2007-08-26: DF: Wake Up Call

Starring:

DFElena_icon.gif DFPeter_icon.gif

Summary: Peter returns to the Saints place after midnight. He's on the verge of a power meltdown. Elena gives him a much needed wake up call.

Dark Future Date: August 26, 2009

Wake Up Call


Phoenix Rising Towers

Getting in the secret entrance isn't difficult, even when he has to handwave his possible injuries and get on the elevator. Peter looks like a wreck. A bomb went off. Hours and hours ago. It's after midnight now, so technically not the same day anymore. Not only is he still covered in dried blood, his clothes scortched, burned through and ripped, he's now pale in the face and sweating. Close to a fever, but honestly sharing far more symptamatic similarities to a drug withdrawl. Pulse increase, fever with sweat, wobbly on feet…

Once he's out of the elevator, he starts to move down the hallway, dragging a hand along the wall for stability. It's been a rough day. Nothing's gone right. At least most of the scotch he drank has gone away, now.

His goal? Get to his room, collapse on his bed, and pray for dreamless sleep. But he knows that won't happen. He can't even bring himself to face all the people he failed today… But he knows he can't walk invisible anymore, even if he tried.

—-

Death took the fire out of one's spirit like no one else, but that didn't mean she couldn't function like she always does. It wasn't like Elena drowned herself in work either. Now that the news has spread, she's busily trying to pick up the pieces. Gene had been a great help. Eric handled talking to her father, so it at least spared her, somewhat, from seeing the look on her father's face when he got the news. That one she probably couldn't handle. But she was grateful that he steeled himself to deal with it for her. She can't. Not with everything else.

She's absently clicking on communiques filtering down the wire. She's busily looking for Donovan's known associates, and where she could find them so she could….interrogate them in her own way. Cass was dead. Lachlan and Abby are safe and here at the moment. Jack, however, might still be alive. As always these days, her focus lay on the people she could save. And while her loss hurt, and hurt more than she could ever show on her face or describe in words, she knew she had to keep moving.

Everyone in headquarters was accounted for, except for Peter, who had ventured out earlier. She didn't follow - he'll deal with his grief his own way while everyone else dealt with theirs, including herself. She can't help but close her eyes for a moment, leaning back.

The indicator signal makes a sound, letting her know that someone accessed the secret elevator to the base. She's up, her hand on her gun - not like she needs it but she can't be too careful. She starts heading for the elevators and steps right into the hall just as Peter arrives, looking the way he does. She knows the signs, even when he hasn't even said or done anything, she can tell.

God, does she even remember how to fix this?

"You're on the cusp," she says in lieu of a greeting, striding towards him and reaching out to take his elbow. "We need to fix you."

—-

The cusp. Peter's barely able to remain on his feet, and it has little to do with the injuries that he sustained earlier in the day. He's used too many abilities, far too many. As soon as he sees her approaching, he grimaces. He doesn't want to face her. In some ways he can't face her. Cass— he failed her. He failed Lachlan. He failed Abby. And those aren't the only people he failed. He failed so many people in the last two years that he's not sure he'll ever be able to make up for all of it. Niki… Nathan… Heidi…

The young woman striding towards him and reaching out to touch his elbow. There's a sudden inhale of air, and when she reaches for his elbow… she feels nothing. If she's looking, her fingers are actually passing right through him. His elbow ripples visually, like the molecules that make up his arm are running away from her hand. That one's new.

Stumbling backwards, his hand falls away from the wall, falls through the wall, actually. The same ripple effect as he tries to grasp at something solid. Nothing's there. At least he's not falling through the floor.

Which is good, because he falls down, laying on his side, breathing labored and unsteady. If she remembers how— now would be the time to do it. He's no longer just on the cusp, he's right there.

—-

Her fingers…pass through him. When she had described him as a ghost from her past, Elena certainly didn't mean it literally. It seems, right now, it was starting to become some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. She can't help but stare when her fingers find nothing, can grasp nothing, and when he stumbles backwards, she stands right where she is. What the hell? Is he going to explode? Her hand draws back. It wasn't like she wanted to do this but one moment of pain was well worth the risk to prevent everything going nuclear. Or worse.

There a brief moment where she flounders, staring at him as he sprawls on the ground with his breath hitched and looking so pale he was gray. Shit. Shit. How the hell did she do this before?

Anger wells up, irrational and sudden. What the hell was he doing that he got to this point? His stamina had been great the last few weeks, using a multitude of abilities after a given time. Now that he was at her feet twitching and gasping, he must have used plenty in the last few hours. Did he get in a fight?! It wasn't conducive to anything, someone could've killed him permanently!

Fix first. She'll figure out how to deal with her anger later. Calling up an extra oomph of strength, she reaches over, and bodily pulls him off the ground easily. He was heavier than her, but with her augmented strength - a far cry from Jessica's but certainly enough to do the job - she hauls him towards his room. She's silent, and stony, but as always she'll do what needs to be done. Reaching the door, she kicks it open. Luckily the door ha been left ajar so she doesn't have to damage anything.

The bed. She gets him right on it. She's silent all the while, her lips in a hard line and her expression tight on her face. There's no denying that she's pissed, but that won't stop her from fixing him. Snippets, bits and pieces of dormant memories come flooding back as to the methodology.

—-

Fixing first. That's definitely a good thing in this case. Peter's unresponsive as he's hauled up off the floor and carried to the room. By the time he's dropped onto the bed… he actually has stopped breathing. That's what happened before, when he overloaded to keep Cass from dying. Breathing stopped, until he went into the coma. Getting him to the medlab might be recommended, if she didn't remember how to push him out of it. Forcefully. In some ways painfully. There's a sudden inhale that almost sounds like a scream, and he sits up, twitching away, but at least he doesn't fall through the bed, or even onto the floor normally. His eyes were always open, but now they're seeing again, looking at her, relatively shocked. And he's breathing. A lot. The temperature of his skin subsides slowly, the sweat will take a while to wash away.

Has he been in a fight? From the new blood splatter on his face and clothes— yes. It's brighter than the blood left behind by the bomb that went off, fresher, less time to dry.

"E— Elena?" he asks, voice shakey and broken. Time for anger now?

—-

"At least you recognize me," Elena says in a tight voice. "That's a start."

Yes, anger now. But thankfully she's not yelling. Not yet anyway. She's got her hand over him, though she's not touching him, adjusting, readjusting his levels, toning down his volatile biochemistry and making him breathe easier. She floundered at the beginning, but now that she was in the middle of it, it was just like riding a bike. You never really forget how. Perched on his bedside, her eyes are fixed on him. She looks exhausted, but the anger, frustration, and no small amount of sadness kept her gaze alive. It proved a startling contrast to the rest of her face.

She doesn't say anything, and she just concentrates on her work. And when she's done, she lowers her hand. Her fingers twitch slightly - the fix had been massive, and all she's doing is a little twitch here and there of her limb. She clenches it into a fist to keep it so. She was tired, and the act almost drained whatever reservoir of strength she had left dry.

"Was it worth it?" she says, once she's sure she can talk without grabbing him around the collar and shaking him. "Whatever the hell you did out there after bringing Cass back. Was it worth it?"

—-

Breathing doesn't slow just yet. Peter's body has a lot of catching up to do— but he's not about to fall into a coma where he needs constant medical attention at the very least. Not anymore. Probably a good idea for him to avoid using abilities for a while, though. He hadn't even meant to use the one he just absorbed earlier. It had been an accident. He couldn't stop it. He couldn't keep it from happening. All he wanted to do… was get away. He wasn't ready to face her yet. Even if, at the same time… he needed her. Needed her more than he's willing to admit to right now.

"Yes," he says, voice caught in his unsteady breath. If nothing else… he did learn something. Something that may change everything for a certain someone. Maybe it can fix her— help her. Somehow bring her closer to the person she should be. Give her the strength she needs to keep herself together in the days to come…

"I just— needed to get away." So fast that he didn't change his clothes, or wash up. He only stayed in his room long enough to take a few things out of his pockets, and then leave. Getting away— that part had been easy. He found himself somewhere he shouldn't be. Watching a woman strip. Getting two drinks. Talking to her. And then following her like he had some kind of deathwish. But it was worth it… just not worth it enough. His eyes close and he settles back against the bed, no longer trying to get away. "I couldn't save— Knew it would happen and I still couldn't…"

—-

"Right," Elena replies flatly. She didn't believe him. She didn't know what happened out there, but she didn't believe him. The last two years have forced her with the realization that not everyone could or should be saved. Peter hasn't learned that yet, or at least, this Peter hasn't learned that yet - and he probably never will considering it was against his nature. Against the very fibre of his being.

"Goddamnit, Peter." She turns away from him then, her elbows on her knees and burying her face in her hands to quell down her frustration. Why the hell did she subject herself to this again? Why the hell did she go back to this again? She knew better, and she still… she shoves her anger at herself aside. The big picture. Help him, and you can help reverse everything. Help him and there's a chance they could all wake up tomorrow to watch this nightmare end.

"What are you doing here again?" she asks him bluntly. "To do some detective work, right? So you can go back and prevent everything. ALL THIS." She sweeps her hand across the room. "Is happening not because you failed anyone in the past, or failed anyone here. We were all there with you two years ago, remember? And we couldn't stop it. We didn't have the time. We didn't know where to start looking, we floundered and we floundered and we floundered until we drowned and nothing could prevent it anymore. We, Peter. It wasn't just you, so get your head out of your ass in that regard. WE all failed. You, me, Jack, Cass…the people Hiro gathered together to PREVENT THIS from happening. We failed. But you don't see any of us going out there for the purposes of getting…I don't even know WHAT THE HELL you were doing out there and part of me does NOT want to know. So when you got here, I thought you realized that THIS FUTURE is already happening. The moment we failed two years ago, there was NO PREVENTING this. Not the explosions, not the deaths, not the rally, NOTHING. It was already set in motion. If Fate, Destiny, whatever the FUCK YOU CALL IT, is really made out of a web of a set of circumstances geared to reach a final outcome, you have to snip the RIGHT THREAD to unravel it all, to make it collapse and start anew. WE DIDN'T. It was already too late the moment we failed to heed Dezi's warning to stop the goddamned storms! To have prevented it, we would've prevented EVERYTHING! And I'm not one to QUESTION the words of the PERSON who could be considered an expert in the future. So no matter what we did. No matter how successful we seem to be at ONE MOMENT, Cass was going to die. We failed and we're paying for it!"

She shakes her head. "You have no right. NO RIGHT. To put it all on yourself. Everyone shares the goddamned blame. Including me."

—-

She's not wrong. Peter's not so far gone that he fails to understand the point of her rant. He gets it— he does. But that doesn't mean he has to like it. The tone hurts him. Not physically, but emotionally. There's something about it that kicks him harder than he'll ever admit. Mostly because…

"I get that," he says with his voice unsteady. A hand plants on the edge of the bed, pushing himself up, rolling off of it. It's the opposite side to the one she's sitting on, so their backs are to each other for the moment. His shoulders are tense under burnt and torn clothes. "But I have— every right— to place this all on me." How could that be the one thing he disagrees with? "Because… now it really is… my responsibility. If it all falls apart again… it will be my fault." Because it would mean he didn't use this information well enough, he didn't stop things from happening. It won't entirely be his fault, maybe. Because— he can't do all of this alone. There's no way he'll stop the storms without help— no way he'll keep all of this from happening.

He's paying for it. That's what it is… "We knew Cass would die at that rally— we knew it would happen. If we can't prevent that— even if we knew— then how am going to prevent anything? What if there's… things… that just can't be changed?"

—-

"Yeah. If you failed back in the present, it would be all on you," Elena retorts. She's not going to sugarcoat it, this is one of those instances where he's actually right. Armed with all this information, if he uses it incorrectly, and this happens again, it would be his fault so she hopes he'll have the presence in mind to seek help with how to apply what he learned correctly.

"But I'm talking about what happened with Cass here. In that, you have no right to put it all on you. '-I- could've stopped this,' 'I knew and I was right there'. No. We all knew. We might not have all been there, but we all knew. Lachlan knew. Hell he feared it for the last two years, and he still couldn't prevented it despite the knowledge. So no. You have no right to put it all on you."

She narrows her eyes. "You say you get it but what you're telling me speaks otherwise." She stands up from the bed. "The moment you got here, it was already too late for us. At this point, nothing could've been changed. Like I said, if you find the right thread and cut it, things can change. Things will change. I have to believe that even if you can't. Otherwise all I'm doing now to help you would've been all for nothing and no matter how hard or harsh I could be towards you to push you and kick you right in the head so you can face the direction in where you ought to go, I refuse to call you a wasted effort. I might not be able to return all of the affection that you hold for me. I might not be able to return all the words you've told me since you barged back into my life. But I love you enough to keep believing you can."

She jerks the door open. "I'll get you something to drink. And after that I want you to stop using your abilities for a while. You're not allowed to leave headquarters until your head is straight. Trina's trying to function without her husband and her biggest concern aside from Jack is keeping you here where it's safe. So we can look out for you if needed. Cass was a friend of hers too. Do me a favor and make it a little easier on her by not venturing out when you're clearly not in your right mind."

With that, she heads out. She'll be back in a few minutes, and when she steps back in, she's got a fresh change of clothes, and orange juice.

—-

There's so much that he wants to do, but at least she agrees with and understand why Peter can't help but accept the burden of the whole world. For all he knows, Hiro got captured or killed by Homeland, or he botched a teleport and ended up in the Stone Ages, or something worse… This could all be on him, and him alone. If he dies here— really dies— if he can't make it back, if certain things don't go right… If it all happens again…

Part of him wants to say that he thought he could change things here too, just by being here. Help people who need helping. Assist them, work beside them. They're his friends. If he doesn't try… then he wouldn't be him. "Lachlan told me to protect her," is all he can manage weakly. They'd kept going to the rally from the Saints, because it might risk Abby. And he— he though that if he was there, and unknown factor— why wouldn't it help? Why couldn't his blood save her? There's so much he wants to say on this, but he listens to the rest of her rant and… it freezes him.

Turning to look at her, he's wide eyed and listening to her every word. She said she wouldn't say it, and then she practically does. And not only that… she believes in him. Because she loves him.

He just sits there in silence.

The moment is broken when she pulls the Trina-card on him. His eyes lower, he looks ashamed, and he doesn't get up off the bed. In fact he's still sitting there, in almost exactly the same pose, when she returns with clothes and orange juice.

It takes a moment before he realizes that she's back, and what she's carrying. The glass is accepted, drank partially, and then sat down at a bedside table. Which is when he starts to work on getting his ruined clothes off. Buttons are melted, the clothes are torn— but he can pull it over his head easily enough. There's a lot of blood on him, dried by now, but any of the wounds that surely killed him are long healed.

—-

Well, she loves him enough to believe in him, at least. That could mean a lot of things, but Peter can take that how he will. Like Ramon had told her before, Elena was, naturally, a very loving person - the hard shell remains over her now, but that hasn't changed. She can't just un-love anybody, no matter how hard she tries, something she considers mostly a failing than a blessing these days. Not like she'll ever talk about it.

She hands him the glass of orange juice in silence. After all, what else was there to say? She was tired, using her abilities, saying what needed to be said, getting mad at him. It was a miracle that she hasn't just left after the last shot just so she could lay down and grieve her own way, but she keeps going because she has to. Gene was right about taking a time out, but she can't when everyone else is falling apart around her.

When he strips off his shirt, she moves to the bathroom, filling a plastic bowl full of warm water and a washcloth. She sets those on the bedside table next to him too, wringing out the excess water. Sitting next to him, she lifts it up to work on the blood dried on his face. She still looks neutral, her jaw is set in that same, stubborn angle, but she's trying to clean him up.

—-

Believing in him— oddly that's enough right now. Loving him enough to believe in him is also enough. Saying it… Peter's just as quiet when she returns. The blood on his face is darker, the way it's spready out hints that someone broke his nose, and possibly his entire jaw. The wounds are long gone, but the signs that they'd been there— those are there. He watches her quietly. The blood that'd been in his mouth, the orange juice, and a few hours of time, have all erased his broken pinky promise, the two drinks of scotch she might have otherwise smelled on his breath.

While she cleans off his face, he watches her quietly, unmoving. The removing of clothes ends at the shirt for the moment. He'd need to stand to do anything else anyway. "I wandered into a place called… Club SYN, I think." It's weird that he's suddenly deciding to explain what happened. His tone is soft, whispered, but he needs to do this. "It's not just a club but some kind of business… and I think… Jessica Sanders is involved in it." Maybe even runs it, he's not totally sure, honestly— the upper floors were empty of anyone else. She had this card key that could take her places. And she acted like she was more than just a stripper. "I wanted to help her— Help Niki— see if she was in there at all… She left and I— I followed her. I thought I could learn something, anything… still so much I need to know…"

His eyes lower for a moment. He can't quite admit that he didn't care what happened to him as a consequence for his action there. That's… He inhales slowly. "I didn't learn what caused the war— or anything else really useful— but I did— her husband. Niki's husband. He's not dead. A couple months— two years ago— she told me her husband died in Vegas. But he didn't." That's something, isn't it? That's worth it?

—-

Well he didn't exactly break it. Elena just told him to quit drinking. As in, don't drink to a stupor that it undermines all his thought processes when he needs his brain to function. But clearly it was more grief and alcohol that he was struggling with anyway. Part of her knows that. Part of her couldn't begrudge that, but she knew him. When it came to loss, he had always been pretty self destructive. When he blamed himself, he could be pretty self destructive. It was one of the less savory aspects of him that she turned a blind eye to when she had been infatuated with him as a girl. Now, she can't afford it. Even without him admitting it, without saying it, she knew, and Disappointment was an ugly and vicious beast to slay.

It was something he needed to fix, and by god, she didn't think she had the fortitude to fix that for him. She was already struggling. She didn't know how much longer she could pretend, and caving in now would be unacceptable. Not when she was so needed. So when he talks, she remains silent and stoic, her dark eyes focused on the dried blood on him that she cleanses away with the cloth, pausing for a moment so she could soak it back in the basin she brought so she could start again.

She didn't really know Niki, or the woman who was now Jessica Sanders, all that well. They've run into each other a few times. Spoke. She'd only seen her in action once as Jessica and that had been when she put her heel through Elle's foot. But Peter obviously knew her husband was supposed to be dead. But he isn't. So she doesn't comment on it. Was it worth it? Probably, if Niki back in the past didn't already know thanks to the theoretical Ripple Effect. Maybe getting her husband back can keep her from becoming Jessica Sanders.

When she speaks up again, her tone is businesslike. She was still angry, but not angry enough to impede a conversation. "Club SYN is a Syndicate stronghold," she remarks. "It's the biggest, and some say only, criminal organization here. I don't know much about it. Papa probably knows more because the Syndicate's got its fingers in big business too. But whatever's needed to be done, its members can do for a price."

—-

"We were able to save Nathan," Peter says softly, looking towards her hand as she moves it away from him to get more water, and then back into her eyes again. He still has some shame, due to recognizing her disappointment, but at least he's able to look at her again. "Maybe she's not beyond saving— maybe he can bring her back." He'd tried— for a time he thought he had. But maybe it will take serious trauma to pull her out. Nathan had to lose his finger, had to have a telepath rifle around his brain. There's so much that had to happen to save him—

Maybe he did more damage than good when he tried to help Niki. He doesn't know. He just wanted to help her. Fix something, since he failed so miserably earlier today.

At the description of the Syndicate, he nods slowly, a hand reaching up to touch her cheek. His hands are the only clean part of him, though she's doing a good job of cleaning him up. It's a short lived gesture. The hand drops down. "I won't leave… not for a few days." It's one promise he can give her at least. He'll stay. "I'm sorry… I didn't want you to…" He hadn't wanted her to see him like he was— he hadn't wanted her to know how much he failed. He wasn't strong enough to face her right then. He wasn't hiding from his grief so much as from the people he cared about— and his failure to them. "I wish… I was able to live up to your belief in me." Believing in him means so much— but he's not sure he deserves it. If he'll ever deserve it.

—-

"For a while. Without my father's help, I don't know how long that's going to last." The words aren't pessimistic, but steeped in reality. "When I told your brother he could, he told me he can't. Logan was too strong. I had hoped that defeatist nonsense spared at least one of you, considering how self-assured Nathan always seemed in the past, but it doesn't look like it has." The words are blunt. Elena wasn't in the mood to sugarcoat anything right now.

The touch is brief, and Elena barely blinks in reaction to it, her dark eyes fixed on him and that same, stubborn expression there. And of course he won't leave. He doesn't even know how to get back. Unless he means venturing out to continue working, in which case she can't begrudge him so long as he takes the time to get his head straight and for his body to further stabilize. She'll chain him to the damned bed if she has to.

Belief in him was never the question of whether he deserved it ot not. She did because she almost had to. Because her indomitable spirit wouldn't just accept that nothing could be done to make things better. If he can't do it, the Saints will, somehow. But just in case, she had to believe he could. But when he tells her that he wishes, she shakes her head at him. "You ought to stop wishing and just do what you have to do, and let God sort out the rest. If you fail, you fail. We'll pick up the pieces somehow. You failing anything won't be the be all-end all because I won't let it, and I know at the very least that most of the Saints will stand with me. But nothing ever came true without some decent effort put into it, Peter. I'm not saying you're not trying. What I am saying is if you want vindication that you can do the things you set out to do, that's only going to come from one person for it to truly matter, and that's yourself."

—-

"I— did something to Logan," Peter says softly, looking up at her. There's so much that he wants to say, but for the moment… this is one of them. "It might help Nathan… overpower him a little. I did it the night before the wedding— the— when I got stuck inside his cage." He'd teleported in, and then failed to teleport back out. It'd sucked pretty bad. But Jack let him out in the morning after the shared a whole bottle of gin. "I used persuasion," he explains softly, not really sounding proud about this, but at least he's talking. Better than holding it all in. "I told Logan he'd be unable to have sex again." Limpdick Logan.

He takes a slow breath, and then reaches to take her hand, stopping her clean up. Once again, she's asking him to do something he just can't do. Believing in himself isn't easy. It's not who he is. It's not something he's going to learn over night. When he tries to rely on himself… he only seems to do things wrong. Like tonight.

"There's some… people… that I can't afford to fail, Elena." People who matter so much that failing them shatters him, breaks him down. His other hand rises up, until he's holding her hand between his, washcloth and all. There's hesitation visible in his eyes, but at least he's looking at her. He wants to say it. He wants to ask it of her. But he can't.

—-

He might not learn it overnight, but he's going to have to eventually. He was a sponge, not a leech, and if he was the latter she would've ditched his ass a long time ago. Even now two years gone, Elena hadn't known the full story of his journey to save the world one time. If she had known, she would've called him on his BS. If he wasn't capable of relying on his own strength, he wouldn't have traipsed down to Union Wells all on his lonesome to face down Sylar and save Claire. Sure, he could've died, but he didn't, and he was successful. And he saved Claire with his two hands. She knew he had it in him. It's just that people coddled him too damned much for him to see that. Including herself, back then. But not anymore.

She's forced to stop what he's doing when he takes her hand in both of his. Her teeth sets behind her lips. If this were any other situation, she would've smiled when he told her about how he crippled Logan with just a few words. But this was this situation and there was nothing she could smile about. She wondered if her father was right. That he hadn't learned anything at all, that he was too damned fragile for anyone to put their hearts behind their hopes for him.

When he says what he does, that there were some people in this world he can't afford to fail - she looks up at him to meet his eyes. "Good," is all she says. "Then maybe you won't."

—-

That's still not quite the same. There'd been someone who pushed him in the right direction, multiple someones— people who needed him. He'd known what he needed to do. Peter hadn't been flying completely blind when he grabbed Sylar and pulled them both over the ledge. He knew that saving her was more important than his own life— But it wasn't something he did on his own. It wasn't something he did without support. Without the strength of others, he wouldn't have gotten there— without the strength of one, he wouldn't have survived.

Coddling is never what he asked for, and rarely what he ever got, even. What he wants, often, is direction— support— some sign that he's doing the right thing. And sometimes he grasps for that until he finds it— like today. When he stumbled upon Jessica and tried to do anything he could to bring out Niki— anything… that wasn't enough. That made him fight on the wrong side. That nearly got him killed and drive him into overload.

Maybe he won't… "I won't," he responds softly, looking down at the hand that he's holding. He's already let down some people he couldn't— but there's one— His eyes shift up to hers, the way her jaw is set, the way she's looking at him. He winces. "It made me… happy… to hear that you loved me… enough to believe in me." It's almost a change of topic. Almost.

His hands release hers, giving her freedom to continue what she'd been doing, or leave him.

—-

When he tells her he won't, won't fail, Elena gives him a nod, falling silent again as she lifts a spare hand to rub her cheek absently.

She didn't see the need to lie about that, or even hide it. Anyone who knew her already knew that there was no way she could ever stop caring about him in some way. When Elena's hands are released, she soaks up the washcloth again, and resumes cleaning the blood off him. Her eyes meet his briefly, before they lower so she can pay attention to what she was doing. "It's the truth," she tells him without much preamble. "I've tried to be as honest as I can since you got here so long as it didn't conflict with higher orders. Nothing's changed the fact that all I want to do is help you, see you safe, and see you home. This world, the way it is now, it wasn't meant for you. Might be too late for all of us now, but it doesn't mean it has to be like that forever."

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