2007-09-21: The Human Story


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Summary: An impromptu journalistic confrontation does not end well.

Date It Happened: September 21st, 2007

The Human Story

Midtown, NYC - Common Grounds

Though by himself, Peter Petrelli has claimed one of the small tables for his stay in the coffee shop. A rather plain house roast in a cup near him, and a book in hand, he could fit in with just about any of the young college students sitting around studying for their classes at the University not too far away. Instead, he's working on something much more personal, a book on the supernatural. Even that wouldn't be completely out of place in certain circles, but he hardly looks like a Goth or a Wiccan, in fact, some people would think he's a yuppie at sight, well dressed, hair neatly combed, even if a bit of hair curls up on his forehead. He flips through the pages, reading rather intently. A notebook is opened near him, with notes on it, adding to the possible perception that he's a college student. In fact he's using this book to help him figure out his abilities— since he doesn't know what half of them are called…

There's another presence within the coffee shop that isn't of the college student variety, probably more overtly so than Peter. Samuel Roberts stands just within the door, talking to a woman much shorter than he. She's holding a camera, and after a few words are exchanged, she smiles and goes to step in line for coffee. Every now and then, she glances over her shoulder towards the corner Peter's claimed for himself, and after that, she'll go and take a seat elsewhere within the store. And snoop.

However, Samuel doesn't bother with grabbing a coffee. He's dressed conservatively, with reading glasses hanging from a chain around his neck. He could almost be a professor from the college, but not so. Holding a large notebook in one hand, he approaches Peter's table, already smiling as he goes to stick his other hand out for a friendly handshake. His eyes flicker over the materials opened on Peter's table even as he introduces himself. "Peter Petrelli?" he says. "I'm Samuel Roberts, I'm with the New York Daily Times Journal Newspaper." That's right he is. "You got a minute?"

Oh-ho, Phasing. Peter grabs up the notebook and finally writes down something next to 'walk thru walls?' when— someone steps over to his table. He's only gotten as far as the PHA, and gets stuck there, looking up the arm with the offered hand and blinking once. And then again. What? A moment later, he closes the book and uses it to cover up the neatly scrawled out list of brief descriptions and names right next to them. He pushes them out of sight as best he can, before he finally reaches out to take the hand. "The— New York Daily… alright… I guess I have a few minutes." He doesn't look too pleased, and he doesn't really recognize the newspaper either, but… his brother's running for Senate. He's been expecting this to happen eventually.

Either the newspaper is so famous that Peter is having a 'can't see the forest for all the trees' moment, or the New York Daily Times Journal Newspaper is Samuel and two other guys in his basement. Or maybe it's new! You don't know. Either way, Samuel shakes Peter's hand firmly and invites himself to sit down just opposite the Petrelli. If there's a sound recorder anywhere, it's kept out of sight - perhaps Samuel's just old fashioned and relies solely on pen and paper. Like Rita Skeeter. "Man, thank you. I mean that," he says with an amicable smile. "I've been tryna get in touch with your brother's people for days for some kinda interview with the whole family, we'd really love to talk to him and we're interested in getting the personal side of the story, you know, but he's a busy guy, isn't he."

"I'm sure you have," Peter says, looking across the table, pulling his book closer and flipping to an empty page to hide the cover. He knows that it won't be good for a would-be Senator's brother to be caught with a book of questionable origins— even if it's from a store he works for at the moment. Actually that wouldn't look good for the Conservative side of the voters either, now that he thinks about it. "You're right, he's a busy guy. The whole family is." Himself included, these days. Saving the world, job, girlfriend. This is a free hour or two, but that's just because girlfriend had a study session and the bookstore is closed on Sundays.

"Absolutely," Samuel says, leaning back into his chair, as he notes something down. The notepad is, naturally, angled away from Peter, casually rested against the edge of the table. "You used to be a nurse, is that right?" he asks. "Never caught the specialty. You still doing that?"

"Hospice care," Peter answers the question that wasn't asked. There's a long pause. This isn't a good start to an interview at all. His eyebrows lower a bit and he picks up his coffee to take a long drink. It's still warm— good. "No, I quit almost a year ago." In early October of last year— almost exactly a year ago now that he thinks about it. Very close indeed.

Samuel nods once, with a mild smile. "That's right, I remember now. That was around the time your brother was running for congressman, wasn't it? I understand that that was a difficult time for you, what with the whole…" He gestures with his pen, smile widening in an attempt to seem sympathetic, and it doesn't work very well. "…depression thing."

There's a slow inhale, but from the intense look in his eyes— Peter isn't catching any supposed sympathy. In fact, there's already tinges of anger forming. A year ago this had been a fresh betrayal, now… he'd almost thought it was behind him. Once his brother said it, though, he knew denying it would be impossible. It would hurt his election— and now that he's running again, for a different position… "My mental health problems had nothing to do with my brother's election." It had everything to do with it, actually. "My brother got me the help that I needed." That part is true, though, but he shouldn't be quite so tense when he says it.

There's a rustle of paper as Samuel flicks back through his pages, towards formerly jotted down information. "That's correct, I understand you were at some kind of undisclosed clinic early this year," he says, either oblivious to Peter's visible, growing anger, or ignoring it entirely. He looks up at him again, eyebrows raising. "How has the family been dealing with your suicidal tendencies? Obviously it's not been getting in the way of your brother's lofty goals, now has it."

"Yes, I was in a facility earlier in the year. It helped me deal with my personal situation," Peter explains, being vague, but not lying at all on this. It did help him deal with the problems… or actually it helped him not deal with them. There's a pause, before he adds on, remaining calm, if tense for the moment, "I've made a lot of progress since leaving that facility thanks to my brother and my family. I've even been staying with them for portions of the last few months." Suicidal tendancies… His eyes slide away for a moment. He'd like to say he hasn't tried to kill himself since then, but he got himself killed many a time… and much of it through his own reckless behavior. "My family has been supportive of me, just as I'm supportive of them." That's the best politically correct way he can think to put it.

Samuel listens attentively, still with that mild, fixed smile. "Well it does certainly seem the Petrellis are back on track this year," he says. "I gotta admit though, I'm just curious. It's been quoted that you suffered from depression, after your attempt." The way he says 'attempt' makes it seem like an almost offensive or taboo word, gaze darting back down to his notepad then back up at Peter. "I'm curious, is that like a hereditary kind of ailment? I can't help but wonder if we won't be seeing that kind of behaviour from your brother too. I mean, his stepping down from congressman after mere days is highly unusual. Maybe you can enlighten us all as to the reason, New Yorkers have a right to know about who they're voting for."

There's that tension again, and Peter takes a break to drink the rest of his coffee away. The bill's already been paid, he can get up and leave at any moment now— and with that question he's very tempted. "My situation is different now than it was a year ago— or even six months ago. Thanks to my brother. His reasons for resigning are his own, and I'm not at liberty to share them. But I do believe he is the best man for the job, and he'll do for the people of the country what he did for me. Help." Even at the expense of his own career— which he doesn't say. But he does start to sit up and gather his books, as if he might leave soon.

"Think of it this way. You tell me the truth about his resignation, it'll put to rest all kinds of rumours," Samuel says, then sits up a little straighter when Peter starts to gather his things. Running out of time and he has so many questions. "Hey hey, just another minute." Pause, then he switches tactic. "Sorry, I must be keeping you - are you going to see that new girlfriend of yours you've been seen with? The daughter of the Chairman of Evosoft's Board of Directors?"

"You'll have to ask my brother about that," Peter says, though there's a definite twinge to his voice. Any answer he could think of would be possibly damaging. He's not even sure how much people knew of his brother's condition in those months. How public had his hospitalization and his miracle recovery been? He'd been out of touch with his family for four months— in fact out of touch with the whole world. But then he asks a question about his girlfriend— and ties her to her father. "…Yes, I'm dating Elena Gomez, daughter of Ramon Gomez, Chairman of Evosoft's Board of Directors." He's not ashamed of it at all, however… There's that tense look again, as he starts to get to his feet. It doesn't quite answer the question of if he's going to see her now— he just wants to leave.

As Peter stands, so does Samuel, not about to leave him alone just yet. If he has to grab him, he will - he is with the New York Daily Times Journal Newspaper, after all. They're into raw journalism, obviously. "Congratulations, that— that's a great match," he says, with a smile that might go 'ting!' if this were a cartoon. "I'm sure your father would be happy if he were still alive, but hey, at least your mom can be over the moon in his stead. Wonderful timing that you're publicly taking her out on expensive dates now that your brother's running for Senate." Expensive dates meaning the cruise liner, obviously, in view of all those socialites.

No need to grab him yet. Peter has books and notebook to gather up before he can leave, but he doesn't do that yet. He just stands. The chair is pushed back a bit by his legs. The smile is not returned in the least, color draining from his jawbone to show some clinching. He's not pleased, but he's not yet putting his hand into a fist. Almost. "What are you implying?" He's forgotten the man's name, so he can't call him by it, but from the deeper tone to his whispered voice, he's threading onto tense territory. As color journalism wishes to.

Samuel's expression flickers into one of showy confusion, and he gestures with his notepad. "I don't imply, Mr. Petrelli," he says, keeping up that smile. "I just want to investigate the human story behind all the fronts families like yours routinely put up. Sources say that Mr. Gomez himself has been seen around your brother's offices, and even made a very generous donation to the campaign. That oughta cover a cruise liner date, I think. He gonna drop another cheque if it means his daughter's gonna marry well some day?"

There's plenty of ways he could answer this accusation. Peter hears it being made, and it's just as bad as he thought it was. First of all, the liner price was closer to two hundred dollars— he spent about three hundred and fifty on the entire date. Far less than any donation made by a private individual to his brother's campaign. But the sheer fact he's outright accusing Mr. Gomez of selling his daughter— or of his brother using him as some kind of… gigilo to get campaign money… coupled with the tension of bringing up his false suicide attempt…

There's a brief moment's warning when he clenches his fist, and then he crosses the small distance in a flash, and swings directly at the man's face. Eric of the future suggested never punching in the face, because it tended to break hands— but he doesn't have to worry about that, he doesn't care, he's punching this man. And… harder than he probably should.

Samuel's been punched before. Surprised? No. But he's never been punched quite this hard, in broad daylight. His head whips around under the blow, body following the momentum and landing straight into a table which tips to the ground right along with him. Coffee is spilled, cutlery broken, donuts go flying, and a woman that was sitting there gives a shriek of surprise, scrambling back. A few gasps and murmurs from the coffeeshop populace as people otherwise go silent, craning to see what just happened.

Towards the other side of the store, there's a young woman standing on her chair and frantically taking pictures.

Samuel groans, bleeding freely from his mouth and nose as he staggers to his feet, an employee rushing around to help him up, and another approaching Peter at a quick pace.

…God damnit. Peter looks down at his fist. The knuckles are broken and bleeding, but that's fading as he moves his fingers— the blood can be dismissed from being the reporters. It's not easy to see the scraps on his fist at all. But this is definitely not a good sign. As he looks around, he looks directly at the camera. She probably got a good shot of him examining his fist afterwards, and another looking rather stunned at the camera itself, and then… he looks over at the man bleeding and getting back to his feet, and then the approaching employees. A lot of the tension starts to drain away, replaced by something new.

Nathan's going to kill him.


On the Phone

PHONE: You dial the number 283-6969. It begins to ring.

PHONE: The other end answers, "Yeah?"

PHONE: Peter doesn't say anything for a moment, but there's a definite sound of activity around him, echoing hallways, people moving about, "Nathan? I— I'm at the police station." The wince is vocalized.

PHONE: Nathan sounds distracted when he says, "Peter? You're— " His voice quietens a little. "Why are you at the police station?" There is the sound of distant activity, people's voices, other phones ringing, and Peter might recognise it as the HQ.

PHONE: Peter hesitates again. "I've been arrested, Nathan." That's pretty simple. There's suddenly someone speaking near him, a distinctly male voice that speaks up and can be heard saying something about minutes. "I only have a few minutes. I need you to get me a lawyer… and bail me out."

PHONE: Nathan … says nothing for the next few seconds, and rather abruptly, there is the sound of a door shutting, and the noise cuts out. He's moved to his office now. So he can better yell, perhaps. For now, his voice is still quiet. "You got arrested?" he asks, in honest disbelief. "How the hell did you get yourself arrested? What did you do?"

PHONE: Peter winces again, "Assault and battery. Probably get some property damage on there too." More echoing as people scream about their innocence in the background. Why couldn't these phones be in a slightly more private location? "I'll explain what happened when the lawyer gets here." These calls are monitored and can be used against him, he knows how it works. Can't confess to anything.

PHONE: Nathan snorts softly. "Yeah, when the lawyer gets there," he repeats at a barely audible mutter, because of course he'll get Peter a lawyer. Of course he'll bail him out. Although… "You know what? I should just leave you there. Then maybe you'll start learning some real life consequences." An angry sigh rattles down the phoneline. This isn't the time and place for this. Right now, he has to get his brother out of jail. "I'll be there as soon as I can."

PHONE: Peter sharpens his voice, a hint of anger, "Just a second," in response to another reminder of how long he has left. "Look— Can you call Elena? I was supposed to meet her and…" Wince. "Thanks, Nathan. I'll sit tight." Because that's about all he can do, right?

PHONE: Nathan makes no guarantee as to whether he'll call Elena. Maybe Peter can glean an affirmation from the wordless grunt in response that Nathan makes, before Peter finds himself hung up on.

PHONE: The phone call has been ended by the other person.

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