2008-04-23: The End Of The World In 2012


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Summary: Does the world end in 2012? Good question. Hope and faith fade, tensions rise.

Date It Happened: April 23rd, 2008

The End of the World in 2012

Enlightenment Books

As is the case most of the time with Cass' visits with Enlightenment Books, they're brief, fleeting things meant only to catch her breath. She'll run her palms over the bookcases, pull out a few books and think about where she started, how everything started that changed her life. It seems like an eternity ago, but it was really only a year. As is also the case with most of her visits, it's near closing time. The woman behind the counter rings up the last few customers, others are dawdling in the corners. She feels the urge to ask if anyone of them need any help, but then she doesn't know what entirely is in stock any more. It's a strange disconnect to a store that she considers, even still, her second home.

In the last few months, the make up of the store has changed dramatically. Few of the employees that made their mark (in sometimes destructive ways) remain. And one of the employees returns in the ringing of the bell on the door. Few customers. An employee he doesn't recognize, and one owner that he does. It might be more difficult for her to recognize him. The man who steps in the door is obviously Peter Petrelli, but something different hangs over him. Even more serious, tense, dark. And a scar, casting odd shadows across his face. He doesn't do more than glance at the other people present before he walks right up to Cass. "I need to talk to you."

Once in awhile, Cass will run into someone who remembers her from when she ran the store by herself. But mostly, at this time it's all newer customers who think she's one of them. Not the proprietoress. Hearing someone come up behind her, she starts and swings around, putting a hand on the bookcase next to her for steadiness. "Peter?" It's undeniably him, but he looks different. It's been awhile since she's seen him, but it's almost like this is someone totally different from the Peter she knows. She's not exactly suspicious, she's curious, wondering. "What is it?" Unsure of whether this is a back room sort of conversation or one they just need a quiet corner for, she studies him carefully. "What happened to you?" Without thinking, she reaches forward in an attempt to tilt his chin, to inspect what looks like is an impossibly old scar.

Unless something happened to make it so he only healed half-way… it looks at least a couple years old, if not more than that. Peter reaches to touch her arm and starts to manuever her in the direction of the back room as he adds, "This doesn't belong out here." It doesn't mean it won't start while they walk, though, because a voice suddenly begins to whisper in the back of her mind. Unlike their practices before, it's less evasive. There's no headache that follows, and he doesn't look half as strained as he once did. The tension is still around his eyes, but otherwise… What happened to me doesn't matter. What matters is what is going to happen to you. I know you won't stop working for them even if I tell you to. Since he practically did already. But you have to be even more careful in the next month or so.

That's also possible, knowing Peter, but Cass frowns any way. She allows herself to be maneauvered to the back room. Her eyes suddenly widen at him talking in her head and she quickly starts thinking things through. Giving Peter a look of surprise and even more scrutiny, she says nothing until they are safely behind closed doors. She can't talk telepathically. Though she should be able to think it and he could probably hear it. As soon as she closes the back room's door, she whirls around. "When are you from?" There's no way this is the Peter of today. They haven't been able to practice, he was never this smooth about his powers. "And what do you mean what's going to happen to me?"

Well, technically she could. Peter could have heard her thoughts, and she sends the scrutiny his way whether she meant to or not. Once they are behind close doors, though, he can't help but tilt his head. She caught on to that pretty quickly, didn't she? "You always were smart and perceptive," he murmurs in a raspier voice than his younger self would use. "Two thousand and tweleve." A big year for a store like this. Four years longer to turn him harder and even more tense than he already is. Also into his thirties now. There's something in his eyes, though, a tension, before he says, "I can't tell you exact details— I'm honestly not sure how much I can tell you, cause time travel is tricky… But the people you're working for… they're going to do something soon. Something that will change everything. Change you, me, everyone. You can stop it."

"You have a scar where you never had one before. And it doesn't look fresh. You can telepatheically much more cleanly and without any problems." Cass tilts her head only slightly, reaching out to bring him closer for inspection. Almost like a mother to a grown child. "You're just…different." It's all the little things that just don't scream 'Peter' any more. "You have to be from the future. Or an alternate universe. Though I haven't seen any of those yet." As for how far into the future he comes from, she raises an eyebrow. "And it's not the end of the world? Well, half the books in my store need to be corrected, then." It's a brief attempt at humor. "I know…" Pinehearst. She's known about their dark side for far too long. "I can't stop it. I don't think I can even break away. Your father…" he knows a bit too much about her for any of that. "Change everything?" Her face falls. "So…everything we did. The tornado, stopping the virus…it didn't do anything?"

"It wasn't December yet," Peter says with a hint of a shrug, leaving her to keep her books the way they already are. "And the world is ending, in enough ways to matter." It didn't do anything? That is what makes him take a step closer, putting his hands on her cheeks and forcing her eyes back up. She's actually as tall, if not taller than him, though his current boots help things. Either way he doesn't have to tilt her head up too much. "No. It did do something. It gave us longer to figure things out, to correct things. It mattered. That's like saying stopping me from blowing up New York didn't do anything. Of course it did, Cass. Don't even start to think otherwise." There's a pause, and his hands fall away from her face, but for a moment the tone was much more like the Peter she knows, just… more strained. "Just… even the littlest things can make a huge difference."

For the first time, Cass starts to feel pessimistic, even despair about the future. "It seems like whatever we do, worse things happen. It's never safe, the way we wanted it to be." Letting her chin be tilted upward, she meets Peter's eyes, but doesn't respond right away. The forcefulness, the way he sounds almost like the present day Peter, it's enough to jolt her out of the slight case of ennui. If there's still part of that man she knows in there, there's still hope. She hopes. Her eyes are downcast for a moment. "I'm sorry. It just seems like whatever we do, we seem to mess it up even more. It's like some terrible butterfly effect with each ripple affecting the others. We never seem to get a happy future." Her smile is a little sad as she looks up again.

"Maybe I shouldn't have come to you," Peter says, shaking his head, a hint of frustration coming over his face again as he takes a few steps away from her in the back room. "I never said this future was worse. It's…" He trails off. Something about what she says seems to have struck a nerve, and he can't even seem to look at her anymore, keeping his eyes on the wall near her, rather than directly at her. Any hint of his former self starts to fade at the same time. "If everything is hopeless then what the hell am I even fighting for?"

"You described it as close enough to the end of the world, Peter," Cass replies with a wry smile. "I'm sorry. You've caught me at an impasse. I joined Pinehearst to help people, to do some good, and it turns out that the company that I did this all for is going to do something that's going to change everything. In a way that may hurt me, if I'm understanding what you're implying." Her tone isn't superior, just trying to undrestand this all. She's just as frustrated. "And I can't get out of it. It's…frustrating, not knowing if I can even trust my own judgement any more. I used to think I was a very good judge of character." There's a pause. "I want to help, Peter. I always have. Don't say you can't come to me for that, at least."

"You're working for a telepath. He probably made you see exactly what he wanted you to see," Peter says in a cold voice, still unable to look at her eyes for the moment. It's unclear if he really believes that is what happened to her, since he knows she had the best intentions. But the declaration that she's already lost faith may have been what's bothered him the most. The walls are up even more than when he stalked into the store. "I'm already working on things that will try to stop what happened from happening again. All you have to do is try to delay the completion of the formula, and…" Now he does look back at her. His voice gains emphasis, "Never let them test it on you."

"I didn't even meet him until after I'd signed on," Cass tells him. Is that better or worse? She's not sure. And what she's lost faith in, mostly, is her own judgement, her own ability to discern between what she'd consider 'Company' and 'Not Company'. It was a moment of weakness to tell Peter something like that. "I've been trying to. Sabotaging when I can and doing my work as slow as can not be noticed. But, they've been keeping a closer eye on me there. I'm pretty sure they know I don't agree with them any more." Since she, well, told Arthur that when she stormed into Nathan's office. "I'll do what I can." As for the test, she raises her eyebrows. "I wouldn't. I'm fine with how I am."

"It doesn't matter who you met with," Peter asks, looking her in the eyes. "Doesn't have to be my father who made the sales pitch for you to have been manipulated into it." He shakes his head, beginning to take more steps back. "I don't think it was you wanting to be better that did it. But do what you can," he says, shaking his head and turning away. And he's walking straight for the back wall of the room. Where there's no door or anything.

"Maybe it doesn't." It's a nice thought. One that Cass isn't sure that she believes. She's always liked free will more than destiny. Watching him step toward the wall, she takes a step forward to ask a critical question. "Am I…am I alive in your future, Peter?" It's a question that does beg asking as the last one she died in. Four years doesn't seem like a far way away, but it's longer than she had before.

The question stops him mid-step and Peter partially turns, looking back at her for a moment. None of the tension has faded in the least. There's a pause, a few seconds too long. "Of course you are." Then he faces forward and walks right through the wall into the darkness.

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