2007-03-12: The Red Thread Of Fate (Part One)

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Fate. Destiny. Stars align once again when a certain Company escapee manages to catch an open Starbucks…with a certain barista working the night shift.

Date It Happened: March 12, 2007

The Red Thread of Fate (Part One)


Starbucks, Lower Manhattan, New York City

She was working the night shift tonight. After the disastrous meeting at Jack's place, Elena counts it a blessing that Drake pretty much quit his job at Starbucks. She didn't feel like explaining to him why he was cranky. She watches an old man start donning his coat to the side, swathing a scarf around his neck and putting on his gloves. He was the last customer she has….in thirty minutes, she can close up the joint, and go home.

She turns around, washing her hands, wetting a rag so she can start cleaning up as the old man shuffles for the door. Her eyes are narrowed. Never in her life has she felt so….unhappy. Not since her mother died. She was habitually a happy creature, quick to smile and laugh and joke around like the young tended to do. Then again, disappointment of any sort always sucked, especially when the root of it all was a man who she was slowly growing to regard as a big brother. Damn you, Jack. You said you'd never let go!

"That idiot," she hisses under her breath, scrubbing hard on a stain of dried donut cream on one of the tables. The old man looks up in surprise. "Oh, no sir," she says, forcing a sheepish laugh. "Not you. Just an….ex…boyfriend?"

The old man storms out in a huff, and she GROANS. Lovely.

—-

It certainly is late. Given how much activity the last few days have had, Peter Petrelli really could use a coffee. There had been plenty of things wrong with the Company that held him for the last few months, even if he had accepted them almost as a punishment for what he had done to his brother and very nearly did to half the city. One of those things wrong, though, had been the lack of coffee. Even in the hotel room that he'd been sharing the last few days with a ex-agent of the same company, the coffee machine brewed pretty mediocre attempts at the stuff.

With his hand in his coat pocket, he shoulders into the door, right after the man leaves in a huff. He happens to have his hand on a number, just in case of an emergency. Splitting up had to happen eventually, though, which is why disposable cellphones and pre-determined meeting places became a necessity. In fact, it's likely if the place hadn't been /empty/ of people except the counter girl, he wouldn't have chanced stepping inside. Not trusting people pains him, but he doesn't want to go back to the cell either.

Leaving his coat on, he approaches the counter, expression subdued, but a hint of a smile quirking in the corner of his mouth, "Evening." …Oh man, he hasn't seen a Starbucks menu in ages…

—-

When Peter arrives, she is folding the rag in two and sets it on the rack near the sink to dry. Elena turns around - she looks exhausted, and young. Eighteen years old going on 19, she is dressed in a bright, crimson baby t-shirt with the infamous Napster logo in front on the chest….except it's got an eyepatch on with the words 'Music Pirate' underneath it. She's wearing jeans, and considering it was late and it was empty, she had taken off the horribly green Starbucks apron. But while she inwardly winces at the break in protocol…well, Peter was her last customer of the night, he won't mind!

She gives him a small smile. "Just in time, ten minutes more and you would've been deprived of a good java," she jokes, doing her best to get to her level self. "Best time to go, I think. No lines, and it's quiet." She picks up a cardboard cup, slipping the heat insulator on it. "A little cold tonight too. It looks like the stars are aligning in your favor." Oh if she ONLY KNEW. "What'll it be, sir?"

She looks at him expectantly.

—-

The clothes the short haired young man wears could hardly be called colorful, nor do they have much personality, really. The long black coat remains mostly closed, the collar flipped upward as if by accident or the wind. A dark blue shirt would be visible as well, though the simple dark jeans he wears might be hidden by the counter. Older than her by quite a few years, Peter still manages to look young, especially when the smile increases, becoming a less of a hint. A friendly smile tends to encourage another in return.

"I have good timing, then," he says, hand chancing to leave his pocket since the place is empty. Glancing back up at the menu, his eyebrows lower, almost as if he's confused for a moment. As the lingering moves towards the thirty second mark, complete with a few soft sounds in his throat, he glances back down and looks rather sheepish. "Sorry, haven't actually— been to a Starbucks in a while. Guess I'll just have the Espresso Roast." Pretty simple choice, really, and it's being advertised as the feature.

He was pretty cute, actually, though she can't quite put a bead on his age. It had to be the eyes - he looked exhausted despite his relative youth keeping him rather fresh-faced…..as fresh as an escapee from the Company would allow anyway. Elena can't help but grin at the sheepish smile, but it would be cruel to a customer to tease him about being so slow about his choice. After all, she made her living through tips. "Coming right up," she says, stepping over to steam a batch of milk, and crank on the espresso machine. "And that's okay, I feel you. Things just get so busy around here you know. But hey at least now you've got a little bit of time to take care of yourself." She drops the shots of coffee into the cup, and pours on the milk.

She looks up at him, trying to peer lower because he's looking down. "Rough day?" she asks sympathetically. She couldn't help it, he looked a little out of sorts. She sets down the cup on the counter. "That'll be 3.50," she tells him. Her palms rest flat on the counter top, leaning on it a bit and wiggling her toes on the floor.

—-

At the speedy espresso, and the attempt to regain eye contact, Peter looks up at her face and that brief smile returns. Really, he would look pretty good for a former detainee. Shower, shave, haircut— it all helps, really. But the eyes— those definitely have more of a haunted look to them. There's so much he doesn't know about what happened the last few nights, where people are— and in some ways he's not completely sure he's even alive. In the public eye, at least.

Opening his coat enough to pull out an envelope, which obviously contains a healthy chunk of cash, and pulls out the smallest bill he can find, a ten. Maybe he just got paid today? Or more honestly he "borrowed" a stash of cash from his mother's house while on the run. "Been a rough couple of days, really." Not quite as tough as the days right before he went nuclear over New York, but that's tough to beat, really. Almost. But not quite.

"Thanks," he says as he passes over the money, and tastes the drink she made for him. "Definitely the best coffee I've had in months." Not that it takes much. "Your days been rough?"

—-

Compared to a former detainee, he could be a supermodel. Only less girly looking, at least he doesn't have the pouty lips. But the eyes. The expression within reminded her of her father's, really, though that wasn't exactly cheery conversation fodder. Elena picks up the ten and she smiles at him, ringing him up and calculating the right amount of change with quick taps on the register. The last couple of nights, she just wanted to sleep. Hibernate, really, like a fluffy bear. Just curl under the covers and get back some well deserved energy. But she doesn't have the luxury of that. Not anymore. She just hopes she doesn't develop premature wrinkles.

"Oh, if only," she teases, gesturing towards the envelope as she hands him his change. He probably got paid today. Her check doesn't arrive until tomorrow. At least after everything she's got cash to look forward to. It was hard being poor. "And I'm sorry…that's terrible. I hope things ease up soon."

At the last, she grins. "Don't even get me started," she muses, pouring herself a cup of hot coffee. Black. She'll need it to study when she gets home. "School. Work. ….weird friends. I got into a fight with this guy today….a friend of mine. Kind of like a big brother sort to me. I guess I'm not really so angry now….more hurt than anything. He was being….well. Stupid." She winks at Peter. "Kind of like how real big brothers sometimes are."

—-

Instead of pouty lips, his lower lip hooks down a bit, most noticeable when he talks, and contributing to the lopsided smile that keeps appearing briefly, before fading off. Accepting the change, Peter picks out the one and the coins and drops them into the tip jar. If he hadn't been more worried about his spending money due to not knowing when he'll be able to get more— he might have been more generous. This happens to be his first good coffee beverage in five months. "I hope so," he continues with a nod, continuing to drink on the coffee at the counter, even though he could start making for the door. The lack of customers help keep him from moving away immediately.

Listening to her troubles, the nods continue. Regular troubles. Things he can relate to, more or less. Big brother. The last part, with her wink, actually causes a drop in his expression. Glancing down again, he looks into the espresso for a long moment. "Older brothers can be pretty complicated…" It would appear she hit an odd nerve, one that lowers his eyebrows, and lines his jaw with tension. Yup, that would be a nerve. Doesn't matter what she said /about/ older brothers. All she had to do was mention them.

A tentative moment later, he glances back up. "You have an older brother?"

—-

"Thanks a lot," Elena says with a smile when he drops something in the tip jar. Like her Papa says, every little bit counts. She starts cleaning up the counter, wiping away the spare drops of coffee left even as she nurses her own with one hand, taking a tentative sip after blowing on the cup just a tad. "It will," she says, her eyes on the counter as she scrubs along. "God has a plan for all of us. And I really don't mean to sound like a crazy bible thumper when I say it." She looks up at him and smiles. "It's just that it makes me feel better to think that there's someone looking out for everybody." She shrugs a bit and puts the rag away.

It looks like she hit a nerve at the last one though, watching him cast his eyes down on the ground. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean…" she says hesitantly. But when he says what he does, she smiles. "Sounds like you got one. You two don't get along?" It was the usual story. Big brother, little brother. Sibling rivalries. Could be something different. Maybe they were after the same girl, like in the soaps.

At the last, she blinks. "No….not really. I have two younger ones," she offers. "And a younger sister. It's just that the friend I mentioned is older than me, and he takes care of me like I'm a little sister. At least he tries to, when I'm not being stubborn. So when we fought…." She pauses, and she laughs. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to chatter away. Like you said, rough days." She extends her hand out across the counter. "I'm Elena. Elena Gomez."

—-

Someone looking out for all of them. That definitely gets more in the way of nods from the former hospice nurse, and former prisoner(?) of the Company. Peter gets what she means by God, even without being a Bible carrying born again. Different people have different views of a great divine force ruling over all of them. Evolution, religion… "Destiny," he responds with a nod, his own personal definition. "I get it. Not all destiny is what you want it to be, but— there's definitely something behind all of this." Whatever 'this' happens to be.

"It's okay. Just— complicated. I haven't actually seen my brother in months." Pictures don't count, in this case. He wants to touch his brother's arm, hug him, see him in person. The picture has helped, but it's not enough, either.

"Really, it's okay. It's nice to be able to talk to someone sometimes." And coming from someone who had maybe three people to talk to for the last few months… As soon as she extends the hand, though, he doesn't even think twice than to reach out and accept it. His hand is warm from the espresso, grip firm. As off guard as he is by the conversation, he doesn't even think to not give his full name. "Peter Petrelli."

Yup. Destiny.

—-

"Exactly," she says with a smile. "God I'm so glad you didn't think I was a bible freak or something," Elena says with a lighthearted laugh. "We catholics get a bad rap these days. It's all over the news. And the movies. Have you seen Dogma? We end up becoming the people who created the loophole to unmake existence. Not like…you know. I'm about to end the world from where I stand or anything."

As their hands clasp, it feels like slow motion as he utters his name. She feels certain things. Coffee rushing through his system. It was as if the stars were aligning before her eyes, exploding in a supernova that this very man had caused above the skies of New York in recent memory. In the back of her mind, there is a red thread spiraling out, linking every single other person she's met through the past few weeks. And now this, culiminating in that one single moment that draws her deeper than she even thought possible. And then she realizes….the drawing out, the rushing of blood. It wasn't coming from her. It was coming from -him-. She could feel it through their clasped hands. Just a bit of a tingle. Like the wake of static.

"Peter…." she croaks, her voice suddenly hoarse as her wide, dark eyes stare at him. "….you're Peter Petrelli?"

—-

"I was a nurse. Movies tend to pretend we don't do anything except fetch coffee or hand the doctor a towel," Peter responds with a smile, agreeing with the relatively bad form that media takes with various groups of people. If anything came close to destroying the world, though, it wasn't the Catholics. It might have been the very same young man who reached out for her hand, and said his name. The same man who exploded over New York, and would have exploded right outside Kirby Plaza. If it hadn't been for the same big brother he hasn't seen in months.

For a moment, even if he knows not the source of this particular sensation, he feels something very different as he holds onto the hand. The moments after he finishes his name draws out in silence. Whatever he feels— it's not just the coffee. As he'd said, something is looking after all of them, and he just happened to choose this moment to get coffee. This Starbucks. When she had a night shift.

And she knows his name. For a moment, with the odd feeling running through him, about the only thing he can manage is an oddly confused, and equally hoarse, "Yes?"

—-

His words about movies drown it all out. All she could hear is the sound of her rising heartbeat, the world crashing down on her head. All her words, all everyone's words. About Destiny. Fate. The Future, and fighting the future. She didn't give them much credence simply because of who she was and what she intended to be - a scientist, basing her decisions on information and examining hard, tangible facts. And the man clasping her hand in a secure handshake across from her is very tangible enough. Suddenly, it didn't all seem stupid. Maybe there was such a thing as Fate. Maybe there really was something as Destiny. Maybe there really was -something- out there watching….and moving the pieces.

Her life had gone stranger since her father witnessed Benjamin Winters's kidnapping. Maybe she was seeing what all other Catholics have professed seeing at some point in their lives.

A sign.

A sign that everything she heard wasn't bullshit.

For the moment there is silence, the teenager staring at him unbelievingly from where she is. It had to be a joke. It had to be. But it can't be. He was -still- talking about movies. He has no idea who she was, as it should be. He hasn't spoken to his brother in months. And the alarms. The alarms.

She takes a deep breath. In her mind, she stares at a cliff, and leaps off it, arms outstretched.

"I told you…" she says slowly, quietly. "My name is Elena Gomez. I….was one of the people who tried to rescue you two nights ago."

TO BE CONTINUED

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