… having her number would help. I'm sure I can find her if I need to, but. A number would help. And whatever advice you have."

"See if you can help her figure out how to fix the trees." Ali pulls that bag of hers around, fishing in it. "None of us are innocent, you know." She shrugs, "Everybody does the best they can - you're like her, that way. Thing is - sometimes things don't work out the way you intend, right? The question that sets people apart is what you do when it doesn't." Which may explain a great deal, perhaps, about her future self.

Ali tugs a card out of that bag, a pen - applying the latter to the former to scratch out a phone number before offering it up. (The front, it might be noted, has hers - along with the WYRK logo.) "See, now I'm preachin'. You're in trouble, Jude."

The trees. Fix the… When Peter realizes what she means is pretty obvious. His head tilts back, and he closes his eyes for a moment. "No… sometimes things don't work the way you intended." Speaking from experience. What happened with Erin hadn't gone how he wanted it to at all. That's something he knows. The trees… it makes sense now. He'd just figured it had been like other things in the past. Tree Viruses happen. He takes the card and puts it away into his pocket. "You're a wise woman, Ali," he says, meaning it. "Thank you."

"Nope. I'm not - but thanks for tellin' me that." Ali smiles, ruefully, and goes to stand. "You're welcome, for what it's worth. Just.. don't make me regret anything here? 'cause now you're my fault, you know?"

"Anything I do from now on… won't be your fault," Peter says, that hint of a smile tugging on one corner of his mouth again. Even with that, he still looks serious. "It'll be my own." He's not the type to toss blame at anyone else right now. It's not the situation that calls for it. Not anymore. "But I'll try not to let you down." Or himself. Or anyone else. And with that… he glances around. There's no one really in sight. Handy. Cause he just vanishes a moment later. It saves him finding a taxi and walking in the cold. And probably explains how he got there so fast.

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