2010-01-13: Twist The Knife



Date: January 13th, 2009


It was probably a mistake for Peter to bring Lena with him to meet Candice.

"Twist The Knife"

Unnamed Rooftop, NYC

The city of New York is known for its incredible skyline, a view which becomes spectacular on clear winter nights, once the color has bled from the sky and lights of the city make up for the lack of visible stars. Peter, being Peter, made it an easy thing to find a way onto the roof of one of the many not-quite-skyscrapers and Lena's finding it a treat in spite of the bitter cold. The young woman is comfortably padded in multiple layers, hood drawn up and a scarf wound around her lower face to help warm her breath. But she pulls that down, breath fogging as she approaches the brick wall that marks the edge of the building. Her gloved hands brace against the tile trim, taking her weight when she leans forward to get a good look at the world spread out so far below.

"When I get rich and famous, I want one of those penthouses with patios out here," she remarks. A glance is sent at Peter, a brief smile, before Lena looks up at the clouds. They threaten snow, and are reflecting the lights of the city with a faint orange glow. "Maybe with glass walls that come up though…it's cold. Who do you have to meet again?"

"Someone who knows my mother," Peter says, rubbing his hands together. "I've never actually met her…" That he knows of, at least. "But I heard about her a few times." The things he heard from Elle weren't all good, especially since the person who told him most of that wasn't actually Elle at all. His life has been nothing if not complicated. "We need all the help we can get right now…" And he doesn't think his mother would give his phone number to someone completely untrustworthy. "But stay close to me."

There are several things in this world Candice Willmer is not a fan of. One of them is building rooftops. They involve far too much climbing-of-stairs. But she's come to the designated place, at the designated time. Like it or not, right now this plan is going to need some heavy hitters, and Peter Petrelli is about the heaviest one there is. Moreso since her attempts to enlist his brother have been somewhat lacking in fruitfulness.

At the moment, she's wearing her Candice body. She's not sure what Angela Petrelli will have told her son, but if she told him anything at all, Candice has to assume she'd have mentioned her most common identity to him. So, it's the leggy, shapely brunette who opens up the door to the roof, clad in jeans, leather ankle boots, and leather jacket. Old training never dies; the instant she's through the door, she's perusing her surroundings, looking to make sure this isn't a doublecross.

With Angela, you can never be sure.

"Oh, yeah, sorry." Lena looks somewhat abashed at having rushed off to study the view and crunches over the accumulated snow to linger near Peter's elbow. A moment is spent in fidgeting the folds of the simple black scarf higher around her jaw and ears, to keep out the wind, then her hands find their way into her pockets. "Your mom is, um…" Whatever description she might have given is bitten off at the sound of the roof door admitting someone into their presence. Taller, female, kind of familiar…

Lena frowns, squints, and reaches up to scrape her bangs out of her eyes in order to get a better look. It's so hard to see in this gloom.

"My mom is an interesting woman," Peter simply says, but for a moment he's smiling, if lopsidedly. The opening of the door on the roof attracts his attention. Roofs are something he's used to using for meetings. They tend to be private. And there's good and bad things about roofs. For him they also have multiple escape routes. Teleportation, flight— even jumping off are all options. It's better than a room with all walls, at least.

The description matches what his mother had told him when he called to confirm someone had been given his number in the first place, but he still looks surprised. "You must be Candice," he says, taking a step forward, but keeping a hand out so Lena could take it if she needs to. With her gloved hands at least. "Sorry for the cold meeting place."

The brunette there takes a few steps closer. "Candice Willmer, that's right. It's good to see you again, Peter." She's got that quirky, slightly sarcastic smile that she does so well. "Your mom's asked me to take care of a problem, and apparently you and your brother are both working the same problem from different angles. Figured it'd be a good idea to have a meeting of the minds on it."

Why does she…oh holy fuck! The agent from the library! Yes, even in silent thought, Lena is a foul-mouthed little creature. It's part of her charm.

The younger woman does indeed seize Pete's hand, but the intention is to haul him bodily back. It's panic, adrenaline, that gives her the strength for the pull. "No! No, don't! She's with them, she's with Alpha Protocol!" It's a good thing that he did choose such a secluded location; Lena's voice breaks high and frightened without a concern for bystanders.

The sudden hand grab gets a surprised glance, then Peter's hand tightens. "What?" he responds, startled, looking back at the woman who just entered. He pulls Lena a little behind him, to act as a shield, but he hesitates in just teleporting away. His mother wouldn't have allowed someone who worked with AP to call him, would she? "Don't move. Are you with Alpha Protocol?" There's suspicion in his voice, as he opens his mind up to try and listen into the woman's thoughts. He wants to trust people, but sometimes they make it difficult. And he wants to protect Lena more.

~What the fuck? No I'm not! Who—oh, SHIT. HER?! Some would call it cosmic punishment for hubris; her plotting and planning finally catching up to her. She's thinking the former from the moment Lena's words come out, and she shakes her head.

"No, I'm not with Alpha Protocol. I'm with the Company, but right now we have a common enemy in the Protocol." She can't help but smirk at Lena a little. "It's not my fault you jump to conclusions."

Lena proves her cowardice by sliding all too willingly behind Pete, looking around for the evil government team that's certain to be lurking nearby. Where are the guys in black, with the guns? This has to be a trap!

When no boogiemen jump out to dart, taser, shoot or otherwise harm the pair of them, Lena dares to curl a hand over Peter's arm and peek around the barrier he presents. Still shaking, still entirely incapable of drawing a full breath. And still so very certain that this was the woman who tormented her in the library. She confirms it, with that look. "I swear to god, it's her. It's her, she knew…she k-knew I got tortured, she…she knew I talked. I swear, Pete. We gotta go, she knew and she threatened…she…" Lena tenses her jaw to keep her teeth from chattering, making her voice a small and strained thing. "Please? They're here, they're watching, I don't wanna go back, I can't."

Thank you, Candice, for undoing all of Peter's hard work in helping Lena have fewer nightmares.

"She's terrified and you allowed it," Peter says, squeezing the girl's hand again and keeping a firm hold on her. He could attempt to teleport away from there now, but he just keeps his mind open just in case, backing up with the girl closer to the edge of the roof. Some distance between then. Donly worry, Lena, I won't let anything happen to you, he assures, but— they're not going anywhere. Not yet.

"How did you know what happened to her with Alpha Protocol. Are you some kind of telepath?" he asks, keeping his mind open, but not feeling the right kind of feedback that he experienced with Matt.

No evil government men. Nary a dart, a taser, or anything else. "I knew it because I got the entire rundown on the situation from Tiago." She explains. "And because I don't like you very much." There's that smarmy smile again. Candice's fear is appropriate payback for her smart-ass comments. "And I'm not a telepath." With that, her form shifts, and becomes another woman. Mallory, Peter would know her as. "You knew me like this." she tells him, her voice that of Mallory's, and a bit quiet."

Guilty as charged. Lena is terrified yet she is able to bring the babbling under control at the telepathic reassurance. She even manages to time her backwards steps with his so that neither of them stumbles during the slow retreat. But her eyes never leave Candice, and her hand twitches in Peter's while the urge to simply run is fought— at least, it twitches until Tiago's name is mentioned. Then she goes very, very still.

"Tiago…Chi? You…you're…" The woman knows Tiago, who spoke of starting a war the last time she saw him. A war that would use Evolved powers. The woman can change her form. Lena hardly even registers the remark about being disliked. Too busy suffering a gut-wrenching wave of mingled confusion and grief. "Is he…is he okay?"

The sudden shifting of forms startles him, even if Peter knew that's what she was capable of. He remembers a conversation with Elle, where the ability came up. "I see," he says softly, understanding now how she might know all that. She knows Tiago, which causes his hand to tighten yet again. "I'm beginning to see why Elle warned me about you," he adds on, frowning visibly. Yes, Elle warned him about her once! Of course, now he doesn't know if it was the real Elle, or the other one. It would strike him as ironic if the one who was an illusion had been worried about her illusionist friend.

Mallory shifts, becoming Candice again. "I'm not going to lie to you." Well, not about this. "I work for the Company. I've admitted that. And back then, that didn't necessarily put us on the same side, Peter. But it does now. For everything we did, Alpha Protocol has done worse. Your mother asked me to take them down. But I can't do that alone."

It's only AFTER she replies to Peter that she goes back to looking at Lena. Which way does she want to play this? She considers a moment, before saying "He's better. He's actually planning to fake his death, to throw the Protocol off his tracks. So if you hear about him dying, don't freak." She makes it look like she might even be sympathetic. "Other than that, he's doing fine. He was all busted up about you at first, but he's got a new girlfriend, and he seems to have moved on pretty well with his new hottie."

Lena is silent through Candice's speaking to Peter. Not impatient, or openly fearful now, although anxiety and distrust certainly run like a bright thread through the weave of her feelings. The relief she might feel when the other woman does return to the topic of Tiago is short-lived. She grunts softly, as if struck, and drops her chin towards her throat to hide the look in her eyes. That hurt. But she has had practice, in the week since seeing Tiago last, regarding suppressing those feelings.

When Lena looks up again, her fake-green eyes are narrowed and bright, set against the sting. "Why did you say that to me? In the library?" There's only a slight hitch to her voice, in spite of the way the young woman is bearing down on Pete's hand right about now.

"We have the same enemy right now, even if I don't agree with your methods, whether you like Lena or not, she was a victim of Alpha Protocol, and that means she was on your side too," Peter says, lips pressing together with concern before he looks back at the girl. All the talk about her ex can't be easy to hear— and he knows, he's had quite a few exes in his day! And no one could say he wasn't the least bit sensetive to such things. "She left the library and called me and was terrified. Alpha Protocol is scaring people enough on their own. They don't need your help."

Candice listens to Lena's question, and Peter's chastising. "We're on the same side now." she admits. "But we've been watching her for a while. Let's just say that you're a poor enough excuse for a human being that I thought a little karmic payback was worth it." She looks to Lena, and then, just for a topper, adds "Your boyfriend is a lot better off with the blonde." She's pretty sure that Lena will make the (correct) assumption of who that blonde is.

Of course, having Candice call you a poor excuse for a human being is irony to an extreme degree. "I'll play nice from here on in, Peter. I'm just trying to figure out what we can do from here to take these people down. I figure you can use another trained expert, especially one with my ability when it comes to this. Direct force won't do it; we're going to have to be sneaky. And I'm very good at that."

The problem with having Peter as a friend is the sheer impossibility of hiding anything from him. Lena's aware of that sensitivity, it shows in the way she flicks an apologetic look up to meet the man's glance. There's no way to block the mutter of thoughts of guilt, and grief, of not being good enough, but she tries like hell to tamp it down to manageable levels. Of course, Candice is doing her utmost to make that impossible. The blonde. Of course.

The young woman withdraws entirely behind Peter now, and from the conversation, but a sound does force itself from her throat. Something between a strangled sob and a growl. No way does Candice get to watch her tear up. "I wanna go, Pete," Lena whispers. "I…can I go?" She's even willing him to leave him to the super secret save the world business, so long as it means that she herself can get out of there.

"What I'm focused on is protecting those that Alpha Protocol doesn't have their hands, and saving those they have," Peter says, looking back at Lena. In the dark, it's still not hard to see the expression on his face. One of worry. Just letting her go isn't so much an option to him, cause she may not know how to get home from here. And she'd have to do it alone. "Taking Alpha Protocol down isn't really my main priority. Because I'm not sure I can." Even with additional resources.

He turns enough to face Lena, reaching to touch her shoulder with his other hand. "I shouldn't have brought you along, but at least now you know it wasn't really Alpha Protocol that found you." Which could mean it would be safe to go back to the place she was. "With your abilities we might be able to fake deaths of some of them, if you were planning to assist Tiago like that. It may come in handy when I get a few more out of there— you might also be able to help with some rescue attempts. The fewer people who are hurt when they're rescued, the better." The less ammo they'll have to use against them. "But I'll need to think on it. The number you contacted me on is a good way to contact you?"

Candice says nothing to Lena…she's happy enough to let her stew right now. She responds to Peter instead. "That's what we were thinking. I was planning to help him fake his death so he can get on with his happy new life." Okay, just a /little/ twist. "And I'm glad to help any way I can. You can reach me whenever you want at that number. I'm working several angles on this, so it may take some time to get back, but I'll do my best."

"Yeah, yeah, that's good to know," Lena mutters, reaching up to rub at her eyes. Getting soppy is not a good option at any time, with this one. But hey, silver lining! The library is still (kinda) safe. She forces a smile for that fact in a poor attempt at reassuring Peter. But the look that goes past his arm to Candice next…there's no smile there. It's hard, and unhappy. The conversation flows around her, unremarked on. There's really little else for the young woman to say.

"Will you stop being snarky for one minute?" Peter asks, actually muttering under his breath. He knows Lena better than he knows this woman, so the snide comments aimed to hurt are effecting his opinion of her. "I'll give you a call once I have some more to work with. I'm handling multiple angles at once as well." He hesitates a moment, then says, "We'll be going now. Could you let me know how things go with Tiago? If you manage to get him safe?" It's the only favor he'll ask. He'll pass it on to the girl— even if it probably means he's safe and happy with the woman who could be a super model/school girl.

Oh, that's so hard. But she nods. Alienating Peter Petrelli isn't worth petty vengeance on Lena. "I'll let you know. Right now, trying to get him to handle this carefully is the hardest part. He's sort of impetuous. I'll definitely tell you once he's secure. It'll be up to him if he wants to pass on details or not." Having done her job here…whether that job is making her alliance or raking Lena over the coals…she gives a smile and starts to head out. "Call me." That said, unless someone stops her, the brunette heads back down the stairs.

Lena holds it together until Candice has disappeared behind that sturdy steel door. Then she shakes her hand free of Peter's, pressing it and its opposite to her face. Snow crunches under her heels when she pivots to put her back to him. "Im-impetuous." Whether that's a laugh or a sob is difficult to tell, being muffled by gloves as it is. Pray it's the former, for Lena has never exaggerated the goopiness of her brand of crying; it's the price one pays for not being a lady. "Can we g-go now, Pete? It's…it's okay. I'm okay. I promise." Liar liar.

"Yeah— yeah, we're going," Peter says, keeping his hands on the no-longer-a-teen and closing his eyes. It takes a few moments, but suddenly the world of the rooftop gets replaced by the now familiar bedroom he happens to still be using. There's now a bookshelf added on, and a few things being placed there. When his eyes open, he looks down at her and grimaces. "I'm sorry. I didn't know that she was the— I probably shouldn't have taken you. I just thought you might want to get involved or… get out and see the city…" He did not know it would lead to heart ache.

One of these days, she'll get used to teleportation. Maybe. Lena still holds her breath every time it happens, and has to gasp when the cold air she'd been breathing is suddenly replaced by warm. If nothing else, it provides an excellent alternative focus to being a big achey crybaby. Bowing her head, she uses gloved hands to wipe at eyes and cheeks before briskly stripping those items off. They're dangerous when they get damp. "No…no, Pete. I do. I do, b-both. I want to help, Gene…I'm going to Gene's meeting and I'm not going to be a goddamn wuss anymore."

It gets so much easier to speak as she goes on, cutting her eyes up towards Peter to see if he's buying any of this. "It's okay, really. I'm glad. That you took me, you know? Now I know he's…okay. And…and the library's okay."

Crying is something he understands. Peter moves a hand around her and hugs her closer, not worried about the possibility of getting drugged with undesired contact. If they did touch, he could probably get fixed later. "You're not a wuss. And I'm sure Gene'll find things for you to help with. I might try to go to the meeting too." But he didn't exactly get an invite. He'll see how it goes. "I'm glad you found out Tiago's okay. It sounds like he has a good plan to stay out of the grasp…" And it also makes him cautious about trust Candice too much. For better or worse.

Lena just has time to shove the gloves into a pocket before being pulled into that hug. She scrunches her eyes shut to prevent further leaking but otherwise makes no protest. It's been a hugging sort of week (perfect for the family-starved female) and there should be enough layers between them that Peter won't have to worry. So long as she's careful, and doesn't give into being utterly miserable. "I am. And…you should. You're…it's funny. You both think…the other one's better." Although she can't and doesn't explain why it's funny. Instead, softly, she adds, "Yeah. I'm glad too. It really is okay, Pete. It was my own fault…I'll get over it."

"You should have seen us the one time we worked together. Gene and I failed miserably at approaching the situation with tact." Also known as Secret Agent Fail… Peter's smile is short lived, but he lets her go, so she can have some time to herself. Even if the self blame makes him say, "I'm sure there was a lot more at fault than just you." From one self-blamer to another. "Maybe I'll take you and Jade out to a movie sometime. Movie theater should be safe. Maybe one of those 3D ones." They'd be wearing glasses the whole time. What better way to hide your face and relax and enjoy something.

It takes one to help one. The change in subject, the attempt at humor, they're seized on with a rush of gratitude. "We'd like that. It'd be fun," Lena says, summoning her own poor fascimile of a smile. "Maybe that big one that just…oh!" The repeated use of Gene's name finally nudges somewhat distracted memory banks back into functioning. The hug has ended, but Lena's hand shoots out to grab Peter's forearm. Personal misery is unimportant in comparison to certain Rather Large Issues that have sprung up. Namely… "You need to keep in touch with Gene, Pete. He got attacked by some serial killer with a weird name. S-something. And he won't come here for help. I asked him, I yelled at him. But he's out there alone. I'm sorry…I'm sorry, always more shit with me, messing up this meeting for you and this now…but…"

"Sylar?" Peter says with a curious expression, almost as if he doesn't quite understand. Why would Gabriel have a reason for attacking Gene? The last time that Peter saw him, they weren't on exactly great terms, but that's because he'd forgotten everything he'd tried to do to help the man two years ago… "I'll talk to him soon. I should find out more about this." But right now… he reaches into a pocket and pulls out a hand towel. Which actually came from the bathroom, but the object relocation power is so much nicer to use… He holds it up to her to wipe away her tears. "Gene shouldn't be alone. I have to do something else tonight, but after I do that… I'll see if I can find Gene and talk to him."

"That was it, yeah. Sylar," Lena confirms before accepting the towel with a mumbled thanks. So much more effective than gloves in undoing the damage caused by being a wuss. Heroes don't cry! "He's so fucking stubborn." Pause. "Sorry." She sniffs after lowering the towel, face reddened but no longer in danger of causing a surprise rave. "I don't know why he went for him. Gene said something about the guy steals powers. He had to blow up his house to get away, I guess…like the government wasn't enough to worry about. Stupid goddamn world."

But hey, Peter's offer of talking to the young genius (and Lena has no doubt that Pete will talk sense to him) allow the girl to find another smile. It's weak but present. "Thank you. And I'm really, really sorry. You're…gonna be alright?"

"I'm fine," Peter says, though there's always good chances he's not fine. "I just need to keep busy and it's not as bad." She's one of the only people who knows what might be bothering him under the surface. And keeping busy is the best way he knows to cope with it. "I'll find out what happened with… Sylar. There has to be an explanation."

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