2007-11-07: To An Absent Friend


Jane_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Also featuring: Nathan_icon.gif, Senator-elect.

Summary: Two speak of a third person they knew.

Date It Happened: November 7th, 2007

To An Absent Friend

This is one apartment that Peter'd been avoiding for quite a few months now— calling might have been a better plan, but there's many reasons why he's choosing to come in person. Dressed for the weather, and with his hair dangling into his forehead, he looks much healther than he'd been the last time they saw each other. Skin tone's back to normal, for one thing, and he's looking well rested instead of physically exhausted. As he approaches the apartment, he knocks on the door and waits.

There are sounds from beyond that door. A guitar is being played, faintly audible where he stands. The tune is something bluesy, laced with emotion. It may well be she's playing out her feelings again, having found herself alone with time to think. The knock causes those sounds to cease, followed by footsteps muted by carpet which get louder as she approaches. They stop, silence settling as she checks through the peephole an spots the man waiting.

"Peter," Jane greets in a subdued voice. "I'll be just a moment while I suit up." She turns away to do just that.

"You don't have to suit up," Peter says immediately, hoping to be loud enough that she'll hear him. "I'm not sick anymore— and I wouldn't have come to visit you if you did need to wear a suit." He'd still be spreading the virus to her if he just walked into her apartment. "I'm safe now."

The footsteps heading away stop as those words are heard, and reverse course. Not that there were many; at most two or three in each direction. The door opens and is held for him to enter. Jane's face shows relief. "Thank God," the woman breathes out. "Come in. Please." She's got a copy of the Times from the day before in hand. It's folded, but partly visible is a photo of Nathan.

"It's not over yet, unfortunately," Peter explains as he steps inside, moving deep enough that she can close and lock the door before he continues. "I'm the only one who's cured so far. We're trying to track down some information to fix the problem for everyone." Not the best news at all, and he seems to know it. "But that's not why I'm here. I— I didn't want to try to explain over the phone, and I honestly don't— know how to explain this now." His eyes drop away and he looks hesitant and worried, "I talked to Elle the other day."

"Elle," she muses while moving to close the door behind him. "That's odd. She's been out on assignment for months. Strange she hasn't come home." Her face remains neutral, not giving away whether or not she was told anything about the electroblonde being present at Dreamtime, her attention on his features. "You do look much better," Jane observes, before the relief shifts back to an expression of worry. "There was only enough cure for one person? Do you need help, extra hands or resources in the effort?" Her jaw sets. "This could kill them, right? It's a virus. Generally those are either knocked off by the body or they eventually kill it."

Because talking about Elle is so difficult, Peter tackles the virus questions first, "It was an ability that fixed me, but nearly put the person into a coma doing it— so we're trying to find something more permenant. But we have a backup plan— two of them now— in case we don't find anything and they take a turn for the worse." Luckily they know what happens before they die, now, so they can recognize a turn for the worse. "I honestly barely know what I can do to help. If I think of anything, I'll let you know, but for now…" He trails off. A hand goes up to his face and he glances around the room, as if looking for something. "Elle won't be coming back. Not the Elle that you knew. I don't know all the details, but… the Company did something to her. To the person we knew as Elle— she probably didn't even know she wasn't Elle— I read her mind enough times that she thought she was Elle, but…" This is making no sense, but he's visibly getting upset just talking about it.

Her head tilts, she's listening quietly and nodding on her way into the main room. Viruses, medical stuff, Jane knows the basics like they either get beaten or eventually kill in most cases, sometimes after years and years, with the best way of fighting it being getting the body to develop its own defenses better. The worry to her face eases; Pete's been cleared and that shows a strong hope for the rest. So far, so good, until he speaks of Elle again.

She stops in the act of sitting down and the newspaper in her hand falls to the floor. Nathan's face and the announcement of his landslide victory stares up at her uncommented on. "Rewind, here," she suggests in a confused voice. "She's not Elle Bishop? But, but… hell, we even had Rianna read her mind after…"

Glancing down at his brother's face, the landslide victory, would normally make him hint toward a smile, but this conversation makes no such hint. Peter glances up and looks at the woman— only a little younger than him, and shakes his head, "I have no idea. She mentioned huge holes in her memory that she couldn't see around, maybe whatever they did to her… I don't know, Jane. I don't know if I'll ever know now." He rubs both hands over his face. "The Elle that I talked to— she said she'd disappeared over half a year ago. And had been put on assignment. Her father was trying to save her life, she said— cause there was a prophecy. One that Sylar would kill her. And they made it so it could still happen without her dying. By sacrificing someone else."

"I…" She starts to speak, but words fail to come out, leaving her standing there with her mouth opening and closing as she tries to make her voice obey. It's not the expression Jane shows when about to scream or stifling same, no, this is shock. Silence rules for some long moments, it could even be as much as thirty seconds before she manages to articulate thought. One hand with the index finger extended is raised before she speaks again. "They fixed it up so she could even fool a telepath, found someone with the same ability. gave her the same appearance? Or… there was a person Elle called a friend. Candice. She had the power to make illusions. That time, with the dancing notes, you remember? Was she part of this, making us think we were around Elle? No… It certainly felt real when she used current. And when Emma knocked her out that time, she didn't change."

There's more silence from there while she chews over what she was told again. "Sylar." The eyes go wide. "Elle's back in town, and told you this. Why? Is… is the impostor…?"

"I don't think it was an illusion, but I don't know what they did to cover it up. I don't even know the real name of the person I was…" Peter trails off. Mind if he sits down? Well, he doesn't even bother to ask. He just moves deeper into the room and plants in a chair, leaning forward and pressing his face into his hands. There's tension visible even through his warm clothes, just in the way he sits and holds himself, in his neck, in his arms… "She told me— Elle. She remembered things that the other one wouldn't have— she knew about the escape. But she didn't know about this." When he says that last part, he raises his head up again to look at her. "She thought she was just going away on an assignment, that she would be back eventually. She didn't know what they'd done until she got back and everyone in the Company thought she was dead."

Which answers the last question. "Whoever she was— Sylar killed her. I painted it. A month ago— apparently the night it happened. I tried to contact the Company to warn them, but… they said it already happened. And then said Elle was okay— so I let it go. That's what mattered, that she was okay— but I didn't…" he trails off, tension setting in his jaw.

She's dead. The woman she knew is dead. The one she saw make a mess of the bookstore, the one who tortured Elena and was forgiven, who she'd talked with and befriended, stood by and believed could adapt to life… The same one whose belongings are still here untouched, is dead. Her head cut open. Jane's knees fail, she drops to the floor heavily and lands on her backside next to the photo of Senator-elect Petrelli, missing the chair completely. Her eyes close, her head shakes. "No. It can't be. How do you know they didn't just try to play another game on you? I'm an addict, but I'm not an addict. Things I can't remember. Meeting Rianna before we had her help us with…" The name is held back, like she can only half believe what she's told. "She doesn't know me, you're saying? They made the switch before she came here?"

As the musician falters, Peter stands up again, crossing the short distance to kneel down beside her and touch her back. The serious and sad expression remains on his face. "You still met her— but you didn't know her as well… I think that— she said she left on the mission back in March or early April— before I fought Sylar— but after we started the possible contract to… you met her. But the person who lived here— she…" He trails off, looking where his hand touches the woman's back. He closes his eyes after a moment, then says, "I'm sorry. It could be a ruse, a very good one, but… she has the memories of my escape back. The memories the other one was supposed to never be able to get back. She never lived here…"

Mourning has started to set in. She doesn't move away from the hand at her back, the eyes stay closed, though no tears come. Jane's still sitting there, head bowing forward. In times past, she might be screaming or fighting herself not to, but now she isn't. It could be something about the prediction of her own death and the trip she went on that changed her somehow, made her more able to not approach that edge so easily. "So she still knows me, a little. I… all her stuff is still here, untouched. Kept clean, dusted, bed still ready to sleep in if she got back. I wish I could just snap my fingers and make it all seem, feel fake. But it doesn't."

The eyes reopen to meet his, or try to, after another burst of silence. "Is it safe to meet, to meet the woman who claims to be Elle now? Or will she just have someone come rape my mind again if she knows I know? I'd rather make them kill me first. And, oh God, what do I do with her property? Keep it, continue playing along like Elle's just away on assignment?"

The mourning would be the reason he had a hard time coming over to tell her— and why Peter didn't think it was something to tell her over the phone. It's not something easy to deal with at all. The hand stays on her back, shifting up to her shoulders, and then down again. "I'm sure you took good care of her things— but I don't know if it's safe to meet her. She's… she was nice to me, came to talk to me even though she wasn't supposed to— to tell me what happened— but we'd been together for almost a month when she disappeared." Almost a month. Whereas he was with the other one for over three. It's very disconcerting. "If it'd be okay, I'd like to go through it. At least take out the things I knew were hers before… it happened. I helped her move a lot of her stuff both times, so… maybe I can send it to her. I'd also like to… keep the things I gave her. The other her… If you think that'd be okay."

"I… I thought her father was a bastard," Jane opines in a subdued voice, "all the things she went through. He probably still is, sacrificing someone like that, instead of trying to set a trap. Can't be sure he doesn't actually have a heart in there somewhere, protecting his daughter. But… a little confidence would be nice."

She trails off again, moving to pick up a small bear with John Lennon glasses and a shirt showing the word Imagine across the front. It's held to her chest, as she starts to walk down the hallway. Outside Elle's, or NotElle's, door she stops to stare. "I want to meet the real one, see if she's anything like the one I know. If I play along, I hope I'm actress enough to pull off not knowing."

As the musician lawyer moves away, Peter straightens and follows to the door. The door that the other one cooked one time— the room that they spent more than a few nights together in. There's a wounded look, but one that… "I wish he would have trusted me to protect her— or even given me a chance to. And I'm not sure I can forgive him for doing that to someone else. They must have scrambled her mind so much that…" he trails off, shaking his head. There's so much he doesn't know, but he looks back at her, away from the door. "You can try to meet her. I can try to set something up, or send her over to get her stuff… It might take a while, but…"

"I've been there, predicted death. Made my peace with it, decided if it comes it comes. I'd do my best to take them with me, have some meaning to it, and maybe learn enough to recognize my killer and bring him down instead. At no time would I throw someone else in front of me as a shield. Bob Bishop is no leader. He's a coward." She almost spits that last word. "Real leaders let their children face their own risks. FDR didn't pull strings to keep his son out of WW2. He knew he couldn't, and still have the respect of anyone." Her hand reaches out as if to turn the knob and open the door, but hovers there. "Engineered viruses. Secret prisons without trial. Stolen memories. If I didn't fear we'd only unleash a witch hunt, I'd make it my life's work to drag the whole thing out into the light of day."

A deep breath is drawn, and she finally opens the door. "Set it up. Meeting Elle. Or whoever she is. I… Facing the truth, even if it feels like talking to a ghost, is better than hiding. Thank you for telling me."

"The less the public knows about people like us, the better. I've seen a future where everyone knew— and it isn't one we want," Peter explains softly, though it looks as if he agrees with her opinion on the Company. As the door opens, he looks through it, inside, glancing around at a few of the things that are there to see. "She didn't leave me a number to contact her on— but I can try to contact her in other ways. It just may take a while." She has time, though— with the man who killed her in the dream locked up again. "I wasn't sure how to tell you— especially not over the phone. Once I got cured…" He trails off. It was something much easier to say in person, with no need for a suit. He'd not known the last time they saw each other, either. "You're welcome." It's not cheerful or proud, and he looks toward the room again. "Do you mind if I look around? I won't— I would like to take a few things. Even if I didn't know who she really was— she— she was still important to me."

"I know," she replies softly. "I wish it weren't so, but it is. Some would want to use us as guinea pigs an lab rats. Some would worship us as heroes, others try to wipe us out as demons. Fear would always exist. I don't desire any of the three. I'm just me." Two steps forward are taken into the room and Jane lets her eyes wander, then closes them again. One hand beckons the man inside. "How's Evelyn? I should call her soon, meet up. We got lucky she didn't pick up on me not knowing anything about your trip to the future and get spooked."

Moving deeper into the room, though looking concerned as he does, Peter first moves toward some of the few things that he got for her. It's the small stuffed unicorn that they won at Coney Island thay he approaches first, taking it and lifting it up. When she mentions Evelyn, he glances back, "I— you can try calling her. She's…" He hesitates. "She's one of the ones who's sick. Like Elena still is." There's reluctance, but in light of everything else, he doesn't seem to have the strength to make up a lie.

Her hands curl into fists on hearing Evelyn is sick along with others. "Of course," Jane murmurs. "That explains the story of her powers going away and coming back weird. As if maybe along that string the virus was passed without symptoms, and cured somehow. Or her system finally beat it. Unlike this strain." She watches him move. "Your decisions are your decisions. I can't make you tell me. I won't try. Life's too short to be angry over things like finding out my closest friends, who're also my roommates' friends, are now romantic and critically ill, and that you met someone I thought had tornado power, someone I gave my number, in the future." Her voice is quiet, traced with grief, though tears still don't fall. "Things are what they are. I still believe in you. I hope you feel the same."

She exits the room and walks down the hall. When she returns there's two glasses of red wine. One is offered to him, the other kept for herself.

"To an absent friend."

"Probably— the virus we have now is different than it originally would have been, but that doesn't mean their abilities won't go crazy when all's said and done…" The only person it's known to have killed so far… "Life's too short for a lot of things," Peter says with agreement, mostly because… this would be a good example of a time when life's definitely too short— even if he has no idea how old the woman had been, who she'd been before— or any of that. He holds onto the small stuffed unicorn for the moment, glancing toward the lamp he bought her as well, then back at Jane as she returns with a glass of wine. He takes it, shifting the unicorn to one hand, and then nods, tapping the glass against hers, "Whoever she'd been… she was your friend, and someone I loved." Then he takes a drink, looking back toward the room—

She drinks slow and long, tasting the wine, as her thoughts wander. So much shared, the memories around this apartment. Elle and Peter's noises through the wall, Elena handcuffed on the bed and being tortured until she gave the electroblonde a very healthy dose of crucio… Elle cooking without the stove being turned on, as she discovered her own internal current would do the trick. She, Elle and Ali talking about the radio personality's newly realized ability… A mist comes over Jane's eyes, one she turns away to avoid having seen. Those tears may come freely later; she doesn't intend to have him or anyone else see them.

As he sips slowly on the wine, Peter walks over to the dresser and puts the unicorn down. There's only a few things to go through, one of which is a long box, obviously holding a piece of jewelry. He opens it carefully— looking down at the blue-beaded necklace. He remembers how he tried to summon the gift to his hand, only to drop it when it got there. Putting it on her— all the memories, happy and good that they both had in this room. He lets out a sigh, before looking back. "I'll pack up a couple things— but I'll leave everything else." Downing the last of the glass, he puts it down to rest next to the necklace, and goes toward the closet, persumably to find something to put the things into.

She settles into a sitting position at the foot of NotElle's bed, leaning her back against it, and closes her eyes again. There isn't much for her to say, Jane's thoughts hold it all. Stricken, grieving in silence, but still no trace of building scream. Moments later her own glass is empty and lowered to the carpet, held loosely by her fingers.

After a short search in the closet, Peter finds a bag, one of the ones she knows she bought after moving into this apartment, and begins to move a few things into the bag. The breakables are left out for the moment, since he might need to grab a few newspapers to make them easier to move, but he does pack the stuffed animal and the necklace first. Silence follows as he does all this, because it's hard to say much more. They're both mourning in silence.

Poor Nathan the Senator-elect. During all of this his newspaper photo and victory article remains face up and ignored on carpet next to a chair in Jane's main room.

And soon that very face will be used to wrap up a sleeping kitten statuette. Poor Nathan, Senator-Elect indeed.

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