2007-05-09: The Spirit Of Mendez


Elena_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Peter utilizes the painting supplies he stashed at the Gomez Apartment to paint another Mendez-inspired future painting. And while there is no death this time around, what Elena sees may be possibly worse. At least in Death, her self-esteem would be intact!

Date It Happened: May 9, 2007

The Spirit of Mendez

The Gomez Apartment, Queens, New York

He had called to ask if it was okay to try it today.

The scientist in her was curious. Elena had never encountered anyone who could paint the future before. If anything, it promises to be interesting. The theme of the last two weeks seems to have been the future, and whatever Peter does might fuel her own inspiration to develop new techniques and ideas for Desiree to use with her own gifts. After all, their discussion about Isaac Mendez had led her to discover a short-term solution as to how to trigger Desiree's powers. It had been tremenduously helpful. Seeing it in action, this time around, might yield the same.

So while waiting for Peter to stop by, she has managed to drag the supplies out of the broom closet, using the little fold-up paper brochure to manage to set up the portable easel they had bought the last time they were at Michael's. She sets up one of the lightweight canvasses on it, and even printed out a set of instructions to detach the canvas safely from the frame and roll it up in case they didn't want people to see what his efforts have wrought. The paints, she has lined up neatly on the coffee table, as well as newspaper, spare rags and a dry cloth for wiping his hands with - the paints were oils, after all. It was counterproductive to give him wet things to clean up with.

She nods to herself in satisfaction, having pushed some of the furniture against the walls to provide him with space.

Since he wasn't there yet, she catches up on her own stuff. She updates Desiree's file, perching her glasses on her nose as she works on her laptop. Dressed in jeans and a fitted, deep purple tanktop, she purses her lips as she digs through a new text she had managed to dig out from the New York Public Library: The Science of Hypnotism.

For this painting trip, Peter's left his puppy at home. Not that she knows of his other one, he hasn't told her. He doubts the two who witnessed it had either. But as he's not actually going to the apartment of a dog trainer, so it didn't make any sense to bring her along. Also— he doesn't know how her apartment feels about pets. The last thing he wants to do is bring his puppy in and get her kicked out of the place because she decided to bark. Instead, he's just standing at the door, dressed in casual clothes, a dark shirt, with a blue second shirt under that and simple jeans. Also tennis shoes. Nothing like he'd wear to see someone special. The only burden he needs to carry, with all the supplies already here, is a carrier bag over his shoulder.

A light knock on the door reveals his presence.

There he is. "Just a minute!" Elena calls at the door, and practically prying herself away from her book and her laptop so she could walk over and open the door, pushing her glasses up her head so they could perch right on top of her hair. Seeing Peter beyond the doorframe, she smiles at him. "You look tired," she observes, taking a step back from the door to let him in. "I was hoping Dezi could be here…" Something must've happened that made her quit calling her Mrs. Russo like she has been. "Since she expressed some interest watching you work, but….I don't know where she is today." She furrows her brows, a worried expression falling on her features - it was odd to look -that- worried when someone was probably just running an errand, but there was something else underlying the look on her face. She looks left and right out the doorway, and closes it behind her, exhaling a sigh. "This seems to be the theme in my last two weeks, trying to tap into the future."

She gestures to the living room. "I set up the stuff while waiting so you don't have to worry about it. Do you want anything to drink?" she asks, looking up at him. She hasn't seen him since that night in the Petrelli mansion, and the fringes of those memories are somewhat fuzzy. That's what happens when you wake up fried at around three o'clock in the morning or so helping one of your closest friends out of the bind his abilities had thrown him in.

"Really?" Peter asks, raising his hand up to his face to rub at his eyes briefly. There's definitely not quite the same level of paleness with red around his eyes like he'd had when she last saw him in the Petrelli house. He'd been overloaded just the same as her, to the point he'd have been in a coma for a week or two had she not been there to help him out, same as he'd helped her. "I don't really feel tired, but…" There /is/ something weighting on his mind. That could be the source of tired tension that he has as he enters, the carrier bag lifting over his head to hang on the other shoulder, and not across his chest.

"I'm sorry she won't be here— would've liked her to see it happen…" She's a lot less likely to haul him up off his feet and look ready to throttle him no matter what's on the canvas… "But it might not even work. It usually doesn't." In fact… "I've never actually gotten it to work when I'm by myself. Maybe I need someone there to watch me." It doesn't really make sense, other than Isaac had been there to watch him the first time. That one time— the time with Cass and Lachlan that he won't mention… those are the only examples he's got.

"Sure— I'll have some juice or tea— whatever you got. We the only ones here?" he asks, glancing around the quiet apartment. He knows her brother's still in town. The younger kids might be gone. Her father could be working… She'd already said the houseguest isn't present.

"Here, I'll take that," Elena says, lifting a hand for the carrier bag so she could stow it away someplace safe, and when he rubs his eyes, she smiles faintly. "Yeah," she says. "It's not anything physical…it's around the eyes." Whenever he hands the bag over, she'll clear up some space in the coat rack nearest the door so she could hang it up properly, and then she moves to the kitchen. Yanking the fridge open, she peers at it, and pulls out a cold pitcher of fresh squeezed orange juice. "You're in luck," she says with a laugh. "Usually Manny drinks my juice by the pitcher." She sets it on the side and looks for a couple of glasses.

"Really?" she asks, looking over her shoulder and she grins at him. "Exhibitionist, huh?" she teases. "Though seriously, it might be a psychological thing. While you have Isaac Mendez's powers, you're still you - and you strike me as the sort to prefer being around people than be alone." She drops some ice cubes in both glasses, and pours the orange juice in. Picking them up, she walks over to hand him one, and takes a sip of hers.

"And yeah, we're the only ones here. Papa needs to work late, and Manny…." Again, that look around her eyes. "Manny does his own thing most days. I keep hoping one day he'll just go to school for the entire day and not cut class, but….when it comes to those things, he doesn't listen to me." She pauses. "…I guess the streak continues though. I found out that— " She exhales a breath. "He's like us. It makes me wonder if Mama was, but I'll never get to ask her." She rubs her own face. "I bumped Dezi up on my priority list, but Manny…." She can't even begin to describe his powers. The image of Armando's face peeling back open resurfaces unwantedly.

There's a faint smile as she takes his bag and sets it on the coat rack. Peter can hardly deny her the right to be an hospitalitable host. The carrier bag itself isn't heavy, but it obviously contains more than a few belongings. Mostly paper work, by the sound it makes when she hangs it up. He follows into the kitchen, looking at the pitcher and waiting for the glass that she hands him. Her question, though, seems to make him fidget, eyes sliding towards the glass he holds, as his weight shifts from one foot to the other. "Not— really. Little of both. Don't mind being alone sometimes, but— guess other times I'd rather have someone there." His entire ability is based on connections to people that he meets, using the ability around them, or by feeling the same as he did… would it be any surprise that he needs people around a lot of the time?

It's her description of her brother that catches most of his attention, even as he takes a rather hardy drink from the glass. He did, after all, just walk a good distance to get here. Wait for a cab for a long time, as well as many other things… "He is? I didn't exibit any abilities that night that I didn't already have— nor afterwards either. Then again I didn't show Drake's ability until we practiced on the rooftop." There's a lot of times he could give as an example where he'd not gotten an ability, not known he had one, or never managed to show it.

Prying on what someone might be able to do isn't exactly in his nature, so instead he sticks to the priority that she already mentioned, "How's Desiree doing? Making any progress with reading Monopoly money?"

"It's okay," Elena says with an easy smile. "I'm the same way. I don't mind solitude though." She gestures to her room. "When I was growing up, I used to climb up on the roof all the time and just stare at the sky. For hours. See jets fly past. Stars. The occasional wayward balloon. I always loved high places, I didn't mind solitude then. But we're meant to be social creatures anyway….no man is an island and all that." She takes another sip of her orange juice. And that wasn't any surprise, really, which is why she said the things she did. Peter was wired differently, though considering what a gentle personality he was, one would think him to shy away from people most of the time. He was a walking paradox, in a way.

"Yeah," she says. "He's been aware of his longer than I've been aware of mine." She looks hesitant, before speaking again. "Though I'm glad about that….he doesn't have the kind of default 'lockdown' like I do. Then again, Manny's always been a volatile personality so I wasn't surprised. It's amazing after these few months studying different anomalistic abilities - it's not just genetic but sometimes, what they actually are can be affected by the bearer's personality. It's fascinating stuff. But…I hope you didn't absorb his. His is dangerous. I'd rather anyone not have what he has."

She turns away to set the glass carefully in the sink after she's finished it. Peter had enough to worry about, so turning gives her an excuse to hide her expression from him. "Desiree and I made a breakthrough actually, thanks to you and what you told me about Isaac Mendez that day in Michael's." She looks over at him. "Not to say I gave her drugs but….my abilities came in handy. I asked permission, of course, and I did just a bit for her to keep unfocused. It seemed to do the trick. She managed to do it that first time, and then another time without my help." She gives Peter a tired, but triumphant smile. "Diving into the future, I've found, can be really nasty business. But…so long as we can do something about it. I'm just glad I'm able to just…come up with these ideas. Maybe I'm meant to do this sort of work."

She pauses, and looks around cautiously. "I got Jane's message," she tells Peter haltingly. "About the bugs. Cass called me, and said she actually -found one- in her store. They're onto us." She pauses, and slides her hands in her pockets. "Some woman has been approaching me on campus, finding excuses to speak with me. I've been warned about her, by Dr. Suresh. I haven't told Cass. I should."

"Yeah— I used to do similar things. Not the roof usually— but I'd just stare at the sky for hours sometimes," Peter admits, not mentioning that he actually did that all night the day before he tried jumping off the roof of a building. "Depends on what mood I'm in, I guess." When he's down, depressed, or deep in thought… he'd rather be alone. But there's something about the painting— it definitely requires a different set of emotions that that, relying heavily on a desperation to know where he needs to go, what he's supposed to do. The need to save people, help someone… all that factors heavily into his painting. And seems to be further stimulated by the finished product.

Her brother's ability makes him frown, giving a small nod. "I have a lot of dangerous abilities, but— I'll call before I come over, if you think it's best I don't meet him again— if we shouldn't chance me getting it." Especially if it doesn't have a lockdown. Hers could be very dangerous, but without a lockdown… the power might be considered rather unstable. And him having an unstable ability? Not good.

He too finishes up his glass a bit after she does, setting it down next to the sink and resisting the urge to rinse them out himself. Not his house, don't meddle… "Yeah— seeing the future rarely brought about anything good— other than the knowledge that helps avoid it. Then again… the first future painting I ever saw was me— jumping off the roof of my building. That's when I decided to try to fly. I'd had the dream for weeks— and seeing the painting kind of— well, I started to believe my dreams more." He won't say how he failed to fly until he almost hit the ground and killed himself— there's a lot that went on over that. He doesn't know how thoroughly she examined the news reports about him. And his failed suicide attempt. "Whatever she saw— I hope it helps you stop it from happening," he adds, assuming that it's bad.

"I'm glad. I would've called myself, but— she said she would do it. I figured giving you two messages about the same thing would be pointless." There's a nod about the agent, as if he's heard this part before, and he's pretty sure he has, but— "I think the bug was planted by Niki Sanders, one of the employees at the store— ex-employees now. She— has another personality, an illness, apparently. Jessica. I found out through Elle that Jessica was working with the Company, has been for a while. So— she's probably the one who planted the bug. I've been checking my apartment over— haven't found anything yet, but I've avoided any conversations that they might track. Hopefully they haven't found this place… but if Manny's as dangerous as you say— they probably would have showed up to take him in by now, if they knew."

"That might be a good idea," Elena says softly. "Besides….Manny tends to be annoyed instantly when I bring guys home, even if they've all just been friends." She looks over at Peter. "The last thing I want him to do is snap. What's worse about it is the fact that he has absolutely no restraint. If he thinks it's warranted to use his gifts, he'll do it. He doesn't have the discipline. Not yet, though Papa and him talked recently - truth be told I was dreading it. Manny and Papa….ever since Mama died, they didn't get along. They always fought. It seems afterwards though, they reached a different understanding." She exhales a breath, and manages a smile. "Believe me when I say I'm rather relieved."

She listens to the story about the first painting, crossing her arms loosely over her chest and leaning her hip against the sink, watching him attentively as he walks over to set the glass next to hers in the basin. "Dreams?" Elena wonders, looking at him. "…you mean you had dreams of flying before you actually flew?" It sounded like a different power to her. "It sounds more like Dezi's, if it's an ability you have. Except she has to be awake. It's almost like divining through an object, like those movies where the Seer gazes at a crystal ball. Only hers has been my other brother's Magic Eye books." She wasn't aware of the suicide attempt, in the one time she actually looked into him, it was to look for a picture, to assure herself Starbucks wasn't a fluke and it wasn't just some psychic beatnik playing her. All she knew about Peter came from, mostly, Peter himself. And she preferred it that way.

"Wait. Ms. Sanders?" she wonders. "….really? But….she seemed so…-normal-." She looks a little startled. "I mean, it's not like Multiple Personality Disorder isn't unheard of, MPD is well documented, but….." She nods. "I think we're safe to talk freely here. I mean, for the longest time I've managed to be able to hide my abilities. Even when the Haitian visited me the first time, I don't think they were actually aware that I had abilities. I think they thought I was normal, probably why they let me go without the mark." She pulls her hair back to reveal the smooth skin where her neck met her shoulder. "…I'd….really like to prefer it that way. I don't think the bookstore crew even knows what I do exactly. Besides, why would they go after me when they have Dr. Aldric's daughter to worry about."

She narrows her eyes. "I wonder if…" They had to be after something. Something Cass has. The only important thing she knew kept near Cass at all times was the coded ledger she had shown her, when they traded data. "So….was this 'Jessica' character after anything in particular?"

Yeah— Manny sounds dangerous. If the Company had this place bugged, he wouldn't have even made it to school the next day. He's exactly the kind of person that they claim to go after, idealy. Peter isn't sure what to make of it himself. Hopefully the conversation with his father will keep him restrained. Or at least make it so he doesn't lose it on people… as for the /boys/ she brings home… There's a smile in return, eyes sliding away from her to watch her move the glasses around. "I hope everything goes well with that." He knows what it's like to be a danger to others— but it's the ethic that people should worry about— hopefully this young man will find something.

"Yeah— first dream was months before, actually. My brother's car accident, the one that crippled Heidi. I dreamed it. In enough detail to know that there was another car involved— something they hid from the police report. I woke up and knew it'd happened before I got the phone call," he explains, seeming to agree that it's different, from the way he's nodding at her description. "And I dreamed I was the bomb too— before we'd known what caused it." Not as nice as the flying dream at all.

"Yeah— I had no idea either. She seemed really nice— strong, likeable— but her alter— Jessica— I definitely don't want to meet her again." And he won't outright say why.

There's a frown as she mentions 'Dr. Aldric's daughter— he knows the name, but he hasn't heard much about Cass' dad. It's not something he should pry about. Moving away from the counter, he pauses, "Well— according to Cass she asked about Mendez' paintings. Apparently the bookstore had one. Pretty sure she stole /that/. She— also could have been after the list that Alyssa was making. Elle knew about it— and she's after it too. I've told her it was destroyed when the sprinklers went off, and… she's trying to get me to give her the names on the list." That's something he'd definitely not mentioned before, and looks reluctant to mention now. He's not even making eye contact, even moving away a bit, as if to go find the painting set up. "I agreed to it, to keep her from going after those in the bookstore again. And because of Sylar. There's some people who need really protection…" And he's terrified he can't protect everyone. "I haven't told her any— and… I won't mention you. Or your brother, or you father. Or Desiree. Won't mention anyone at all if I can avoid it… if I can't— only the ones they already know about."

There is a pause, and she looks over at him. "I tried to sneak out of the mansion after…that night," Elena broaches hesitantly. "I ran into Heidi. She couldn't sleep." Yes, it's Heidi now, not Mrs. Petrelli like before. Something must have happened, or something was discussed, to make the young woman comfortable enough to address the former congressman's wife so informally. "We talked about a few things. Mostly about what she's going to do with her sons. If this is genetic…..she had to know about this eventually, Peter. I mean, what if they started showing and what if she wasn't prepared for it? Something awful could've happened. So….in case they did I gave her my number. She knows I've been studying the phenomenon when I can." She sighs and pushes her fingers through her hair. "She mentioned that ….I remember hearing the name from you before. Linderman. She said he healed her. By touching her hand. She told me the damage to her spinal chord was massive, and she shouldn't have been able to walk again….but she did."

She listens to the rest. "….so wait. Heidi's accident. That was quite a while ago, wasn't it? You mean you had these dreams before….you started flying?" Before everything? Who did he absorb it from? Was that when his powers started manifesting? If that was the case, then Peter's abilities unlocked rather late in his life. Not as late as her father's, but he was on the other side of the spectrum as Manny, Drake, Eric, and possibly even Gene. Given Jaden's advanced control of his abilities, he probably started out young too. Peter was one of the rare late bloomers she's encountered.

"Wait, she -had a Mendez-?" she says, her eyes widening. She didn't notice any paintings in Cass's store, then again, she was brought in this rather late. "Do you know what was on it?" she asks, watching him move around her kitchen. She doesn't approach him, uncrossing her arms so she slides her hands in her pockets. She seems…rather content to keep it that way for a moment, for some strange reason.

Though when he says what he does, she stares at him. In fact she doesn't say anything for a while. There was a flash of anger there, that he was seriously considering doing -that- again. Her eyes glint with that feral light, and for a moment it looks like she's about to yell at him, storm over to where he is and shake him by the shoulders and exclaim that he shouldn't be trusting the same people who WIPED HIS GIRLFRIEND. And while she's mollified a touch when he mentions he plans to keep her and her family out of it… she looks away abruptly, her jaw setting. Her fingers clench in the lining of her pockets.

At the same time, in his shoes, that seemed to be pretty hopeless. He was in the middle, between his girlfriend and his friends. Could she honestly eviscerate him verbally for that? Did she have the stomach to? Despite his great powers, his selfless concern for others, Peter was just….a normal joe at heart. Phenomenal cosmic powers aside, he was just….

Her shoulders slowly untense, and she exhales a breath. "I don't like it," she tells him honestly, gentling her expression as she looks at him. "But….just be careful, okay? I know you're doing the best you can but….you don't have to do everything by yourself, Peter. With Sylar. With the Company. With everything. In case you missed it, a lot of people love you."

"I know. I'd wanted to tell her for a while— but was Nathan's to tell her," Peter tries to explain, giving a hint of a sad smile. He's just glad that no one's shown up to wipe her memory or anything. "Do wish she wouldn't have had to learn the way she did— it must have been really hard on her." Linderman healed. There's something fundamentally wrong with that. To be honest he hadn't even known that's who'd done it, but— now it makes sense. Maybe Nathan knew he could heal and had played along with Linderman to get Heidi fixed? It's a nice thought… but one he's not going to put too much stock in. Whatever happened to the well known mob boss anyway?

"Yeah— it was a few days before our father died, actually. The night of my graduation party, from nursing school. A year ago now." Has it really been that long? The more he thinks on it— yes it really has. Back when he'd saved Claire it'd been six months ago— now it's been a year. He's definitely a late bloomer, in comparison to many of her friends.

"That's what she said. Said the owner of the store before her'd bought it. Might have been a replica, or an original, I'm not sure, but she had it— said she'd hid it after Jack told her about what it was, especially with the Company being after the paintings." No one really wants the Company after them more than they need to be. "Whatever I manage to paint here today— that'll likely be something they'll want."

Speaking of painting, he moves away slowly, avoiding eye contact as she reacts to his confession. Again. This isn't the first time he's talked about working with them loosely. Not the first time at all. She's usually one of the people he'd admit it to. One of the only. As he approaches the painting set up, he hooks his thumbs into his belt loops and looks at the canvas quietly, "I don't like it either," he admits sadly. "But— I don't know what else to do right now…" It's said so softly, voice so quietly pained, that he's— really not sure what else he could do. What he's been asked to do might very well break him. Especially if he does it. He doesn't have to do everything by himself… people love him. "I know— but one of the people who loves me had me ripped out of her memory once already. In some ways… being with me hurts her. Maybe it would have been better for her if she'd just continued to forget me. Maybe anyone who loves me is going to end up getting hurt. Simone… Nathan… Heidi… Elle…"

"Yeah…I explained that to her," Elena says softly, looking out the window overlooking the street in their fifth-floor apartment. The couple in the building across from her were fighting again. She could hear the baby wailing even from where she was. She doesn't look at him, her hands in her pockets and separated by the huge space between the living room and the kitchen. For once she doesn't have the fortitude to look at him, she was too busy thinking, battling her own convictions and her own sense of right and wrong. It was a shitty position to be in, but at the very least the flash of visible anger had dissipated as quickly as it had come.

She nods, at what he says about his graduation party. It might very well be the first power he's ever absorbed. But from who? That was the question. Not his brother's, she knows Nathan can fly, she's seen him. One of his parents? A classmate in nursing school? She wondered what grand event in his life triggered it. Perhaps Fate designed it in such a way that he got it the very night his brother and sister-in-law were about to have an accident.

"Good ol' Jack," she murmurs, a quirk of a small smile curling up on her mouth. Say what anyone will of Jack Derex, the fact of the matter was when he dispensed advice, it was usually sound and practical. He wasn't colored with idealism, which made his presence in her life much more valuable. It was all about balance, before she could fall off the edge.

At the last, her head snaps towards him, blinking at him. Pushing away from the counter, she walks to the living room, finally, approaching him as he looks away. Standing a few inches from him, she shakes her head. "Don't be an idiot, Peter," she says, simply, in that usual, straightforward way, the line of her mouth reflecting the seriousness in her eyes. "Getting hurt is a fact of life. The fact that we all experience pain and take it is a measure of our strength as a species. People will get hurt. People will die. But those who don't will rise beyond it. Loving you is -not- a cause for all bad things to happen, it's just the natural consequence of people who recognize something -precious- and -worth protecting.-" She reaches out a hand to touch his arm, so he'll get the hint and look at her. "So I don't want to hear that crap from you. Ever again. You hear me, Peter Petrelli?"

Here he is, descending into a quiet angst while staring at the empty canvas of decent size, when she calls him on his silliness. Peter glances away from it towards her, blinking a few times at what she has to say, the words especially. She's so adult sounding it's no surprise he'd been confused by her age for some time. The frown doesn't vanish entirely, but until she says his full name. That's when there's a hint of a smile, tugging on one corner of his mouth, before he glances down and away. Something precious and worth protecting, huh? There's a lot of that in this city— and outside it. A lot of them connected by lines of destiny, just as she'd always said since they met. Fate— the fickle dreamer that it happens to be— has a plan for them. All of them.

"All right," is all he says simply when he looks back up to her face. "Thanks…" Sometimes he needs to get put in his place, at least he's not resenting it. Could be because of who it came from. Even if he still believes he's putting the people who love him in danger. "You're right— that's exactly why I keep getting hurt. Keep finding things that are precious… worth protecting."

There's a pointed quality to what he just said, and she's smart enough to figure it out, as he turns to find the brush and the pallet. "Okay— let's give this a try." Ignore what he just said, focus on the painting— the future. "Maybe this'll tell us some way to stop what's coming— that'd be nice, wouldn't it? A way to stop Sylar— the tornado— what's…" Going on with Cass… He doesn't finish that, though, skipping noticibly as he goes to… "Everything. Though at this point I'd settle for a shockingly happy picture…" He doubts it'll happen.

Alright, canvas… tell him what he needs to know— where he needs to go— what he needs to do— Or what someone else does. Just don't show him someone dead again—

Elena Gomez, Angst Killer. That ought to be her superhero name should she ever don the cape with Jaden. Granted Peter had a lot going on in his life that it would never be erased fully, she still tried her best. At nineteen years old, her greatest strength seemed to stretch in various angles. Observation, perhaps, her insight onto life based on living away from the prestige that New York offered its elite. She knew what it was like to work, what it was like to experience tragedy. She knew what it was like to come across something bigger than herself, and she knew that she did extremely dumb things on occasion like the one Gene called her on. People needed that sometimes, a conscious, someone to pull the other back from the edge. If Hiro was right and they needed Peter to stop whatever it was that was happening, she'll be doing her part by making sure he doesn't implode.

Along with everything else.

"You're welcome," she says, nodding, and giving him a small smile, traces of lingering anger from earlier vanishing from her eyes and leaving them clear. She nods at what he says, though at the last part she can't help but blink at him. It was…the -way- he said it that catches her attention, the look. She stares at him for a few more moments, her lips parting to say something - but ending up frozen. Instead, she looks away, and that small smile broadens. "So- -" Her throat felt dry, so she clears it and tries again. "Yeah so…..if you find a c-note or something the next time you go walking around here, maybe you can give it to this financially burdened girl you know so she can pay for her books next semester," she teases. Hey. Green Benjamins are precious too!

She takes a step back, and folds her arms loosely over her torso and back to work mode, she nods. "Did Jane tell you about the tornado?" she asks. "The one in Central Park?" But she doesn't say anything else save for that. She falls quiet, to let him work. To see just how he works his mojo this time around.

There's a laugh, and Peter glances over, "Hey, dinner's on me whenever the financially burdened girl asks for it." It's said as a joke, but there's definitely truth there. He'd hardly make her pay for her meals, when she's far more likely to need the cash than he does, even with her job prospects thanks to her friend Jaden Cain. "I actually have a job now. I'll be helping out at the bookstore four days a week— taking over Niki's old shifts. She— well, Jessica— quit her job. And don't think Cass is gonna want her back anyway." Not after the bugs, and the painting, knocking her unconscious and eviscerating her friend…

Looking back at the canvas, he takes slow breaths, waiting for the sign of color moving along the white blank form, waiting to see the same thing he'd seen in Lachlan's old place, where he'd painted the death of Cass and hundreds others on the streets of Times Square. "Jane mentioned it, yeah— and there was a bit on the news about the odd weather," he says, frowning. "Also about Agent Salonga and the young woman and man with her." /Agent Salonga/. That's a bit familiar on his part, isn't it? "I met her a few times," he admits quietly, before— there— there it is.

That's it. Exactly what he's looking for. "Elena— I see it— in the canvas," he gives as a small warning before— it begins. A deep breath that causes his eyes to close starts it off. When his eyes open, they're glazed over— similar to how hers looked— something she couldn't have seen in herself. It looks very odd in him. Blinded and unaware as he may be, he steps forward and starts painting, moving in a way completely foreign. With a purpose. And nothing she says, or does, can stop him. He's not really in control of his actions, or even aware of what he's doing.

"Peter, you're my friend, not a food stamp," Elena says stubbornly, crossing her arms over her chest and giving him a look. She can't help but grin at the sound of his laugh, however, the earlier awkwardness fading away in lieu of joking around. And while she knows that….well, just watch him stop her, if he could. "Besides, I like home cooking more than going out. Probably because I have to do it so often, not liking it would be torture….but I have very pleasant memories attached to the act which is probably why." She slides her hands in her pockets, fidgeting. What's going to happen? This time? Please let it not be another disaster. She doubts she can handle any more dark visions after the last two.

"Agent Salonga? Claudine?" she says. She frowns a little bit. She's been hearing that name more often these days, it might be stretching towards the inevitable. With her dogging Drake and Eric, and now Peter who knows her…. she's starting to doubt coincidence despite the lack of hard facts.

When she's warned, she becomes attentive. She gives him space to work. "I'll watch," she says simply. Watch, and observe. She wants to see how this works. She wants to see if whatever he does, how he does it, maybe it will work on Dezi. It goes back to what she had told him before about common roots in abilities, another one of her theories. And when his eyes open, and look….a very pale blue, she almost jumps in surprise. What the— what WAS that?!

The painting slowly takes shape as Peter dabs his brushes into the paint, and applies them on the canvas with large, broad strokes. It is nothing at first, a miasma of color that has yet to be woven together to make sense. Finally, the images appear - the steel pole, the stage. The silhouettes of men in the audience. The atmosphere, while brightly lit, have dark shades creeping from the corners. Despite the fact that it's looking like a performance of something, the atmosphere looks ominous, with all of the crimson and black. And then, the figure of a young woman, dressed in a black bra-top, a thong, and a pair of leather chaps. One leg is hooked around the pole, one arm braced straight against it. The cowboy hat is dangling from her shoulders thanks to the tie. Whoever she was, she had blonde hair, tossed freely around her, tanned skin gleaming under the scarlet glow of lights. It was a provocative picture, then again, it was of a stripper. Somewhere to the side, close to the bar, is another figure. Another woman, a blonde, taller, and somewhat older, with a smirk that would probably be extremely familiar to Peter.

The girl on the pole herself wouldn't be recognizable….if it wasn't for the distinct crucifix around her throat, resting in the dip of her collarbones.

And when it was done, there is silence.

And then, an: "OH. MY GOD." Someone just realized who the girl was.

The brush drops away after the final stroke, leaving the painting unsigned. It's almost as if the strings holding a puppet up are cut, because Peter even stumbles backwards a bit as his eyes close and reopen, no longer glazed over pupil-less blue, but hus normal brown with some signs of green within. Looking at the painting for a long moment as he tries to figure it out. The woman in the background, the smirk, catches his eye first, and then he looks at the provokative dancer, not recognizing her right away. There's so much different— he might not have gotten the picture at all if it wasn't for her sudden 'Oh My God'.

Her reaction draws his eyes, to her— and he catches the crucifix around her neck. Then he looks back at the painting. Crucifix around her neck… And then he looks right back at Elena, eyes widening. …At least no one's dead in this one? "Maybe— maybe I shouldn't leave this painting with you," he finally says, looking back at it and trying his best not to laugh or smile. And he /fails/. He was expecting something really horribly terrible, and this— Sure, it's NOT respectable at all. But it's certainly better than bullet holes in someone's body, or a broken neck.

Yes, he's definitely smiling lopsidedly, and there's even a hint of laughter in his breath.

Oh my god. OH MY GOD. WHAT IS THIS? Elena is staring at the painting with her eyes as round as dinner plates, and then, she walks over. Yes, she -dares- come close to it. And then? After staring at it some more, she takes several steps back. AWAY from her future, and POINTS at it. "Wh…wh…I….NO! I….what IS that? I'd NEVER wear anything like that!" she cries, horrified. "And….and….I -like- not being a blonde! And….oh my god those are fake pistols, aren't they? This HAS to be Jaden's fault, somehow. He's ALWAYS the one getting me to costume up! And— wh…is that a LASSO? Oh my god. OH. My god! And that— oh my god. No. No way. Is Ms. Sanders my PIMP?!"

Cue her head imploding. This can't be her future. It CAN'T. She had a life. She was a good girl. She had a bright career in SCIENCE waiting for her. She had a scholarship to NYU, she wouldn't need to strip to pay her way through college! So why….and….oh god. Oh god. She's turning into a very interesting shade. So red that she's purple. So purple she's gray.

She -rounds- on Peter and gapes at him. "You….you couldn't paint me CURING CANCER or something?!" she blurts out. She can't help it.

She groans, and does what she does when she's embarassed. She flops on the nearest surface, dragging the nearest pillow to OSTRICH herself in the cushions. Yes. She's burying her head underneath it, moaning in sheer embarassment and abject horror. What. WHAT. WHAT?!

At his suggestion, there is silence, and then: "….yes please." It sounds meek. "I….Papa would -murder someone- if he saw that painting."

Now really is not the time to be laughing. Not the time at all. Peter tries his very best to contain it. And after a few moments, he does, at least as much as he can. Mostly he's not cackling in her face, it's more he's looking as if he might start snickering. It isn't until she flips out and rounds on him like it's /his fault/ that he can't contain it anymore. He starts laughing, real laughter, not just choked back or breathed laughter. Oh man, he's so sorry, Elena. Why do people always act like what he paints is /his/ fault? Because maybe it is. Who knows…

It isn't until she ostriches herself under the pillow that he walks over and puts a hand on her back, luckily the one without paint splotched all over it, laughter very much present in his voice as he speaks, "You could be… under cover or something…" He's really, really trying not to laugh. But it doesn't work. He's still laughing. The free hand, paint splotched, onto his face, trying his best to bite it back.

"Yeah— I'll— take it home with me. Cover it up somehow— in case the place is wired for video…" And oh god, he's laughing again. Really. This is terrible, but… He's trying to say something to console her, but finally he just closes his eyes and laughs, actual moisture hanging in his lashes. Yeah, she made him laugh until he cried. Oh man.

"Why?" Elena moans. "Why is it that every week, I have to be embarassed by something? Am I being too proud these days? Was it because I sold out a simple job to work at EvoSoft? Is it because Jaden CURSED ME FOREVER?" Alright so she's being a little overdramatic, but she knows that some day, SOME HOW, she will laugh about this. Eventually. Just….not right now when her FUTURE IN POLEDANCING is looming at her from the easel. At least some good came out of this, Peter sounds like, from beyond her Pillow of Safety (tm), he's laughing so hard he might actually hurt for a while. Maybe she was undercover. There's the spin.

And he's so trying to contain it. She appreciates the effort, really, but she feels the hand on her back….and the fresh burst of -sobbing- laughter from him. She sits up, and glowers at him. For good measure, she tosses the pillow she's been hiding her face in right at him. He's close by, considering he followed her to the couch.

"Alright alright alright. I get it. I'm hilarious," she GROANS, but she cracks a grudging grin towards him despite the blush heating her cheeks at the horror and embarassment. "Just…just….." She groans again as she looks at the painting. "You guard that thing under pain of death. Not a -word- to anyone, okay?" She looks at Peter, and seeing the -tears- in his eyes from laughing so hard, she buries her face in her hands. "Oh my god," she says again, a bit of unhinged laughter choked into her palms.

"I get it, pain of death," Peter says with a laugh, reaching up and touching her cheek while still laughing, getting a small smear of reddish paint on her skin, just as he's gotten some smeared on his own. He's definitely going to need to clean up before he heads home. Now, the real question… how is he going to get a still drying canvas all the way back to his apartment where he can hide it somewhere no one can see. His closet has space, sure, and almost no one goes in there, including himself. It's usually closed with Snowy around. He takes out his phone, to snap a digital image, in case it gets smudged or destroyed in transit.

Clicking the image, he tries his best to get a few good digital copies, before he closes his phone and puts it away. He's /still laughing softly/, and his sides hurt. "You're not cursed, Elena. You still look good— we'll just have to make sure you wear more," he says with a smile, "Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to get this home…" Cause /someone/ will have to see it. "Guess I can carry it invisible…" It could work. Teleportation would be useful right now. If he could remove the canvas and roll it up, he thinks it might be small enough to use Jack's ability— maybe not, though.

"Hate to say it— but it may have to stay here overnight— at least until it dries," he looks towards her. "Unless you'd rather just destroy it. First painting that doesn't show someone dead I've ever done…" Just shows someone nearly naked.

She smiles at the touch on her cheek, and Elena glances over to the still-drying painting. "You can probably spray some of the primer on it, and I can drag the electric fan out to stick it close to the painting so it'll dry out faster," she says. "Also….I printed out some instructions. Apparently if you undo the staples at the back, we can actually unfold the canvas from the frame, roll it up, and stick it in a tube. I think that's actually a lot better for space. I've seen your pad, you don't have a lot of it. To make it as compact as possible would be key."

She looks up at Peter's face, and grins when she sees the paint on him. "I'll get you a rag. You can't use water - they're oils. Water won't do you any good," she says, standing up from the couch, finally. Walking to the broom closet, she pulls out the electric fan stored there, and drags it to the painting. After plugging it in, she sticks the head directly towards the painting, to get it to dry faster.

She heads into the kitchen to get some cloth to wipe his face with. "No….like you said before, these paintings ought to be taken care of. Part of Isaac Mendez is still alive because of you. It…sounds weird, but I think destroying what you paint through his abilities might be a little disrespectful. Besides…." She looks over at the painting again. "….these things are glimpses of the future, right? There might be clues hidden in there. We just have to look a little more closely is all."

Finding a dry washcloth in one of the cabinets, she walks over to him, and lifts her hand to wipe away a spot of blue on his face. "You know, I think this is one of the few abilities that you have that I didn't see you strain yourself with," she murmurs pensively. "Moving objects with your mind, you can do without a lot of strain. Invisibility you can do almost effortlessly. Mindreading however…." Then again she didn't see him when he was using her powers, she was blind at the time.

"Right— this is why I need you. You're the smart one," Peter admits, still smiling. Though a moment later he glances back towards the painting and tilts his head a bit. "And good to look at too," he adds with a smile, and a wink. It's a tease, really. What she's said all sounds like a good plan, so he goes to wipe off with the rag, while she helps with the primer. "I agree— I don't want to destroy it. But— rolling it up'll save space, make it easier to store, and hide from people. Guess it'll be our secret." Just like the last painting he'd done is a secret between him and those two.

"Really? Didn't strain me at all? I— honestly don't remember doing any of it," he looks back at the painting with a frown. "I just— saw color. It was like it was… flowing on the canvas. Like… a picture… reflected on water, and someone throwing a pebble into it so I can't quite see it, but I knew it was there… Like that," he says, not sure how else to explain it, shaking his head a bit. "But— yeah, I don't feel winded or strained or anything…"

His face had even been completely calm, purposeful, as if someone else stepped in to his body and did everything for him. "After I saw the… rippling image, next thing I remember I'm stepping back and it's all done… But I've spent hours standing in front of a canvas or a pad of paper and haven't gotten a thing," he adds on, as kind of a counter to 'this isn't that hard'. It's just not hard when it actually happens. "This is only the third one I've done."

She GROANS when he headtilts at the painting. "Don't start," Elena says, swatting him lightly on the arm and giving him a smile to counter the wink. She sprays on the primer and lets it dry off for a few, and takes a step back, letting the electric fan do what it's supposed to do. Crossing her arms over her chest, she looks past the image of her at the pole, and to Niki/Jessica standing at the bar. "….I wonder what she's doing there…" she murmurs softly, more to herself than to Peter. "I don't know her that well…"

She looks over at Peter and she nods. "Painting is supposed to be a calming activity, that could be it. Or…I don't know. Maybe you were bodysnatched in a way, by the Spirit of Mendez." She grins. She does believe in ghosts, a little bit. "Still, I suppose the catch is -when- you can activate the power, as opposed to the how. This is only the third you've done? You mentioned the doodle you did when you were in the hospital."

Yeah, these things seem to visit him rather sparsely. It wasn't like Desiree's, which hit more frequently. "And you don't remember anything? Really?" she says, looking over at him. "So….even when you're painting….you're not conscious of whatever movements you're making? That's….that's pretty hardcore."

Cleaning most of the oil paints off his hand, Peter nods, agreeing not to start anymore than he already has, looking towards the painting again, and the other blonde woman. "I don't know. Niki— is a good person. She really is. Jessica on the other hand… The smile's got a lot more of Jessica in it. Maybe that's who you're trying to trick, or catch— or something… I dunno. It's difficult to tell. Maybe we'll need to go around and look at strip clubs and figure out which one you're dancing at." There's a long pause, before he says, "Or not." Cause— yeah. That'd go over well.

"Could be. Oh— I'm only counting the times I painted. The stick figures… they don't really count. I remember doing them. Was just doodling— happened to come true is all. This— looks pretty close to what Isaac did, his style, the way he used to paint… could be that…" He trails off, trying to figure it out.

"Could be that the way the person used the ability has an affect on how I use it. The guy— the cop that I got telepathy from— he seemed to strain a lot. More than your dad, more than the other telepath I've met. It's getting easier… but— it could have a lot to do with that." That worries him a little considering the way some people whose powers he has has used theirs.

"But yeah— no idea what I was doing. Can't paint." He can barely draw stick figures!

"Well if it's a trick, it'd be convincing. I do dance. Just not….like that," Elena says, testing a paint glob with a finger. It was somewhat sticky still, so she leaves the fan on it for a few more moments. But the primer helps, and it's drying at a good pace. "And I believe you, Drake seems to think so when he approached Ms. Sanders that…one time," she says, thinking back. It felt so long ago. "Hopefully I'll never meet this Jessica side of her if she's as bad as you say she is." She glances at him surreptitiously. While she wonders how he knows her, she doesn't pry. But when he suggests going around strip clubs and figure out which one, she grins. "Clever, but I think I'll try and concentrate on preventing -this- from happening. I'm starting to wonder if something happens at some point that I….lose my scholarship." By the look on her face, one would think the thought would be one of the -worst- things that could ever happen to her.

When he gives her his impressions, she listens, nodding thoughtfully and scratching at the red bit of paint on her cheek - though she doesn't know it's there. "Well we talked about that before. It seems that not only do you absorb different abilities from the people you meet….you also …reflect some of their personalities while you use them. You told me about using Telekinesis which you absorbed from Sylar….you said you felt more aggressive when you used it. And then, with the telepath you acquired that ability from…." She purses her lips, chewing on the bottom one a touch. "So if Isaac Mendez was a heroin user and he used the drug to be able to paint the future….no wonder you don't remember anything."

She slides her hands in her pockets, a lock of hair dropping to fall over one of her eyes at her exhale. "So the third is this one…what about the others? I mean…if you don't mind telling me. I know I'm a little nosy sometimes."

"I hope you never do either," Peter says, leaving it at that. Watching the paint dry, he stands there quietly, trying to imagine what could bring her to such a state where she'd get rid of her values and do such a thing. A stripper. They do pay well, or so he's heard, but there had to be a better way to make money. Surely her friend's company wouldn't crumble so badly that she'd need /that/ much money…

"Yeah— like that," he says, not exactly liking what they're talking about, though he has suggested it before. He won't mention that during the rescue Heidi mission… he very nearly wanted to strangle some of those men— he probably would have, if Arnold hadn't appeared in time to save the day.

But anyway— three paintings. Yeah, he just dug himself into a ditch there, didn't he? "They're— they— I really need to get going. Um… Do you have anything I can put this in? A poster tube maybe?" he asks, as he steps up to the canvas and tests it, then starts to undo it so he can roll it up. Yeah, he can't explain one of the two other paintings he'd done. Not at all.

Seeing Peter look at the painting quietly, Elena laughs and shakes her head. "It's not going to happen," she says lightly. Besides, at least he didn't paint her dead. "Besides, now that I know it -might-, it'll only make me watch myself more. That's the aim anyway, yeah? To be careful? Actually this might serve as a warning to curb my lately-reckless ways or something. Wake up call and all." She leaves it at that and rubs her eyes with one hand.

When Peter mentions he has to go, she nods. "Have at it," Elena says, handing Peter the staple remover so he could undo the canvas at the back. While she senses that he doesn't want to talk about the other paintings, she lets it go. She gives him a wink. "It's okay to tell me when you don't want to talk about something, Peter. I'm your friend, I'm not your mother, or your sister or anything like that. You're not obligated to tell me anything. And I'm -okay- with that. Seriously." She turns around then, and walks over to the broom closet. "….ummmm….let me see what I can find…"

She digs around for a little bit. Finding the protective tube that held the blueprints to their old house, she hesitates, but uncaps the thing, slides the old blueprints out to stow it at the top shelf. She'll go out tomorrow and buy another one. This was a little more important. She steps out, shuts the door, and hands the tube to him. Then she'll start on putting away the electric fan.

"I painted another picture recently," Peter admits, giving her a glance. "Before this one. But— I promised not to tell anyone about it. Kinda like I can't tell anyone about this one," he nods towards the one on the canvas as he starts to remove the staples, and then roll it up carefully. It's dry enough, thankfully, but he's still doing it very slowly, as if he's afraid to ruin it. She's right. It's a piece of Isaac. A painting that he could have done, had he still been alive. It's a legacy that he doesn't want to destroy.

Tucking the painting into the tube, he closes it up and watches her quietly for a few moments before he goes and takes the tube to the carrier bag, stuffing it inside so it sticks out, and picks up the towel he cleaned his hand off with as he returns to her side. He reaches out and touches her face with his empty hand and sliding his fingers behind her neck. "I got a little paint on you," he explains, bring the towel up to rub off the light smear of red paint on her face— the same as he'd rubbed off his hand, and most of the smears on his. He still has a little streak of red on his nose, but he's more concerned with hers.

Letting his hand drop away when she's cleaned off, he glances back towards the set up. "I really should get going…" Even if part of him wants to stay and help clean up. The hand that he'd her head in place also slides away, touching her shoulder to grip it briefly. "I'll see you later."

"It's okay," Elena says, and what she says is true. She gives Peter a reassuring smile. "No one can tell just one person everything. It's the way we're wired. Don't worry about it, Peter, seriously. We all have skeletons in our closets. It can't be helped, especially with what we know. Besides, you never force me to tell you anything, to do otherwise with you would be rather unjust." She quirks her smile into a broader grin, the dimple showing on her left cheek. "So relax. I'm not going to stomp my feet and rail at you because you're hiding things from me. You're entitled."

She busies herself shoving the electric fan into the broom closet. She'll work on rearranging the furniture and putting all the supplies back in the closet later. But when she turns around, Peter's approached her, and she inclines her head up slightly, her mouth opening to ask the usual 'what's up' when his fingers touch her face. "I— oh, you did?" she asks, her hand lifting up to rub self-consciously at her nose. "Where? Did I get it?"

And then he does it for her. "I— okay," she says. It's a little sheepish, perhaps even a little apprehensive, though she does smile at him. There's an embarassed, almost a shy edge to the expression, and she turns her eyes to the side when he does the work, silence falling in between. They return to his face soon enough. She can't help it - it was awkward keeping her eyes averted. "…..at least he was a relatively -neat- artist, right…?" she jokes softly. "Better on us than…you know. The walls and the floor."

She nods at the goodbye. "You're doing okay, right?" she asks quietly, meeting his gaze and her joking expression falling away into something more serious. Her hand comes up, fingers curling over his wrist that's extended on the hand on her shoulder.

"I actually don't like that— rather be open with people, tell them as much as I can…" There's some reluctance in the way he says that, but— it's the truth. "I'd like to be able to tell you, I really would…" But he promised, and… there's a sigh. This is one of those things. He'd love to have someone he could talk to openly about everything, hold nothing back… but unfortunately…

As his eyes stay away from her, he laughs. "Yeah— neat enough," Peter says, glancing down at his clothes. There's definitely some paint on his clothes in a few places, but nothing outstanding. Most of it is on the sleeves, where he didn't roll them up. With the squeeze returned, though, he glances back towards the door, the carrier bag, the painting, and then pulls his hand away after a moment. "Sorry that you'll have to clean up everything you set up for me. Next time I'll stick around long enough to help you clean," he says, moving away towards the door to pull the bag over his shoulder, pulling the tube out so he can hold it more carefully. At least they got something out of it. At least it wasn't a fruitless attempt to paint, like so many others.

"I'll see you later. Take care of yourself." With so much going on… that's about the most he can really ask of her. As he turns the doorknob and opens the door, he glances back, door still open as he adds, "And Elena? Don't forget you can call me about— well— just about anything you need help with."

"Yeah, but it can't be helped sometimes," Elena says simply. "Like I've told someone before, circumstances tend to dictate the most prudent of our actions." She gives him a reassuring smile, and leaves it at that. And when he apologizes for not being able to help her clean, she rolls her eyes playfully. "I'll rag on you later about leaving the -girl- with all the housework," she says with a laugh, walking him out to the door and standing there when he opens it. Her hand reaches out to grasp the knob.

At the last, she blinks…and then she smiles. There's a brief nod. "I know," she says. Peter has his own problems, and while she wished she could, because every girl needed some heroic knight figure to call to swoop to her rescue, she knew in her heart of hearts that she couldn't do that to him. "I'll see you later, Peter. Stay safe." She lifts a hand in a slight wave, and moves to close the door.

Once it's closed, she pauses, staring at the wood for a moment, and drops her forehead against it. Words come out, after a long pause. "….a -stripper-," she groans. "Like Jack doesn't have enough crap on me already."

Good thing she's so not telling him.

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