2008-02-14: What Price, Heroism?


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Summary: Former employee and employee meet up at Enlightenment Books. There's a lot that needs to be said.

Date It Happened: February 14, 2008

What Price, Heroism?

Enlightenment Books

It's been awhile since Cass has spent any amount of regular time at Enlightenment Books. She's left it in good hands, a manager she hired when she started to spend most of her time at Bat Country and will check in on it in short bursts. However, what with all the strange things that just happened at Pinehearst and what has been going on with her lately, she felt the desire to come back to the store that started this long journey for her as a sort of reminder of all that happened to her. Now the store is closed, though, and she's just sort of reclining in the chair she used to sit at all the time, eyes shut and thinking through the past couple of events. She needs to sort a lot of things out.

It would so happen that she's not the only one who hasn't been at the bookstore very often lately. Peter hasn't really worked at the store much since he got sick. Even once he got well, he hadn't quite come back to the job, but that doesn't mean he won't walk by occassionally when searching for something. East Village isn't too far from his apartment… and the light on in the office gives some vague hope when he peers in through the window. His boss. Former boss, considering how little they've had contact. He knocks loudly on the front door. Not quite pounding, but loud enough he hopes it's heard in the office. There's no movement of any kind, he'll move to the door in the alley.

The pounding on the door does draw Cass' attention, however the store has been closed for a good twenty minutes, now. Letting the chair return to it's more straight backed position, she frowns and glances at the clock. It's been awhile since she sold any books. Standing up, she smoothes down her shirt and peers out from the door of the office, but still can't quite make out whose silhouette that is at the door. Coming closer through the darkened store, she only makes out that it's Peter once she's a few feet away. Unlocking and then opening the door, she looks genuinely surprised to see her old friend and employee standing there. Especially with what she saw earlier. "Peter!" She's not exactly sure of what to say to him at the moment.

The stress lines remain on his forehead and jaw, but Peter doesn't look too rough around the edges at least. He's tired, though, genuinely fatigued. "Cass. Hi… we need to talk." he says, even though she doesn't seem sure on what to say to him. He moves through the door, past her and into the store, looking around at the shelves. It seems so long ago that he stood in here as an employee… how he's going to afford his apartment in the next few months, he has no idea. He can't count on his brother. Perhaps he can count on his mother, though. Turning back to face her, he gives her a few moments to close the door again, before he skips right to the big question. "Why are you working with Pinehearst?"

The look of stress and fatigue is obvious in his face and that visibly worries Cass. She shuts and locks the door behind him, studying him as well as she can in a store mostly lit from street lamps and the light in the back room. "I was going to say the same thing to you," she tells him, tilting her head just slightly and pushing her growing out hair away from her forehead. "I'm working for Pinehearst because they offered me a job to run their labs. I…wasn't sure about it…but Nathan…" she pauses and shrugs her shoulders. "He trusts them. And I trust Nathan." She's not sure why this is a big question to him. "Why were you there the other night? You were invisible."

Pinehearst offered her a job. Nathan trusts them. She trusts Nathan. Peter can't help but laugh as he turns away. It's a tired laugh, one without much humor at all. If there's any real humor behind it, it's an ironic one. "The person you've been dealing with involving Pinehearst isn't even…" He trails off, shaking his head. "I was looking for you, Cass. I was following you. I wanted to see if you knew what you were doing… maybe get your help with something. I didn't know that the lockdown was going to happen, and I didn't expect to see my dad." Everything that happened hadn't been planned exactly. "I wasn't going to just stand there in an office and let him order Niki to kill me or take me into custody." Like he thinks that would have actually happened. The last part for sure. He takes in a slow breath and looks at her. "I don't know what they have you doing, Cass, but the people you're working for are no better than the Company. They just have a better sales pitch."

The laugh makes Cass frown all the more and cross her arms in front of her chest. What is going on here? "You…you were following me?" That she just has to get out first. "I've been trying to get a hold of you for weeks, now. I finally just gave up somewhere around the hundredth phone call not returned. And instead of calling me to talk to me like a friend, you follow me invisibly?" As for the lockdown and his father, well, that's something else that she needs to get out there. "I thought your father was dead. And…I can't even begin to explain what happened the other night. Niki would never have killed you. It's Niki." Whom she still trusts, too. And can't imagine being a killer. Unless Niki is really Jessica. But, well, it doesn't seem like she is. It's all pretty confusing when she tries to think about it. "Know what I was—-I'm trying to make a difference, Peter. I'm trying to do what we've always wanted to do. Help people. Make the world a better place."

"That's my fault," Peter says, shaking his head a bit as he looks to the bookshelves. Self help books on meditation. He could have used those… "I was helping Gabriel, had to hide from the Company when they found out what I was doing. And then… I stopped using my phone. Too easy to trace." There's a shrug. It's no real excuse. He hadn't really tried to contact her, because he didn't want her to see what was happening to him. He didn't want the Company to go after her, too. He only found out she had been recruited into Pinehearst a couple of days ago. "If you're trying to make the world a better place… Who? Who are you trying to make the world a better place for?" The frustration is present in his voice. "Niki doesn't know what she's doing. She has no reason to believe me about anything, no reason not to follow an order to shoot me." He shakes his head. It doesn't matter. She won't believe him either. "She works for my brother. For Nathan…" Nathan. "You're not even dealing with Nathan. You remember what I told you about the future I went to? You're dealing with him. Logan. My brother's split personality. The same personality who sent everyone like you into detention camps."

He's right, that's not really a good excuse. And the look on Cass' face shows just what she thinks about that. She's clearly unhappy about it because what she wanted to talk to him about was important. "For Who? For everyone. For Lachlan, for Niki, for Nathan, for you." This is frustrating. This isn't the Peter that she knows. He's not the type to hide, to not return calls, to…to not care. "What…what happened to you?" It's a question that hurts her to ask. "Why are you talking like that?" Like there's not a hope in the world. As for the split personality, she frowns, she shakes her head, she's not sure of what to say about that yet. "Logan." Does that mean that everything they did, everything they sacrificed to stop what was going to happen in the future for nothing? Is it all just going to happen anyway? "I…" she's not sure what to say to any of this. To all of this.

"This isn't about me," Peter says, refusing to let that sidetrack him. If he goes into all that happened to him… it really would become about what happened to him. It would become about what he did— about what he did to himself, what he did to others and why he's really not even sure he can be trusted. "The man you trust at Pinehearst— tried to kill Heidi. The car accident she was in? He was driving. He flew out of the car and allowed it to crash! He tried to kill me too, when I confronted him about who he was. Tried to shoot me in the back of the head. If he hadn't done it while I was walking, I'd be dead right now, cause I made the mistake of telling my brother how Sylar died, even though he had regeneration in the future— in case he needed to kill him. Instead, he tried to kill me. And when he failed— failed to kill me and Heidi? He sent Jack to finish the job."

This is all a bit much for Cass to hear. "No…" Resolutely, she walks over to the stool behind the counter and sinks into it, her face white. That isn't Nathan. Nathan would never do that. They would drink in the back room and talk about the future, they would talk about Afterlife and soap operas. He would never try to kill Heidi. Or Peter. Or…anyone. How could she have not seen that it wasn't Nathan? She would have been able to tell wouldn't she? And Jack. How could Jack do that? "They wouldn't." They're her friends, they're good people. Whatever Peter has to say does make it near impossible to get into where he has been in the past couple of weeks. What he has done. "They're not…"

"And I'm not a good person. Which is exactly what he'll tell you if you confront him about this," Peter says, turning away again. His hands come up and run over his face. God, he shouldn't have said anything. He's not even sure he can make it so she won't do anything about it. "I'm not myself. I'm not stable. I'm crazy. And he'd be right." There's a long pause before he turns back. "I tried to help Gabriel… Sylar. Help him deal with his ability and what it'd made him do. I ended up… absorbing it. What turned him into Sylar. He described it as a hunger, as a need to take and have… Abilities. It was little different for me. I had to know. I went after a promenant member of the Company. Questioned him. And when he wouldn't tell me what I needed… I tried to take it by force." He takes in a slow breath. "Helping Sylar become Gabriel again turned me into a monster. And the only thing keeping me together right now is the need to help my brother— help him overcome Logan. Trying to stop whatever it is Pinehearst really plans to do."

Everything seems to be falling apart. All that they worked to stop, it's been derailed. Peter describing himself as a monster, Nathan turning into Logan, Sylar turning into Gabriel? "So Erin…?" There's a visible shake in her voice. The man who attacked Erin, who said that he needed to understand, to know. That would have actually been Peter, not just someone out to ruin his reputation. And Pinehearst. The same as the Company? This is all…she's not sure how to take all this information at once. It's a lot and everything is really starting to spin a little.

Erin. There's a grimace. "That was me. I didn't mean to hurt her, I just… I needed to understand her ability— I wanted her to show me how to destroy a virus, in case the Company tried to release another one." Peter shakes his head, looking down at his hand. He's not even sure he has that ability anymore. If what he had done had any point. Or if he'd just hurt another human being who did nothing except help him. He's not even sure he could apologize to her for what he did. If there's any possible way he could. "My father is the one who told Gabriel we were related. Who tried to send him to murder promenant members of the Company. Elle's father, specifically. When he didn't… the black out at Pinehearst. It happened because my father killed Elle's father. Right in front of her. With his own ability."

"That doesn't give you the right to scare her out of her mind." Cass shakes her head and says quietly. "She called me after it happened, terrified. Angry. Saying that you'd attacked her. I told her that it couldn't have been you. That it was someone else." And that means that she lied to Erin. But, maybe she's right in a way. This is all happening because of Sylar. That ability he absorbed. With Peter, at least. "Your father told Sylar that—-wait. You're related to Sylar?" How many surprise Petrellis are there?

"Of course it doesn't, Cass!" Peter yells in frustration, turning away again, even stalking a few feet toward one of the shelves. He never meant to do that, but he never said it made it all okay. It doesn't make it all okay. He had no right to do it. It might as well have been someone else, but he'll never say that it was. It was his fault. It's something he's going to be paying for for a long time. "No. I'm not related to Sylar. But he told him we were," he clarifies. "He used to as leverage to turn him into a weapon for Pinehearst. It didn't work."

"Don't yell at me, Peter," Cass tells him in a very serious tone of voice. Her voice isn't raised, but she's still supporting herself on the counter while sitting on a stool in a precarious position and feels like she's just been blind-sided. "You come in here and tell me that you've tried to force information out of someone, that you attacked one of our friends, that Nathan isn't Nathan, that Jack is trying to kill people, that…that the place I started working for to combat the Company is just as bad as the Company…just…just don't yell at me. How do you know all this?"

That makes him settle down, nearly deflate even, but Peter doesn't soften. The tension doesn't leave. If anything he seems to withdraw more, like he's trying to retreat. "I know Nathan isn't Nathan because Heidi said he crashed the car on purpose. Nathan wouldn't do that. Nathan wouldn't shoot me in the back of the head when I just wanted to talk and leave." He'd had a plan, something that he didn't want to do alone, right then, which is why he was going to walk away. Only to get shot in the neck and jaw. "I know Pinehearst is up to no good because they're the ones who tried to install a secret camera in your back alley and spy on this bookstore. Pinehearst is the Company Gene tracked it down to. And because that regenerator blood you were asking about? It came from Claire. Who is being held against her will in one of their labs."

Nathan is the easy answer. The one that Cass already sort of knows the answer to how he would know. But, everything else, well. That's totally different. They're the ones that spied on her? If they spied on her, why bother to recruit her? "He said that they weren't responsible for the spying," she says lamely. It's one of the first questions she asked Linderman. As for the regenerator blood, she's not quite sure what to make of that, either. "From Claire? But…" But Claire is Nathan's daughter. And if he's the kind of person to try and kill Heidi, to kill Peter, it would go to show that he would do that to Claire, too. She doesn't know what to do here. She's very obviously at a loss.

"I have files. From Nathan's office— in his new apartment. That's how I found out you were working for them. And it included files on Claire. How they were trying to take her blood, find a way to duplicate the properties of it." Peter knows that isn't much, though. "I didn't even know Claire was missing until I went looking for Bob Bishop for Elle. I found her instead— her dreams." Dreams. "Dreamwalking is one of the abilities I'd been working on." He doesn't even know if he still has it right now. "Who told you they weren't responsible for the spying?" he asks, immediately assuming it would be his brother— she'd not seemed to have the slightest idea who his father was. And the longer this goes on, the more he thinks telling her was a very bad idea. His father might kill her for this, for all he knows.

Duplicating the process that Claire has would be something very handy. In fact, it would be something that Cass would have been glad to work on. The ability to help anyone heal just about any wound? She would have a few issues with it, but would be glad for the process in theory. But getting the blood without consent, keeping Claire hostage for more samples? She would never agree to that. And she knows Nathan knows she would have issues with this down the road. "Some British man by the name of Linderman," she says softly. "I never knew your father was there until the other night. Nathan said that he knew it was someone he trusted and that I could trust him, too." No matter how much Peter may regret telling Cass, it's done now. She knows what he knows. The question is what she'll do with that information.

"Linderman." Peter repeats almost in a tone that shows he's not sure whether he can even believe what he's hearing. A British man named Linderman. A moment later there's that laugh again. No humor at all, but he sounds as if he'd like there to be some humor. He leans over as if there's no chance he'll be able to stay upright. "Daniel Linderman. My father was his lawyer. He's one of the people who tried to manuever me to blow up New York. Nathan tried to work with the FBI to bring him down, finally. He's a mob boss, Cass. He owned a Casino and rackettering organization out of Las Vegas." It makes him shake his head. Oh, Pinehearst is looking even more fresh the further this goes. Even if Peter knew the man's supposed to be dead, after finding out his father isn't, it wouldn't surprise him if they were all alive.

Cass knows very little about mob bosses, Las Vegas, racketeering, or much else about the past of the Petrelli family. Finally standing up off her stool, she shakes her head. "I didn't know that, Peter. I didn't know that your father was involved, that Linderman was one of those people. All I know is that Nathan wanted me to help him, he said that I could make a difference. And because it was Nathan, I agreed." She's upset, now, feeling as if she's been played for the fool, as if she was some stupid kid. "What would you have done, Peter?"

"Stick to working for yourself, for starters," Peter says, straightening so that they're eye to eye again. She's actually a little taller than him in some cases, but he's not a very tall guy. "What you do is your choice. For all I know, Claire's already been rescued— that could be what the Lockdown was. I know her father was going to try to get her back, because I tried to tell him where she was." He wasn't asked to help, though. That wasn't why he was there. "I was going to see if you would help me try to get her out too. In case Bennet failed. Which is why I was following you. I'm not saying it was the right thing to do, but for all I knew, Logan told you I was unstable and trying to kill him and you'd knock me out and hand me over to their labs for my own safely."

"I wasn't told anything about you." Cass explains still frustrated, wondering what has been going on while she's been all locked up in her labs. She's not wearing heels, so they should be about eye level now and she looks straight back at him when he focuses on her. "I tried to call you about this place, actually. It was one of those things I wanted to talk to you about." Along with Erin and where he's been and where he's been. "If Claire's still there, I will help get her out." Of course she would. How could she not? There's a long pause, as if she's trying to think things over. "The…the hunger…that's what you called it?" She's not sure of the terminology here. "How are you doing with that?"

"I couldn't know that. And after Jack…" Peter trails off. His story is special and Peter knows it. Logan wouldn't have that kind of leverage on Cass. There's small nods, but he's unable to look at her. She tried to call, but he didn't answer the phone. He didn't call her back when he did turn his phone back on. It's as much his fault. She'll help him with Claire, if she hasn't been saved already… and then… the hunger. "I haven't killed anyone else," he says, though the use of else… he looks back up at her. "The Company boss I tried to question… something… I couldn't control it. He wouldn't answer— I couldn't read his mind, and I… it… I can't even explain how it happened. I tried to take it by force— like I could have all the answers I needed if I just… sliced his head open. When I realized what I was doing— it was too late. I couldn't heal him, I couldn't take it back. I almost did the same thing to Erin, but I stopped myself. I hurt Nathan too. Slammed him against a wall. And Hiro. But I'm fighting it."

Cass doesn't know what's going on with Jack, why he's suddenly turned into someone who would want to kill Peter at Logan's insistence. Anyone else. See, the fact that he killed someone was kind of left out of his earlier statement. Her eyes widen at that. And the long list of people that he's almost done the same thing to. It's not exactly a short list. And includes names that she knows. But, she knows Peter. Knows him from before. And the man that she knows would never do this. It's…it's got to be the ability he absorbed. However, what makes that different from the change that Nathan has gone through? Probably the remorse. But, she hasn't talked to Nathan/Logan yet. It's hard to know who to trust when all she's getting is second-hand information. This is something she needs to see for herself. But, she's not scared of being in the same room with Peter any more now than before she knew this and she doesn't recoil from Peter at the knowledge, either. She's not sure of what to say, what to do, but she slowly reaches out to put a hand on his shoulder. The leaders of the Company aren't exactly good men in Cass' opinion. And while she doesn't support killing them all, this is Peter.

She doesn't move away. She doesn't look at him with rejection or hatred… she doesn't say he needs to be locked up. In fact, a hand ends up on his shoulder. Peter looks down at it, almost as if he's surprised to see it there, as if he's making sure it's not an illsuion. It's real. He leans into it, taking a step closer to her and even wrapping his arms around her. That one touch. She'll probably never really understand how much it means. Eyes closed, he holds onto her for a time, before he attempts to speak. "Nathan's trying to fight it. I went into his dreams— twice. He's trying. But he needs help. He needs people who… support him." There's a pause. "By now he's probably heard from Jack… that Heidi's dead." And wants people to believe she's dead. That makes him tighten his jaw.

It's Peter. And while Cass isn't going to condone killing people, this was a crime of passion. And something that he obviously doesn't want to repeat. It's Sylar's ability that made him do it. The hug is actually unexpected. The way that Peter's been acting, she was expecting him to be uncomfortable and then step away. But she wraps her arms around him, too, and hugs back. At the information about Nathan, she nods. That would make sense. Then, she blinks and steps back, paling. "What?" That's something that is certainly a surprise to hear and she reels a little at the knowledge. "What do you mean? How?"

The step back is made larger when he pulls back as well, letting his arms drop away. Peter even turns around again, as if he can't quite look at her while he explains this. "I got Heidi out of the hospital, healed her— put her up in a hotel room. I don't know how he found her, but… I got a text message and went to find her as fast as I could. The hotel room was covered in blood and…" He shakes his head, grimacing. "It won't be in the newspaper. I made sure of that, at least for now. But Logan is destroying everything that Nathan loves. Trying to. And succeeding. And Jack and Niki and dad… they're all on his side. And he probably thinks you are too. And if you're not on his side… he'll probably try to have you killed too."

Wrapping her arms around herself, Cass just shakes her head in disbelief. She can't believe Heidi's dead. Niki and Jack and Arthur. All on Nathan's side. "Wh-what about their kids?" She's never actually met Simon and Monty, but she's heard enough about them. This can't exactly be easy for them. "Probably. I can't imagine why else he'd want me at Pinehearst if he thought I wasn't going to support him." And while she was there, she could get other people to trust in Pinehearst, too. It feels terrible to be used like this. "I'm pretty good at bluffing," is her response to his last concern. "I can pretend like I'm still on his side." Hopefully while still being herself, too.

"They're fine right now," Peter says, though he wishes he knew more about that, honestly. He knows they're not where Heidi claimed they'd be to Nathan, so they might be safe wherever they are. As long as Jack can't find them. And as long as Logan doesn't consier them a threat. "You'll have to be careful around my father. He's a telepath— and a lot more now. I guess he… steals abilities. After I teleported us away… he tried to take mine. I don't even know how many I still have."

"A telepath." Okay, that seems to make things a lot more difficult. "I guess…I'll just have to speak my mind around him." And that also means that Cass is not about to start switching how she acts and thinks, because who knows what he's already over heard. It's going to make trying to be on 'Nathan's' side while still being herself very difficult. And a very thin line to walk. "Luckily, I don't have an ability for him to steal." But she's not about to fool herself. This isn't going to be easy and she's going to have to watch every move she makes.

"Yeah… lucky for you," Peter says, grimacing a little. He looks guilty for some reason. He starts to move away, in the direction of the door he came in, before he lets out a sigh and turns around. "I'm sorry I yelled at you. And that… I know you'd only try to do what you think is right. But the more I hear… The Company… Pinehearst… they both say that they're just trying to make the world a better place, too." Just like she did. Just like he's said himself. "But at whose expense? Who decides what makes the world better? Who decides what price is worth paying for that better world?"

"I don't think there should be a price for a better world," Cass tells Peter honestly. "Making the world better for people who come after us shouldn't come with a sales tag." As for the sighing and the guilt, well, she's not sure what she can do to help him with that. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions, I guess." Which would explain a lot of things about all those organizations. "Maybe we've just been thinking too big. Start with the people around us, not the whole world." She nods her head and doesn't look away from Peter as she says that. "And if you need help…with that ability…" She's there. Though she's not even sure how to help him with controlling it.

"There's always going to be a price. The way Pinehearst does it, the way the Company does it… Even the way I tried to. Someone, somewhere, will have to sacrifice something," Peter says, meeting her blue eyes and her honesty. The guilt and tension don't go away, but his tone has softened to nearly a whisper. The price of saving the world over a year ago had been his brother. The explosion had nearly killed him. And may have even helped create Logan. What price will stopping Logan cost? "Starting smaller might be better… at least then we won't lose sight of things— we won't forget that these are people we're trying to save. We can't fix everything." There's a twinge of his eyebrow as he says that. He should be able to fix everything. The most powerful person in the world. The ability he took from Sylar was supposed to make him understand how to fix everything. At what cost? It's all repeating… "I know— I know you'll help me." But if he loses control of it again, it may be that no one will be able to help him. He shakes his head. "I need to go. I just— I just needed to talk to you." And they have. "Thank you."

"Maybe." Maybe everything has a price, and maybe it's just that everything leads to something else. Whether that's good or bad. As for stopping Logan, it's already had a cost of Heidi to Cass. And she's not even sure what else may happen down the road. "Maybe we can't. But we have to try." Because they wouldn't be who they were if they wouldn't try to fix everything. "You're welcome. I'll talk to you later?" Because at the extent of their communication in the past few weeks, that is a question. It may be dangerous and it may not be the best idea, but she would like to still keep in touch with Peter.

"My phone's back on," Peter says, meeting her eyes. "I don't use it often, and sometimes I'll prefer we meet in person… but… it's on. I'll try to return any calls I miss." Moving the rest of the way to the door, he pauses for a moment, after he gets it unlocked, and turns to face her again. "You're right that we have to try. But we need to be careful that what we do doesn't make things worse…" He worked so hard to save Gabriel, and look what happened to him? Maybe there will always be a cost. The more people they save, the more people will have to pay it. "You mean a lot to me, Cass," he adds, looking away at the door. "I even love you. In one of those kind of sister ways, of course." For the first time, he actually kind of smiles, just a tug on the corner of his mouth. "After everything that's going on… I wanted you to know that." In the end, all that really matters is love, right? The door opens.

"We can only do what we think's right." When Peter stops at the door, Cass uses the opportunity to say her last piece. "Otherwise, what else can we do?" Doing nothing would be just as bad, maybe even worse than trying to help. She can't believe that by saving one person that puts others in danger. She's too much of an optimist for that, still. At the confession, she takes a few quick steps forward to give him another quick hug. "I love you, too, Peter." In a sisterly sort of way. They've been through so much together. And at least now they've managed to sort a few things out. "Be careful. Please."

Only do what they think is right… Peter would like to only do what he knows is right. Especially now. With everything that's happened. "I'll be as careful as I can be," is all he can really promise in response. She loves him too. That's something. That's more than he expected. And in some ways, more than he feels he deserves. "You be careful too. Especially while you're in there." Charlotte and Cass. Now he has two people who know. Two people he put at risk. And there's one left… He steps outside and closes the door behind him, moving to hail a cab and head home. He'd relied so much on his abilities in the past few months, and now he's not.

Sometimes, it's impossible to know. Cass nods and would be the first to mention that she's actually putting herself at risk by agreeing to this as opposed to anything else. But, she's not a mind reader, so she never gets a chance to. "I'll be careful." It's hard not to love Peter for his earnest nature and desire to do good. He has a good heart and that's something that Cass can recognize even now. Once Peter is out the door, she locks it again before heading back to the back rooms to think things out some more. A few things just became a lot more complicated, while others are much clearer.

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