2008-01-13: The Sting of Secrets


Angela_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Secrets can sting, both when kept from others, and when forcefully revealed.

Date It Happened: January 13th, 2008

The Sting of Secrets

Nathan's Den — Petrelli Mansion

The light on in Nathan's den — just a lamp, lending only a glow. The curtains are closed, blocking out any light. That fact, combined with the moving shadows inside and the quiet susurrus of papers being thumbed through, makes it easy to surmise that someone is inside. However, it's not the owner of the den whose presence fills the room; alas, Nathan hasn't suddenly reappeared from his mysterious leave of absence. Not yet, at any rate.

The culprit is Angela, and culprit is an apt word, given that the Petrelli matriarch is unabashedly going through her eldest son's belongings. With a small pair of reading glasses perched on her nose, she sits at the desk and studies the contents of a file for a moment before giving it the barest of sneers, setting it aside, eyeing another page, and giving it the same look and dismissal before she moves on.

A few brief hours of sleep are all Peter's ever been able to get. The constant worry that the Company will storm in any minute and take away him— or even worse his friends— has been stressful, as has his constant failure to locate his brother with enough accuracy to go there. Even finding Niki has been difficult at best— it seems this ability only works when he already has a basic idea where the person might be— or at least recognize the location on sight. The maps rarely ever work.

There's no one banging down his door tonight, no sounds of scuffles outside, no friends sending SOSes— so he decides it's time to stop waiting. Closing his eyes, he thinks about his mother— and pictures a familiar Den. A desk he knows well. A wild horse statue. A case of DVDs— she's at the mansion.

As soon as the picture settles, he puts down his coffee, puts on his coat, and closes his eyes again. This time to teleport a block away. His brother didn't want him teleporting into the house, after all. It takes a few minutes before e unlocks the front door and steps inside, making his way to the Den. Quiet, so as not to wake anyone else who might be home and asleep. A knock on the closed doors sounds first, before he pushes them open. "Mom?"

There is absolutely zero hint of being "caught red-handed" in Angela's demeanour as someone opens the door on her snooping, no guilt, no sheepishness. Nathan is missing, after all; it's sensible to go through his things. What there is, however, is a passing look of surprise on seeing Peter, not to be confused with any of the above. "Peter," she says in way of greeting, just a few notes short of pleasant. Collectedly, she goes back to her unfruitful search, moving onto a date-planner or something of that nature to rifle through with aging but quick-moving fingers. "I didn't hear you come in."

"I was trying to be quiet. I didn't want to wake Heidi or the boys, assuming they're even still here," Peter says, voice in a whispered tone as he steps into the den and closes the doors behind him again. He doesn't say how he knew she would be in this den, though… He takes quiet steps across the room, toward the desk, not taking a seat or getting comfortable. His shoulders are set, his jaw strained. Tension lines his forehead, even with hair dangling loosely to his eyebrows. "I haven't been able to find Nathan, but I'm still looking. If I can't pinpoint where he is soon, I'll follow one of the few leads I have. I know he's alive, though."

The search comes to a stop, Angela's hand curls around a paper's edge. Slowly, she flattens it. "That's good news," she says after considerable pause; her gaze, through the reading glasses, is still canted down toward the desk. "Alive" is more news than the Company has. Good news, but the elder Petrelli's emotions are kept in check, her expression tight. You'd think she'd seem more heartened to know that her son is alive. "'Leads'." Angela fixes her eyes on Peter, dark brows lifting, one more than the other. "You speak as if you're a detective on a case. You're a hospice nurse, not Sherlock Holmes. What leads?"

"I haven't been a hospice nurse for over a year, mom," Peter says, meeting her eyes with his own serious expression. There's a pointed hint to his voice, as if she might have had a little something to do with his career change herself. "I'd be looking for Nathan whether I was still in my old job or not— he's my brother and I love him. Something's happened to him, and I'll do anything in my power to get him back." He takes a deep breath. "I assume you've already met with Mr. Bennet about the other things that are going on."

Angela meets her son's gaze unwaveringly, even as she slides her glasses away from her face. Oh, there are numerous responses she could give to Peter on his devotion to Nathan and desire to go on a whirlwind rescue mission, but she chooses none of them — particularly in light of the subject at hand next. Angela's expression remains a stern, unresponding mask save for a faint tugging downward of her lips. "I'm aware of the situation," she replies, the faintly caustic undercurrent to her voice suggesting that she's not what you'd call content with said situation. Keeping things close to the vest today, Peter's mother already is more than willing to let him pick and pry answers out of her than give them freely— or at all.

"I know there's nothing I can do to stop you from taking him," Peter says, a dark set in his eyes before they lower away a moment. It's clear he would probably try to stop them— even if he can't. The way his hands tighten, the way his mouth presses together in a thin line. "I can try, but even if I try it will just put everyone around me in danger." That's when he looks back up at her, a determined inhale. "That's why I want to know exactly what you plan to do when you do capture him. And what you'll do to Elle. And me for trying to hide him from you."

The look in Peter's eyes is matched by Angela's own look of dark, deeply set determination. Knit brows form deep lines. "Oh, Peter," comes the belittling coo. "You finally come into your abilities and think you know how the world works." She rises from Nathan's chair, close to Peter in no time. She's dressed in the dark clothes that suit her best: a black ladies' business suit with white trim. Its stark lines match the stark lines of her face. "I think it's admirable, what you're trying to do, but you are in over your head."

There's a twinge of an eyebrow as she mentions how the world works. Peter's eyes follow his mother as she gets closer, narrowing a little, and his hand goes up. Not to touch her, but to gesture for her to stop, it would seem. "Just tell me what I want to know," there's a whispered depth to his voice, almost a threat from the cutting texture of his words. It's rare that she's seen him angry, or heard this biting of a tone from him. "What I've gotten myself into doesn't matter. What are you planning to do to them, mother? I know you're in charge of some of it. If you're not, give me the name of anyone above you, and I'll go ask them instead."

Angela's eyes widen when her youngest has the gall to order her and speak so harshly. Peter's anger only serves to spark hers. If there is someone above her in the Company ladder, or more correctly, on the same rung, she's not about to confess their name. Though a name flashes in her mind, she ignores the brash inquiry. She gets the least important thing out of the way first:

"I could care less what happens to Elle." No doubt something will, but Angela is quick to dismiss Bishop's errant daughter with a gesture of the reading glasses she still holds by their delicate frames. "You have to understand the position you're putting me in," she says, weighty with accusation; in nearly the same breath, her adamant tone takes on a hint of imploring — inasmuch as Angela can be imploring instead of demanding. It's a fine line. "If you tell me where Gabriel is," she says slowly, focused eyes full of importance, never leaving Peter, "I'll call off the hounds. No harm will come to him, you have my word."

"I care what happens to Elle," Peter yells at his mother, obviously forgetting the whole part about trying to stay quiet for the family who might be sleeping upstairs. "And I care what happens to Gabriel. I'm not telling you where he is. Not until I know exactly what you have planned for him, mother. You and whoever you work for. After what your Company tried to do to their own children, I can't imagine what you'd have in store for someone like him. I want you to tell me. Right now. I'm tired of the secrets, Mother." The tension around his forehead shifts, everything seems to go out of focus— he's trying to get inside her mind— take what she's unwilling to give.

"What happens to Gabriel is entirely up to him," Angela snaps. The angrier Peter becomes, the more penetrating her dark, widening gaze bores into him.

The thoughts in the mind of Peter's mother are complicated and elusive. The name Yamagato lingers from moments earlier, thinking of her partner on the Board of Directors and the facility in which Gabriel ought to be taken to. It's fleeting, as if it just slipped through the cracks of an otherwise thick, impenetrable shroud of fog. It's rare to find a person who realizes their mind is being read, and Peter has found one of those people in his mother. With great force of will and stubbornness and a whine of mental feedback, Angela tries to shut out her son.

In the physical world, the realization of what Peter is trying to do is written all over the Petrelli matriarch's face. From furious to offended and appalled in an instant, she reflexively lashes out — with full intent to slap her son in the face. It's quick, a sharp sting, if anything, but the sudden gut reaction behind is undeniably wounded. "How dare you," she snarls. "Invading my mind, I thought you had some respect left for me, I'm your mother."

The slap lands. Though Peter had already been pushed back more than he can remember outside of a telepath, the slap breaks the connection. Yamagato. That's where they want to take him. Peter looses his jaw, working his mouth for a moment, before he looks back at his mother, the light from the office lamp catching the green in his eyes. "You tried to turn me into a bomb to destroy the city for your own agenda. Don't try to talk to me about respect!" he yells, lifting an arm up as if to block another slap that might inevitably come. Or maybe that's a threat in itself. They've not had the best relationship for the last year— but who would've thought it got this bad?

There's a shaking on his hand for a moment, and then he closes his eyes and suddenly— she's alone in the den again. Peter's vanished. Not invisibility. There's no pop, no noise, no flash of light. One moment there, then she could blink and he's gone.

"Peter— " He's gone. Probably for the best. There's no answer Angela could say that Peter would understand. And so she's left alone in Nathan's empty den, basked in the deceptively warm glow of the lamp. She clamps her hand shut, the hand that struck Peter, and can do nothing but stand in stern-faced silence— until, eventually, she tugs the chain on the lamp and the room goes black.

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