2008-03-27: Time For A Change

Starring:

sera.gif FuturePeter_icon.gif

Summary: Someone is thought missing or dead by people, so she needs a new identity.

Date It Happened: March 27, 2008

Time For A Change


Hotel Room

Ever since being spotted on Saint Patrick's Day, Heidi's been careful to stay out of the public eye. She still goes out, but she's moved a little farther out of the city to a more quiet hotel. She tried to contact Peter, but he wasn't picking up… Hopefully he'll get the message eventually. Heidi's worried about him, and on several occasions, has even done some looking.

In any case, in the future, he'll definitely get the message.

She feels like she's moved hotels so often that she's never 'home' anymore. Simon and Monty have now been given over to the custody of her parents, and she can't even see them for risk of people learning she's alive. Still, she has a good cover story for when everything gets back to normal. She's still hoping it will.

It's late - maybe nine o'clock - and Heidi's sitting on her bed wearing a sweatshirt and loose sweatpants. The air conditioning is fairly high, despite the still-cool weather outside, but that's mostly because the hotel's heating system kind of smells like burning when it's turned on. The reading lamp next to her bed is on, flickering occasionally with fluctuations in the power. Not the best place to be hanging out, but it's at least clean and comfortable. On the dresser is a small plastic tank with a hamster curled up somewhere in side. It's been her sole companion lately… And it doesn't exactly hold up its end of a conversation.

—-

A light flickers overhead. The hotel isn't cheap and trashy, but some kind of power search follows a shift in the air. The corner that once held nothing, suddenly has a man. Stepping out of the corner, there's a chill in the air around him, a bit of snow dusted on his shoulder. As if he just appeared from the other side of the planet. A dark expression fills his narrow eyes, and a deep scar digs down into his forehead on one side of his nose, and cheek on the other.

"Heidi," a familiar voice calls out. It's Peter's voice, just like the face is Peter's face. But as the scar adds a different texture, a raspy tone makes him sound deeper, darker, more strained than ever before.

"I should have visited you sooner, but you wouldn't have needed me yet." Not yet. But soon, soon she will. He knew she could take care of herself for a while, he knew she was strong enough, resourceful enough. But now… He's already begun to move things around to perpare for this, and now he stands before her.

—-

As she leans up against the back of her bed, blue eyes staring blankly at the hamster cage, the last thing she really expects is for her brother in law to appear in the corner of her small hotel room. In fact, she didn't expect anyone to appear at all, so the reaction she has - jumping to her feet on the floor opposite the corner where Peter's standing, with a bed separating them - should be, understandably, natural.

She doesn't recognise him at first. It's mostly th scar that holds her attention the longest, but after she blinks and the colour returns to her face, she exhales the breath she'd been holding and relaxes. Heidi's eyes close, and her hand rubs her forehead as sh mutters "Jesus CHRIST, Peter," under her breath. She can't really be angry, though. A moment later, she's heading around the bed with her arms out to embrace him. "Where have you been??" And with her eyes focused on his face, she doesn't have to ask the other question - what happened to him - because that inquiry is written in her eyes. "I've been trying to call you for a long time."

—-

The hug must have been unexpected. As soon as her arms go around him, Peter goes tense. Normally his arms would come up, he'd return it. There's a long pause before, finally, she'll feel hands against her back, holding onto her. "Sorry. I would have returned your calls if I'd been able to, I promise you I would have— but I wasn't able to." There's a long pause, before he starts to move back, putting his hands on her shoulders so he can put some distance between them, study her face, her eyes, a few times over.

"I'm actually not— I'm from the future, Heidi. Four years into the future." The more she looks at him, the older he starts to seem. There's a darkness in his eyes, a tension. Long years visible on his face, in more than just the scar. "You wouldn't have seen me again for quite some time, if not for this."

A hand moves from her shoulder to touch her face gently, "How have you been holding up?" The tone lightens closer to concern, more like his normal voice.

—-

Everything is weird. Somehow, despite the fact that the world is completely insane and Heidi has no idea how time travel works, she manages a simple "Oh, okay," with a sort of puzzled lean when he puts his hands on her shoulders. One eye narrows skeptically, but really, she's never known Peter to outright lie to her. There were some occasions where information was withheld, sure, but nothing like this. Besides, she knows it's entirely possible. Last time, he went to the future, though.

One would suppose it could work the other way. "So… where… are you right now?" she says. Of course, she means 'where is the Peter from today. At least she knows he's not dead? That's something.

The next question could be replied to with the obvious nicities. 'Doing fine,' or 'not so bad.' But after studying the years on Peter's face for a handful of seconds, she opts for the truth. "Not so great, Pete. They called off the search for me, I no longer have custody of my children, I don't know where Nathan is, and I can't do anything stuck here." She reaches up for his hands, takes them briefly and gives them a squeeze, then steps away. "Haven't even seen Niki in awhile. I was so … bored, I went out on Saint Patrick's Day. It's nice having someone to talk to, other than Fuzzy over there." She points to the aquarium.

—-

"The Company," Peter says simply, eyes drifting over to the aquarium, to Fuzzy. The hands remain on her shoulders for a moment, before he turns away to move in close to the little pet. Not much for conversation, at least hamsters are cute to look at. This one is no exception to the rule. Looking back at her, he adds on, "I made a mistake, attacked one of them while under the influence of an ability. They locked me up, and I was too stubborn to deal with them to get out. It'll take some time before that gets settled." And until then, he's not got to worry about running into his present self.

"I can make sure Niki comes to visit you again. We're working on a plan for Logan— I know the two of you had worked on something as well. Nathan was out of the country, though, and he's going to be doing more for a while— he's trying to get the government involved in his projects at Pinehearst. Visiting military bases and the like."

It's a unfortunate reality, but it also gives them some room to manuver. At least a little. "I talked to Niki about getting you a new identity. There's… ways to get money, fresh accounts, new names and identities… and we're going to set you up with a new one." A small pause. "And I handle the most important part. I can change your appearance, your voice… Not even your own parents would recognize you."

—-

Fuzzy does what all hamsters do, and stuffs his face full of whatever's in the food bowl until his cheeks are as wide as his body is long. It's amazing, but really only entertaining the first three dozen times you watch it.

Confusion crosses her face for a mere moment before a now-familiar anger sets in. Heidi never used to feel it so strongly before. Sure, she was devoted and dedicated, but she's tired of people messing with her family. The powerlessness she feels in this hotel room every single day is starting to get to her, to a point where she wonders if just appearing again in public, very much alive, would be the only thing to save her sanity.

"Well, obviously you got out," Heidi says, the stonyness still in her voice as she says it. It's not directed at Peter, and is even controlled enough that only a moment later, she's regained her composure.

That doesn't last long, though. Logan. God dammit, Logan. The further he digs Nathan into this, the harder it's going to be to dig him out… If that can even happen. Dealing with other countries and high-ups in the government can't just be erased. Yes, he's a Senator. But Logan's tangling everything up, and it's frustrating. Rolling her head back on her shoulders, Heidi wrinkles her nose, lip curling ever so slightly with her agitation.

She's about to argue with Peter - It's obvious to her that her brother's talking about moving her out of the city, putting her back into hiding. Witness protection, whatever it is. Then he says something that makes her pause. Wasn't she just wishing people didn't recognise her? Of course, there's a slight hesitation, but then, "What's going to happen? How does it… Work?"

—-

"Eventually, yes," Peter says, though there's no indicator on when he got out, or how he got out. Was it an esacpe, or did they release him? All up for debate, he's looking at her and being might vague. The same as he'd be if she asked about Logan, and how things looked in the future with that. It may not be good, but it could give a glimmer of something. Maybe the fact he doesn't say it all turns out okay is indication enough that it doesn't. It may be something else he needs to change.

"I touch you, and I picture a physical form that I want you to take on. It won't change your basic height and weight, not easily, but I can change everything else. Your face, your eyes, your hair— your voice. The only problem is, I'll have to meet up with you every couple of days to redo it. It won't stick permenantly. You'll just have to make sure that you're in your hotel room, or apartment, when it wears off, which'll be around the same time I put it on, just three days from then."

Temporary. But all inclusive. At least of the most important things. "It won't hurt," he adds after a moment. "It'll feel funny, but it won't hurt."

—-

At least she knows Peter's somewhere alive. It really doesn't comfort her knowing that he's a prisoner somewhere, but there's hope in the revelation, yes. That's something she needed, with no family around for days, and it starting to look like she'd be alone for the rest of her life in a crappy hotel room. Getting the ability to do something - any type of freedom - is worth the price of changing her appearance. Maybe she'll even get to see Nathan for awhile. Walk through a mall. Sit in the park and watch birds for no reason.

And, of course, attempt to save the world in whatever way she can.

It's not an easy decision to make, even with the 'temporary' stipulation attached to it. At the moment, her sense of self is just about all she has. But the pros outweigh the cons, she's sure of it. And just a few days at a time is okay.

Not wanting to sound unsure about it, Heidi gives a quick nod. "Okay. Okay, so I just…" Turning to look in the mirror, she studies her own face. Blue eyes, greying black hair that hasn't been dyed in weeks.

—-

There's a lot she could do, possibly even see her suns. Either way, she'll have freedom, movement, and more ability to walk around than she ever had before. And it will possibly avoid something bad that may have happened in the next couple of days. Something that caused Peter to choose this exact moment to show up in her apartment. As she moves to look in the mirror, he follows her with her eyes, taking a few steps until he can get closer to her, looking over her shoulder. His own face reflects there, just like hers does.

A hand rises up to touch her shoulder again, resting here, as he looks into her eyes reflected in the mirror.

"Any preferences on appearance? You look like anyone, any ethnicity, and hair color… anything at all." There's a pause. "Perferably not a male, though. It won't be that complete." There's a joke in there somewhere, but he's not really smiling. There's only a tiny fraction of a hint. A twitch in the corner of his mouth.

—-

Just say yes!

Changing your appearance is a lot different than wrapping your face up with a scarf. That's starting to look a little more conspicuous and out of place now, though, that the weather is hitting the fifties. It looks like she's trying to hide, and that completely defeats the purpose of trying to hide.

Still, giving up what she looks like. "The eyes would have to change," she says, also with a half-smile. It's probably her most recognisable feature.

It's an entertaining thought, then it catches up with her, and the smile is gone. "Can't. I'll just have to live with this. I can stay here and… it'll be fine, Peter. Something has to give soon. Nathan has to beat what he's going through, and I can't… go see Simon and Monty without them knowing who I am. Can't."

As before, her conviction on this isn't as powerful as she'd like it to be. Whichever way she leans, she's still on the proverbial fence. FREEDOM! but… "Just do it. Make something up, before I change my mind." Pause. "If I do… you can make it go away, right?"

—-

"All right," Peter says carefully, putting a hand against her hair. If she closes her eyes, she'll miss the site, but he keeps looking at her in the mirror as he moves his hand. First thing that changes is her hair. The best dye job imaginable. Graying black to light brown in moments as he runs his hands down. The style is the same, but she can change that with her female wiles. Next to change his her face, following a second pass of his hand. The bone structure changes, the skin tone alters, her eyes shift, the shape of her eyebrows, her nose…

The scars.

The woman that she will find herself looking at in the mirror is very different from the one who'd been looking at her before. The sensation of change tickles, tingles, nips at her skin, but it doesn't hurt, as he promised. It feels closer to a facial massage than anything else.

Finally he touches her throat. The vocal cords shift, change. It feels like he forced her to swallow. Without swallowing. "It may take you a few minutes to get used to the new voice." And days to get used to the new face.

—-

She doesn't close her eyes. But instead of watching the mirror, they're focused on Peter's hand. Her heart feels like it's pounding - this is scary stuff, new things every day, and she can feel it as it happens to her. It's almost like the sensation she feels from healing, but knowing it's something entirely different is enough to make her freak out just a little. Internally, yes, but the look is obvious in the now dark-brown eyes that intently watch Peter's hand.

She coughs at the tickle in her throat, clearing it, allowing herself to breathe again as she turns her gaze toward Peter's eyes. Her attention remains there for a moment before she decides that she ought to know what she looks like… so she looks back toward the mirror.

"Whoa," is her reply, in a voice that's significantly more alto and a little tiny bit raspier. She repeats the "whoa" again when she hears it, speechless beyond that; turning her face, pushing the lighter hair out of the way, she searches for the scar. Gone. "I— don't even recognise myself. Anywhere."

—-

With everything done, Peter watches her in the mirror for a long moment before taking a step back so she can touch her own face, look at herself. It's going to take some time to adjust, he knows that. "If you want me to fix anything else, I can. I also need to touch your hands before you go out— that will change your finger prints." Not that she should be commiting any crimes where she'd need to keep her fingerprints underwraps, but it's another aspect of his ability.

"No one else will recognize you either, unless you say something that only you would know," that is, after all, the point. "So in certain company, if you want to hide your identity, just be careful what you say." He touches her shoulder again, before glancing back at the hamster cage. "You'll need a new name. But I can get you an apartment and funds."

—-

"No, no, it's fine." She's just shocked. Not scared, just vaguely disturbed. Still, the fact that she can actually go out somewhere is wonderful. Without sunglasses, without a scarf. She can go grocery shopping. Sure, that wouldn't be the first thing on a person's mind normally, but little things like that are all things that Heidi has taken for granted in the past. It's just like she'll always remember that she's able to walk every time she takes a step, because she's lived through paralysis.

There's a brief glance up at Peter before she looks back to the mirror. There's a smile somewhere on her face, though it's subtle. "You know me. I've been careful. I think I can handle this. I hope I can. I'll just… meet up with you every few days, then." Heidi's looking at Peter, but she's talking to her reflection in the mirror. Not her eyes, not her nose, not her lips or hair or ears, but she knows it's her—

There's a moment where her eyes just abruptly fill with tears, and she sniffles. Logically, she knows this is a Good Thing, and so the dread only lasts for a moment. It's reversible. "I've always kind of thought of Sera." She spells it. "It's short for…" A moment of self-consciousness and a feeling of lameness later, she concludes with, "It's kind of dumb."

—-

There's a moment where Peter just keeps watching her, nodding. He does know her. He trusted her to be careful, to take care of herself, to look out for her own safety. But at the same time he knew she would need his help in some things. Being self-sufficent does not mean the person should be alone all the time. When the tears start to show up, he touches her arm again, moving his hands down to hers and holding on to them. Not to change her fingerprints like he said he would, though that happens as a side-effect of the touch.

"There's nothing wrong with it. It's a name, and it doesn't have much in common with your real one." Which makes it better. "Do you have a last name preference?" There's no comforting smile, but he can't think of any reason she might pick that name in particular.

There's always been a very business-like thing about him, but he hesitates from just waiting for the last name and going to make it happen. There's a pause. "Do you want to tell me about it?"

—-

"You can come up with something reasonable. I trust you," she says, finally looking away from the mirror, bringing one hand up to mop at her eyes before she allows Peter to take her hands. Her face feels different. She's okay, though. Heidi can almost certainly handle something like this. At least she's not hurt.

More and more, she's becoming familiar with the process of hiding, and so she knows it's best not to ask questions. She'll just go along with it. Deal with it. Eventually, she'll come to recognize the face in the mirror again, despite the fact that it's not hers.

Briefly, she contemplates telling Peter why she picked this specific name. The reasoning behind it is personal; she still plans to serve as an angel for Nathan, and so Sera is short for Seraphim. It's the closest she could come up with without compromising the meaning. Really, she's the only one who has to know it. Shaking her head, offering a little smile, she says, "No. Ask me when you go back to the future. I'll tell you then." Because she'll be alive in the future, dammit.

—-

When he goes back. Peter's eyes lower a little when she brings that up, expression falling downward. Is she already not alive in the future? Or… No. That's not it. It's the going back part. Can he go back, when he's changing everything? Is there any going back for him? He doesn't think so, he highly doubts it. Time is short, done is done. When he goes back, if he goes back, he doesn't expect the world he sees to be anything he recognizes. Or, perhaps, he won't even survive the trip with everything intact. Time travel makes things difficult.

Moving over to the hamster cage, he puts his hand on the edge, before he says, "I'll come up with a last name for you. I'll give you some information, some money, and you can change hotels until I have your new identity ready." There's a long pause. "Be careful, Heidi. I'll need you in the future, just like I've needed you in the past."

—-

You have to be able to effect your own like. Heidi's sure that Peter being here is enough to change what was going to happen. There's nothing wrong with believing in fate and the ability to alter fate.

Anyway, quantum theory would dictate that Peter will have a future to go back to. But Heidi is not an expert in those sciences, and she's also not a mind-reader. Peter's given her an opportunity, though, and she intends to use it. She'll see Nathan eventually, and run little risk of Logan killing her. "Niki needs to know where I am," she realises. That creates a problem. Their contact is already limited as it is. She was just from a farm in rural New York, and now she's stuck in an extremely dangerous situation. "I'll be careful, Piglet," she says. "Don't worry."

—-

Quantum theory or not, it's very possible he doesn't want to go back to any future. But not a mind reader and he's not sharing. "I'll let her know," Peter says with a nod, offering a hint of a smile, a tug on the corner of his mouth, before he vanishes from the hotel room and leaves her in silence. With her new face, her new eyes, her new voice. And soon a new name.

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