2007-08-07: DF: The Eleventh Hour


DFElena_icon.gif Eric_icon.gif DFPeter_icon.gif

Summary: With Jack's authorization, Eric, Elena, and Peter take the Battle Shell to Bat Country to see if they could find any clues as to Cass Aldric's whereabouts. Peter uses his precognitive abilities while Eric and Elena search the place for select items to take back with them. After waking, Peter and Elena have a long overdue chat.

Dark Future Date: August 7, 2009

The Eleventh Hour

Bat Country Labs, Somewhere in New York

When the Battle Shell reaches Bat Country Labs, it was around 11:00 in the evening of the 7th. The joy and adrenaline from the oreo caper being a success has now gone dry. Elena has let Eric take the wheel, sitting shotgun and her eyes focused on the passing, dim lights of the city. There was a certain, tense energy in the air. She could feel it. Her fingers twitched, aching to do something. She clenched a fist to keep them steady.

When the Battle Shell arrives in its destination, it is dark, and quiet. The Bat Country Labs was half standing, and half collapsed. Everything is dark, and debris was everywhere. The front of the place was completely devastated. Whoever came and took Cass had absolutely no qualms going through the front, with heavy firepower. And they didn't care who saw. The only people who did that these days were those in position of authority, those with some form of immunity.

Something strikes her, a realization. "Eric stop the truck," she says, suddenly unclipping her seatbelt and opens the door when the truck slows. Hitching her wireless, Bluetooth communicator, she twists around her seat, and hands one of the devices to Peter. "Put that on your ear after you press the button. Blue light should be winking," she says. And with that, she hops off the truck.

She lands lightly on the concrete, and walks a few paces up, she squints at the dark. What she sees might be something bad, or at least not something she's not pleased with, because she suddenly pulls out one of her favored Desert Eagles from the thigh holsters strapped around her legs. "Bodies," she patches through her communicator. "There are none. Either HS actually bothered to clean up this time or someone else got here before us."

Right— communicators. Peter's definitely not a high tech kind of guy, but he understands the concept of a bluetooth, at least. There's a hesitation before he puts it on, mostly the hesitation is in what she's going to do when he does. Immediately hopping out of the vehicle, just as he expected. There's a hint of a curse under his breath, as he moves to get ready to follow. Does she always do this? Probably. But it's not something he's really used to, yet. No bodies is a good thing! It means no one died. Or that's what the optimistic side would like to say— but yeah, he's not completely naive.

"How long has it been? Cass— when I stopped in here— there were a lot of people— and— is this secure to talk over?" Because he got shot once for not saying the right thing, and shot three more times for saying way too much. And she has a gun in her hand, so… Caution. He has it.

But he's also fully intending on getting out of the Battle Shell and hop out on the ground behind her. Unarmed himself, but he doesn't really need weapons, does he? He just doesn't want her to be out there by herself. And he doubts that Eric will be allowing it for long either. They are protective guys.

Eric stops the truck easily enough, killing the engine. He frowns slightly as his eyes rake across the scene of the combat. "…no subtlty at all," He murmurs with a frown. "…hot. Heavy, they didn't even see it coming." He adds as he opens the door, sliding out with his bike helment in one hand. He's grabbed his armored jacked at well, never hurts to be too careful, and slides the thing on as he glances around.

A pause as he concentrates, and suddenly Elena should be able too see quite well in the gathering darkness. His own eyes silvering over before he frowns. "…no bodies, but obvious signs of a firefight. I don't like this at all." He murmurs softly to himself before sliding the helment over his head.

A moment as the eletronics warm up, and then the intercom kicks in, as well as the visual sensors and targeting system. "…I'll do a thermal scan…" He adds after a moment as he switches to that vision mode on the helment and starts to glance around the area, trying to pick out any signs of heat beyond the three of them.

"It is. Gene saw to that - he developed the technology for these using Eric and Prime's concept." Elena looks over at Peter. "Remember when Evosoft developed a Bluetooth billboard? It recognizes the signal from a cellphone at random, from someone in range, it cross references it with other things the person's browsed with it and tags on his browing history. Web pages he's looked up. Interests. Then the billboard matches it up with an ad for a sponsor that deals with the same line of interest. The concept is the same, except each signal emitted matches up and links only with those with a special signature coded into other Saint communicators in range. Keeps us in the loop, and keeps others out."

She blinks when she can suddenly see in the dark. She looks at Eric gratefully. "Thanks," she murmurs. "Now we don't have to alert rubberneckers with little spots of light in the dark. Peter, you've absorbed Eric's powers, you can probably see in the dark too if you concentrate."

The thermal scan shows…absolutely nothing. Elena closes her eyes, and uses her Ping once in range. She looks over both men and shakes her head. "No one in there's alive," she tells them, and then she keeps moving forward, gun in hand, striding quickly up where the Agency barrelled in.

There's a lot of information, but Peter gets the message for the first. The line is secure. He can talk over it without worrying about giving anything too dire away— and getting shot by his friends for it. They're both so business centered that he's not sure how much he can offer other than… trying to keep up. It isn't until she mentions the other man's powers that he glances back, winces a little at the silver eyes, and then… tries to consentrate. What emotion does he associate with Eric? Oh right— that actually isn't difficult to pull up right now, considering the situation…

Pretty fast, he can see a hell of a lot better. "Thanks— I— honestly didn't know I'd even gotten your abilities," he admits, glancing around in the darkness with much better precision. Not that he's got quite the same things to utilize as they do. But at least he can see. He won't trip and fall over a stray rock— or he hopes he won't. He's not Cass.

"Maybe the people Cass were working with cleaned it up— there were a lot of people when I came here— and they might've— I dunno— maybe they went to inform more than just you? Maybe the— guys who went to tell you had a rougher time of it." Many people. Lots of weapons. He can't help but think they could've gotten people out— and it's wishful thinking. Either way, he's right behind her, now seeing a little in the dark, thanks to a certain feeling that — yeah. Not his favorite feeling ever. But it lets him see in the dark right now.

"Negitive on thermal," Eric's voice is quiet over the link. He pauses a moment and grins slightly, impossible to see behind the helment. "…I remember when you did. Didn't realise it myself then…but you got half ta room dark." When he was bing jelous of him about Elena. Imagine that. Go figure.

"…no, if it was the people at Cass' place they would have contacted us already," Eric says with a soft growl. He's still rather paranoid. "…after they got eveyone out." Which he is hoping they managed to do. Picking his way closer to the door he reaches into his jacket and pulls out one of his pistols, holding it loosely in his hand as he sweeps left and right around the room.

"Not with Jones as de facto contact point now that Cass is gone," Elena says with a hint of unreadable something in her voice. The Saints' second-in-command had mixed feelings about Lee, but she didn't doubt his dedication to what he was doing. If she didn't, the Saints would've broken away from the Alliance a long time ago. Still as much as she hated to admit it, they needed each other. Sometimes they needed weapons, armed support, but they refused to stoop to crime to do it. The Saints, being the only ones around willing to get extremely dirty with what they did, acquired that at the expense of their bodies - and the Alliance had some of the best doctors around as affiliates, at least, from what few Cass had told her before. Not to mention both groups have a back door channel in case one group's detainees needs protection from the other group when things got too hot.

"They've had a security breach. They trusted that we'd know about Cass. They already did us a favor and cleaned up the bodies of the Flock members that died here. I trust them to treat them properly. They aren't going to tell us more than they have to." She sweeps her gun around once she steps over a mountain of debris. She has a sinking feeling the place is empty.


She swallows a lump in her throat, her jaw setting. "With the place cleaned out there's no way to know whether Lachlan and Abby are here too. I'll have to contact Daphne, see if she can spare us a dog with instructions to go find him if he can be found. He wasn't given access to the new base. We haven't had a chance to talk to them as to where we moved."

Even if the place is empty, it doesn't mean Lachlan and the kid were here— Peter has a feeling there'd have been bodies of dogs from all over if that were the case— but they could've all been cleaned up too. He continues behind them, looking back at Eric as he describes an incident when he turned the room dark. "Oh— I'll have to be careful about that in the future…" At least now he knows, and he has an idea exactly what triggers it. That's the first part of controlling an ability— figuring out the trigger. It's hard not to feel it around the two of them. It's a wonder he hasn't shut off the lights since he saw them together the first time.

Moving on into the debris, he uses his hands for balance when he needs to, before he glances down at the hand and… "You brought me along so I could get visions, right? I might be able to find out what happened— so it'll be okay— it's not a wasted effort." Keep hope— that's the most he can offer, as well as… "I can try to see if Lachlan and Abby are okay— but I can't promise I'll find where they are— but getting those visions might need to come first…" It might make him pass out for extended times, but he's actually better at it. It actually happens most of the time when he wants it to. The way to find out if they're alive— that's one that only works about one out of fifty tries…

Eric's helmented head bobs towards Elena. He'll agree with her on the matter of the Alliance. She has more experiance with them than he does. "…such wonderful allies," He murmurs towards her with a trace of irony in his voice. The blank faced helm glances at Peter there, and the other man can almost hear the grin. "…you mean the past?"

His balance among the debris is excelent, crouching low as he moves smoothly into the ruined building. Hes frowning now behind the mask before he nods. "…I'd vote for trying Peter. Though you need to be careful, this was a clinic at one time…and there has been a hell of a fight here." Don't let stuff bleed over man. Or at least try not too. "…I can keep watch if you two want to try…"

"If you hadn't trained on that power much, I'd be really careful about using it, Peter," Elena says, looking at him seriously. The expression retains some of its old gentleness, now that Peter's being proactive about everything. She probably would've been mad if he exhibited some form of weakness now, but she had to keep reminding herself that she knew this Peter. She loved him once. There was a time when she could look at him and know what he was thinking, feeling. She knew the desire to find Cass and make sure her baby was safe was overriding everything else. "If you pass out here and we get ambushed…"

Well, it's going to be a helluvatime trying to get back to the Battle Shell. She would have to be cover while Eric dark-ported Peter's prone form out to the truck, and while she knew Peter, she knew Eric too. Eric would argue the matter before even thinking about leaving her behind.

But what choice did they have? There was nothing here. Just debris and bloodstains.

"Just be careful, of what you choose to touch. I'm going to go see if…I can track where they could've fought Cass." Yes. Fought Cass. Because Cass wouldn't have gone willingly without a fight. When Eric offers to be lookout, she nods. "You're the best we got in these environs," she tells the taller man quietly. He's mastered his gifts, he can see through the dark and beyond it by letting the shadows carry his sight. She turns on her heel. "I'm going." And with that, she heads deeper into the shell of the building, trying to look for signs of scuffle, force, anything that didn't look like bullets.

"Well, it's the future to me…" Peter defends his use of words, scoffing a little at the debris. There's that banter again. Somehow it's coming faster to him, even if he's looking on edge still. At least he doesn't look like he's not pale and sickly looking. But they're not in immediate danger, and not planning to kill anyone.

The visions get a vote to try, and two votes of caution to go with it… "We don't have to do all of it here," he adds as an option, just as concerned about what could happen if he passes out and they get ambushed. He wouldn't be able to do anything at all if that happens, and she— yeah— might decide to fight on her own, and he doesn't think he could deal with that. "If we can get a few things back to the…" What did they call it again? Turtle Shell? Battle Car? … "Back to the car— then we don't have to do it all here— I can do most of it back at the building, same as if I were here— we just… wouldn't know for sure if we grabbed anything useful until after that."

But, it's another option. They don't have to stand by and watch him pass out every time he touches something— and since at times he can be out for hours, this method might actually be better.

"Do maybe just one try and then… bag a few things?" And hope and pray he's only out for a few minutes.

She looks at him, surprised. That….actually wasn't a bad idea.

Elena nods. "Alright. Small stuff gets bagged, at least what we can stuff in the Shell and drive it back to headquarters. I think we should try with something big….I….Cass trained you, not me, way back when. I don't know how your precognitive powers work, just that I know you could do them. I know you have to touch the object to get impressions, but I don't know what parameters the object has to have for you to see anything. How long the object has to be in the room, the intensity of the event, the size….I figured we'd just go with all of the above and look for the -oldest-, -most used- and biggest object we could find that…"

She pauses, something catching out of the corner of her eyes, she turns around, and walks over to a pile of debris nearby. Is that…

She uses Boost to jack up her strength, her eyes flashing gold in the dark. Stowing away the Desert Eagle, she presses the edge of the mountain of debris with her hands, and grunts, pushing forward and letting it drop on the opposite edge and scatter. She blows the dust away.

"…it's the desk." Cass's desk.

"We never got to practice this one," Peter admits with a grimace. It's the problem of having well over a dozen abilities— they hadn't gotten to most of them. "But I've used it a few times on my own, and I know how to trigger it— just don't know how to do it without… falling over yet." There's the confession. He knows it's possible to get a vision without passing out— he's seen the person he got it from do it. He's just never done it on his own. He also has some ideas… "Intensity of emotion seems to be a big part of it. Usually negative— happy visions are pretty rare." That's at least that he's noticed.

"This is a medical facility, so there's likely to be a lot of heavy emotions, but at the same time this is more… recent. And if it's one of the only times they've been raided— it should be at the surface? Get anything with blood on it. Or anything that looks like a personal item." It's kind of a violation, but the more personal something is, the more it'd have things…

Once she flips over the desk, he stares a little— but he's seen her use that before. It still… "Found lots of new things to do with your ability, huh?" Spot invisible people, lift heavy objects, fight like she's in an anime… It actually makes him smile, or at least a hint, before he takes a slow breath and approaches the desk. "All right— I will pass out, so don't be… alarmed okay? If I'm out for too long, or if you need to move me… just— make sure you grab a few things while I'm out." Kneeling down so he has less distance to fall, he reaches out and touches the desk— and as he warned, down he goes. Thud.

"…the desk should work," Eric replies as he strolls up towards the desk and the rubble, sliding though the darkness and the debris to join the two of them. He shakes his head slightly. Though. The desk. If thats the same one from before…oh me oh my what Peter might pick up from /that/. Of course it could be a totally different desk it could be.

He glances around before he turns pack towards the pair of them, he's about to say something when Peter touches said desk…and thump, down goes Peter.


"…so," Eric says towards Elena as he pulls off the helment, his eyes shinging silver in the darkness. "…now what?" He asks as he smirks slightly towards the girl. "…just let him lie there or carry him off to the car?"

She was still a wannabe scientist. She went to MIT to be one, so when Peter launches on further explanation of his precognitive abilities, she listens, and listens intently. He would find the expression familiar still, Elena's slender brows slightly drawn, the pliant mouth pursed. But as she dusts her hands against the black of her pants, she looks at him, blinking - especially at the teasing and the slight smile. She can't help but remember. She can't help but…

Slowly, but surely, she smiles back. Just a bit.

Oh, goddamn him.

She shakes her head. "I've mastered boosting my physical stats," she tells him. "And others. I could bring an entire crew into optimal fighting conditions if I wanted. I used it on Jack once, in an op a few months ago. The carnage was legendary, especially considering he was -already- a formidable fighter to begin with. And humans and animals have unique neurotransmitters. I can do a quick scan in a given range to sense whether an approaching signal is human or animal, male or female. Can't tell you what kind of animal though, just that it is one."

When he warns them that he'll pass out, she's there, moving forward and catching him. She SIGHS. Well. THIS didn't change. He was still a wilting lily sometimes, but….the last couple of days he seemed to be getting better. Like he actually took her advice. After everything was he still listening to her? She lays him down on the ground gently, and, not even thinking about it, she takes off her jacket and bunches it up to put it under Peter's head. A hand rests on the middle of his chest lightly, to check his breathing.

"Let's grab some stuff," she says, making a quick decision. She stands up after a few moments. "I'll go look for tracks. See if I can find where they actually grabbed Cass."

"Alright," Eric replies, ignoring the look between the pair of them with good grace. He simply nods, watching as she makes her jacket a pillow. "…well I hope he can get up soon. I don't relish the thought of dragging him back to the truck." He says with a grin. Then a shake of his head before he turns to look around. "…I'll see if anyone left any hard evidence, but I doubt it. The place has been pretty picked over." And with that he pops the helment back on his head to use the sensor suite there to scan for anything he might be able to find.

On the bright side, Eric, Peter doesn't weight that much. He's not tall, just at five-nine, and weights about the same as most women. Which is exactly why Elena thought of him as being frail. Because he isn't that much at all if someone had to toss him over a shoulder and carry him out. Even she could carry him if she had to— boosting herself at least. Anyway… As time passes, he doesn't lay motionless or without sound. The unpleasant twitching starts up after a while, followed by painful groans. Maybe there'd been a death on the table at one point. It doesn't pull him out of it, though. He stays unconscious. More minutes must pass… hopefully they won't have to carry him out.

She is extremely aware of the fact that both Eric and Peter were there. Elena can't help but close her eyes for a moment and count to ten. In those brief, fleeting little windows, she finds herself back two years ago. But she made a promise to herself when this started that she would never be in this position again. It was too hard. She suddenly knew what Peter felt when he had been torn between Elle and her. She thought it would be easier considering she tried so hard NOT to cross that boundary with him EVEN after he and Elle fell apart. But things didn't work out that way. And Eric who waited for her. Eric who was - still- waiting for everything to end so she could be free to be with him.

She abhorred the idea that she was focusing her entire being on the cause, the Saints, because she didn't want to deal with that sort of situation. Again. It was easier to just not be in the middle. Two years ago she took herself out of the equation, only to find herself BACK IN IT. It was almost unfair.

She STOMPS HARD on her sudden wave of frustration. She had A JOB TO DO. She had to find Cass. She KNEW she should've gone to the labs by herself. STUPID EVERYTHING!

As Peter moans and shifts, she sideglances at his body, but she doesn't move to touch him, unless it gets bad. She turns her enabled eyes around, looking for tracks. Scuff marks. Any trace of—

There. She walks over, eyeing the disturbed dust. She crouches low to inspect it, resting one knee on the ground. Rounded impressions. She wondered what they are. They didn't look like any sort of appendage she could think of. But when she rises a bit, she blinks. Her knee made a similar impression - slightly different in size and shape, but….

"Someone was kneeling here…" she says. Why? She looks at the layout. Despite the debris, she could tell this used to be an open space. And she's been in enough battle situations to know that if anyone kneeled defensively to pop a shot off, it was on one knee, not too. Too much reaction time is lost with two.

Someone had been forced to kneel.

She gets a paranoid flash of Cass, forced down on the ground, looking up with that defiant look she knew and loved so well on someone who had been the big sister she never had, up at whoever loomed over her. This was the place they subdued her.

The vision continues on, and when it starts getting bad, it becomes really, really apparent. There's more people in the room than the one he wants to focus on. Far more emotions ravaging him. There's a few thrashes. It isn't pretty. And then finally— something makes him cry out more than groan. It's a yell. One that continues as he bolts upright, breathing heavily. From the hyped up adrenaline, it's almost as if he'd been the one fighting, or all the ones fighting. There's also a heavy presence of other neurotransmitters related to dreaming that start to fade. The breathing doesn't slow down.

Gasping for breath, he stares straight ahead wide eyed, looking horrified at what he's seen— it's not the emotions of the people being attacked that hit him the most, though— it's the completely foreign emotions he got off of a face he recognizes, and knows very well. It almost brings back the bullets that impacted his chest— almost.

Hand shifting into his pocket, he touches the bullet. No vision comes, but he could force it if he wanted to— he has a strong feeling that he could, even if he'd been there.

"Nathan," he finally manages to say between breaths. "It was Nathan." There's something heartbroken in his voice. Betrayed. Horrified… He's still half in the vision. "And… Jadens— there were Jadens… and …I think— Mr. Winters." He thinks. The man looked different and he's not quite as used to him, but he's pretty sure. Mr. Winters.

She lets him ride it out, Elena standing away from him. The old her would've been by his side, cradling his face, soothing words of comfort whispered in between. But not this time. She remembers their conversation in the Zoo. She told him to get stronger. She told him where he was, and where he will be going back to, he would have to rely on his own strength more than ever. No coddling. If he won't do it himself, she'll force him to in her own way. Peter was a grown man. He wasn't a child. These days, people can't afford to be children anymore. Not like back then. And she hated the fact that she thought that, because she wished it weren't true.

He looks so horrified. She couldn't help but feel her features soften. The last two years had forged her spine and grit into something wrought from reinforced titanium, or some uber-strong alloy that doesn't exist. But she wasn't made of stone, though sometimes she wished she was in order to keep pressing forward to do what needs to be done.

Most importantly, however, she listens to what he says. Strangely enough, the army of Jadens he saw doesn't cause her to bat an eyelash - there's something about the way she looks when he mentions it that indicates that she knows -something- about it that she's not telling. Nathan, the idea of the president himself nabbing Cass, causes her to lift an eyebrow. "Interesting. Maybe he got bored just -ordering- people to do his dirty work for him," she drawls acerbically. But it's his last words that cause her to start. Winters? -BENJAMIN- Winters? She stares at Peter, stunned. Her father's friend. The accountant. Sweet, mild mannered Benji. He used to sing with Jane…

Her jaw sets determinedly. She stands up and walks over to where he's sitting. There is an unmistakeable sound of ripping velcro piercing the dark, and she draws out the bottle lodged against her hip. She hands it to him. "Water," she tells him. "Drink." And whenever he takes it, she hesitates - it shows. Only for a split second, however, and in a decisive manner, she lays her fingers gently on his hair. Stress bleeds out of him quickly, pulling back the activity of the part of the brain that causes the production of that sensation.

No coddling. But the water is taken with the hand not in his pocket, even if he's not even looking at it. Only when she hesitates and touches his hair does he really give a full response. Peter closes his eyes as a lot of the physical symptoms of the stress drain away— but not all. Just the after effect of feelings that aren't his. That still leaves behind the ones that are. Since she takes her hand away so fast, he doesn't even have a chance to lean into it, but he does have a moment to grip the bullet in his pocket. "He shot me," he says as he settles down enough to admit to it.

Eyes open, shifting enough to turn to look at her, even if he's not on his feet yet. "I don't know— maybe that rooftop's just… coincidence, happenstance— or something else. But he showed up at the rooftop— the Deveaux Building— and he— we talked and he killed me. Shot me three times."

He'd had the blood stains and the holes still in his shirt when they saw each other at the Zoo. He'd been so out of sorts, and he's not quite falling back on it. He's telling her. Before he might not have, until she actually asked him what happened. He has to stop clenching the bullet in order to pull his hand out of his pocket so that he can take a drink of the water.

"He didn't feel anything like my brother— Even when he killed me I hoped that— I don't understand. How could he…" It's not something she can answer, though, so he takes a slow breath and— catches sight of the coat that she took off, folded up, and left behind for a pillow. That certainly helps soothe over a fraction of the negative emotions. Just a small fraction.

"…..this happen on the fifth?" Elena asks directly, sliding her hands in her pockets and missing the way he glances at her folded up jacket, lost in thought and wracking her brain. "That was the day I saw you in the Zoo, yeah?" As always, her questions were frank, and she meets his eyes easily when she brings up their second meeting in 2009. "I was wondering what happened that got you so bloody." She would ask who the 'he' Peter was talking about was, but his last few sentences identify that for her. She falls silent, her expression unreadable at the moment. But her jaw is set still. How can anyone look so damned determined all the damned time anyway?

"People change," Elena says after a drawn out pause. "Especially here. I didn't even know Winters would be in league with them until you mentioned it, it was the most shocking thing you've mentioned from the vision you've had. Winters and Cass had been friends. Good friends, once. And he was….he used to come to our place for dinner." She can't help but clench a fist unconsciously on her side. Even now, even now she was giving Winters the benefit of the doubt. They had to have a hold on him somehow. Had to. He had a daughter. An ex-wife (who he hated but she didn't know that). A mother. Something to explain how the mild mannered accountant is suddenly helping the President kidnap friends.

"Your vision. Did you see Cass?" she continues. "Was she kneeling? Did you pick up any dialogue? What they've said to each other?"

"Yeah— early morning on the 5th— well before dawn," Peter explains, taking a drink. Now he works to get standing, putting the water bottle down and instead picking up her jacket, which he holds onto carefully. As if it's something of great importance. Or maybe he's just wanting to give it back. More likely of great importance to him, though. The blood had been long dry by the time they saw each other— and there'd been a lot on his hands too. That hadn't been his own, but he doesn't say that. More blood caused by his brother. He'd had a busy couple of days, it looks like.

"I saw Cass— yeah. And a few others, but no Lachlan or Abby— and she didn't seem… panicked— so I don't think they were here— or at least I doubt Abby was." He's sure she would have been more panicked if she'd been afraid of losing her baby. Lachlan too, really— but she might have thought he could handle things on his own. "People were falling asleep— not everyone was getting killed." It sounds like he's not sure about it.

"Didn't see her kneel, but— she might've. And I heard— it sounded like my— like he— was offering her.. a job, maybe." My brother. He's not even sure he can call him that anymore. He. So impersonal it almost breaks his heart again. "Though I'm not sure what." He didn't catch everything.

Moving closer to her, he holds out her jacket and adds, "I don't think they were trying to kill her— it seemed… like they wanted her alive."

Dark eyes seem to lose their focus, Elena's memory calling up a flash of her smiling self offering Benjamin homemade carrot cake after he'd been returned from the Company's clutches. The conversation. It was as if she wasn't hearing Peter even if she is listening. His words are just triggering old pictures, old conversations laying dormant in her subconscious. "….he can put people to sleep," she says finally. "It's his gift. I remember….he caused an accident on a bus while I was heading home from work. He accidentally made a bus driver fall asleep. That was how I met Dezi and Cass for the first time." Her expression turns serious, looking at him for a long time in silence. The connections. She hadn't thought about the concept of Fate for a long time, she didn't have time to reflect much anymore.

"I was wondering about that while we were heading here," she says, finally. "Why Cass, and why now. He knew she was still in New York. He knew about her. About what she did. But he didn't think of doing this until now. Something's up. Either she was working on something new that the government wants ahold of, or…"

When he mentions the last, she nods, reaching out for her jacket when he hands it towards her. "Good." Good? "That means we have time. I'm hoping Gene's got some luck with hacking into the NYDT's grid to give us at least a hint of the direction which they were headed."

Her gaze meets his easily as she speaks, especially about having time. She clung onto hope like a vise, that they wouldn't hurt her - at least, not much. And she was doing her best to appear optimistic. But she was exhausted. She had been on a solo op for 10 days. She's been running around everywhere since then. And now, this. Ali wanted her to take a break, a day off, but she can't even if she wanted to.

For a change, Peter doesn't look away when she meets his eyes. True, his jaw isn't set in determination, but he's looking at her in a way that doesn't seem quite as cowed as it would have been before. There's still signs of the pain of seeing what this world has done to someone he loved his entire life— and now he can understand how his other self might have been broken down so much— But it's lessened by the minute, as he listens to her speak, and watches her. The dark vision he'd had is gone, so he's relying completely on his own eyesight, which has adjusted enough for his purposes.

Reaching up once she has the jacket in hand, he can't help but reach towards her, fingers curled down towards his palm and trying his best to brush her cheek. "She'll be okay. Even in a world like this… she has more friends than most people." Because she's Cass. And because her friends love her and would risk their lives to bring her back.

"If you or Jack want me along— I'm here to help." It's the offer she knew he would make, the same offer he made tonight— and he'll probably keep making it as long as he's here.

That was promising. He doesn't look determined - or at least, the sort of determined she was. But Elena knows he's taking her advice. In a way, she knew on some level that he would…because she knew now anyway of how he felt for her back then, and that the people who had been trying to push them together had been right. And if she looked at him closely the day she walked out on him, she would've seen it….but in this timeline, she cheats. She fought dirty and she fought to win, and she knew, just knew, that part of her used that to her advantage in this case. It had been the only way to get him to square his shoulders and look at her the way he was now. Uncowed. With the right words, the right motivation, calling every bit of what she remembered of him to the surface, he would come closer to what he needs to be to end this nonsense.

Her mouth parts to say something more, the next steps. It helped her to think out loud while thinking things through. The next bullet point in the agenda that she was coming up with on the fly. But the words die on her mouth when he reaches up to touch her cheek, his knuckles dragging gently over the slope. And for a few moments there is nothing. Her mouth closes to press in a soft line. Somewhere deep down, she wanted to sob in frustration. She buried his ghost a long time ago, only for it to come back in the worst time ever.

"Peter…" His name is said softly. "You're going to have to be really careful….with what you do here."

And she's not just talking about his efforts to find out everything so he could go back to the past and stop this from happening.

For once since meeting in this year, she turns away first, to shrug her jacket on and tug up the collar with a quiet snap. "Any and all help would be appreciated. The more you stick with us, I think we'll be able to improve on your abilities too. We're always moving, there's always something to do, things to find out and people to break out. But I'm not going to lie." She zeroes-in on his eyes again. "I have no use for people who would sacrifice their lives for a Saint. What I do need are people who are willing to make other people die so a Saint can live through a mission. I'm their second-in-command. Their strategist. My job isn't to make my people die for their cause…my job is to make other people die for theirs. It's grim, it's depressing, but it's honest. It's not like we slaughter civilians left and right either, but what we do does put us in the front lines against trained and funded agents working for the government and believe me, we have no qualms taking them out whatsoever. Since I know you….or at least, from what I remember knowing of you, you're not capable of that."

She turns fully to face him. "I will leave you behind, Peter. In every mission, in every op, and I will put my foot down and deny your participation to drag Cass out of the fire without batting an eyelash unless you re-start and continue your training while you're staying with us. If you're going to come along and refuse to take a life when necessary, you are going to learn how to use your abilities more efficiently. It's either that or you don't help at all."

There is silence, her stare boring at him. Finally, she exhales softly. "You probably think I'm being harsh," she concedes. "And I am being harsh. But you have to understand….I'm in a position to make difficult decisions every day, so the rest of my team won't have to. I'm also placed in a position where I have….I need…to make sure they live through everything we put ourselves through. I need my Saints, Peter. If I lost them, I— " She falls quiet then, glaring at the far wall.

When she drops the other shoe, it turns out to weight a ton and have huge spiked heels. There are few ways that Peter can respond to that, and for a few moments, he does look away. Like when she talks about killing people. Because they both know he can't do that— and if he did… it would kill him in more ways than one. He'd become someone she might not ever be able to— to care about. And someone he's not sure he could stand becoming. Hurting people nearly destroys him, killing someone probably would finish the job. Even the part he played in Carter's death had been pretty hard on him. Also, when she mentions leaving him behind, his eyes shift downwards, only to look back up when she explains how he'd be allowed to go. Training. Time to learn and become something that she needs without losing himself in the process.

There's a slow breath when she makes it her turn to look away, and he shifts enough to get in front of her again, raising his hands to touch her shoulders, "Elena…." He hasn't said her name much, and there's a soft and serious tone to his voice. "Three months ago I would have died for you— or Cass— or my brother— hell, I would have died for just about anyone." It's one of the things he does. "Almost a year ago I would have died without knowing I would come back at all. But that— doesn't really work here at all. If I die…" He frowns, looking away for a moment. If he dies, nothing will change. No one will know what to fix. And would the future have been worse if he just… disappeared? Never to come back? Sure, three hundred people on a train would live longer, but what about everything else? How worse would things get if he just… didn't exist anymore? If he died without making it back. So things are very, very different now.

"I have to live. Hiro hasn't responded to my messages— for all I know he got captured or was forced to teleport back— so I have to figure out if I can even get back on my own at all— and to do that, I have to live. For… for all of you." For her especially? He doesn't say that. But there's a hint, with the way he's looking at her as he says that.

For a moment she looks confused. Three months ago? Almost a year ago? But then Elena remembers that he was probably talking about the past, from the point where he came from. So she continues listening once she realizes just what the devil he's talking about. The confusion clears up, and she says nothing as he keeps talking. She's still looking at him steadily, however. Unwaveringly, despite the brief moment where she hid the fact that breaking the Saints in any way would probably open a can of worms this part of the world wasn't prepared to deal with.

But he forces his way back into her line of sight, and before she could step back, his hands are on her shoulders, keeping her there. And then, that momentary confusion gives way to surprise. She gapes at him, especially in the final words he says. And once he's done, she speaks up. "No," she agrees. "It doesn't work here. It doesn't work anywhere. That mentality never works." And she's TOLD HIM THAT BEFORE, way back when. NOW he listens. NOW he gets it. Ratsafratzinstubborn…

But that's the important thing. He understands. He gets it. He's ready.

The smallest hint of a smile tugs up the corners of her mouth. "Now we're getting somewhere," she murmurs. She stomps on the sudden surge of pride welling somewhere within her, and the look he gives her, a look she remembers, and what it means, only drives her not to dance around just yet for this one, small moral victory. She promised herself two years ago that she'd never fall into the trap again. There was too much to do. Too much to lose. She can't be a stupid teenager anymore.

She slips away from him, picking up the water bottle and stowing it in the loop on her hip. "We'll bag a few more items, but then we gotta go." She narrows her eyes at the nearest, broken window. "I'm not discounting the possibility that they might come back to the scene of the crime."

"Guess you're right— even if I make it back— if I get myself killed after I tell everyone what they need to fix— I won't be able to…" Peter trails off. Does he need to finish that? From the way he's looking at her, she probably can fill in the blanks now that she knows exactly how he used to feel about her— how he still feels about her. And that's one of the many things he wants to fix. After saving the world, of course— but what's saving the world for if they can't have enjoyment while they do it?

It's her slipping away that sobers his expression, even if— she made a comment back in the Zoo— one about cowardice. He should just let her move away, but… He didn't directly say it, did he? "I have to live for you. I know I'm not one of your Saints, and— but I want to… live for you." That— okay, he suddenly forgets the whole courage thing and turns away. Oh look, debris. Personal items. He should pick them up— he should pick them up with gloves on, because he doesn't want to pass out.

Wait, he has something better than gloves. He can float them into the bag without ever touching them. No, he didn't say anything at all that might be cheesy or too much. Working. Working.

There it was again. That same frustration. Even hearing his words now, Elena could almost hear Eric's words to her the night after they got her back. About how she gave him something to live for. How he would wait as long as it takes for her to be ready to take his hand and take the plunge. Hearing Peter say that made Eric's own statement echo as if on the other side of the room, and she wanted to tear her hair out and strangle something with it (maybe herself, who knows) because she already tried once to get out of this position and pretty much succeeded at the cost of seeing one man turn into a monster, and the other man die for the second time in his life. Now it was happening again.

They were two different men, but when it came to her, they were just…so damned… similar.

Watching his back as he works, she sighs exasperatedly. She doesn't say anything, not for a while, watching him as he worked dutifully. And when he speaks up, her voice is clear, and perfectly frank.

"I loved you." There is a brief pause. "Once. A while ago. But I was content to dismiss it as …some sort of silly college girl phase. You were older, and gentle. You gave up so much of yourself to everyone else that…and when we started spending so much time together, I couldn't help it. But I never thought…" That he would return it. When he did, that was when the trouble started. "It didn't help that I was close to someone else through it all either, who felt the same. I…couldn't bear the thought of losing either of your friendships so I took myself out of the equation. I'd rather be alone than go on and hurt either of you, and it wouldn't have been honest. That was how I rationalized it to myself back then anyway. The timing had already been bad then, now it's worse."

She turns away, sealing the bag she's got and stowing it away on her person. "One day if you're still here and if there's a chance to take a breath we can talk about it." If he had the balls to have the discussion. "But right now we need to act. I said we have time to get Cass back to us before they permanently traumatized her in any way. I didn't say we had a lot of it." She turns on her heel, and she starts to move for the other corridor so she could call for Eric and exit the building.

Someday— if he's still here— or some day back in the past, when she just told him she wasn't ready for it. But Peter actually drops whatever he's floating towards a bag when she says what he wanted to hear all those years ago— which was less than a month for him. But… He opens his mouth as if to say something, when she reminds him of the mission, their lack of time. Not the time, not the place— maybe it'll never be. So many people loved him back then. He's finding that out. As the one who'd loved her while he loved someone else— while he'd promised to be with someone else no less— he understands. Even if he'd always known it wouldn't work with Elle.

For a while… it might have. But then her memory got erased— And he fought so hard to get back something he probably should have let go, or let come back slower and more naturally. It'd been his own fault in a lot of ways. He panicked. He knows this. Even if he'd already begun to love the girl in front of him before that happened…

Again, his fault. She gave them both up to keep from hurting them. And that isn't— "We'll talk later." In the future, or in the past, but they'll definitely talk later. Gathering up a final few items, he follows towards the corridor, ready to leave.

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