2007-09-13: This Ain't A Scene It's An Arms Race


Elena_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: After her conversation with Eric, Elena calls Peter with every intention to let him know she was spending the night at Nadia's….only to hear about Claire's visit to his apartment earlier. When they both realize Ramon could be responsible for the latest set of complications, tensions bleed over.

Date It Happened: September 13th, 2007

This Ain't A Scene It's An Arms Race

Flava Java, Greenwich Village, New York

She manages to find Flava Java open late in Greenwich Village, Elena watching the dark ripples of her espresso as she absently swirls her little stirring stick around the cup. The coffeehouse was empty, save for a couple of customers still inside. It's around eight in the evening - and it's been an hour since she left Eric's place. She had told Peter before leaving his apartment that she had things to do today, that she'll be back in the evening after she was done with work at Evosoft, a study session at Exeter Hall with Ian and his study group. She even asked what he wanted for dinner, in case there was some takeout she can bring for him after her day was over.

Now she wasn't even sure if she could come back with the face she was wearing now. She didn't expect Eric's phonecall, or the discussion that occured afterwards.

She presses her face in one hand. Her eyes felt sore, but she'll manage. She hears a quiet plunk of something ceramic on the table in front of her, and she looks up, blinking a bit at the coffeehouse guy that set a slice of banana loaf in front of her.

"Looks like you could use it," her Good Samaritan says sympathetically.

She can't help but smile, just a bit. "Thanks."

"No prob." He smiles a bit. "Pretty girl like you shouldn't be lookin' so sad."

She watches the man as he wanders back to the counter, now that there's a few more customers coming in for a late Saturday night post-dinner coffee. She sighs, and nibbles absently on a piece of the loaf, before finally digging out her cherry red jPhone and speed-dial a number.

Somewhere in New York

Elsewhere in the city, Peter Petrelli's sitting against a building, waiting, watching. He knows he should call Elena soon— she'll be wondering where he is, wondering what's going on, but… part of him is afraid to. There's a lot of things that he'd need to ask her, and worse… he's not sure what he's going to do now that this information has come to light. How can he explain why he found out? He wants to keep it private, but at the same time— he wants to tell her. It's dark by this point, and still no sign of the young woman he's looking for. Maybe she had to go somewhere for the weekend— that could be it easily. Or maybe they've already moved in.

The possibility that they could be watching her too— or at least her home— is why he's invisible. Invisibility doesn't work well when your phone rings, though.

The ringtone gains a glance from a passerby, and he curses, stands up, and tries to find his way into an alley. It takes a few seconds before he has his phone out, and answers. He knows who it is. Her ringtone is specific. Has been for a long time. "Hey," there's a sound of a grimace in his voice, recognizable as some kind of worry. And all he said was one word and it sounded like he wanted to apologize with that one word.

Flava Java, Greenwich Village, New York

"Hi." The voice in the other end is ….at the very least cheerful sounding, but a little subdued. Then again, there's a low murmur of background noise so Elena might just be trying to keep the conversation private. "Are you home?" His home. Not her home. "Sorry I'm a little late…I got caught up."

Somewhere in New York

"No— I'm…" There's that grimace again. "It's okay. I thought you were calling to see where I ended up." Peter's willing to admit that he thought her call had been about him. But at least she sounds cheerful, so she must not be mad. "I got caught up in something, but— I don't think…" There's that hesitant sound again, and them motion, as if he walked out of an alley. There's a horn honking in the background. He's definitely out in the city somewhere. "Where are you?"

Flava Java, Greenwich Village, New York

"At a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village," Elena tells him, taking a sip of her coffee and taking another bite out of her banana loaf. "I got held up at work, and then the study session at Exeter took a bit. And then Eric called….I went over so we could talk about Gene." Which was the truth, that was the reason why she went over there. "Apparently his mother sits on a lot of medical boards, we might be able to find a specialist for him." She pauses, and furrows her brows. "…why? You're not home yet? Where are you?"

Somewhere in New York

"I'm… outside someone's home. Evelyn's," Peter explains, grimacing. "I didn't call— the person I was going to meet her with— because I'm not sure how safe it is anymore— I'm not even sure it's safe to talk on my phone…" This doesn't make things easy. Could they be monitoring his phonecalls? Do they have his apartment bugged? Do they— he has no idea. It could be a couple things, but he doesn't like any of them, that's for sure. "I've got it on pretty good authority that— they know about her."

Flava Java, Greenwich Village, New York

"…what?" No question as to who they are. "…how do you know?" Elena's looking around the coffeehouse slowly. She sees the couple having post-dinner coffee on one side, the nice coffeehouse guy waving to a couple of customers that just left. A group of teenagers laughing at the table. She sets a generous tip on the table, shouldering her bag and taking her stack of books. Mouthing a 'thank you' to the guy behind the counter, she moves to head out. She can't talk here, in case she's forced to go into detail. Eric's driven out of her mind for the moment, and so is her intention to tell him she thought she could stay at Nadia's for a bit.

Somewhere in New York

"Someone told me— someone I trust," Peter explains, but that leaves things pretty vague, and he knows it. There's a pause. What place is safe to meet? He's honestly not sure, but— he does know one place. If it'd been bugged, they'd know far more than they already do. "Do you know where the Deveaux Building is? On Central Park West?" He's never asked her to meet him up there, but it's not too far from Greenwich Village, and… "Do you think we could meet there?" At this point, it might even be safer than his apartment. If they'd bugged that place, he doesn't really know what he'll do— he's checked it a few times since the Bookstore got bugged, but…

Outside of Flava Java, Greenwich Village, New York

"….Peter, you're scaring me," Elena replies, keeping her voice low as she looks around. His nervousness is fueling her own. And she's wondering who the hell his source is. Can they even trust his source? But if Peter trusts who it is, then… she nods, even if he can't see it. "I'll use the jPhone and figure out where it is. There's gotta be just one Deveaux Building in New York City." Ah, the beauty of working for Evosoft. Her cellphone plan was paid for by the company she works for - including its unlimited text messaging and Internet access. "I'll see you there. Be careful." And with that, she ends the call.

Somewhere in New York

"Sorry… I didn't— want to scare you," he admits over the phone, flinching even if she can't see it. That's why he hadn't called her yet. That's why he stayed home from work. But… "I'll be there. On the roof."

Deveaux Building, New York

Her mind is spinning. What's going on? How did the Company know about…?

"Shit," Elena whispers, running a hand through her hair. Walking to the end of the street, she flags a cab, stuffing most of her books into her bag when one slows down and stops near her. She opens the door and slides inside, closing the door. "Deveaux Building please, at…" She checks her phone, and then tells the driver where the cross-streets are.

It doesn't take her long to get there, closing the door behind her and looking up. She's never been here before. How does she go up? Shouldering her bag higher, she starts heading inside. She'll pretend that she knows someone who lives in the building, and then use the roof access on the top floor to get to the roof. When she makes it there, it's a little hard to see. It's rather dark, with only the lights of the city to illuminate the way. She probably got there before Peter did, considering she was closer.

At this time of night getting a cab isn't quite as difficult as usual. Peter's able to flag one fairly quickly as well, paying and arriving a little after she does— by quite a few minutes, actually. The pigeon coups are still full of pigeons, who seem oddly well-fed. Persumably someone still looks after them, but they're alone at the moment. The door to the roof opens and… no one enters. At least it looks like no one. He chose to take the trip up the elevator invisible, and spends a few moments glancing around. No invisible pigeon keeper tonight.

When he appears after a moment, it's pretty obvious that he's worried sick. She's not the only one who's scared— in a way.

He gravitates to her immediately, wrapping his arms around her and closing his eyes. It was Claire. he sends into her mind, the safest way to reveal this information that he can think of. No bug could pick this up. Or if it could, he'd be very worried. Her father's still with the Company— I told him— and her— a little of what happened, enough to keep her safe, since Sylar had regeneration in the future— I wanted them to know what could happen, but I didn't mention Evelyn— I made it sound like it was Sylar. Or at least he did his best to.

He told her to stay out of it, to avoid Evelyn Tash— her name— and that the Company would take care of things. That's why I didn't call Gene— she wasn't home— didn't answer her phone. I don't know if they've already… or if she just went somewhere this weekend.

She hears the door close at the roof access, Elena whirling around after jumping a bit. When Peter turns visible, she relaxes, dropping her book bag to the side. "What happened?" she asks, taking a few steps towards him - but he's faster, gravitating towards her the moment he sees her and engulfed in a hug. Her own arms curl around him, over his shoulders and squeezing a little bit. He looks unharmed, so however he got this information didn't get him in trouble.

When his voice invades her mind, her eyes close. Unlike other people in their circle of friends, she's the one who's used to telepathic messages. It came with having a father who was one. She relaxes a little bit, burying her nose against his shoulder and listening. What he says, or doesn't say, startles her though. Claire…your -niece-, Claire? She's heard of Claire before. She and her then-best friend, Drake Maxwell, used to date. In fact after they started their teenaged relationship, all Drake talked about was Claire, so she knows a little bit about her. In fact it was Drake who told her Claire was adopted. But by a -company agent-?

Gene already knows. He's expecting your call, is Elena's mental reply. But…I don't understand. How did they know? Did you tell anyone else? All I told was Gene because you wanted me to talk to him about going with you, and Papa, who was already looking for her because of Dezi. She pulls away just a bit to look up at him. You couldn't get ahold of her?

I know Gene knows, Peter explains, eyes still closed, and holding on to her. His mental voice is rougher than her father's, and the tension from his neck and forehead is increasing— more due to the medthod of communication than what they're talking about. I didn't call him in case they were already there— I don't know if they know about him— don't want them to know about him if I can help it. It's impossible to know how much they know— they know too much they shouldn't already. Present topic included.

I told you. I haven't even told Cass about her yet. Not her name. It was supposed to be in those files, but when they didn't work— I haven't given her the replacements yet— I keep adding more to them. I don't know what… Maybe they have my apartment bugged, or your dad's house— or… No, they'd probably have done a lot more in that case.

She exhales a quiet breath, her fingertips rubbing gently against the back of his neck. We can't jump to conclusions so quickly, she transmits back, even though the rougher voice is giving her a little bit of a headache. She'll brave it though - but he's a lot better with his telepathy now than it had been before. She's trying to soothe him - that's what she should be doing, right? So if Peter doesn't know, and Cass doesn't know, who the hell else would patch it to the Company? Gene wouldn't tell anyone, and he was avoiding everyone anyway since the news of his terminal illness had been broken to him. And her father….

She freezes, her back stiffens.

….oh my god. She closes her eyes. Peter, listen. When I was talking about this to my father….before you visited, he said the Company might be responsible. He knows about Benji so….he said it might be a good idea to go to the one Company man he could trust and enlist his help to keep the Company off Evelyn's back. I don't know if he's talked to Benji, but… But her father's the only one on the list who knows about Evelyn who had an inkling to talk to someone Company side.

Jumping to conclusions is something he's trying to avoid. A bug is one of the many tactics they've tried in the past, so it seems the easiest one to think of. In some ways the alternative is better— but also hurts more because… There it is. There's a flinch and he suddenly pulls back, not enough to disengage, but— she no longer hears his thoughts invading her mind. It cuts off with a fading, what? which carries out verbally once he's pulled back, "…What?"

Why would… that… The emotion has changed drastically. But he's not using any abilities right now— which is good because if he did… things might get very bad for the two of them. There's only a few people he associates with these kinds of emotions.

"That— he knew he was a spy. He…" his voice trails off. He's not even sure he can speak to her about this. It isn't that he doesn't trust her, it's that the man who did this is her father and… "I didn't want them to know about her. We don't know who's behind it. It could be someone within the Company, it could be someone else entirely— and… she's just an innocent kid."

When he pulls back, Elena stares at him. She could sense his mood shift, and the fact that he isn't using telepathy anymore lets her know that his emotions have shifted as well to focus on something else. He might not completely disengage, but she does, retracting her arms and stepping away from him. Her face takes on a neutral tone, clamping down on the default defensiveness she gets whenever the issue came to her father. "We don't know yet if he said anything," she tells him. "I think before any one of us flies off the edge, one of us has to ask him first."

Inwardly she can't help but groan. Was Benji so far gone into the Company's grip that he'd say something to the higher ups? What if he…. her face turns ashen for a moment. If Benjamin spread the word around the Company about Evelyn, if her father said something to him, if this was how they found out about her…. would he had to have given up his source? Did Benjamin tell the Company about Ramon?

The gurgle of distress threatens to escape her lips. She turns away from him, pacing away and rubbing her face with one hand. She takes a deep breath, trying to clear her head and think. "If Papa said anything to Mr. Winters," she begins slowly, trying to get a grip on her paranoia. But she can't help feeling that way, this was her father. "He'll tell us. He won't lie about it. If he confirms it, we can…maybe do something about it. If not, then…there are bugs somewhere and we should look for them. But we can't…we have to be careful about this."

"I'm not flying off the edge," Peter says defensively, letting his hands drop away from her, and giving her some room to pace away. He's definitely not in a great mood now, but— at least he's upset about something entirely non-jealousy oriented, right? "I'll talk to him before… but Elena this is… this was important. I don't even know if I'll get to her first, now. I can't sit outside her house every minute…" And they actually can. They have the resources to put an agent outside her house every minute of every day, waiting. And he's not even sure if they haven't already grabbed her.

"Maybe this'll stop it from happening, maybe…" Maybe it'll actually cause it. But he can't say that outloud. It hasn't quite struck him that the spy might have told the Company about her father and his abilities— The Company probably knows about her already, at least to an extent.

But this makes things very complicated. Dangerous. And she's right, they have to be careful. "I don't know if there's anything we can do at this point. They might— you might not even remember me telling you about her." If the Company follows their usual patterns.

She rubs her face. She's trying to think. She knows Peter's upset, and he has every right to be. But she can't blame her father either for something he thinks needed to be done. "It's too early," Elena tells him, looking at him. "We don't know anything right now. We don't even know if my father's the one who spread the word for sure." But if he did…. she jams her hands in her pockets, her jaw set as she looks out at the cityscape. She's trying to think, trying to quell the rising tide of panic. The more she thinks about it, the more certain she is that her father said something. She closes her eyes. She shouldn't have told him about Luis and Juanita. She tried not to but in order to tell him what has to be done, she had to hint at it. She wondered if the move had been cleverness, or desperation in her father's part.

"I know this was important," she says lowly. She's trying not to sound angry or defensive. She wasn't sure herself if what her father did had been the right move, but what was done was done.

"I'll be fine," she tells him, giving him a serious look. "But we have to confirm it first. If Papa did tell someone from the Company about this, then the best recourse we have is…" She sighs. "Is talk to Claire's dad. Try and find out if the Company actually plans on doing something to Evelyn. Meanwhile, we don't know where she is. Unless we manage to talk to….our mutual acquaintance who can find someone anywhere. But if we need a monitor to stand outside of her house, then we really should get Gene on the ball. I'm sure he can find a way to do it."

"No," Peter says, shaking his head at her suggestions, or specifically… "I want to keep Claire out of this. If we talk to him, then he'll know she told me about it. She betrayed her father to tell me— unless he knew she would do that then…" He shakes his head. He doesn't want her to get hurt over this. "I told you who talked to me because you're— you." And he trusts her, wants to be able to tell her everything. "But I don't want anyone else to know about this." Not because she's a source he wants to utilize again, either— but because she's his niece, and he cares about her. She still thinks of him as her hero— and heroes don't turn you in for spying.

"If you think Gene could put up survellience, then that's good— at least then we'd know if they go in after her, but…" Will he be happy if her father told the spy that he was trying to warn people about? Probably not— "I don't want to fight with you over this." What's done is done, and he will probably think her father made a huge mistake, but… he's not sure what they can do about it now.

"Sorry. Did you even eat tonight?" They'd been planning to eat together— then they both got preoccupied.

"I don't know. Do you think he'd anticipate something like this? I don't know Claire's father. I've never met Claire, despite having known about her." Elena sighs, trying to loosen up her shoulders, which has become a little tense. She had been half-expecting a fight. Already. Her father was always a touchy subject, though granted most of the fire in her gut had been stoked by the possibility that the Company knows about her father. They know about her father, but not about what he could do. That might have changed now. She had thought the only thing that saved him from their clutches before had been her early warning and the fact that they thought he was an ordinary human being. That could've been blown out of the water now.

"I think he can. He can probably use his Terminator. Or something else. Give him the right clothes and the robot can look like other human beings. R2 would be too inconspicuous." She closes her eyes. "I'll call him later. He can probably send something out tonight. He's got enough gadgets lying around, and he knows what this could mean. He'll be careful, because it's Gene. He's always careful. He tends to worry about us because we're not careful enough for his standards."

When he tells her he doesn't want to fight, she relaxes a little more. She allows herself to smile at him, just a bit. "Me neither," she tells him softly. She couldn't handle that right now. Not after Eric. Not when she stomped on the man's noble heart just so she could be with the person she's trying not to fight with.

When he asks if she's eaten yet, she shakes her head. "Just some coffee and a couple of bites of pastry," she tells him truthfully.

"I don't know, but even if he doesn't— maybe I can meet up with him, talk about the Sylar situation and read his mind. Then I can say it was telepathy, not his daughter betraying him," Peter says, still shaking his head. He can't be sure that would work, but… this isn't easy. It'd be the same as if she told him something she didn't want her father to know about— then again, they have a few things between them they probably don't want her father to know about. For his sake, more than hers.

"All right— Gene can take care of it." He does know what's at stake, and of all of them, he seems the least likely to let anything slip, and the most careful about everything that he does.

Though he doesn't know why she might be more upset than she would be otherwise, he clears the small distance between them and hugs her again, pressing his lips into her hair. They don't want to fight over this— but it doesn't change that he's bordering on angry at her father. Assuming he did anything to be angry about. He'll deal with that when they talk to him. Then they might fight. It could be ugly— and he thinks they both know that.

"I haven't eaten since breakfast." He'd checked his voicemail once she left, panicked, called his niece, and then called Cass to take the day off, and went to try and find Evelyn. Unsuccessfully. No time for food. Even if they had a late breakfast. "Let's get something to eat— you need it. You're already underweight."

"That's a good idea but…..I don't know….how you can control your telepathy these days. Also, Claire. I don't know if you should risk…" Elena falls quiet. Peter's plan was a good one, but at the same time…she doesn't know Noah Bennett. If he was someone with access, and not just some lower-rung drone like Claudine Salonga, she didn't think they could afford playing games with him. But when Peter says Gene can take care of it, she nods. "I'll give him a call then," she tells him. "Later tonight. He…I don't think he's been sleeping well." Who would, in his position. Part of her was hesitant in asking him to do something while he's still trying to get a grip on his illness, but… she had very little options.

When he hugs her again, her arms curl around him, her forehead resting into his shoulder. She could feel the welcome touch of his lips into her hair. Fingertips curl a little more securely on the back of his shirt, betraying more tension than she was showing. She squeezes him warmly. It was a little cold out, and the extra warmth is welcome. "If this happened because of what my father said…do you think maybe they know about him now? We tried to hide his abilities and mine since all of this started," she says softly against his shirt. "I've already been wiped once, when I gave myself up so Papa'd be able to know what exactly they did to the people they come after. I'd rather it not happen again." It had been a long time ago. And the only reason she knew she was wiped in the first place was because Eric and Drake had told her, and Drake had been taken by them before.

When he brings up her weight, she couldn't help but smile. "Could've prevented it if I caught it quickly enough, didn't know what was happening to my metabolism until too late." She sighs, burying her face further against him. He was warm, and he smelled good. "You're probably hungry though, we should go eat before heading home…" Someplace quiet, cheap. "There's a vietnamese place down the block I think…" Vietnamese food was heavy on the vegetables. She knows he could eat it.

"It's a better idea than outright telling him his daughter talked to me," Peter says, shaking his head a bit. "It'll depend on how desperate we are to get information about what the Company might plan to do to her— or what they've already done to her." There's a long pause, and then he tightens his hold on her. Gene isn't sleeping well— most people don't when they find out they're dying. He considered offering to talk to him. Part of being a hospice nurse was getting people to accept the inevitable— even if, for this one, there's hope. And far more than six months left on his time. Acceptance may not be what he needs, but— sleep definitely will be.

Her worries are voiced, and for a moment he tenses. It hadn't been the first worry, but now that she's made the observation… "I don't know." If they know about Ramon— the biggest worry wouldn't really be what they'd do to her father— but… if they do what they've already done in the past— they could threaten his family, promise them protection if he worked for them, and…

If they do anything to her— threaten her— wipe her memory— he's not sure how anyone would handle it— himself included.

There's a lot pause. He closes his eyes and holds onto her tightly for a minute— and then he forces himself to let go. They don't know yet— nothing's happened. It's just the threat of something happening that terrifies him.

But first— food. "That sounds good. I hope they have a buffet, you're going to need more than one serving," he says, not quite joking, either, but certainly teasing.

"Yeah, it is," Elena says, feeling his arms tighten around her as he falls quiet for a while. But they don't know anything yet - they will. Later. She'll try to push everything aside so she could get some rest. Because she needs it, she won't be able to think with too little sleep. She wished she also had the ability to keep going and work on optimal levels mentally these days, but she doesn't. She's going to have to play with the cards she's got. She rubs his back soothingly, feeling the tension. "Can't worry too much yet, right?" she says quietly, trying to be reassuring. "We don't know anything yet."

And that was true. When he pulls away to tease her, she grins. "Sorry, Petrelli, but you're dating a vacccuum cleaner. You're going to have to deal with it." She winks at him then, finally let go of. She presses a small kiss on his cheek, and turns away from him so she could gather her bookbag, sling it diagonally across her shoulder and down on one hip. She looks around the rooftop she's in, and notices the pigeons. Are all New York pigeons destined to be fat or something?

Finally, she steps back over, reaching for his hand. "Got an exit strategy? I had to fake being a friend of Ms. Samson on suite 310 just to get in," she jokes. She wonders how she's able to do it, but she manages to get in places she shouldn't just by being herself. Sort of. She just grabbed the name off the directory upon walking inside.

There's so much that could go wrong with this— and Peter's not sure he can handle things in a way that she might like. If they do anything to her… There's… they don't know anything yet. But they know far too much at the same time. And asking him not to worry— that's like asking her not to eat too much. She's dating a serious worrier— and she'll just have to deal with that too… "I don't mind you eating a lot, though my paycheck might unless they have an endless plate option," he teases. Also gives her an opening to offer to pay, without realizing it.

And his exit plan is the same as his entrance plan, he takes her hand and they vanish from sight. "A lot of the people that live on the top floors think the place is haunted already. Doors opening on their own— footsteps…" He does this fairly often— or more often then he probably should.

And with that, he'll start leading her to haunt the top floors again.

"I'll pay this time. I do have a job, you know," Elena tells him with a small smile. "Besides. I like to be able to treat you on occasion too, you know." He blew so much on their last date that she can't honestly expect him to pay for everything. It wasn't fair. And the fact that the morning had been….an eye opener just cemented the fact that she ought to do things for him more often. Memories of the early morning hours causes her to look away a bit in an attempt to hide a blush.

That and he'll go bankrupt otherwise. She doesn't really feel them turning invisible, but she knows what he's doing.

When he mentions that everyone else thinks the top floor is haunted already, she couldn't help but grin. "Your doing, I assume." And Claude's. He mentioned his mentor was rather fond of the pigeons of this roof and that he turned invisible. He probably contributed to the 'hauntings' too. So she follows him, taking a step out the front door. She knows he's worried - she just doesn't know that he was more worried about what could happen to her than what could happen to her father. And Elena being Elena, she put her priorities on the latter.

Her hand grasped securely into his bigger one, she heads out with him, the ghosts closing the door behind them and scurrying out of there.

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